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Precious Seconds

I'm floating in little more than a tin box, just 100,000 miles from the most glorious spectacle in our solar system, the Rings of Saturn.

It's three years since we left Earth, over a thousand days of anticipation, yet now Ed and Richard are dead. They were killed by the toxic gasses given off by an electrical fire in the cockpit. I only survived by escaping to the sleeping quarters. Because of the fire, the power has failed and I reckon I've only got about six hours before I either run out of air or freeze to death.

I'd like to spend my final hours watching Saturn, I think that would be fitting, but there's no window, and the cameras don't work, so all I have is darkness. Not that seeing a picture on a twelve inch screen is much to shout about. I want to look up and have the rings fill the sky in all directions. I want to drink in the myriad of colours, see the planet as no man has seen it before. I imagine that at this distance the Rings would almost seem to be within arms reach, and that is an experience I would give anything for.

There is an emergency hatch that can be released manually, yet without a space suit I will quickly die. So do I spend my last few hours slowly dying, or open the hatch and have a few precious seconds looking at the Rings of Saturn?

I think I'll check how tight those bolts are...

Story by:

Nick Allen

21 October 2012

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