art by Ron Sanders
by L.L. Phelps
We're falling fast through the atmosphere, what's left of the station shaking violently as it breaks apart.
"We have to get to the escape pods," Natayla screams at me. I can barely hear her over the roar around us, but I can read the words on her lips as fear dances wild in her eyes. "Now!" she screams, shaking me.
One glance at the monitors tells me it's too late. The pods on the outer end of the station broke away in the attack, along with our friends and colleagues and any others attempting to escape when the missile hit. I don't have the heart to tell her this, to explain there is no hope, no way to escape our fate.
"To the pods," I say instead, and surrender to her grip as she half drags me from our housing unit and into the hall where we will die. The oxygen is nearly gone there, most of it drained before the remains of the station could seal itself. We feel the effects of this right away, our minds fuzzy, our breathing strained.
"Hurry," she says, but now no words come, just the movement of her lips, waxy red on pale white, just like on our wedding day.
She had looked like an angel then, her gown of lace and pearls tight against her delicate body, her veil covering her face and sweeping softly down her golden hair. My heart had stopped when the doors opened at the far end of the ancient church, a relic of the 20th century, wood painted white, an oddity in the midst of the towering steel suburbs. The entire church hushed at the sight of her, all eyes on the woman they loved, the woman with the wild heart, brave enough to marry into the odd world of space dwellers. Brave enough to marry me and leave her home forever.