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MAY/JUN To Float in Space?


Tal Tel-ar
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William shivered and rubbed his arms. It was getting colder. A lot colder. He hated the cold. He had always hated the cold. Every since he was a little kid and had fallen through the ice back at his grandfathers place in Scotland.

Give him a nice beach with warm sands and hot women. For a moment he let the image sweep him away. Unfortunately the cold quickly brought him back. If he did not get some heat soon he was going to freeze as solid as a rock long before anyone found him.

He stood and did a few jumping jacks to get the blood moving, then wrapped his hands around his mouth and blew a couple deep breaths into them. It helped a little. They still felt stiff and he was worried about the slight tingling sensation he was starting to feel in his fingers, toes and nose.

For a moment he felt a tinge of panic threaten to take control. No. he had to stay in control. He had to keep it together. His only hope was to use his head. If he let his fear take over he was a gonner. He took a few deep breaths. The cold air felt harsh against his throat but it worked. He settled down. Calmer, more able to think practically than he had been able to since the shuttle had shuddered and lost power.

He took a couple more deep breaths. No matter how hard he tried he could not think of any other way to save himself. His only chance was if he could reroute some power and for that he would have to crawl back into the freezing air inside the access hatch.

Well no point in putting it off any longer. He squatted down beside the open access hatch and reached inside. The warp engine seemed to be totalled. He had already given up hope of ever getting any juice out of it. But the 2 impulse engines seemed to be ok.

What ever had destroyed his warp engine had totalled the power relays for the impulse engines as well. If he could just find some way to bridge the gap he would have power again he was sure of it. Maybe not enough to fly the shuttle but hopefully enough to survive.

Problem was that in order to try and fix the problem he had to dismantle a number of fairly complex power relays, conduits and what looked like the main computer core. So far he was about half way through. In normal conditions this would not be that hard a job.

Unfortunately floating dead in space was not what you could call normal conditions. Added to that was the fact that by removing the access hatch so that he could work on the problem had let a lot of the heat bleed off and now the bitter cold of deep space was slowly creeping in.

He crawled out pulling a large section of electronic equipment with him. For a second he was afraid it was to big to fit through the access hatch. It took a little force and one real good whack with the spanner but he managed to get it free.

William then shoved it over to the side out of the way before he stood up again. He had to be careful. If he did not take regular breaks to move around he would run the risk of freezing. He paced back and forth, swinging his arms, wriggling his toes and flexing his fingers.

After a few minutes he blew on his hands again and then got down and crawled into the open hatch. This time he had enough room that he could just barely reach the damaged power relays.

*******

Cursing William yanked his hand back and quickly wriggled back out of the hatch. His hand was stinging like crazy and he sure did not like the looks of it.

As soon as he was out of the hatch he reached for the medical kit and fumbled for the latch. This was harder to do with one hand than he would have thought. Still it finally popped open and he reached inside.

For a second he could not remember what to do. That worried him. Not only had he just made a stupid rookie mistake and burned himself by forgetting to engage the locking device before exposing an active plasma relay, but he was having trouble remembering how to treat such a burn.

Think man. Your [...] life depends on this. In frustration he yanked out a hypo and injected himself with 5 cc’s of adrenalin. He had to get his mind working right or he was a dead man.

He felt a sudden rush, followed a few seconds later by a faint feeling of warmth creeping along his limbs. It wasn’t much but it was enough to jog him memory. He could now remember his third year emergency medical training from the Academy.

More by memory and almost on autopilot he treated his hand. Hopefully it was not as bad as it looked. Then again if he did not get some power soon it would be the least of his problems.

Finally finished he knew he had to take a break. He needed some rest. That and some food and water. He was starting to run on empty and considering the amount of work he had left to do he needed to be mentally sharp or he did not stand a chance of rerouting power back into the vital systems he would need to survive.

He rolled over closer to the hatch and struggled to shift the access panel back into place. If he could manage to seal it shut he could slow down the creeping cold. Hopefully between that and the emergency survival gear stored under the passenger seats he would be able to survive long enough to get some sleep and replace his dwindling energy.

Finally he managed to get the panel into place but he had to hold it in place with his injured hand and forehead. Even with that he skinned his knuckles sealing it shut again.

He just lay there, exhausted. He could feel his eye’s start to droop as sleep fought to claim him.

With a sudden surge of energy he forced himself to sit up. If he fell asleep now he would probably never wake up. He slapped his own face to try and get his mind working. It hurt like heck but it seemed to help a little.

After a few moments he crawled over to where the emergency supplies were. Opening the first case he took out the mini heating device. Then he set it on the floor and secured it in place before he activated it.

He was tempted to put it on high but knew that would burn out it’s power in no time. On low it would be good for close to 48 hours. Besides with the hatch closed he should not lose any of the heat it was putting out.

Moving into a sitting position he leaned over it, rubbing his hands as the heat slowly reached out with tentative fingers to caress his hands and face. Bit by bit he could feel the warmth slowly seeping into his body.

After a bit he reached over and grabbed some survival rations. He activated the heating element in the silver food container. It started to get warm to the touch. Then he waited till he heard the slight ping that meant it was ready.

He could already feel his mouth starting to salivate at the thought of hot food. Strange considering he had eating a full meal this morning before setting out on this trip. Still he was looking forward to chowing down as he ripped the package open.

The smell was the first thing to hit him. That and a gentle waft of steam. His stomach churned. Salisbury Steak. Why did it have to be that. It was by far his least favourite pre-packaged survival meal.

With a grimace he picked up the spoon that came with it and started to eat. He made a mental note to check the emergency gear anytime he got into a shuttle. No way was he ever going to get stranded with Salisbury Steak again if he could help it.

It took him a while to eat, not just because he hated the taste of the stuff. I mean really, Salisbury Steak. It tasted more like boiled shoe leather with some weird fungal growth mashed up into a liquid and poured over it.

No it was not just the taste but the bone deep exhaustion he felt. So much of his bodies energy reserves had gone into keeping him warm that he was literally at the end of his rope.

When he finished eating he shook out the thermal blanket and curled up on the floor next to the heater. Before he knew it he was asleep.

***********

When he woke up he felt a little better. Not so groggy and as he lay there he thought about the work that still needed to be done if he was going to get enough power to survive.

After a while he forced himself to get up and eat another ration pack. This time he checked it before heating it. Unfortunately every single ration pack was the same. More Salisbury Steak.

Now he was sure. This was hell. No if ands or buts. This was definitely hell.

He forced himself to finish the food. If it wasn’t for the extreme cold he would probably have just thrown it away but he needed the energy.

Once he was done he moved over to the access hatch and released it. When he did a sudden breath of frigid cold air caressed his face. He was unsure but it seemed colder than it had earlier.

He had to force himself to crawl back into the opening. It was like crawling into a freezer. Now more than anything he noticed the tight space around him. When he touched a bare piece of metal with his hand he jerked his hand back.

A sudden image of ice all around him made his heart quicken. The freezing cold water was all around him. He started to panic, he wanted to thrash about but somehow he fought back. Forced himself to regain control.

He was breathing raggedly, sweat dripped from his brow before freezing against his face. All he had to do was stay in control. He could see the damaged power relay. Once he fixed that he would be ok.

It took a few more moments for him to steady himself. Then he picked up the spanner and reached towards the damaged power relay.

It was gone. What… he sat up and looked around him. The shuttle was gone and he was not alone. Lt. Cmdr. Turner stood there with another one of his teachers and the room they appeared to be in was a holo deck.

How?

“Well done Cadet. You conquered your fear.” Said his teacher with a smile.

Fear? Suddenly it all made sense. This had been a just another test. With that thought he started to get up. As he did he could not resist saying, “Boy am I glad that was just a test.”

“Why?” asked the senior instructor.

“Simple,” he replied with a smile. “Just the thought of having to eat another Salisbury Steak was almost more than I could bare.”

Edited by Tal Tel-ar
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Now I know my submission this time around may not seem to deal with FIRE but the need for warmth in order to survive was the first thing that I thought of.

After that the story just seemed to develop on it's own.

Next the thing with Salisbury Steak. I served 12 years in the Canadian Army. Every single person I knew hated at least 1 of the emergency survival ration packs. I do not normally add any levity to my stories. This time around it just seemed right. It added to the character and his situation.

I hope you enjoy it.

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