Jake tensed against Sarah, his arms wrapping around her waist, gripping her tightly. He loved her too. He would risk his life for her as well. Sarah knew this to be true, but she wouldn't allow that to happen...that's why she took the lead. Even though Jake was physically enhanced as well, she was light years ahead of him, a freak of nature, her DNA, her cells, her molecular structure more naturally attuned to the serum.
Ahead of them, illuminated by the flashing emergency beacons, oily hairs on the creature's back reflected a sheen on its hunched over form. It's jaws crunched on the woman's skull, pulverizing bone and brain matter like an undercooked hard-boiled egg. Sarah gasped at the sight of the brutal death. Loud enough to draw the attention and the demon-like glare of the savage beast.
Slowly...carefully...calmly...she removed Jake's arms from around her waist. She glanced sidelong back at him with a solemn warning in her eyes. She felt a dreadfulness deep in her chest. This might be the last look they would share.
"While I distract it, if you can, get past it and get to your pod," Sarah said. "But if I die, I want you to run and hide."
"What are you going to do?"
"Just promise me, Jake. If something goes wrong, get out of this corridor, hide, and then make your way to the escape pods. Promise me."
"If something—Sarah—if something goes wrong! Are you kidding me? We can run now...together. We can find a lab or a closet, some place to hide in."
"No. There's no time. The station is shutting down. If we don't make it to the pods we're doomed. This is the only way."
She took his hands in her own and added, "I love you."
Before Jake had time to reply, Sarah shoved him backwards, and then stormed toward the creature...the creature that science created...the creature that now roared in her direction on a collision course.
As she careened through the corridor on a mad dash, unexpectedly, the last remnants of gravity vanished from the station. Sarah floated upward, the ceiling drifting toward her. Before she made impact, she reached out and scratched at the surface, repositioning her body as her shoulders and back bumped the grated tiles above her head. Struggling, she bent over at the waist and kicked off from the hard ceiling, sending her toward the floor, the creature's snapping teeth and slashing claws flying by above her, unable to alter its course as it soared in Jake's direction.
An object in space remains in motion until acted upon by an outside force. A basic rule of zero gravity. Jake knew this rule well. Sarah didn't have to yell back at him to tell him what to do. As the thrashing creature streaked toward her husband, its path high, grazing the top of the corridor, Jake grabbed a hold of a piece of conduit running perpendicular to the floor.
The creature flailed past Jake as he clung to the metal tubing, hugging the floor, his boots rising. A claw swept at his feet, but missed by inches, the arm it was attached to, and the rest of its body continuing on, away from them.
With the creature no longer a threat, they had to hurry. They still had to reach the pod bay. Gravity was the first thing to go. Next would be the air supply and the CO2 scrubbers. After that, the climate control would go, but it wouldn't matter if it got cold, if they couldn't breathe.
"Use the pipe on the wall to pull yourself toward me," Sarah yelled.
Jake replied with a shake of his head, his eyes turning from the disappearing creature, and focusing on Sarah's arms, beckoning him to catch up with her. With a hard tug on the pipe, he shot toward her, covered the ground between them in a matter of seconds and collided with her, their bodies tangling in a twisted knot of arms and legs.
They were about to cruise past the entrance to the pod bay, but Sarah latched onto the door frame, halting their movement through the corridor. By memory, she punched in the code on a keypad and the door opened.
With both of them hugging the ceiling, Sarah nudged Jake in first, sending his body in the general direction of the pods...the ones to the right, next to the outer wall of the station. As she launched herself in, the passage automatically hissed shut behind them. Below them, countless other scientists and engineers floated in weightlessness in a wild array of chaos, all attempting to reach their preassigned escape pods.
Sarah and Jake's pods rested side by side.
Jake slowed his advance by scraping along the ceiling. This allowed Sarah to catch up with him. He latched onto her hand and yanked her into his arms in a spinning mid-air embrace. His broad shoulders and rock-hard biceps squeezed her tight. His walnut colored hair, lay parted, gelled into a smooth wave, contrasting with his fair skin. He kissed her hard and heavy, pressing his dry lips against hers—drew back—stared at her with glistening green eyes, and after a few seconds, planted his lips on her forehead. If they survived the journey home, they wouldn't see each other for seven long years...all of which would be spent in cryogenic hibernation until they splashed down in the Pacific Ocean ten miles off the coast of Hawaii where rescue and recovery awaited.
"I told you from the beginning," he said, "before we agreed to this godforsaken assignment, I'd love you on Earth, I'd love you in space...I'd love you anywhere."
"Jake, we'll make it—"
He kissed her again, a passionate moment in which time seemed to stand still. When their lips parted, he pulled away, angled for his pod and kicked off. "Go now," he yelled over his shoulder as he descended. "There's no time."
Sarah kicked from the ceiling and reached her pod seconds after Jake reached his. She climbed in, and turned to watch Jake's lid seal airtight. This was it. The moment of departure. Nestled inside the narrow confines of her unit, she blew out a gust of air and then closed the hatch. She waited until Jake's pod blasted from its housing. The sound reverberated around her.
There was no time for second guessing. No time for contemplation. Her only regret...not holding Jake in her arms a moment longer.
She blinked once and then slammed her fist against the launch button, and her egg-like emergency vehicle rocketed through the metal tube like a torpedo from a submarine—into the vacuum of space.
In reaction to the sudden g-forces, Sarah squeezed her eyes shut...
And when she opened them again, she was back on Earth.
Back to reality.
YOU ARE READING
Titan XScience Fiction
Sarah Lawson stopped aging. The Titan X program wants an exchange: the immortal serum she took for her husband's life. ***** Sarah Lawson was enslaved by the government because sh...