Adrift – Part 3

by Gaston Prereth

Jason pushed his back against the wall. He was lost in the dark. Alone. He knew he couldn’t make it to the bridge now, not without light. Why had he even tried? He was just a porter for godsake. Just a lone crewman. Why had he thought he would be able to do anything.

He felt his knees tremble and then collapse beneath him, his back sliding down the wall until he was sitting on the floor. The cold stare of his superior flashed into his mind. Her emotionless face. Her calculating eyes. She must have known he would not be able to do anything. She must have just been trying to get rid of him. If it had been that important, she would have gone herself rather than pointlessly tapping away at her console as if she were checking the duty roster.

Jason looped his arms around his legs and rested his forehead against his knees. It was all pointless. This was it, he was going to die. They all were going to die.

The door next to him thumped and then made a grinding sound. A beam of light shot out into the corridor. It wavered to and fro, and then settled on him. Jason did not look up. He hugged his legs a little tighter and squeezed his eyes shut.

“What the hell is going on?” The woman’s voice still carried its condescending twang. It irritated Jason. Even through his acceptance of defeat he could feel the burst of anger rise within him. “Don’t just sit there on the floor like a shot partridge, get up and fix the lights. What does the company pay you for?”

Jason twitched. If the rest of the passenger’s even vaguely resembled this woman, maybe this disaster was not such a bad thing afterall. There was something disgusting about the type of person whom, in the face of certain death, still made sure that all those in earshot knew that they were more important. He had put up with it once, he was not going to listen to her again without comment.

“Look, boy, will you…” Jason turned to her, blinking in the beam of her torch.

“Shut up you pretentious bitch. Don’t you get it? We’re all going to die. This is it. Game over. Your hideous little life is about to be snuffed out. Your days of making everyone around you despise you are finished.”

“How dare you talk…”

“Thank you.” said Jason, pulling himself to his feet. “I mean it, thank you. Thank you for showing me that, even in the most dire of circumstances, there is always some good. The fact that you are on this ship to die with the rest of us is the one silver lining in this whole terrible thing.” With the light no longer in his eyes, Jason could see the girls face. Her wide eyes. Her pale skin. Her rigid, locked lips. His anger started to drain as quickly as it had risen, but he couldn’t stop now, his mouth was going faster than his brain. “There are thousands of people below us. Fighting and screaming to get to the escape pods. Men pushing children out of the way to get to the doors first. Women scratching their nails in other people’s faces to get past them. They’re doing anything they can to save their own skin. It’s horrible, but at least each and every one of them is acting like a human being. They know they don’t have a right to get off this ship more than the people around them, but that is why they fight. It’s not honourable, it’s not pretty, but its human.

“You, though, you stand here and expect me to save you. Expect me to put you before myself. Expect me to lay down my life, to save yours, because you are meant to somehow be more important. It’s unnatural. It’s cold. It’s not human.”

“I am the Lady…”

“So? you’re just flesh and blood. You’re just as fragile and weak as the rest of us. You only exist because people like me have let you survive by bowing down to your will and doing as you command. Well not now. I’m not doing a fucking thing for you this time. You’re going to die with the rest of us.” Jason paused, his anger nearly completely spent. With his last drop of rage he added. “Oh, and I’m afraid the Hull-rail has been cancelled today. We’re sorry for any inconvenience.”

He dropped back to the floor, staring at the opposite wall. His last words hung in the air like a bad smell. The woman did not reply and Jason started to feel guilty. He cursed himself, trying to fight against his better nature and not think of the woman stood next to him. She’d been asking for it, he told himself. Everything he had said was true. If she cared more about her stupid trip on the Hull-rail more than the fate of the people onboard, then she was just as horrible as he had said.

The hull-rail.  His thoughts kept coming back to that. It kept nudging itself across his mind like a drifting iceberg, sinking all other ideas. He tried to push it away, but he started to get the uneasy feeling his subconscious was trying to tell him something.

Jason sprung to his feet. “Fucking hell, I’m slow.” he shouted to the corridor in general. “Madam, when were you meant to be going on the Hull-rail?”

“What does it matter?” all the ceremony had gone from her. She sounded younger. Scared.

“The Hull-rail, it rings round the ship right passed the bridge. If I can get on it, it’ll take me there in a matter of minutes.”

“But it won’t be working, if the light’s aren’t even on…”

“But we’ve got gravity.” Jason gave an excited jump as if to prove his point and then flashed a grin at the woman. “The hull-rail doesn’t actually move. It’s a fixed point on the outside of the ship, but as the ship’s hull beneath it rotates, to provide the gravity, the Hull-rail stays still thus giving the illusion of it circling the ship and allowing passengers a zero-g experience of the outside of the ship. So, if we’ve still got gravity then the ship is still spinning, and if the ship is still spinning then the Hull-rail is still moving.”

Jason felt the sense of purpose thrilling back through his body. “I advise you to head down to the pods. I don’t know if they are working yet, but they’ll be your best chance.”

“Wait.” Said the woman, her voice picking up some of its previous stridence. “I’m coming with you.”

“What? No way”

“After your little speech, you can’t really refuse me, can you? Or would it upset your view of the world too much to have someone like me try to do something good? I’m coming with you, even if you don’t want me to.”

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One Comment to “Adrift – Part 3”

  1. That was a very satisfying telling-off. But an impressive recovery.

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