There were no screams; the air inside of the transfer arm was sucked into the abyss too quickly. Vibrations reverberated throughout the docking bay as warning klaxons began their rhythmic howling. Bodies floated by like ghosts outside the portholes, their momentum propelling them away into the void. People within the dock reacted in every possible; some screamed, some cowered, and some watched awestruck as metal was rent apart silently outside of the windows.
Nobody knew what had happened, only that they were no longer connected to the Space Station Respite. As the small shuttle floated end over end away from the Respite, people began to scream. The inside of the shuttle became a logjam as people began to panic and crowd along the portholes looking towards the space station, as if that would help their situation. The captain sat isolated in his cockpit and frantically tried to correct the shuttle’s course. Oxygen lines leaked liquid oxygen that floated past the cockpit like strange clouds against a backdrop of stars.
Captain McCloud realized his shuttle was doomed. Drifting away from the Respite this far away from any planet that could support life with no engine power and a faulty radio, everyone was dead inside the shuttle even if they didn’t know it yet. He rubbed his forehead in despair and sat motionless in his chair. The din of people pounding on the sides of the shuttle echoed up to the cockpit filling it with unnecessary noise. McCloud rubbed his forehead harder and sighed resignedly. He glanced towards the side of his cockpit and noticed a solitary lever on the side of the control panel. Suddenly, he sprang out of his chair and floated towards the entrance to the cockpit.
He watched and chuckled softly as he watched people pounding on the sides of the ship and screaming themselves horse, wasting precious oxygen inside the compartment. He reached the doorway as some of the passengers began to notice him. McCloud kept his eyes downward as they stopped screaming and looked at him expectantly. Captain McCloud said nothing as he slid the cockpit door shut and sealed it, cutting off access from the main compartment. Panic crossed the passengers’ faces as they all crowded the cockpit porthole and screamed even louder. No sound reached McCloud’s ears as he reached up and pulled a screen in front of the porthole, obscuring the passengers view. He pulled the solitary lever and revealed a single isolation suit made for repairs on the shuttle. He slipped it on and pressed another button.
As the passengers continued to pound on the sealed cockpit door, the windshield to the cockpit released with a pneumatic hiss. All the air inside the cockpit was sucked out into space, the elements in the air instantly reverting to liquid form in the intense cold. Captain McCloud was protected in his suit, and the door prevented the shuttle compartment from being breached. He floated out into space, making sure to keep a hand on the shuttle. Sound was muffled in the pure vacuum of deep space; McCloud’s breathing echoed in the claustrophobic isolation helmet, but at least he was alive. He skillfully moved outside the cockpit and along the side of the shuttle.
As he moved, he took one last fond look at his shuttle. Discovery was painted in black block letters on the side, there was a spot where a heat panel was replaced, and even some crew added graffiti near the D in Discovery. He glanced up at the portholes along the side and saw that the passengers had followed his journey along the side of the shuttle like fish at feeding time, but McCloud ignored them as much as he could as he continued along the side of the shuttle. He reached the middle of the craft by the wings and stopped his momentum. He set his hands and feet, sighed, and pushed off the shuttle with all his might. Inside the shuttle, the passengers looked stunned as the Captain floated away from the shuttle.
Captain McCloud watched the shuttle float away and listened to his own breathing. He thought of his academy physics class, and smiled contentedly at the memories of his teacher. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction class. So if you fall asleep, you will be punished. McCLOUD! FRONT LEANING REST POSISTION MOVE! You will not sleep in my class. McCloud remembered that class fondly; he had learned much and enjoyed the class at the same time. As he hurtled away from the ship, the ship moved in the opposite direction. The passengers still watched him through the portholes, stunned.
As Captain McCloud hurtled away in to space, the Discovery was thrown toward the space station. Captain McCloud turned on his radio and instantly his helmet was filled with voices.
“McCloud this is Respite, do you copy, over?”
“Respite, this is McCloud. Prepare EMS teams for shock and trauma victims. Shuttle Discovery is inbound. McCloud, out.”
He turned off his radio before the operator could respond and the isolation suit was eerily silent. McCloud’s own breathing was the only sound inside as he watched Discovery reach the space station. Astronauts swarmed like ants across the derelict shuttle and began repairing the craft to unload passengers. McCloud settled into the isolation suit’s harness and smiled contentedly. He looked around at the thousands of stars surrounding him and was struck by the beauty and simplicity of the universe. This was why he had become an astronaut in the first place, the simple beauty of the stars and heavens. As he hurtled away into deep space deceptively fast, Captain McCloud was content.