By Robert Lynch
An alarm was going off, it was quiet and muted; like it was coming from a very great distance. My eyes opened slightly, then I shut them tight again. It was very bright on the other side of my eyelids and it hurt to open them. I reached up to shield my eyes from the light and my hand hit a barrier in front of my face. Holding my arm up to counter some of the brightness, I warily explored with mostly closed eyes. Whatever that brightness was, it wasn’t dulled by my whole arm between my eyes and it and it didn’t care much that only a sliver of my eyes was exposed. I couldn’t think of anything that I had ever experienced that could be so bright.
Wait. I couldn’t remember any other experience.
Surely I’d had other experiences, I mean, I was thinking in a language; I must have learned that somewhere, this can’t be my birthplace. Perhaps it was and my parents imparted some kind of genetic memory to me that enabled me to have such conflicting questions. If that were true then surely I’d know what to do about that light, and so far I’d come up with bupkis.
I reached down and touched a control panel on my right leg. Armature extended out from behind me with joysticks for each of my hands. Without thinking about what I was doing, I let my hands grab the joysticks and my right hand instinctively pivoted its joystick. Silently I spun around, so as my back faced the brightness.
Without the ridiculous brightness to contend with, I opened my eyes fully. The barrier my arm had found whilst trying to shield my eyes was glass or some similar transparent medium. On the other side of the barrier was nothing but stars. I looked down and the glass stayed where it was. I couldn’t see my torso, arms, or legs. I knew they were there and I wriggled about awkwardly to prove it. I brought my hands up in front of my face and found that they were encapsulated by gloves. Thick cumbersome gloves in khaki green fabric. I tested the responses of my fingers in the gloves. The response was subdued and I knew I didn’t have a full range of movement.
With the disparate facts I had gathered so far I could make a few assumptions. I was in a spacesuit. The gloves and glass and leg panel told me my guess was right. I was also in space. This was harder to prove without opening my visor, but I couldn’t see any ground and the intense sustained light was unlikely to have come from an explosion, it was more likely from a star. I realised that I didn’t feel weightless. This was counter to the argument that I was in space, unless the suit provided some level of artificial gravity. Not a bad idea, I thought, long term exposure to low gravity had a debilitating effect on bone and muscle mass.
The alarm had got a lot louder since I had awoken. Or maybe I just heard it better; it took a while to see clearly after I woke up, why should hearing be any different. On the top of my right forearm a small panel lay dormant, with the tap of my left hand it lit up. The panel displayed a number of statistics, all in a language I could read; so that was progress at least. The red flashing ideogram stopped the alarm when I tapped on it. From red it changed to green, but it still read ‘Revived’.
The arm panel contained a wealth of information, most notably a communications subpanel. The subpanel indicated that the suit was broadcasting. Instinctively I reached for the panel on my chest, turning on receiver.
“Mayday, mayday. This is Captain Barret Solonious. I was forced to abandon ship and am currently in orbit of a star at coordinates 974,829 by negative 97. I am currently protected by only my spacesuit. The suit has stasis capabilities, so please recover me even if you don’t receive a reply to attempts to contact me. Mayday, mayday…”
The recording repeated. I shut it off.
I was stranded. Why didn’t I remember any of this? Stasis damage could cause temporary memory loss. But that was only after 10 years or more. How long had I been here?