I slowly open my eyes and stir in place. I still can’t get used to sleeping in a chair, but I need to stay near the radio. I slowly move my hand and press the respond button.
“Mission control, this is Echo. Copy,” I say, my voice weak. I haven’t done a lot of talking lately.
“Echo, we have found your shuttle. Rescue will be there momentarily. Just remain where you are and wait for further instructions.”
“Roger that,” I respond.
Just like that, it’s silent again. I guess I should be used to the silence at this point. There was that old movie tagline about how no one can hear you scream in space. I never realized how true that was until I came out on this mission. I still heard screams, though, so I don’t think it’s entirely accurate.
If they’re finally coming to rescue me, I guess I should enjoy the view one last time. I’ve been looking at this view for the last few weeks, in between periods of crying and lamenting my situation. It’s…pretty nice. For the most part.
If I look to my left, I can see a few chunks of debris floating in space. Most days, I try to figure out what that one misshapen piece of metal floating by used to be part of. Was it part of the engine? The break room? Maybe it was a fragment of that old stereo Stevens kept in his room.
Speaking of Stevens, I see him again. He’s in my view as well, still tethered to the ship when he was trying to fix that panel. He’s not as energetic as he used to be. He used to be the one who made us laugh, who could make any dull task fun. Now he’s just floating out in the quiet void, with nothing to say about the crack in his helmet.
I decide to turn away from Stevens. It’d be rude to look at him any longer. I start to count the minutes until rescue arrives. I know it’s coming soon. They finally told me they’re coming, and they haven’t lied to me yet.
I can see them now. I can see the ship coming closer. They didn’t forget about us. When we went silent, they knew it wasn’t because we didn’t want to talk. They knew the four of us were out there somewhere, and they’re finally taking me home.
I lay back in my chair and look at the ship coming closer. In a few moments, I’ll see some of their astronauts emerge and make their way into the control room that I’ve sealed myself in. They’ll give me fresh oxygen (and about time, I’m running out), then take me home, to where it will no longer be so quiet.
I smile as the ship comes closer and closer. It’s beautiful, and I’m ready to go home. They’ve finally found me, and they’re finally going to save me.
At least, I hope that’s what it will be like when they find me. I don’t hear anything on the radio, and it’s too quiet in here.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
I tap my fingers against the console. There’s some relief with the repetition of that sound. Some.