Keith M. Kitchen
As soon as I heard those words through my helmet receiver, I knew were in trouble, big trouble. The message came over the open circuit as I lay strapped in an acceleration couch beside fifteen other colonists on the Lunar Lander Destiny. We were two minutes into the landing sequence, on our final leg to establish Earth's first permanent Lunar base. The pilot was on the open circuit, not only broadcasting to us, but passing on this momentous occasion in history to Earth and that's how I knew we were in horrendous trouble. I could feel the pseudo-gravity of the retro-boost, yet something, even if it were planted in my mind by the pilot's warning phrase, felt very wrong.
Then, the ship started to tilt to one side and I heard someone scream. I turned and saw a couple of people behind me trying to get out of their seats. One idiot opened his visor and started to alternate between screaming and hyperventilating.
Me? I couldn't decide whether to panic or not, so I started praying. I really didn't expect that to do any good since I hadn't prayed or even attended church of any sort since I was a teenager, much too long ago. Anyways, I figured if He was listening, it couldn't hurt, so that's why I started to pray. Of course, you could also look at it that perhaps He was behind this accident, or whatever happened.
I heard something unintelligible come over the helmet circuit, probably a warning or something similarly useless, and almost immediately felt three gravities push me back into my couch. After three days of zero-gee, three gravities is Hell. You can't breathe, can't move, can't anything.
The ship tilted even more, so I took a guess that since we were leaning to port that we had lost our port jets. That's what I figured, anyways. Not that I would really know, I'm not a pilot. In case you're wondering, I'm Tony Jackson, Cook First Class and Radioman Second Class. I really shouldn't have even been here, but the four men who had been chosen before me for my billet had been eliminated one by one, two by the new outbreak of Spanish Influenza that was sweeping the planet, one by a sex scandal that was really stupid and the guy who had been right in front of me back out from sheer fright.
Maybe I should have backed out, too, but I had always wanted to go into space and this was my ticket. So, here I was. My destiny was interlocked in the Destiny as the ill-fated ship lost control in the last few minutes of the flight.
Suddenly, we were nearly weightless again. The screaming subsided but the idiocy heightened. Several more people opened their visors and started hyperventilating. Reaction, I guess. These stupid fucks knew better than to relax suit discipline in an emergency but they wouldn't listen to reason.
I tried to get them to close their visors, I really did. The problem was, like I said, I'm the cook and the relief radioman. Nobody wanted to listen, sure they were their own best authority on what was going on and certain that what had been happening was now over and they made it a point to let me know.
Is stupidity inherent? Or, do people have to work at it? Oh, I've made my share of stupid mistakes but mine haven't been fatal, unless you count boarding this ship.