Rescued by Keith Kitchen

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I spent two weeks catching up with training that these people had spent six weeks on in Houston, Texas and I knew better than to do what they went ahead and did. They relaxed. I cut over to the private circuit and tried to raise the control room. Perhaps that was a mistake. It wasn't a mistake to contact the control room, it was a mistake in trying. There was no private circuit, it was out. Bad news. I switched over to the common circuit and found that was out as well. I tried to point the problem out to my crewmates but they were too busy relaxing their suit discipline. Oh, well, they were so sure they knew what they were doing. Being sure didn't help them. When we hit, most of them died before they had a chance to get their visors closed. I know; I was there, but I don't know all the gory details about the crash, just what I saw and felt. All I felt was a lot of gravities slam me way back into my couch. Period. That is all I could feel. It was similar to the push we got on liftoff from the Cape.

What I saw was worse. My head was pinned to my couch and I was looking to port. I had absolutely no choice. That's the direction I was looking when all the weight hit me. You try moving your head while being subjected to what felt like five gravities. If you can do it, You'll get the heavyweight award for having a muscle-bound neck. Me? I just laid there and had to watch. Okay, I could have closed my eyes but I was hyper-aware of everything going on.

We had been arranged in four rows of four and I was in the front row along the starboard inner hull of the ship. I saw the port-side hull broach. No, make that rip. The port-side hull ripped almost as if somebody had taken a dull knife to a piece of paper. The gent two seats port of me (Our Colony leader, fer gossakes, though I don't know how he accomplished that! He certainly wasn't picked for intelligence!) was one of the idiots who had insisted on opening his visor and relaxing suit discipline. I watched as the atmosphere rushed out of the ship but when I saw blood start spurting out from where his eyes had been, I finally closed mine. That saved me from seeing whatever it was that knocked me out.

Maybe it was just a side-effect of the explosive decompression, I don't know. I never did find out what hit me, so that could be it. I have absolutely no idea how long I was out, but it must have been a while. When I did come to, I shook my head and tried to get up and out of my acceleration couch. I couldn't.

I was disoriented and not to be held accountable. I couldn't figure for anything why I couldn't get up. Then it struck me, almost as hard as whatever it was that had knocked me out. I couldn't get out of the couch because I was still strapped in!

I unstrapped and stood up. Looking around, I called out over the emergency circuit, "Anybody still with me? Anybody okay? Anybody?"

No answer. There was still background static in my helmet receiver, so I knew the emergency circuit was working, even if the private and common circuits weren't.

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