By Jeff Ammons
The gloved fingers of her left hand gripped the rock face and her right hand gripped the hammer.
She was undone by a silly mistake. Under other circumstances she would have thought it funny.
When the hammer struck, a large chunk of dark stone broke free and fell. Even as she made a grab to catch it, she knew she had screwed up.
Sarah felt herself lurch backwards away from the rock face. She made a desperate hack with the hammer, but the layered stone under her heavy boots crumbled.
Years of childhood gymnastics classes did her no good as the bulky suit restricted both vision and movement.
She hit hard. Her right leg hit first and folded under her. She hadn’t even registered the pain in her knee when her back struck the rocks.
She cried out in pain just as the loss of air pressure alarm sounded in her helmet.
She knew that her knee had been badly strained, but no one who ever left earth could have ignored the alarm nor failed to grasp the instant prioritization it demanded.
The equation was simple and absolute: loss of air pressure equals death.
A glance at her wrist showed that she had dropped to twelve hours remaining already. Bad. Very bad.
Sarah both looked and felt like a turtle flipped on its back. She struggled for many seconds before rolling to her side. From there she made it to a crawling position.
She took a quick look, but could see no leaks. She hadn’t expected to since she had landed on her back. She smashed the rocker switch with her gloved hand and Number Seven pranced over to her.
“Computer!” she commanded. “Switch view. Number Seven.”
The screen to the left of her visor flashed to life and she could see what Number Seven saw, and what he saw was a plume of air escaping from a dented seam on the back of her suit.
“Damn it!” she cursed.
Quickly she stood and even more quickly crumpled back to the ground with a cry of pain followed by more elaborate cursing.