Six hours ago Bravo ceased producing breathable air. Donning their suits, Kyra, Von and Em looked like paratroopers ready for a drop, but there was no drop. So they sat and watched their gauges. For six hours no one said a word before Kyra broke the silence. “Thirty minutes,” her voice distant and tinny through the helmet comm. “How much time do you have remaining Von?”

“About the same, perhaps a little less.”

“Em?”

“Same here.”

Kyra held out her arm and rotated her closed fist palm up. Opening her fingers all eyes locked on the three small red pills huddled together in the center of her hand. Von was the first to take his. Em hesitated, glancing down at the brooch in her left hand before reaching forward to take her pill.

“I know,” spoke Kyra, “this is not the way any of us ever contemplated we would meet our maker. The pill is—“

“We know,” said Von. “I have witnessed death by asphyxiation.” Looking directly at Em he continued. “I would not wish that death upon my enemies, not even the Javalinas that tortured me.”

Kyra nodded. Em held her pill at arms length as if it could bite her. “How does this work?” asked Em.

“Like a sleeping pill, Em,” responded Kyra. “In about ten minutes you’ll start to get sleepy. Within fifteen you won’t be able to keep your eyes open and by twenty, well, you’ll be home with family.”

“Is it gonna hurt?”

“Nope. You’ll not feel a thing,” said Von.

“How do you know that?”

Before Von could answer, Kyra jumped in. “Em, no one is forcing you to take the pill. It’s your choice. It will take about twenty minutes to work. How much time do you have remaining on your gauge?”

“Twenty-five minutes.”

A hush of air sounded in the cold command center as first Kyra and then Von and finally Em retracted the faceplates on their helmets. Gasping at the lack of air, each placed a pill on their tongues and swallowed before quickly closing the faceplate again.

“Give me your hands,” said Kyra, the only light coming from the two small lights at either side of her helmet, which fell softly on Von’s stoic old wrinkled face and Em’s frightened countenance. “Papa always told me I entered this world in love and I’d like to think I’m going to leave it the same way.”

Von tried to smile. Em was not capable.

“Feel the warmth?” asked Kyra.

They both nodded.

“Papa taught me this little trick. He said it was love. I suppose in a few minutes I’ll find out just whether that old geezer had been pulling my leg all those years now won’t I.”

Em fought to keep her eyes open. She lost. Von was determined he would be last. He was wrong. Kyra looked at her two friends in slumber. A tear slipped from each eye before she too succumbed to the hands and minds of scientists from a land long left behind. Approximately three hours later the last known lights on Bravo, the lights on Kyra helmet, flickered before giving way to the darkness.

Categories: Story, Kyra, Von, Emy

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