HORI AKIRA JALINET

Stranded in Space

- 4 -

It happened just after I had finished injecting the resin and smoothed the surface with my fingers. I had no tools on my hands, and I was not holding the pipe: I was rubbing off the sticky resin on my hands. I was so immersed in removing the dirty resin off my spacesuit fingertips that I didn't realize my body had moved to the center of the cylinder.

The jet engine at the side of the cargo ship had turned on, and, after shifting the ship two meters to the side, made a slight counter-emission. That was all. If this were a major change in direction, there might have been a back-fire to put the ship back on its original course. But this was a very tiny shift. Only two meters -- yet this made the distance to the door immeasurable.

When I realized, my body and the tools, laid out two meters below me, were floating in space the same distance away from any of the walls. If had been holding a pipe rail, or if the cylinder had been filled with air, or if I had been wearing an outer-space heavy suit -- I would have realized the ship's movement through vibration, or sound of the engine, or through voices from the transceiver. Or, if the shift had been in a different direction, I might have bumped myself onto the wall, but I would not have moved to the center of the cylinder.

It didn't take five minutes to realize that I could not escape from this position by myself. There's nothing to touch even if I stretched my arms as far as I could. Outer sound is completely shut out. If it were not for the lights coming from both ends of the cylinder, I would have been in complete darkness, a darkness even deeper than outer space. Luckily, the lights are on. But when I close my eyes, there's nothing to tell the difference from being in outer space. The only difference may be that I can move my body more freely in this lighter space suit. But however hard I struggle, I can't change my location. I can only bend my arms and legs more freely.


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