I am going to die in the loneliness of space. There are no other survivors on board the transport. Except, of course, for the thing that is hunting me.
The passenger cryoberths are sealed off. I woke alone, freezing as the fire suppressants sprayed over me, and escaped, choking on the fumes of burning plastic and whatever cloying material the foam contains. I stumbled into the corridor just before the section sealed off with a fatalistic thud.
I thought to find the ship’s crew, anticipating to have them treat me as befits a young lady, with warm blanket and hot tea. To be warmed, allowed to clean and brush off my dress before being sent back to my berth refreshed. But, shivering in my ruined dress and bedraggled as a wet cat, I found only pieces of the crew. And none of them altogether complete.
I am alone.
Quite distinctly alone.
No distant rattle across the decking plates to mirror my own foot falls from other corridors. Not human feet, at any rate. There is an unsettling sound that may be the ship’s air blowers, but very likely isn’t.
I strip off the heavy dress, saturated with chemicals and reeking of industrial smoke, and though I am now quite indecent—and imagine the posthumous scandal should my own half-dressed body be found in the same dire circumstances as the bodies I saw—I am now able to move more quietly, and hear better without the swishing of my crinoline and satin coats. To improve my stealth even further, I unlace and remove my boots.
I must be quite mad from the stress. For as I creep across the perforated decking, the cold chill bites through my thin stockings, and I feel quite giddy.
If I survive this, I will need to land the ship at Mars colony myself, I should think. I would be the first lady to walk on the red planet’s surface, now that the mayor and his wife are in the doomed passenger compartment.
I observe a long, heavy bar-shaped tool clamped to the bulkhead. In removing it from its metal harness, I break a nail on its metal clasps. The rough edge of the nail scrapes against my skin as I grip the tool. My only weapon against whatever breathes in the darkness of the corridor, beyond the lit control panels that blink ponderously and red-eyed at me.
To be the first woman space pilot, from a world where a lady may not even escort herself to market. To be the first to step foot onto the red sand-strewn landing platform, no elbow at her side to demurely cling to.
That is worth being the first to survive the tearing jaws of this terrible unseen creature.
I rhythmically tap my weapon against a handrail along the bulkhead. A challenge.
From the darkness, my quarry hisses back its acceptance.
Author’s Note: These snippets are unedited free-writing exercises that I use as a way to shift my brain into a creative state. I use Lynda Barry’s What It Is YouTube timed exercises (usually 9 minutes worth of writing) for these. They are handwritten in a composition notebook and then typed up here. As I transcribe them, I make minor grammar and spelling corrections, but the overall “clarity” (if you can call it that) of the exercise is left as-is.