Adrift By: Terry D. Scheerer


By: Terry D. Scheerer

All of that had transpired at least four or five hours ago, although there was no way to accurately calculate time passage out here. He could look at his chronometer, but again he decided against it--he would rather not know exactly how many minutes he had left.

For something to occupy his remaining time, he began to reel in his tether. Perhaps he could figure out how it had come loose from the ship--not that it would make any difference, now, but he was still curious. He pulled the twelve feet of safety line in and looked at the end of it. There should have been a large snap-hook at the other end of his line, which would, under ordinary circumstances, be attached to the ship. There was nothing at the end of Nate's tether.

He brought the tip of the safety line close to his face plate. There were no frayed edges here--the tether ended abruptly, with a straight, flat surface where the snap-hook should have been. For this to have happened was not only highly unusual, it was practically impossible. The tether was made of a heat-treated, flexible, braided metal cable, just over a one quarter of an inch thick and wrapped with almost another full inch of insulation to protect the cable from temperature extremes found in space. All of that was then covered with the same material their suits were made of, to protect the insulation from any possible scrapes and cuts the tether might encounter, rubbing against the outside metal of the ship. For his line to have ended up this way, it must have been cut. Deliberately cut.

But Nate had attached his line to the safety hook on the ship himself and had tested it to make sure it was secure, before he started working. There had only been the two of them on the EVA and neither carried anything sharp while they were wearing their suits. The danger of accidentally puncturing the material was more than enough of a threat to keep sharp implements away from anyone wearing a pressure suit.

So, how could his line have gotten cut and more importantly, 'why' would anyone want him out of the way so badly that they would plan and carry out something of this nature. Someone on his crew, someone he had thought of as a friend, had murdered him. Well, he hadn't actually been 'murdered' quite yet, but in a very short time he would be.

Nate thought about it as his body slowly rotated the last few minutes of his life away. Jude was the only one with opportunity, he decided. They had been outside the ship, by themselves, for over an hour and Nate certainly hadn't watched what Jude had been doing every minute of that hour. He could easily have moved over to my tether and somehow cut it,without my being aware of his actions, Nate thought. But, how and why?

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