Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud…
Fast repeated booms. Out of sequence like the rhythm section of a freeform Jazz band. Juddering. Stuttering. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud.
Each time it shook Drickâ€™s whole of the body making the nerves scream as if they were bathed in fire. The sound was so loud it shook the whole of their head. It made their eyes twitch even though they were closed. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud.
Air. Canâ€™t breathe. No air. Thatâ€™s why the heart was irregular. Why the nerves screamed. Every sensation heightened as the body ached for it to end but the brain screamed for any chance. So still they panted. Desperate. Greedy. Aching for a release from the burning in the lungs. How was it possible they were still breathing? They were dead. They had to be dead already.
A shocking realisation. They were breathing air. The sound in their head, the sound of their heart hammering in their chest, forcing blood back into the brain. They could hear. They could feel. They were not dead. The air was fire. It was pepper mixed with acid sprayed onto raw bleeding flesh. It was glorious.
They struggled but their senses were in turmoil and vision was just a miasma of colourful splashes. How long? How long had they been dead? Why couldnâ€™t they open their eyes?
Voices. They could hear voices. Maybe they were shouting. Hard to tell, harder to understand as the pounding drowned out the sound. There was a rushing noise punctuated by the thuds, which they took to be the sound of their blood. It was as if a raging river were being forced through the ears while someone pounded on their skull with a mallet.
They could feel movement. Some sensations from the body. Trembling limbs, spasms caused by oxygen deprivation and the cold. The cold. The suit had shut down the heating to minimum needed to sustain existence. The eyes felt very cold. The tears had frozen on their eyes and jammed the lids shut.
The electronics of the suit were shut off. No doubt they had yanked the automatic systems so they could manually give them oxygen. The atmosphere on a spaceship was good enough to support life but not to restore someone from the dead. There had to be a mask, or a tube. That would explain why the lungs burned so much. Oxygen rich gasses were being pumped into them.
Someone was taking off the suit. They could recognise the sensations as the outfit came apart in sections. Each touch and motion caused an agony of sensation. As if they were being beaten. Fiery nerves felt as if they were being kicked around. The pain was unbearable and they drifted into unconsciousness.
Seconds? Minutes? Hours? Days? Hard to tell as they came out of a violent blackness that threatened to tear them apart. They jerked, and rough hands grabbed and restrained them. The thudding was still loud. The rushing still there. But it was lower in intensity and the body no longer shook so much. The rushing in the ears more the murmurs of an angry stream, and not the raging torrents of a rabid river. Again they tried to open the eyes but the muscles wouldnâ€™t obey them. Implants didnâ€™t work. The augmented screens affixed to the inside of the cornea were not responding. Internal repair unit had probably failed to activate. Theyâ€™d be surprised if half of the electronic systems had survived.
â€œDonâ€™t try to moveâ€ A rough voice that gave good advice. However, it did not sound as if it carried any warmth for their welfare.
â€œWhere Am I?â€ They tried to say but it came out as mush. Their muscles betrayed them and there was muffling from something that covered their face.
â€œYouâ€™re in our sick bay,â€ a different voice. Feminine sounding. Still no kindness or warmth. â€œYou were almost gone. We need to administer medication and restoration. Enough to make you able to answer our questions.â€