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Lodunby Ryan Dee Gilmour
I had been mining on Asteroid Gamma Three Five for eighteen months when the accident happened. To tell you the truth, I had no idea what had happened at the time. My brother Lodun and I were asleep in the barracks when both of my ears popped and everything went into a white flash. It felt like something was sucking the air out of me for five minutes. It was crazy.
When my eyes came back, I rolled out of bed to check on Lodun. The last thing that my mother had said to me is that if I was going to take some job for three years on the Asteroid Belt and take my baby brother with me, I had to promise I would keep an eye on him. Lodum was kind hearted but dim witted, so people took advantage of him. He was also strong as an ox and I knew the Asteroid Belt had more opportunities for a couple of West Virginia kids with no education than anywhere on Earth.
Lodun looked OK. He didn’t have a scratch on him. I said, “L, we need to get to the surface. If there’s news, that’s where we’d get it.” He just looked back at me with vacant eyes and nodded.
All of our coworkers had the same idea and by the time we got to the Assembly Hall, it was already full of spooked miners. Everyone was standing at the rear window and shaking their heads in horror. We had collided with a larger, boomerang shaped asteroid and the two had fused together. It rose into the black sky like a charcoal mountain.
The GM of our crew was making frantic SOS calls on his receiver. After a few moments, the secondary receiver next to him rang. The Assembly Hall fell silent and we watched him nod three times. He hung up and stared at the floor for a second, “OK, men, that was Earth. They’re sending someone from Paranormal Ops to talk to us. She should be here in an hour.” We all looked on in shock. No one left the hall. No one spoke.
I looked over at Lodun, whose expression was still blank. “Did you hear that, L? They’re sending someone from Paranormal Ops.” He nodded. “Don’t talk to this woman. I’m serious. Paranormal Ops is no joke. I don’t know why they are sending her all the way out here.” The hour went by and all I could do was stare at the destroyed asteroid outside of our window. Just as I was starting to dose off, an all black Raptor jet fighter broke into shallow orbit and immediately dove into one of our spaceports. It was the finest piloting I had ever seen. She had gone from hyperspace to landed before anyone had time to think.
The double doors of the room flew open and the tall woman walked in wearing all black. The only hint of color was the Paranormal Ops badge on her right arm. Her plasma rifle was strapped to her back. The stood in the middle of the room with undivided attention and addressed us in an emotionless monotone. “Good evening. At eight o’clock standard Earth time, your asteroid collided with another asteroid in the Alpha Sector of the Asteroid Belt. The collision caused the life support systems on this facility to be non-operational for twenty minutes. I’m here to inform you that you were all killed.” We all looked at each other in disbelief. “You are all currently in a state we have classified as Limbo Four. When a human dies with no planet in the immediate vicinity, the soul will stay active for two to six days. We aren’t sure why this happens, but I’m sure if there was a logical explanation, it would be of little comfort to you now. That is all the information that I have.” The agent exited the room and we watched as the Raptor flew off into space. No one knew what to say.
When I had a few moments to get my wits back, I turned to Lodun, “Did you hear that, L?” He nodded. “I guess we didn’t make it.” Lodun nodded at me in silence.
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