Even with the huge parachutes clawing madly at the thin atmosphere he had been sure something in him broke when the ship hit the ground.
The rusty droid had somehow survived the fall as well, despite being strapped to an external cargo rack for its return journey to the mining colony on the moon. As Zeniff surveyed the crashed vehicle, the droid had come to life and started following him. He tried to shut it down, and order it to stop, but its control panel was smashed, and apparently its comm link as well. So it resorted to its basic programming, which was to follow its human overseer until directed to begin extracting the precious minerals from the soil. Zeniff chose to ignore it as he set off in the direction indicated by his global positioning indicator. Now, except for when he stopped to scan the horizons for any sign of life, he forgot that it was there. He knew he would have to stop soon, but he held out hope of finding some kind of terrain feature for shelter against the night storms. The environmental controls on his suit seemed to be in order, at least for now and had plenty of energy to last until the sun returned. But the thought of hurricane force winds driving the coarse orange sand against the thin fabric of his suit made him shudder. He decided his search for shelter would have to stop however when he almost walked right into a deep crater. He cursed himself as a fool for leaving the scene of the crash, at least he might have used the ship itself for shelter. At the time he had not thought he had flown that far, and that he would be able to see the colony after only an hour or two of walking. He stopped and turned on the light on top of his helmet. He wanted to use the light sparingly, in order to save as much battery power as possible for more critical things like the respirator and the environmental controls. The crater was not deep, but tumbling into it blindly would have definitely ended poorly for him. He thought he saw a slope he could get down on the far side, and turning off his light edged his way towards it. When he reached it, he found that it was indeed a gentle slope down to the bottom of the crater. He followed it down, having forgotten completely about the mining droid behind him. At the bottom of the crater, the darkness was complete. Just as he was reaching up to turn on his helmet light for a brief survey, a bright light surrounded him. He screamed and jumped, the sound echoing loudly inside his helmet. He spun around and saw the droid a few feet away, its work lights on and illuminating the crater nicely. Zeniff bent over to catch his breath and wait for his heart to return to a normal pace. He looked gratefully at the droid. At least he wouldn’t have to drain his suit’s reserves for a little light while he waited out the coming day.
© 2009 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved