One Way To Mars
Andrew Foreman felt the tugging on his arms, and shook his head.
There was a smell of something smouldering, of electrical wiring melting and fusing together.
There were other smells, too. None of them nice. Foreman dared to open his eyes. Monkley was
staring right back at him.
'Asshole,' said Monkely. It was one of his favourite words.
'Right. But apart from that, are you pleased to see me?'
Foreman tried moving his limbs; cautiously at first. Nothing seemed broken. Bruised, certainly,
battered, definitely. Understandably. That was to be expected. Still being alive, now that was a
surprise. Monkley passed him his helmet. Foreman ignored the pain in his shoulder and secured
the helmet. Struggling to his feet, Foreman felt light-headed, and had to lean against the wall to
remain upright. Once his vision had cleared, he passed his hand over the sensor to open the door.
Nothing happened. He tried again. Still nothing. He hammered on the door.
'Hey! You guys. How about letting me out of here?' Nothing. 'Phillips? Mauler? Sanders? Hello.
The lack of response worried him. The smell of the fried electronics terrified him. The ship,
what was left of it, was about to blow. He hammered hard on the door, simultaneously waving his
palm in front of the sensor. Then he tried a coordinated assault on the door, kicking and
hammering at the same time. Nothing. He stepped back. He stared at the door as if by mental
control, he could will the thing open. Apparently not.
'Step back,' he told Monkley.
Monkely jumped up onto his cage, wondering what Foreman was going to try next.
'Yeah? Like you got any bright ideas?'
He charged the door. The fact it was a sliding door, and therefore not conducive to being
rammed open, didn't deter him. He bounced off the door and landed on his backside on the floor.
There was a groaning sound and the door unjammed itself, opening a few inches.
'Yeah? An asshole, am I?' He got up. 'Well, you just remember it was this asshole who got us
out of here.' He pulled on the partially opened door, but it wasn't giving in without a fight. 'Don't
just sit there, you nut-job. Give me a hand here.'
Monkley obliged by setting his three foot body below Foreman's and between them they applied
all the force they could. Ignoring the possible hernia he could give himself, Foreman gave the job
his all, as did Monkley. Something gave, and thankfully, it didn't involve tearing of muscles. It
was only a few more inches, but it was enough. Monkley got through the gap easily, Foreman's
face turned purple at the effort to squeeze his body through the gap. Suddenly, he was free.
Three bodies lay on the floor. Commander Ashley Phillips, Captain Donna Sanders, Science
Officer Elizabeth Mauler, were twisted up into impossible contortions. Impossible for living
people, anyway. There was a substantial amount of blood on their un-helmeted heads from where
they had collided with the unforgiving and unyielding alloy shell of the ship. Foreman gave them a
quick and unqualified check, but even to an untrained layman they were clearly dead.
They had been caught out by the suddenness of the dramatic and catastrophic failure of the
ship's propulsion systems. After seven months of confinement on the cramped ship, they were all
excited to be finally at the end of their journey, and eager to get off the ship. Phillips had just