John gained consciousness upon the ground, his face so saturated in warm blood he was blinded. The small room he was in was silent save a distance rumbling. Somehow in his pre-enlightened daze he knew it to be the sound of the last of the escape pods hastily fleeing.
For a moment reality eluded him but slowly everything began to come back to him: the sounds of alarms, panic, hoards of miners running frantically with their families carrying whatever possessions they could find, a piece of a grind shaft off the back of a faulty escape pod flying towards him too fast for reaction, and finally pain followed by the sweet lull of nothingness.
John tried to move. Pain kept him grounded.
“It’s ok, I’m here,” said a woman’s voice. It was only then he realized someone was holding his hand.
“Mona? Mona, we got to get out of here.”
“It’s too late.”
“The sun?” It was a whisper.
“Three minutes, give or take,” said Mona, her calm voice betraying the panic flooding through her every thought.
“You stayed with me?”
“Actually I was left here,” she said with a mirthless laugh.
“Oh Mona, we shouldn’t have come here. I am so sorry,” said John in the weak, raspy voice of a man on the verge of unconsciousness. Neither had delusions they would survive this.
Over the panic, over the pain, over the fear of death, John felt regret. Regret for talking her into coming to this small mining moon against her will so long ago. Regret for putting his greed in front of her/their interest. Regret for that fact that despite everything, even in death, she was willing to stick by his side.
He knew the risk when they came to this small moon circling a gas giant in the Lomos system. It was the richest and cheapest source of precious metals this side of the Galaxy.
Everything seemed perfect. The only catch was the blue giant sun hovering in the sky had reached the end of its burn and was on the verge of supernova. They knew it could happen any day.
Mona only let her pent-up anger towards John fuel her for a moment, then she calmed herself, letting it drain from her body. Time was too short to dwell things that could never be. All that was left were these last few moments together. John could sense the full range of emotions in her every word.
The realization dawned on him like a slap in the face: He never deserved her. It was the last thing he ever thought.
Outside, the blue giant began to flicker. Mona looked up through the clear, domed ceiling, closed her eyes, and immersed her face in its silver light.
“Well, this is it,” she said with tears streaking down her face, yet despite everything, there was a strange comfort of finality in these last moments.
Mona looked back to John, now unconscious, and kissed him on his cold, bloody forehead. She then put her head on his chest and listened as his pulse got fainter and fainter. In one final act of defiance, Mona ripped the life support filters running directly to her lungs and, ignoring the pain, laid down beside John and felt as their duel heartbeats faded as one.
After only seconds, as John and Mona’s hearts’ beat one final time, the chemical reaction of the blue giant reached its apex causing it to expand in a violent explosion that washed away all memories of John and Mona and that small mining colony forever.
© Joe Jablonski
Joe writes out of Charlotte, NC. He has work published or forthcoming in over twenty publications, both online and print, including M-Brane SF, Title Goes Here:, Short-Story.ME! Genre Fiction, the Absent Willow Review, Liquid Imagination, and Aurora Wolf.
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