Writer’s Note: So, moving this weekend sorta distracted me. I got reeeeally close again, but it’s late and I gotta work tomorrow. So…
Last time on Gravity for the first time… Our young engineer, Romero had just made a stunning revelation, “Dio mi… are we under water?”
Shmee blinked, processing what Romero just said.
“Wait, is that what this is?” It had been explained to her before, of course, by adults and her sister. She just never expected it to feel so… claustrophobic. She had assumed from their descriptions that… swimming… in water would have felt much like her movement on the ship. She had not been properly warned about the extra pulling she felt in her head and muscles, and she fought another wave of nausea.
“Did you open the hatch, Shmee?”
“No! I just woke up and it was like this.”
Romero started the awkward struggle out of his straps.
“Well, someone must have. Do you see anyone missing?”
“I…” Shmee struggled to count the outstretched limbs floating through what she now knew was murky water. “I can’t tell.”
“Try to wake everyone up! I’ll check out what’s going on outside.”
She brought her legs up to kick away, but the movement spun her forward. She pushed her hands up and gripped Romero’s shoulders to steady herself before bringing her legs up again.
“Ha! You’ll get used it.”
Shmee kicked away and felt the curious sensation of the water rippling along the skin of her suit as she sluggishly made her way back to her sister’s side of the pod.
Shmee got the feeling Romero had meant to add that last part to himself.
She had almost slowed to a stop before reaching Perdie. With a few experimental motions, she managed to spin herself around to face her unconscious sister. Gripping a shoulder for leverage, she pushed Perdie’s head back so that her light shined into her face.
“Perdie? Perdie! Wake up!”
There was a fluttering of the eyelids, then nothing.
Shmee thudded her sister’s helmet backwards against the wall. The movement was frustratingly weak through the water but it elicited a groan over the communicator.
Her big sister screwed up her face and lethargically tried to push the light out of her eyes. Shmee breathed a sigh of relief. That would have to be enough for now. She gripped the empty traps along the wall to move to the next unconscious passenger.
It was only a few minutes before most of the passengers were waking up. Shmee left them to unbuckle themselves. She couldn’t tell which person was missing through the helments, the only other passenger she was sure of being Doctor Souchong. He was having the hardest time waking up, and was still struggling to open his eyes when Romero returned. He looked at the people helping each other out of the safety harnesses, their helmet lights sweeping dimly through the water.
“Everyone! We’re not to far from the surface! Grab a buddy and hold on tight.” He held himself in the hatchway. “This hatch is facing down.”
Down, Shmee thought. The hatch is down.
“Once you go through, you just follow the side of the pod all the way up and then it’s a clear rise….”
Up? Shmee thought. But the pod was round. How could following the side of the pod be up all the way? When would she know to leave the pod? She looked around. Everyone else seemed to take this direction easily. She was about to ask when the person next her began to spasm. It was Doctor Souchong.
“It’s Doctor Souchong! There’s something wrong!”
She watched Romero paddle his limbs to swim toward them and marveled at how the motion easily propelled him forward. He spread his arms and suspended himself before the stiff suit of the old man.
“He’s having a seizure! What? Doctor Souchong!” Shmee watched them for a helpless moment as Romero peered through the glass of the Doctor’s helmet. “He’s out of air. I gotta move him now!” He hooked an arm under one shoulder and kicked his feet to swim backwards. “Everyone move now! He’s out, we should all be out!”
She watched the legs of the two men disappear through the hatch. It was quickly crowded by the rest of the panicked figures. The lights of their helmets blocked by their own bodies, swamping Shmee and Perdie in darkness.
Shmee turned to Perdie and grabbed her hand.
“Are you ready?”
Her big sister seemed to nod but didn’t answer.
It was hard to tell through the random sqawking clipping in from the others over the radio, but Shmee thought she heard a moan. She let go of her sister’s hand and pulled a shoulder toward her instead. Through the mask of the helmet, she could see that Perdie was awake, but her eyes were tired and unfocused.
“Perdie, look at me?” There was a moment when her eyes seemed to focus, but their gaze slid through Shmee to something far away. “Oh no. Oh no, oh no, oh no! Perdie, come on, we have to go!”
She pulled at the arm of her sister and tried to kick away, but the drag yanked her back.
“Come on, Perdie! You’re running out of air! You gotta,” she tried to kick like Romero had, “You gotta move. You said you’d make sure I got through this! Help! Me!”
Without warning, the older girl pushed from the wall, and the younger held on, trying to kick as they moved toward the now vacant hatch. Perdie reached through it like one in a trance, her movements sluggish even for the thickness of the water. Shmee felt a strange rush to head as she pulled herself through and her stomach protested again. The thought occurred to her that they must both be running low. It caused panic to spike through her chest and she started breathing heavily.
“Stupid!” She said to herself. “Stupid, stupid, why did you have to think that?”
Once clear of the hatch, her helmet’s light illuminated only the cloud of thick debris swirling in the water around them.
“The hatch is down. Now… we go up.” She said it out loud to herself; the sound of it comforting her, even if she still doubted where she knew when she had reached “up.”
As she considered this, her back found its way to the wall of pod behind them. She pushed away experimentally and felt herself drawn to it again.
She grabbed for Perdie, who had remained by the hatch in a daze. Shmee began to crawl along the shell of the pod with her sister moving listlessly beside her. She was still worrying over when she would know to leave the pod, when her sister began to float away on her own. Shmee had noticed the shift of pressure in her head, but didn’t know what it meant until now.
Still holding on to her sister, she let go and felt herself get drawn away but an unseen force. The pod was immediately swallowed up in the churning darkness.