She was no longer in the cockpit. She had been thrown from her seat, evidently, and drawn back into the long central corridor of the ship on a tide of molten air. Her head stung, distracting her from the more familiar pain still left in her arm. The throbbing of her temples was fierce, and her vision was clouded – by more than the burning ship.
Akane remembered being a child, running through this garden, blissful and unaware. Her friends would visit her, and sit for hours at the bases of trees, feeling the cool, clear wind, marvelling. She could never understand it. Now, after years in Osaka and in the United States and on long haul space flights to the distant Alpha colony, Akane could finally recognise the wonder in a soft breeze.
Howard still sat with his eyes closed in the Captain’s chair, looming up and over Akane’s station at the front of the cockpit. She could hear him breathe, slow and smooth. She shuddered as she imagined the warm breath cooling on the back of her neck. She gripped the ship’s controls tight, snatched at them to escape the feeling of surveillance, and felt one of her hands slap wetly on the stick. "You're bleeding on my ship, Pilot."
Everyone is gone. She can’t see, but she can sense the glaring absence – she’s alone in the dark. As the lights flickered out, everyone disappeared. Their candles snuffed. The faint tremor of their silently whirring bodies, a feeling that ripples out through the air and comforts one another’s quiet souls, now gone. Hushed.
Fredriks collapsed to his knees in a sea of blue. Wherever he was, the geometry was beyond his understanding. There was only colour – a wide wash of azure that enveloped him, held him up, kept at bay the cold void outside. It was a serene escape, a final twist in his final journey. And it would all be for naught if he died within the all too tangible confines of a space helmet.