In episode 6 readers voted for Captain Arnold to yell, “Get a rope to pull him out. Then let’s wait to see if he becomes infected.”
Captain Arnold saw the lieutenant rushing toward the door to help free Donnelly. The infected had a firm grasp on Donnelly, keeping him from escaping. But the infected itself was trapped, pinned in the door; all it could do was cling onto the trapped soldier.
“Wait!” the captain yelled. “Get a rope to pull him out. Don’t touch Donnelly. He’s probably infected.”
Donnelly roared in protest, “I’m not infected! I’m not!”
The captain didn’t want to lose another of his crew. But the chances for Donnelly looked grim.
Lieutenant Nelson grabbed a tie down rope from the launch bay floor and threw one end to Donnelly. The captain joined the lieutenant and yanked on the rope. With a heave, they pulled Donnelly free from the hands of the infected. Then the captain saw what he was afraid of—the infected had dug its fingernails deep into Donnelly’s skin, drawing blood.
Through his infrared goggles the captain could see the telltale signs of the heat signature of the infection spreading rapidly on Donnelly’s skin.
With no weapon at his disposal, the captain knew they were in trouble, so he tried to buy some time. “Donnelly, stay here! Don’t follow us.”
“But I’m … I’m … I…,” Donnelly’s voice trailed off as his mind began to go.
“Stay here, Soldier. That’s an order!”
Donnelly didn’t respond, and his body started to shake.
Urgency filled the captain’s voice, and he turned to the others. “Quick, Lieutenant, lead the others to the escape pod. I have to go to the control room to vent the ship.” The captain split from the others and raced to the computer.
The captain had to hurry. Donnelly would soon turn into a threat that would jeopardize their whole plan.
Rushing into the control room, the captain immediately started entering commands on the computer. But as he was about to enter the final approval, he heard a loud crash as a body came flying through the window. It was Donnelly, who was now completely infected.
The captain frantically entered the final commands into the computer. The computer’s electronic voice responded, “Override accepted. Venting of air commencing. Estimated time to completion—90 seconds.”
The infected Donnelly rushed at the captain, but the captain rolled out of the way and out the control room door. Then he got to his feet, and started to run. Behind him, he heard loud footsteps closing in. If he could only clear the corner around the coolant tank, then he would have a straight shot to the escape pod.
But the infected Donnelly caught up, and it hurled itself at the captain, knocking him to the floor. The captain picked up the only thing he saw to defend himself, a wrench lying on the ground next to the coolant tank. He swung at the infected Donnelly, hitting him squarely in the chest, doing little damage. The infected Donnelly punched back. The wrench flew out of the captain’s hands and smacked into a hose on the coolant tank, causing the hose to rupture and tear off the tank. The hose wildly sprayed sub-zero liquid nitrogen from the coolant tank as it squirmed through the air.
The captain pushed his hand against the infected’s chest, trying to keep him away. But the infected grabbed the captain’s hand and bent it backwards. Then it sunk its fingernail deep into the captain’s hand, piercing through his environmental suit. The captain stared into the eyes of the infected. Gone were the soft, blue, pleading eyes of Donnelly he knew. Instead, he saw red blood-shot eyes filled with malice and anger. In just one minute, the infection changed the crewman from an ally to an enemy.
The captain feared that soon he would be joining Donnelly as one of the infected. But just then the writhing coolant hose swung down and hit the infected in the face, spewing its insanely cold contents. The infected reeled back, blinded by the sudden jolt. The captain seized the opportunity. With his good hand, he clasped onto the twisting hose. Wrangling it in, he aimed it at the infected and liquid nitrogen sprayed out of the hose and onto the infected. The infected reacted; it raged and lunged toward the cause of its pain, but as it flailed its movements began to slow and slow until finally it stopped in mid-attack.
The captain exhaled as he saw his attacker had been neutralized, frozen solid into a statue.
“60 seconds until venting complete,” a computer voice calmly announced.
The captain looked down at his injured hand, and horror filled him. Through his goggles, he saw the signs that something was wrong. During his scuffle with the infected, his hand was grabbed and his suit was pierced. There was no denying it. The captain clearly saw the infection had transferred to his hand and soon he knew the infection would also take the rest of him. His only hope was to stop the infection before it found its way into his bloodstream.
The air was getting thinner and harder for the captain to breathe.
A calm voice announced, “40 seconds until venting complete.”