In the previous episode, readers voted for the Captain to tackle the doctor while diving into the escape pod and grab the pistol.
Captain Arnold stood ten feet away from the escape pod and stared at the doctor who held the pistol aimed at his chest. The captain knew if he made any sudden movement, it likely could be his last.
In the background, the ship’s computer calmly announced, “Venting complete in 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 – Zzzzrup,” the voice cut off abruptly and the count stopped just as every light in the launch bay suddenly went out.
“What have the infected done now?” the doctor muttered in astonishment.
Through his infrared goggles, Captain Arnold saw the doctor become distracted as he glanced around the now dark launch bay.
The captain seized his chance and rushed at the doctor. He could see the doctor no longer had a good aim on him in the darkness, so he ducked down low as he charged right at him.
The doctor must have heard him coming. “Stop, Captain, or I’ll fire!” The doctor didn’t wait for a response. He fired off a panicked shot at where the captain used to be before the darkness came, but the shot missed.
“Don’t come any closer!” The doctor quickly blind-fired two more times, wildly swinging the pistol. Two bullets flew over the captain’s head, narrowly missing him.
With one fluid motion, the captain tackled the doctor and with his one good hand, he reached for and grabbed at the pistol in the doctor’s hand.
The two impacted, and they tumbled into the escape pod.
“Gimme that gun!” the captain yelled, as he grappled for control, trying to wrestle the pistol away.
In the chaos, the pistol discharged inside the escape pod. The sound was deafening in the small ship. The bullet ricocheted off the metallic walls, barely missing an unconscious Joseph, before it burrowed deeply into the escape pod’s computer console. The screen flickered and then went dark as the sound of an electrical sizzle announced the severe damage the bullet had caused.
The captain and doctor rolled on the ground while the rest of the crew stared onward as the two wrestled under the dim escape pod’s emergency lights. Confused as to who they should help and if anyone was now infected, the crew stood back while the two fought for control of the gun.
“Doc! Stand down,” the captain ordered. “Stand down!” The captain finally pulled the gun away, held it at a safe distance and flipped the safety on. “I told you, I’m not infected!”
The doctor made no reply, and he continued to look unconvinced of the captain’s words, but he ceased his struggling.
The captain picked himself up off the ground, freeing the doctor whom he had pinned under him. As soon as he was standing, the sparking computer console quickly stole his attention when he realized the severity of the problem.
“This is bad!” The captain looked at the damage and saw the escape pod’s launch-control computer was destroyed. “Without that computer … We can’t launch.” The captain shook his head.
A weakened voice from the back of the escape pod spoke up. It was the injured Corporal Jackson, who still held on to consciousness. “You can still launch the pod from the outside manual controls (cough). You need to hand crank the door open and flip the release locks (cough). Then the pod will slide out into space … away from this craziness.”
The captain knew someone would have to go back out there to perform this final act. But he wondered if whoever did this would have enough time to run back and jump into the escape pod before it slipped away.
The captain went over to the wall of the escape pod, and with his infrared goggles he peered out of the window to see if he could spot where the manual release controls were. All of a sudden a heat signature flashed in his vision, and then another.
“Oh no!” the captain gasped. The rest of the crew became silent, scared by the captain’s words.
With horror the captain turned his head toward the main hallway door that led into the launch bay. Prior to the power failure, the door had closed and trapped a whole throng of infected that had pursued them. But now, because of the power failure, the door no longer held strong. The infected that had been sealed behind the hallway door had pried it open and proceeded to spill out into the launch bay, looking for their next prey.
The infected seemed much slower to the captain. They appeared to be gasping for breath in the thin air and struggling to move. The ship hadn’t totally vented before the power failure stopped the process, and there must have been just enough air in the launch bay to keep them alive and roaming.
“They’re coming,” the captain said dejectedly in a low voice. “They’re coming toward us.”
The captain had to issue an order now. Someone had to go out and release the locks on the escape pod before the slowly approaching group of infected could reach them. The captain looked down at his own punctured environmental suit and frozen dead hand. He felt it should be him that should risk it, but since he only had one good hand he’d be risking the whole crew’s safety if he couldn’t get the job done. Whom does the Captain order to go out and manually release the escape pod locks? Please return to the top of this episode to vote on what happens next!