Novus Prime, 2
Copyright © 2016 by Kelex
“Hurry,” Titus Abernathy hissed to his son. Talking triggered another bout of the dreaded coughing. He choked back the sensation before lifting a bloody rag to his lips and attempting to muffle the sound. Still, it echoed in the cargo bay.
His son jumped onto the edge of the transport and handed Titus the re-breather. Hopefully it would be enough to keep them both alive during the journey, but not if he used the oxygen inside more than necessary.
Titus brushed his son’s hands away when the boy lifted the re-breather to Titus’ face and turned on the oxygen full blast. “No,” he whispered forcefully. “We can’t waste it.”
“You need it. More than I do.”
The transport had no life support systems in the cargo section. Once it departed—hopefully with the pair of them onboard—they’d have zero air until the ship docked. They’d only been able to grab one re-breather. They’d have to share it during the journey.
It was beyond dangerous. Two days to make it to the station and then they’d have all the air they could breathe—although they wouldn’t be safe then, either. Once on the station, they’d hide until they found the right ship to stowaway on and then maybe they’d find safe harbor at the end.
Why Titus had allowed himself to be talked into the journey, he wasn’t sure. Another cough wracked his body, reminding him the end approached. His son should be taking this trip alone, for he was the only one worthy of saving. He wiped the blood from his lips and pushed the re-breather away again.
The sound of footsteps approached.
“Hurry. Get inside,” Titus snapped under his breath.
His son pushed him down before snapping the lid to the cargo bin shut in a rush. Titus lifted his hand to bang on the lid, but hesitated, knowing guards could be nearby. His heart raced as he realized he could only sit there silently, waiting until the cargo bay was empty again and hope his son wasn’t found.
Long seconds passed. Sweat prickled at his temple and nape. Sound was muffled by the cargo container, though he could hear low noises outside.
The container began to vibrate around him, and he realized the transport’s engines had been turned on. He worked at the latch from the inside, desperate to leave. In the pitch black, he couldn’t find the release. He searched the edges, his hands shaking, but he couldn’t find a means to escape.
Another round of coughing shook his frame. He lifted the cloth to his lips, wiping away at the wetness he found there.
No. Noooo… The transport wasn’t supposed to leave until the morning, once the dim light filtered through the heavy swirling gas layer that surrounded the planet. As the engines roared to life, he banged on the lid, trying to get away. He wouldn’t leave without his son.
The last of his line.
He’d already lost two children, he wouldn’t leave another behind.
He was dying. He couldn’t be the one to get off the damned planet.
Tears stung his eyes as he fought the lid. His lungs burned all the more, and the coughing took over again. The ship had left the cargo bay, and the oxygen was thinning. He fell back, searching the container for the re-breather. Titus lifted it with a shaking hand to his lips, struggling to turn on the oxygen.
With the first rush of air to his lungs, he drew in, only to convulse in coughing. He dropped to the bottom of the container, his body shaking from the disease ravaging him.
It should’ve been him.