PULL HIM IN! QUICK!
We both grabbed Jerry at each side, by the shirt sleeve and the cuff, and yanked him on-board. Jerry was breathing so hard.
– BREATHE SLOW JERRY, BREATHE SLOW!
Tommy begged him to maintain a steady respiratory level. To keep calm, but Jerry was in a crazed trance. The ship growled back into life. His eyes were wide open and zipped all over the ship as if we weren’t even there. He was chalk white, too. Tommy ripped open Jerry’s shirt and he let out a high pitched howl like a frightened animal or a little girl. Jerry was one of the toughest guys I ever met – he didn’t make these kinds of noises.
– I JUST SEEN THE UGLIEST KID I EVER SEEN IN MY WHOLE LIFE!
On his bare chest were huge black leeches sucking at him. One covered from Jerry’s collar bone to his left nipple and as it bled him out, it pulsated and made grotesque, wet sounds. One was working his belly and was overlapped by another leech drinking the blood from the area around his ribcage. Tommy had the first aid trunk opened and was frantically searching for the tranquillisers.
– FOUND ‘EM! – He screamed triumphantly before zapping each of the leeches until they subsided. When they’d stopped drinking and moving around, Tommy and I started peeling them off Jerry’s torso. The skin where he’d been drained was all white and puckered. At that stage we couldn’t guess how much fluid he’d lost.
– Thought you said this planet was uninhabited?
– It was.
– How’d you explain these then? – Tommy pointed to one of the blood worms still squirming hysterically on the ship’s deck before it finally ceased mobility like the others.
– I don’t know, do I?
– You’re the ship’s navigator! It’s your job to know these things!
He was right enough. It was my job to know these things. Only I could’ve sworn there was no organic reading on the map anywhere near the Quasi-belt. It was a desert. Nothing could survive here, everyone knew that. There was a loud THUD coming from the cockpit. Jerry tried to sit up.
– Just relax Jerry mate – Tommy stayed with him while I investigated the source of the noise. Through the shutter window there was no sign of Pierre, our pilot.
– What’s going on back there? – Yelled Tommy but I didn’t want to panic him or Jerry any further if I could help it. The shutter lifted open and behind the head rest, slumped into the crook of the drivers chair was Pierre.
– Pierre? – I tried slapping him awake but when I saw the gash on his temple I realized he was dead. I couldn’t figure out what had happened to him. This was crazy, a disaster. I looked up out the ships front window and saw the oncoming sea of desert. I tried grabbing at the break-pull but nothing was happening. We just kept nose diving towards the orange abyss. I eventually had to shout on Tommy. Then I blacked out…
Jerry dragged me from the ship’s wreckage. I was so relieved to see that I had survived and that my friend
was ok. Then my relief gave way to abject horror when I looked down to see I had two bloody stumps where my legs used to be. I completely lost it. I looked over at Jerry who had a kind of guilty expression on his face.
– I had to cut ‘em off man, you were jammed tight between the hull and the sand. They were totally crushed, no saving ‘em anyway.
There was no pain, thank god, but I passed out cold from the shock.
I woke up again. This time I was huddled over Jerry’s shoulder like a camping bag. The planet around us was just an endless valley of wind-blown dunes and dry lakes. I could feel my mouth chapping already. Jerry was wheezing. His massive beard sparkled with sweat.
– I see you’re awake then buddy.
– Yeah… – You should know that articulating myself hasn’t come easy at the best of times (a poor attribute to have for a navigator I guess).
– This place kind of reminds me of Nevada, only more hospitable.
I looked around and tried to see beyond the haze of heat.
– Where are we goin?
– Heading South.
– What’s South?
– Don’t know…
– How do you know you’re even going South?
– I don’t…
– Well that’s my mind at ease then…