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Pandora Syndrome

by BP | Score: 6650

Alira's heart races. The siren in the distance means life support has failed. The doors are sealing, ensuring the base camp turns into a tomb. If there's any hope to escape, she needs to reach the auxiliary controls. Rerouting power to the life support system could save the entire base, but if she fails at that there's always the nuclear option. Deactivate the safe guards. Cut power. Give people a chance to escape.

It would mean a more gruesome death. And the potential to unleash foreign agents--plant and microbial life--into the atmosphere, causing untold damage. But people would have a chance.

She reaches the electrical cabinet. Her hands are shaking. Heavy, rasping breathes ring in her ears. She doesn't remember putting on her helmet, but here it is caging her breathing, reverberating it back on her. The visor is supposed to be fog resistant, but at the edges she can see her vision begin to blur as moisture gathers. 

The cabinet casing falls to the floor with a muffled clatter and her hands are already working the wires, digging through them like a surgeon desperately searching for the rupture among a braid of arteries. Where is it? Where it the wound slowly leaking life away?

She finds it. Her heart hammers in her chest. Raising the [clippers] she begins dividing the wires, separating the potentially life saving from the merely life preserving. What does she cut? What facet of life will need to be sacrificed?

She raises her hand. The clippers fall. Something bursts above her and smoke and sparks fill the room. Her chance has passed. All that's left for her now is to cut the main, unlock the doors, unleash hope and hell on the world.

She grabs hold of the wires with both hands, yanks, screams as electricity surges through her body. This is the end. Lunar Pandora opening the box, letting god knows what out .

Alira hears herself scream before realizing she's awake. Another nightmare. Her fifth of the month and December is only two weeks old. The rest of her routine is rote by now. Throw the covers off. Shower, quickly. She's got it down to five minutes now. Dry off.  Not wanting to waste the camp's energy, she's been opting to air dry. She's gotten used to it; acclimated it into her schedule. She boots up her computer, checks the monitoring systems. Makes tea.
By the time it's done and her body is dry she's donning her suit, checking every buckle, every valve. People have begun mocking her for the behavior. Not openly, obviously, this is a professional space still, but she's [entuned] enough to know when people are whispering behind her back. She doesn't mind. Preparation supersedes petty things like social performance. She's prepared because she needs to be. If being an outlier is the only cost, she'd pay it gladly.

The tea finishes. She scoops up her cup, pours. A quick, satisfying whiff before the first sip is the only indulgence she allows herself. Then it's consumption, consumption, consumption. The warmth readies her body, the caffeine steadies her mind. Her eyes and fingers go to work, crawling over charts, interrogating number after number, comparing today's readings to yesterdays. This week's to last. This month, to the previous. And so on. Nothing can slip past her. People's lives depend on it. This is her job.

When the numbers clear, she's back up, running through checklist. This is where the day is won and lost. The morning makes sense; a perfect chain of sensible actions and reactions. She has even begun to count on the nightmares. If they wake her up and get her going, then the cold sweat and momentary terror is worth it.

"I'll remember this." That was the promise she made to herself when she realized the dreams would not be going away. If something in her subconscious was telling her to be afraid, and prepare for the worst, then she would listen to it.

Except listening to it and following through was not always an easy thing to do. A new managing director had arrived the other day. Alira had made a note to check in with him. If she would be reporting to him then she needed to make sure he was fully aware of the base's shortcomings. Maybe they could finally snag the ear of a [commander] and get the funding for another backup generator. Reams of digital paper had been spent explaining why two  was unwholly inadequate for a basecamp of their size. And since Alira had been the one  to write those reports, she assumed it wasn't so much the message that had lost its urgency, but the messenger. If she could get her words onto the lips of the new director then possibly they could get this one extra thing. And maybe, Alira could rest a bit easier.

Except she had lost the director's extension. Frantic, she ran through the room, first upturning everything that lay in her path before slowling down, breathing, and trying to think through it logically. 

Completed challenges

The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:

Begin Start typing to begin
Words Reach 50 words
Words Reach 100 words
Words Reach 200 words
Words Reach 300 words
Event Your character wakes up with a start
Location A camp
Letter Use the letter N
Words Reach 400 words
Prop Include a buckle
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Sentence "I will remember this."
Words Reach 700 words
Words Reach 800 words
Event An important phone number is lost
Letter Use the letter G

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