J. Mitch Hopper
A clamor of seamless noise began to grow in the background. It sounded like a circus carnival heard from far off, drifting in and out on a summer breeze. He slowly reached up to take her hands in his but felt only the texture of his own wet beard. Through tiny eye-slits he began to see again. The image was out of focus and still had that swimy, dreamlike quality. Her voice was gone now, replaced by an excited, droning male, "Gene, come in! Do you read me, Gene? Gene! Pick up the com! I can see you but you've gotta respond! Gene!"
Christ, it was coming back now. A week ago, perhaps just a moment, there was an explosion. At least it must have been an explosion; maybe a collision. The station runabout, Tango-Delta had lurched and he had blacked out. Automatic reflexes learned long ago were slowly starting to kick in. Stabilize. Nothing else mattered until the craft was stable. There was no wild pitch or yaw right now and no particular acceleration, but he didn't know his status. He had to know his status.
"Gene! Come on, talk to me! Is your com working?" There was a pause in the com-channel voice, then "Clear the channel. We have a declared emergency. All craft, clear this channel. Home Plate, I have him on vid now and am tracking. I'll try for an intercept." Another short pause, then, "Gene, get your act together and snap out of it!" The voice was crystal clear now but there was no way he was going to respond until he got these God damn alarms off.
He was operating on pure conditioned reflex now but his own personal status was starting to register. Blood was running down the side of his face and there was no question about his broken leg; the bone splinter peeking out of his uniform below the knee was hard to miss.