The rope snapped and I knew I was gone. The “rope” having been made to withstand both zero degrees Kelvin and six hundred degrees Fahrenheit, snapped just after attempting to yank my body back to the ship. Luckily, the suit took most of the force or I’m pretty sure my back would have broken. I guess that’s the good and the bad of it. My suit worked perfectly, keeping me safe, while the rope worked against it and lost, leaving me to float listlessly twenty miles off the dark side of Mercury. The suit worked too well. It kept me safe but at the cost of my life. Ironic.

My momentum was too fast and in the wrong direction. The thick gloves specifically designed to keep atmosphere within my suit made it impossible to grip nearly anything, but that was if there had been anything to grab in the first place. I watched as the one-man craft slowly fell into the pull of the planet’s gravity. It took nearly an hour before it hit the upper atmosphere. The cockpit was open and the angle was just perfect for the entire ship to break to pieces in seconds. It looked like a one-off bottle rocket we used to shoot off as kids.

The sun peaked around the planet. Or rather, I drifted out of the planet’s shadow. Semantics really. The result was the same and inevitable. Before me stood the most unforgiving atmosphere ever created. Pure fusion. Pure destruction. Pure creation. A field of light and fire. Within minutes I would be cooked in my suit as the radiation of the sun pummeled me. The second option would be to unseal my suit and freeze to death. I always wondered if it were true that humans can survive up to fifteen seconds in vacuum before succumbing to oxygen deprivation or hypothermia. Would it be similar to having consciousness after the guillotine? This was a time for me to find an answer to the unanswerable. The end result is inevitable.

I reached for the seal on my right glove. Perhaps I’d get more time if I unsealed there instead of taking off my helmet. Logically it’s sound, but we are in unexplored waters. I gripped the release and looked up at the sun through the soon-to-be-useless shade protecting my eyes. Suddenly, I was reminded of a poem I’d read long ago.

Some say the world will end in fire, 
Some say in ice. 
From what I’ve tasted of desire 
I hold with those who favor fire. 
But if it had to perish twice, 
I think I know enough of hate 
To say that for destruction ice 
Is also great 
And would suffice.
It was by Robert Frost. Hmm…ironic. I opened the seal.

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