Here is the final offering of my short SF story. This is a shorten version with a segment left out. That segment was a special conversation between Cramer and Mona. It contained some endearing remarks between the two characters and some astronomical observations by Cramer. Did you know there are asteroids locked in Jupiter's orbit, an area known as the Lagrangian Point? That is a stable area forming an equalateral triangle between Jupiter, the sun and the Lagrangian Point. Now you didn't need to know that did you? Time for the final segment.
Cramer groped in the dark, seeking for warmth, fleeing from thirty-eight Kelvins at the end of the hall behind him. A soft hand on a long elastic arm pulled him forward toward a comforting orange light ahead. Yielding, he tried to help that wonderful hand.
“Joe, come out of it.” The familiar voice came from a blurry vision that coalesced like cloudy water losing its fine air bubbles. A lovely face with shiny, long blond hair clarified: Mona. How wonderful she looked in her flight coveralls. Cramer grasped her hand with both of his. Tears flooded his eyes, not from a brush with death, but angry, unforgiving tears at his irresponsible actions.
“How could I be so stupid? A rank amateur wouldn’t even unclip their safety line.” Cramer gritted his teeth at the thought. Mona carefully pulled him to a sitting position.
“Don’t go beating yourself up,” Mona said, her wonderful consoling aura soothing him.
“Look at the years of experience I’ve had on mining ventures in space. You’d think. . .”
“Hush!” Mona placed her forefinger on his lips. When he started to finish his self-condemnation, she placed her palm over his mouth.
“Think about it, Joe. You saved your own life by disconnecting from that line.” Cramer squinted at that statement.
“Whatever do you mean?”
“If you had been attached to that line when the geyser hit you, I know your neck would have snapped or your helmet seal would have broken when the slack was gone.” Mona squeezed Cramer’s arm, a serious look spreading across her face.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Cramer said, wanting to believe her.
“The force of that geyser would be magnified without any atmosphere to buffer the nitrogen blast.” Cramer thought about it. Mona’s logic was flawless. He would have been killed as he remembered how far the nitrogen jet had sent him.
“You’re right but it was pure stupidity that I unhooked myself.”
“No, it wasn’t. Look how many times in the past you’ve done something on the spur of the moment and you, me or somebody has been saved.” Mona cupped Cramer’s face with her hands. He took a deep breath at her touch and reached up and took her hands with his.
“I owe you my life anyway. We’d better finish our job.”
“We’re done. That last batch was very high grade thorium. Witherspoon will be happy with what we’ve got. Let’s prepare for the trip back.”
Witherspoon, happy with the high grade thorium, had another mission for them, but Cramer and Mona adamantly refused to let him force another postponement of their wedding. They got by with that since Witherspoon considered they were the best miners, along with Cramer’s old mining partner, Floyd.
Everything fell in place this time. Cramer and his late wife’s daughter, Cindy, stood with Mona, and Floyd stood with Cramer. On the sandy shore of Burr Oak Lake in the wilds of Ohio, they exchanged their vows. It was here that they had first said those wonderful words of “I love you.”
I hope you enjoyed this story. As I said, I've submitted this to an online magazine that pays a hefty per word on acceptance. We'll see what happens in a few weeks. Consider this story and all previous segments copyrighted material. Thanks for those who have followed the story, Laurie, Miss Mae and Anne. Hope others have too. As always I invite any comments you may have. Larry