My thanks to Karina Fabian, co-editor of Infinite Space Infinite God II, a sci-fi compilation, for allowing me to post an excerpt from her book. Check out my review here.
Karina is offering a free e-copy of her book to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment below before Monday, May 9th.
This excerpt is from Karina Fabian’s short story, Antivenin:
No, Ann was not durak. Now if Rita could just keep from doing anything lethally stupid. She grabbed the line, gave it a tug of her own to make sure it was secure, and pulled herself to the Mark 16:18.
Once inside the other ship, they exited the suits, positioning them for emergency donning. Then Rita set up the rescue balloons: nanomylar bags large enough to hold a man. Once sealed, a small motor generated air and heat for thirty minutes–an hour with an expansion pack. She pulled out the retractable strap on her medical kit and slung it over her shoulder.
Ann, meanwhile, had tried to contact the pilot and passenger both via the intercom and by yelling down the hall. Nothing.
Sr. Thomas spoke over their headsets. “Small asteroids coming. Brace yourself!”
They managed to grab the threshold just as the ship jinxed wildly to the left.
Sr. Thomas called, “At least two more, but you have a couple of minutes. Ann, can you disable those sensors before we jerk that tow line off?”
Rita’s stomach clutched at the thought. “You go to engineering. I’ll search for wounded.”
Ann hurried down the corridor, while Rita followed more slowly, opening each door to scan the room. The ship was larger than she’d expected: six doors on each side led to rooms that had been converted to storage. Most were packed wall to wall, floor to ceiling, with an empty strip just wide enough for a person to pull something off a shelf and carry it out. She wondered what kind of cargo the ship carried.
It was eerily quiet, with nothing but the background hum of the engine, the hissing of doors and the sound of her own footsteps. What had happened to the crew?
“Rita! I found someone in the center compartment. He’s unconscious. Respiration shallow. He’s drooling a lot. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Ann, pull up your collar, now.” She pulled at the collar of her own skinsuit. The tightly compacted fibers stretched until the fabric covered her mouth and nose. She pressed along her nose and cheeks with thumb and forefinger, creating a seal. The fabric, actually a sophisticated biofilter, would enable her to breathe while blocking most airborne hazards. “Make him comfortable. I’m on my way. If there’s nothing you can do, go on to engineering.”
“I thought I heard something in the port corridor. I’m going to check that first.”
“But if the tow line breaks–”
“Basilica has more. Tommie will catch us again.”
It only took Rita a minute to get down the long hall, through the pie-shaped galley room and into the central hub. Ann had set the man upright against the wall and put a slap-patch on his cheek: Oxyboost and a mild stimulant. A second patch read his vital signs.
Rita knelt beside him and puzzled over his stats. They looked more like poisoning than a virus. His face was slack, eyelids drooping. She lifted one. The dilated pupils responded sluggishly to the bright light of the room.
Sr. Thomas called over the headset: “Brace!”
Rita braced one hand on each side of the victim. Again the ship jerked. Rita heard the metallic sound of dishes sliding and clattering to the floor. The man bumped against her arms, but did not fall.
Sr. Thomas said, “One more coming. You’ve got about two minutes-thirty, maybe three.”
“I’m fine. I definitely heard something this time. Last room on the left, port corridor. Door’s jammed.”
The man was stirring feebly now, but not enough to help. Rita muscled him around until she could get her arms under his and drag him back to the rescue bag. Despite the months of heavy exercise, she was panting from exertion as she all but dumped him into the nanomylar bag. The man forced a moan. His hand twitched and bumped her.
“Be still. We’ll get you to our ship where we can treat you.”
He tapped the floor: three slow, two fast. Universal Space Code for “Attention.”
“You want to tell me something? Go ahead. I’m listening.” They’d drilled the universal tap code daily in her training, and at the convent Mother Superior declared “tap code hours” to keep everyone in practice. It had annoyed her no end, but she was glad of it now.
But he tapped, “No. Look. Attention.”
“All right. I’m watching your hand.” Slowly, as if it took great will, he spelled:
Ann called, “Got it! Opening the door now.”
“Antivenom? What?” Was he hallucinating? She pulled up his sleeves, then his pantlegs.
“Rita?” Ann’s voice was a thin ghost of a wail. “Serpents…”
Two small puncture marks, like pinpricks around a slightly swelled area.
“Annie. Just walk out quickly but calmly–”
“Brace!” Sr. Thomas called.
The ship swung, knocking Rita off balance. Through the headset and the ship, she heard Ann scream.
This book is available from Twilight Times Books
Last but not least, there’s a great promotional trailer for this book on youtube.
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Copyright 2010 Karina and Robert Fabian