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Do You Hear What I Hear?
by Jessi Albano

Disclaimer: The characters and situations of the TV program "Space" Above and Beyond" are the creations of Glen Morgan and James Wong, Fox Broadcasting and Hard Eight Productions, and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.

However, this story is mine and should not be used without my express permission.

Rated: PG-13.

Jessi Albano
SeuneAeryk@hotmail.com

I've heard it said that in the last moments of a person's life, the
Universe shifts and things get strange. That time slows, almost
stops, and each instant becomes a lifetime in itself.

Be that as it may, it still all happened so fast.

"Take 'em home."

I release the latch and the APC starts falling. That's when it
begins -- this strange twisting of the Universe. Guess I should have
studied Einstein more closely while I was in school. I'm sure he had
an explanation for why suddenly everything seems to be going in slow
motion.

And why suddenly everything seems to be glowing.

Adrenaline?

Maybe the APC is on fire and I'm just too spaced-out to notice.

Too scared.

Dammit, I didn't think I'd have time to be scared. Time to think,
time to know. What a gyp -- not time enough to say goodbye, but time
enough to get scared.

Isn't that just like life?

Or death, as the case may be.

I make it to the gun and I let loose. There are still Chigs out
there, -- after my friends. This entire mess is their fault. They
started this goddamn war.

Bloodthirsty bugs. We should have known better than to trust them.
Should have know better, damn it.

I hit one, two -- I don't know how many. There's too many of them
and not enough of me. As I see them fall one by one, I think maybe it
won't happen. If I kill all of them I've got a chance. We've been
through worse than this. We're the 5-8. Nathan and Coop will find a
way to save us all. Vansen and 'Phousse and me. And tomorrow we'll
win this war and go home and the first thing I'll do is go to Wrigley,
eat a hotdog and send McQueen a postcard.

"Wish you were here."

God, I wish you were all here.

If I make it through this, I swear I'll never tease Coop again. I'll
tell Mom and Dad who really broke the crystal swan. I'll tell
Vanessa how I really feel. I'll.... what am I doing?

I'm only twenty-four years old. Shouldn't I at least get to see the
Bears play again? Shoot one more three-point basket? Go on one more
date?

Well, shouldn't I?

What the hell, so long as I'm dreaming.

I see the last Chig plane come towards me and I know it's only a
matter of time. But no, time doesn't matter. Not here, not now. All
that matters is that it ends, one way or another.

That's all I want now. Not to win, not to go home, not to be saved.
I just want it to be over.

For a while there, I thought it was over. I thought we'd all get
home. Nathan finding Kylen -- it seemed like a sign. The lost
found, the circle closed. It made so much sense.

So close. So damn close.

I should have known better than to expect a war to make sense.

I should have known better than to think we actually had a chance.

No, I don't really want it to be over. Except I know it is.

I read a book once, that said that the face of death was so beautiful
that seeing her was worth dying for. And other books that told of how
death wore a mask of horror, of pain and suffering. A priest once
told me the angel of death brought peace, coming in a burst of golden
light. And this old woman once told me that its specter brought only
darkness and damnation.

I've always wondered what to believe.

I guess I'll find out.

It's funny. Back on Earth, the stars didn't seem so far away. And
it always seemed like they had something to say, something to tell you
if you just listened hard enough, or if you were patient enough to
decipher the code. But what would stars have to say?

Shine on?

Somehow, I thought I'd take the thought of my death more seriously.

It's not that I regret it. Some things are worth holding on to more
than others. Some people, too.

Hope you make it home, guys.

God, I hope you make it.

Shane, Vanessa -- hang on. They'll find you. They have to.

And if they don't, I will.

I'm even sort of glad it happened now. Because I believe again.
That whatever it is that's waiting for me out there, it's not the dark
and nothing.

And I think, I believe, that ultimately, it doesn't matter how death
presents itself, what face it shows to you.

Ultimately, I believe, what matters is the face you show death.

I'm not afraid anymore.

I open fire at the approaching plane and scream the names of my
fallen friends. Winslow. Chankowitz. Woodiak. Nelson. I wish I
had time to name them all, but I don't. No one has that much time.

This is for you. For all of you.

See you on the other side.

Semper Fi.

The moment I hit that last Chig plane, I let go, and the Universe
shifts again.

I blink.

It is, of course, possible, that I decided to dream this. On Earth
they'd have a fancy name for it. Substitution fantasy, maybe.
Denial. That my mind refused to accept the sight of the Chig ship
hurtling towards me, on a definite collision course, and chose instead
to see...

It can't be.

Can it?

A comet.

The comet.

Coming towards me.

Coming for me.

Coming to take me home.

Copyright Jessi Albano 1998
10 April 1998