windpane

Beyond the Windowpane

Jak brought a soap sudded sponge across a dinner plate, whilst staring aimlessly out of the kitchen window, paying little attention to the task at hand. Limply, he passed the plate over to Vikram who stood beside him, tea towel hanging from his fingers.

“You haven’t cleaned this one properly! Look!” Vikram exclaimed, thrusting the dirty plate back into the stainless steel wash basin, “Quit star gazing and get on with it properly!”

Vikram’s bitter words however did not draw Jak from his aimless stare. He found himself spell bound by the scene beyond the windowpane.  An enormous purple planet captivated him, it was poised steadily in the starry canvas of deep space, like a festive ornament hung from a Christmas tree. Gaseous storms violently danced about within its atmosphere. However from the distance that Jak looked upon it, the spheres surface appeared as if it were a swirling water colour painting, with different shades of violet melting softly into one another.

“Hey? Jak? Are you even listening to me?!” Vikram barked in annoyance.

“…How long do you think it’ll be before we’re picked up?” Jak replied as he brought his attention to the soiled plate within the sink, wiping away the remaining tomato sauce that was plastered across it. He passed the crockery to Vikram once more, who snatched it from him with a scowl.

“Please, for the love of god stop asking me that!” Vikram cried as he chucked the plate carelessly into a cupboard, “How am I supposed to know!?”

Jak turned a tap, and rinsed the sink out gently, before whipping up a spare tea towel to dry his hands. Then turned  to face the cold, tiny kitchen. It consisted of one dining table, two very basic dining chairs and a multitude of battery powered heaters that were sparsely dotted about. Two, thin piles of cloth and clothing had been placed on the floor, used as make shift beds until help arrived.

A frown sank heavily into Jaks  features.

Vikram sat himself down onto one of the dining chairs, and opened up a book that lay on the dining table. “Just accept the fact that we’re going to be floating about in deep space, until someone decides to show up and save us.” Vikram looked over the pages of his book at Jak, who was leaning against the kitchen side, both arms folded tightly across his chest.

“There’s no point sulking. You’ve only got yourself to blame.”

“Me to blame!?” Jak exclaimed pushing himself up from the work surfaces, “How is this my fault!?”

“You’re the so called pilot of this ship!” Vikram snapped back in reply, “What kind of pilot flies directly into a solar storm!?”

Jak darted a finger toward his crew mate, and leered at him with searing eyes as an anger bubbled away inside him, “Don’t leacture me on how to pilot my ship! The gravitional flux of that storm should have allowed us to fold space so we arrived back in earth’s solar system!”

“And yet it actual fact it cut the power, damaged the engines and left us a drift in deep space! Good job!”

Jak’s leg flew out as he brought his booted foot into the kitchen side. Blood pulsated violently through his body as his rage continued to boil. He thumped both hands heavily onto the work surface as he stared back out of the window into the depths of space. “How, pray tell, was I supposed to know that there was a fault with the Origamion processor?” Jak span round to face Vikram once more, who was looking blankly into the contents of his book, “I’m sorry that I don’t know everything, unlike you, Oh great Dr Omniscient!”

The book was slammed onto the dining table, and Vikram cut through the intense atmosphere with a razor sharp glare, “Without me, you would have frozen to death! So cut it!”

“Death would come as a blessed release right about now!”

“I’m more than happy to shoot you out of a bloody airlock if you like!”

“I relish the idea, if it spares me from playing another fucking game of chess with you!”

Jak’s final sentence brought with it an unsteady silence that infected the room. Both men exhaled deeply though their noses, making sure no eye contact was found between them.

Jak turned to face the picturesque star studded landscape beyond the frosted windowpane once again. Letting heavy sighs roll out from his lungs, as the fury began to quell inside of him. His boiling blood soothed and the familiar chill of the room pinched at his skin. The isolating cold of confinement returned.

“I know it’s hard Jak.” Vikram spoke out in a low sombre tone, looking up from the bland table, “Being trapped in a room like this for so long isn’t easy… But we’ve got to keep it together, we’ve got to stop ourselves from losing it completely.”

Jak remained silent, his back still turned to his crew mate, as he stared at the purple orb.

“I don’t think it’ll be too long before we’re picked up,” Vikram continued, ”Remember I set up that distress signal? It’s crude but you got to remember this system is the main shipping route to Trappist-1. We’re bound to be picked up sooner or later.”

Jak remained unmoved and Vikram sighed heavily, “Besides, We’ve got enough food and water to last us for another week and these heaters will keep us warm until help arrives… Look I’m sorry alright. For snapping at you like I did.”

Jak turned his head, and ended his muteness by asking, “Do you think we’re going to die out here?”

Vikram was silent for a moment and slumped back heavily onto the chair. He rested his head into one of his hands and squeezed the bridge of his nose tightly. Then repled after a long drawn out sigh, “Possibly… I don’t know.”

Jak walked away from the windowpane to the dining table and pulled out the only remaining chair, planting himself upon it. He fiddled with a small electronic device that lay on the table in front of him and after a few moments a holographic chess board buzzed into existence.  The individual pieces rose up from the chequered tiles and arranged themselves in position.

Jak looked over at Vikram and said calmly, “You can go first.”

Vikram chuckled to himself lightly before moving a pawn on the board. Thus instigating another game of chess between the two, as they waited for rescue. Confined to a floating kitchen in the middle of deep space.

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