Rike’s body was adjusting to the descent. His head pressed deep into the side of his helmet to the point where his nose folded against his opposite cheek. A little tear of blood snaked down his nostril and across his face and settled into his ear canal. Had he been awake, Rike would have felt a maddening urge to rub violently at his ear.
The ship was pitching to the left as its main struts burst apart from the pressure of the re-entry. The cargo section in the rear of the craft was violently shaking and was already losing structural integrity. The computer, not programmed to comprehend futility, continued to correct the entry and alert the crew through red lights and violent alarms.
The ship kept its course for one last moment before settling into an uncontrolled roll. The entire body skipped at the ridge of the outer orbit front to back and side to side like a stone tossed against the ripples of Lake Winnipesaukee.
It was the edge of the lake where Rike sat at that very moment. Near the broken dock where his older brother Michel told him the best worms could be found. Together they would dig with their fingers, thick with mud as dark as chocolate batter, and then bring them home in a bucket to scare their mother. The worms dark and smelling of earth and slippery like cooked spaghetti. Their mother warning them to best leave them outside the door and not tracked into her kitchen.
Rike pulled an especially thick one from the bucket and held it to his mother’s apron.
Even in his sleep compression, he could hear the scream.
Loud and full of terror.