This is a piece for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge. (The title is a take-off of Pigs in Space. If you don’t know what that is, click here.)
Bruce pulled himself to the bathroom and squeezed out a few painful, amber drops. The purifiers banged and vibrated and he waited with swollen throat for that tiny cupful of pure water to emerge. He was still twenty-two days away from Earth, far too long to survive like this.
There was a blip on his radar—another ship in range. With trembling hands, he hailed them.
“This is Scout eagle 45AZ. What type of ship are you?” he asked.
“Scout eagle 45AZ, this is Transport 50TS.”
“TS? You’re a terraforming ship? What are you carrying?”
“Water,” came the reply.
“50TS, I need water,” Bruce called. “My tank sprung a leak and I’ve been venting water. I just need a few gallons to get me back to Earth.”
There was a pause. “I’m sorry 45AZ, but our tanks are all sealed. We need permission to open them.”
“Then get it!” Bruce shouted. “I’m dying here.” His voice cracked and he started coughing.
Several minutes passed before there was a reply. “45AZ, I’ve obtained conditional permission. I’m sending you the order now.”
A message flashed on Bruce’s screen.
FROM HIGH COMMAND:
Permission for water tanks to be opened is granted, contingent on the applicant appearing before a tribunal on Earth in two days time to explain the necessity. Thank you for your cooperation.