With their backs pressed against the open lift entrance, it looked like Daniel and Jeska were leaning on nothing.
In reality, the ship's shield lay between them and the lift plate – the wide rusty platform that could take them to safety.
With the blood red creature undulating closer, Daniel felt now would be a good time to be brave. Or at least look brave.
“Ok, Jeska get behind me.”
“No,” she said.
“Then let me get behind you.”
“Lowering shield,” said the ship’s voice, “Lowering shield. Lowering shield.”
Unlike more modern ships, the Afterthought’s shield generator had to warm up before raising or lowering its defenses. It also had to say "Lowering shield" no less than 17 times; it was a particularly strict, irritating safety feature.
Until then, Daniel and Jeska could only wait.
The creature was six feet away now and still trailing green slime. Five feet away.
“We're out of time,” Jeska said.
“We're out of time,” said the creature.
Daniel could swear it looked almost pleased with itself.
Daniel and Jeska had three minutes until they could access the lift.
That was too long. Especially since they were so close they could smell the creature's dank odor.
“Any chance that thing’s going to keep toying with us?” Daniel said quickly.
As if in response, the creature lashed out its left tentacle, raking a long furrow into Daniel’s arm before he could react.
Daniel screamed in pain – and, in his pain – he realized he and Jeska were about to die.
But maybe only one of us has to … Daniel thought, as his medicloud quickly repaired his damaged arm.