Steeling herself, Alexis stepped into the airlock and cycled the door shut behind her. Her suit was fully pressurized and reporting no malfunctions. You didn’t have a lot of dexterity in pressure suits, so the button on the wall that would start the process of bleeding the air out of the room was large and easy to press, like a button on a toddler’s toy. She could hear the hiss of the air leaving the room, and her heart started to beat faster.
“You okay down there?” Grant said, his voice sounding tinny and small in her helmet. “Your blood pressure’s ticking up.”
Alexis cringed. She hadn’t wanted anyone to know she was nervous. She was already the only woman on the ship, they didn’t need to know she was scared out of her mind. “Yeah, fine,” she said. “Almost there. My tether is attached and I have a handhold. Okay to open the doors when you can.”
She’d never been outside a ship before. Ever. Her entire 27 years of life had been spent inside one ship or another. Doing EVA work wasn’t unusual, but she’d never had to do it before. But there was a first time for everything, and this was it. There was a team already out there and she had to learn the ropes.
“Okay,” Grant said into her ear. “Airlock is in vacuum. Opening the doors in three…two…”
Alexis didn’t her him say one. The doors were sliding open and she caught the first glimpse of the stars, strewn like glitter against the blackness of space. But something on the door didn’t look right. Pulling herself hand over hand along the rungs on the wall (she couldn’t decide if she felt like she was climbing up toward the open doors or falling downward into them), she edged closer.
She never got to report what she saw back to Grant.