Learning to Breathe

“But…it’s fluid!” she said, with more than just a touch of panic in her voice.

“Calm down, Ana.  We’ve been though this before.  The atmospheric pressure would destroy your lungs if you had a gaseous substance in them.  It has to be liquid.”

Exploration of the outer planets had been talked about for years.  It began in the twentieth century with unmanned spacecraft sent to orbit the planets and take pictures.  It wasn’t until the twenty third century that scientists at NAASA managed to develop a craft that was actually capable of landing on…or more correctly…in… one of the gas giants.

Now, finally, in 2645, the first human voyage to Neptune was being planned.

A’ron had been the first human subject to breathe the specially engineered ThickAir.  After coming out of the chamber, he had joked, “it’s no worse than drowning!”  La’Ana had nearly drowned as a child, and the thought of going through that again was simply more than she could tolerate.  Intellectually, she knew that Ron had been joking, but still…La’ana just couldn’t bring herself to enter the chamber and purposefully inhale a liquid.

The other explorers had all been able to get the hang of it, and they were getting impatient with the lone hold-out.  She would have been cut from the team if not for the fact that she was the only qualified nano-technician in all of New Amarikka who was still young and healthy enough to make the voyage, but still, if she refused to learn how to breathe, she was simply no good to them at all.

It was during Quen’s practice time in the chamber that it happened.  The chamber was simply a giant hyperbaric room to simulate Neptune’s extreme barometric pressure.  He was wearing his breathing apparatus, but La’ana noticed that it was leaking.  If his ThickAir depleted, his lungs would be crushed in a fraction of a second.  She tried calling him to come out to the depressurization lock, but the com seemed to be broken.  Frantically, she looked around for someone to go in to save him, but there was nobody to be seen.

Finally, she did the only thing that she could.  She suited up herself and went in.  She coughed and gagged as the warm liquid filled her lungs, but found that, amazingly, she could breath the stuff!  She ran in and dragged Quen to the lock.  With hand signs (as speaking is impossible with liquid oxygen), she indicated that he needed to switch back to normal air.

When they were both able to breathe again, he began to laugh.  “My tank wasn’t leaking.” he told her, “Didn’t you see the hose I had over my shoulder?  I was just washing the chamber!”


Written for Inspiration Monday