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Chapter no 19

Winter World

SOMEHOW, I managed to fall asleep.

When I wake, I twist violently, afraid that I might have missed something—an alarm or another debris field. I feel like a rock climber trapped on a ledge. It’s a lot like that up here: I’m trapped high in the sky with no way down. The hole in the capsule guarantees I can’t come home in it. Eventually, this vessel will run out of energy and fall into Earth’s gravity well. It’ll be a fiery, agonizing death inside this small furnace.

But when? An hour from now? A day?

I wish I knew. Just to have a countdown clock for how much time I have left.

I’m hungry, but I don’t dare remove my helmet. I don’t know how stable the capsule is. I haven’t tried to re-pressurize it. Food can wait. Water is another issue, but it can wait too.

The clock says I was out for four hours. Amazing.

There’s a message on the screen. A long one. From my sister.

Dear Emma,

People from the government are here. They gave me your letter and asked me to write you back. They told me about what happened and the request you made.

I can’t believe it. Please tell me it’s a big mistake. That the capsule is fine. The rumors are that some sort of storm in the ionosphere caused the station and satellites to be offline, but not destroyed. I’m still in shock.

I don’t know what to believe.

They’re making us pack up and leave, to go to the camp in Death Valley. I’m scared, Emma. David is too. He thinks the Long Winter is bound to end soon—that if we leave, the government will seize everything and we’ll have to start over when we come back. He’s been shouting at them, but they took him to the kids’ playroom and showed him something or told him something and now he’s insisting we go.

There’s so much I want to say, but they’re telling me I can’t type anymore and to give them the laptop. I love you. I love you. I love you.

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