Dessius Rush removed the maintenance panel from the docking coupler, just as he’d done hundreds of times. But even with all his years of weekly inspections, it had locked up. And now of all times…
His sweat dripped down into his eyes and stung sharply, and he could taste salt on his upper lip. He tried to blink the stinging away, but his vision burned and the inside of his faceplate fogged up. He tried to trace the fault back through the relays and diodes and fuses, but his fingers were shaking like they were trying to escape his hand. A cable caught on his suit and sparks flew as he pulled it from the isolator.
“Shit.” Once he started cursing, the torrent couldn’t be stopped. Maybe if he cursed enough his heart would slow to a pace that was merely accelerated instead of frantic, like the right string of curse words might become a literal incantation.
There were summersaults in his abdomen and his teeth bobbed in a lazy river of thick spit in the back of his mouth. He swallowed hard and focused on the coupler. He injected magnaflow into the high line, spilling the bottle on his chest. The bottle rolled over the ledge, bouncing as it hit the bays below on its descent.
Notes: The goal of this exercise was to write about a character experiencing a specific emotion, but not to name it outright. Can you guess what it was?