I suppose that the unplugging could have shorted a few circuits in my brain, but I began to think as I drifted out into the cold. I didn't feel pain as I bounced off the molten edges of the perfect hole left by the laser fire, nor did I feel the melting of my own flesh from the contact with superheated metal. Instead, I imagined I was back in station, sitting in my little hub-world, surrounded by pilots, traders, depraived psychotics and beautiful, lustful women. The looks I receive as I walk past cloning vats towards the massive central conduit to get food, as people notice the sockets on my neck and the metal protrusions on my forehead, the whole airy nature of it all. But clearer than all of these visions is the warmth between my legs as I am pleasured by an enterprising young women of an unclear ethnic origin. Her thrusts, the dancing of the feathers on her head and the color of her make-up overshadow the grease on her fingers and the tears in her dress as she makes her living.
She is much better than my wife.
Something hits me in the face and I blink; I see a can of beer flipping end over end to the left ever so slowly, aiming to escape the reach of my grasp. I reach out for what feels like hours, and close my fingers over the logo. It takes a long time to bring it to my face and to regard it with weary, tired eyes. Eyes that are tired of the endless fight within myself; eyes that are tired of trying to escape who I am via the romanticism of piloting and the allure of alcohol, the way it blurs the present. But looking at it now, it is laughable how easily all of the struggle is ended by a much more efficient method; death. As I consider this and relax my body, I'm reminded again of my wife. She is floating beside me, holding me in her arms. The hospital room is dimly lit, and my head hurts. She is crying as I lay here, eyes unable to open. I know she is sad and want to hold her close, but I can't feel my legs, or any part of me. All I can feel is her hand slowly let go of mine, and then the softest sensation of weight on my chest as a ring is placed upon it. The can laughs at me.