Ide floated from the airlock with a gentle push of a thickly gloved hand, and drifted slowly toward the looming empty dark hulk of the station, glimmering faintly in the starlight. Ide's breath sounded loud in the confines of the suit, the whirr of tiny fans recycling air, scrubbing out carbon dioxide, adding back in the oxygen used by the precious human cargo it protected and nurtured. The tether trailed behind, sliding smoothly and silkily, securing but designed not to impede or catch.
Slowly, gradually the tiny form in the vast hostile cosmos, yet self contained and protected, drifted closer and closer to the mystery contained within the long abandoned station circling an empty distant planet, nothing of worth to mankind for astronomical distances and long lonely days and nights and weeks and months in any direction, except for the knowledge and curiosity to be found on this vast derelict, hanging in pregnant expectation for the fertilizing germ of a human awareness to give it meaning and purpose again.
Nearer and closer drifted the small vulnerable speck, trailing the thin yet strong line which represented safety and security, connection to the bubble of life and warmth in this vast empty inimical place, yet hauntingly beautiful and serene, the round shape of the dim brown planet below banded with subtle shades of brown, grey, black- sterile and uninviting, yet soothing and placid with it's own tranquil aesthetic.
The station loomed large, impossibly larger, growing like a building, an edifice, a cliff face, a monolith. With no familiar object to provide scale, it was the tiny form of the slowly drifting Ide trailing the shimmering thread, breathing softly in the background whirr of the circulation fans which provided scale and contrast, the sense of wonder and awe growing as they shrank against the vast backdrop, large even in this vastness of interplanetary distances.
What had looked at first to be a dimple, a handhold, a porthole, a hatchway, grew and grew as the deceptive distance expanded it into a enormous hanger door, open to the sharp airless view of vacuum, the tiny sleds within growing in the changing perspective into cargo haulers of huge proportion. Once the size of the personnel hatch on the cargo vessel was noted, and the drifting speck of human awareness achieved some comprehension of perspective, the vast testimonial to human achievement grew exponentially, as did the wonder at why this enormous mass representing years of hopes and dreams and ambitions now drifted aimlessly and to no purpose.
Minutes of awe struck drifting later, Ide touched down against the hanger floor, the snap of engaging magnetic boots more felt than heard in this airless cavern. If air had been present, the view of the far dimensions of this incalculably vast space would have been obscured by the haze of distance, and perhaps even clouds and weather patterns. It was too far to walk, and the suit didn't have enough safety filament anyway, so Ide secured the line connecting the two bubbles of human endeavor, the one a speck of dust in comparison to the worldlet they now occupied, and pushed off the floor toward the back wall, pulled sideways from the intended target by the slow Coriolis effect of the micro-gravity stabilizing spin of the station.
At last reaching the tiny personnel hatchway outlined in large contrasting stripes visible from the far end of the hanger, with several course changes required from the lateral drift, Ide, weary from the long day so far, and, eating some expediency rations from the helmet dispenser, setting the suit alarm for a few hours hence, and making certain the strong boot magnets were attached firmly, took a short nap.
When the insistent buzzing roused the dreaming form to the reassuring hum of the air circulating fans, Ide took a few mouthfuls of stimulating fluid, becoming more alert, the vague memories of dreams fading as conscious thought resumed. The hatch was of human proportion, and past the airlock behind it was a long airless corridor painted a drab tan, reaching inward with no doors or crossing hallways to the vanishing point. There were some magnetic personnel conveyers parked in a neat row, showing a full charge despite the vast passage of time which must have occurred since last human awareness had graced this place.
.... There is more of this story ...