Fifteen Seconds, He thought to himself as the view of Jupiter appeared before him, You’ve read that somewhere; That’s how long you’ve got to live now.
Unprotected, the human body isn’t built to survive in outer space.
He fought his every instinct and exhaled as quickly as he could so that the air in his lungs didn’t have time to expand. With no external pressure it would have almost certainly caused the organs to rupture and made its escape into his circulatory system,
Now you might have fourteen more seconds of consciousness, He thought triumphantly, Although you might regret that when the water in your tissues starts to vaporise in less than ten.
He supposed all he had were pyrrhic victories now, his time rapidly running out.
As he watched a piece of his gear drift towards the famous red storm of Jupiter thundering on below, an idea occurred to him: He’d been wrong.
Not about his methodology, his current predicament made it abundantly clear that his teleportation-rig works devastatingly well, but the mathematics he had used to determine a location had, obviously, been flawed. He could feel the moisture on his tongue begin to boil, he didn’t have long now. If he could just finish this thought he could die in relative peace, but his oxygen-starved brain and the pain spreading through his swollen form wasn’t making coherent thought easy.
Something about the way the piece of kit was spiralling inexorably towards the gas-giant’s surface had triggered a realisation he couldn’t quite get back to.
Spirals! That had been it! He fought through the fatigue brought on as his body began to shut down, he’d thought to take into account the movement of the earth but not how it spiralled after the sun! The entire solar system was constantly being dragged in the star’s wake at… at… however many miles a second! The knowledge that had been at his fingertips mere moments ago danced on the edge of his rapidly fading consciousness.
He began to wish he had a pen to write down this breakthrough and then grinned at how ridiculous a last wish that was.
Smiling, he stopped fighting the encroaching darkness. All the pain had left him now and struggling further against the inevitable seemed futile. His last thoughts, if they could even be described as such, were not of failure. But rather vague feelings of admiration at the spectacular view.
He’d remained conscious for sixteen seconds, though he’d never know it. It was the second time he’d been wrong that day.