Six men watch in helpless horror as brilliant white flashes plume over eurasia and nuclear fire engulfs the surface of Earth.
Aboard the International Space Station, they had spent the past weeks in frigid suspense. In the first days, the worldwide financial markets had collapsed. This was followed by daily reports of widespread panic and political chaos. Only half an hour ago, the first missiles were launched.
Tears stream from Anatoly’s cheeks; in micro-gravity, the droplets float silently through the Cupola module. Daniel and Oleg touch their shipmate, a gesture of camaraderie between men of non-existent nations. They watch for an hour and a half – enough time for the ISS to completely orbit Earth.
The American and Russian cosmonauts convene in the galley. Daniel breaks the silence: “So… This is the end, and we’re all that is left…” Anatoly nods; he rummages through his personal supplies and retrieves several bags of liquid, “V-wodka? Eet eez all d-that eez left…”
No one mentions the pills.