Space Sharknado

Excerpt from How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters (Three Rivers Press). Copyright 2014 NBC Universal.

Sandy took a deep breath. She held it inside for what felt like an eternity. She couldn’t let go, she couldn’t let go, she couldn’t— She exhaled. It was the last deep breath she would be taking for a while. Possibly forever. Her oxygen supply was limited to six more hours at most. Her ride home—the Space Shuttle Exogenesis—floated by her in pieces.

She’d been on a routine spacewalk when trouble started. While she was repairing a damaged section of the hull, a meteor shower struck. Hundreds of rocks—some as small as marbles, others the size of her helmet—punched through the shuttle. Miraculously, Sandy escaped injury. Just a few small nicks in her space suit. No tears. The repairs to the shuttle she’d been about to make on the spacewalk were the least of her worries—because there was no shuttle. Just debris.

Debris…and sharks.

Dozens of them. Hammerheads. Tiger sharks. Great whites. All let loose from the Exogenesis’s cargo bay. If they’d been regular sharks, they would have died in the vacuum of space. But these weren’t normal sharks. They’d been created in a lab. Instead respiratory systems that extracted oxygen from water, the sharks used photosensitive cells throughout their bodies to convert solar radiation into energy. At least that was how she understood it. For the scientific explanation, you’d have to ask their creator—some megalomaniacal genius, she guessed. Sandy was just an astronaut transporting them to the space station for live testing. They were too dangerous to let loose on Earth. Now they were floating all around her. The closest she’d come to one was fifty feet. It hadn’t seen her. At least her bosses would know the experimental creatures could survive in space like they’d theorized. One small step for mankind. One great leap for sharks.

She could see the space station a mile away. While she was orbiting the earth in the station’s direction, the station was orbiting the earth as well. At a faster rate, even. Instead of getting closer, it was getting further out of reach. Meanwhile, the sharks seemed to be getting closer to her.

Something brushed against her leg. She glanced down just in time to see an enormous great white passing by. Ignoring her. It moved fast, and soon it was a speck in the distance. That was a close call. Too close. Suddenly, the great white appeared to grow larger. Was it…doubling back around? Impossible! There was no way a shark could navigate in space. Not even a genetically-modified shark. It went against every scientific principle she knew.

But her eyes weren’t lying.

The creature had somehow reversed course.

It swam past her, its eyes blacker than space. It had been testing her earlier to see if she was edible. Now it was circling her. Soon, it would move in for the kill.

Some miracle surviving the meteor storm turned out to be. She wouldn’t need to stretch out her oxygen after all. She closed her eyes and drew another deep breath. “Don’t give up hope,” she told herself. “There’s always hope.”

A lie. Hope was just another four-letter word.

Sandy exhaled, long and slow. She opened her eyes. That’s when she saw it. Her savior, floating within arm’s reach.

The space chainsaw.