The squib hit, bounced, threw him from his chair onto the floor. Sections of the hull broke off, ripped away; he felt the acrid, acid-like rain pour in on him, drenching him. Opening his pain-glazed eyes he saw that the downpour had burned holes in his clothing; it was devouring his body. He perceived that in a fragment of a second—time seemed to have stopped as the squib rolled over and over, skated on its top across the terrain . . . he felt nothing, no fear, no grief, no pain any longer; he merely experienced the death of his ship—and of himself—as a kind of detached observer.
The ship skidded, at last, to a halt. Silence, except for the drip-drip of the rain on him. He lay half-buried in collapsed junk: portions of the control board and viewscreen, all shattered. Jesus, he thought. Nothing is left, and presently the earth will swallow the squib and me. But it does not matter, he thought, because I am dying. In emptiness, meaninglessness and solitude. Like all the others who have gone before this fragment of the one-time group. Intercessor, he thought, intercede for me. Replace me; die for me.