The canals of Ice Moon 6 always made Jordan uneasy. Jordan lived there with his sister, Ellie. His mom was the doctor for the colony. The colony was built on canals, and the icy surface had been melted and kept heated to create a source of air, water, and travel for the colonists.
Jordan’s sister, Ellie, was three years older. Everyone said she was perfect, but to him, she was an ogre. She got all the attention because she was smart, pretty, and an excellent swimmer.
He was afraid of the water, which his sister never let him forget. He was short and stocky and tended to sink in water, which is why he had avoided swimming since he almost drowned two years ago.
“I won two races last week,” Ellie told her mom, as they traveled to a remote Space Port. And turning to Jordan, said, “I can’t believe you are eleven and still don’t know how to swim.”
“I can swim, I just don’t want to. Besides, I can hold my breath longer than you can.” It was true, he could hold his breath for almost three minutes.
“Scaredy-cat,” Ellie whispered quietly when Jordan cringed as their travel pod hit the water approaching Port 6A.
“Know-it-all,” Jordan responded. Ellie was an advanced student and was already on the medical track. She loved to let Jordan know smart she was.
“Why is the port all dark?” Jordan had noticed there were no lights on as they approached.
“Maybe they’re all on an extended sleep cycle,” Ellie said.
Their mom told them to stay in the pod as she grabbed her medical bag and climbed through the portal.
“The port’s dark. I don’t like this,” said Jordan.
“She’s going to be fine.” Ellie’s voice wasn’t as confident as her words, and she wrote something in her journal.
He watched Ellie read her science book until the radio came on, “Ellie, Jordan, I need your help. Everyone here is sick, and I am starting to feel bad.”
“What is it, Mom?” Ellie’s voice cracked slightly.
“It’s a virus that knocks people out, and I don’t have the right medicine with me. I need you to make some.”
She explained how to make the medicine, and Ellie wrote in her journal.
There was a brief silence, then, “Jordan, I need you to do something for me. I need you to dive into the canal and get two of the red crab-shaped flowers.”
“Why can’t Ellie do it? “ Jordan’s fear was already causing his throat to tighten.
“Because I need her to mix the medicine.” She coughed loudly, and continued. “You can do this, you’re strong and you can hold your breath for a long time.” She coughed again. “This virus works fast, I need you, Jordan.”
Jordan could feel the water pressing on him two years ago when he dove into the canal and his foot got caught between two rocks. “I can’t do it, Ellie,” he whispered to his sister.
“Yes, you can Jordan.” She stopped mixing and looked at him. “You are brave, and you can do anything you believe you can do.”
“But what if I get caught?” He was breathing faster and looking pale.
“This is for Mom, Jordan, you can do it.”
He took a couple of deep breaths and shuddered slightly. He knew he had to go, for his mom, and the people in the space port. But, he was scared.
Jordan jumped in and sank quickly. When he hit the bottom, he spotted a patch of bright red flowers that looked like a pile of crabs, and grabbed two. He pushed off toward the surface, his confidence growing. Only he didn’t go anywhere. His shirt was caught on something.
Jordan grabbed his shirt and pulled. It didn’t give. He could feel the need to breathe growing and knew he had to do something now. He wanted to scream for his mom or Ellie, but knew no one was coming; this was up to him. He pushed off as hard as he could with his legs while he pulled.
He felt his shirt tear and kicked as hard as he could until he was free, but he was running out of air and wasn’t sure he could make it. He started letting his breath out slowly, a trick he had learned competing with Ellie.
Ellie was growing concerned. She had started holding her breath when Jordan jumped in, and already had to breathe, twice. She stopped and listened. Quiet.
Then, she heard Jordan break the surface and gasp for air. She ran outside and pulled him onto the dock, and grabbed the flowers.
Jordan rolled over on his back, still fighting for air. He had done it. And the only thing he could think about was Ellie’s voice as she kneeled beside him to get the flowers, “You’re my hero!”