The year is 89:233.
I am part of a thirty man team that was sent to this planet to begin terraformation and preparations for colonization. Overpopulation of the planet Gliese-1239 was nearing inhospitable conditions and our services were hired by their government.
Two days ago, after setting up our camp me and my team began the scan to verify the planet’s sterility. It is against regulations to modify an environment if another life-form already resides on it. To our surprise the analysis returned a location on the planet where a sole technological signal had been detected inside a large crater.
Our first reaction was that a probe from another world had been sent here so me and two of my teammates were ordered to investigate the source. As we arrived to the destination we were greeted with empty land and sterile conditions. We were confused as nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. We began sweeping the area, and after several hours we found a small square glass-looking device.
I took the small device in my hands and with a touch of my fingers it powered on and it displayed an interesting dance of colors and figures. I carefully packed it in a radiation container and we returned back to camp.
I was the sole technology expert on the team so they happily left the task of investigating what it was to me. I went into my small office and began an analysis of the device. It’s quantic circuits were extremely outdated but the power module had been perfectly designed. Carbon dating indicated the device had been manufactured at least 80,000 years ago. My excitement for it was exorbitant. I touched the colorful dancing figures on its screen and a simple list composed of three elements was displayed.
I eagerly prepared a cup of coffee and I sat in my chair as the stars outside dimly illuminated the roof of my cell. I touched the first entry on the list and began to read:
It was the year 2871. It started soon after the successful mapping of the galaxy in 2844. A time in my life when my spirit was high, when everything was an opportunity to be taken. Traveling to other planets on the milky way had just become the new exotic extreme sport, it was cheap, it was dangerous, and as with all other sports it was pointless.
We met on a small moon-sized water planet. It was my first time in one of them, I was alone then, and I yearned to discover new things. I had been diving for hours, being in the huge empty ocean was an overwhelming yet calm feeling. Surrounded by no one, by nothing but water and stone. After several hours of being suspended in what seemed like infinity I suddenly felt something touch my foot. A rush of panic came over me and for a moment I thought I was the one who had discovered extra terrestrial life. But when I turned around I saw her. My Gwen. Smiling in her air field. “Gotcha!”, she said. Her smile, even though obscured by refraction and dusty water, captivated me more then the watery planet itself.
I smiled back.
We went to the surface and talked for hours. We talked about everything, her youth, my job, her interest in art, my hate for commercial music and all the other things we had in common. She mentioned that that was the first water planet she had been on. She said she preferred rocky planets with more dangerous adventures. And I told her I liked icy planets. I too liked dangerous adventures.
In time we got to know each other, we visited all the tourist places in our cities and dined at all the fancy restaurants. Eventually I asked her to marry me. She said yes before I finished the question. We got married on an enormous balloon resort that hovered above the gas giant Apollon. Sparkling lights and romantic music, our favorite drinks and food. Below us, the colors of Apollon illuminated the transparent glass floors of the flying hotel, it was splendorous. We danced and kissed as the storms below us swirled and roared with thunder. That day ended with ourselves in each other’s arms, drunk with love, and with a perfect future ahead of us.
Everything was right with the galaxy for a long time. We teleported ourselves back and forth to a myriad different planets and star systems. We saw amazing auroras, oceans, mountains so high that the top seemed to scratch the stars, and caves so deep and so large that cities could be built inside them. We travelled for months at a time, we made camp in the most exciting places, we glided through other planet’s atmospheres, drank from their waters and ran through their open valleys.
We always knew we were risking our lives. But I never imagined how the end of my adventures would come to happen. We were on a roll, we had visited four planets in a row, a perfectly timed orchestra of teleportations until we moved to the fifth planet. I reached our destination, a bright yellow one not too far from Earth. But Gwen didn’t. I thought maybe she had had a setback, maybe her teleporter stopped working, maybe she got an emergency call and went back to Earth, maybe she wanted to surprise me… so I waited.
But she never came. Her teleporter failed.
I went back days later to the fourth planet to see if she was waiting for me, but she wasn’t. I searched for her back home, but no one knew where she was. Her device took her somewhere off course. Alone, I spend my days thinking of her. Where she could be. On an alien world, alone in the vastness of the cosmos. Jumping from planet to planet trying to find Earth. My fear is that she is forever lost in the abyss between worlds. My hope is that she found what none of us have. A planet with life. A welcoming host where she can spend her days. The ultimate planet hopping destination.
Maybe somewhere out there she is looking up at the night sky, as I am now, and our gaze is meeting in the midst of the oceans of stardust.
The year is 3721. My wife was lost in a teleportation accident centuries ago. She was stranded on a planet somewhere in the galaxy. I cannot imagine what’s become of her. Alone in an empty world, slowly going mad with solitude and despair, waiting for me; Or maybe part of a strange civilization somewhere, a sister to strange beings or in stasis in a cave deep inside a planet’s crust.
I have been visiting planets for the last 900 years. Blue, green, and yellow, they come also in frigid white and burning red. Countless celestial bodies hanging in the chasm of space dancing with their stars. Obstacles, passageways, necessary means to my end. To find my Gwen.
Every day I wake up hopeful. Hopeful that I’ll find her, hopeful that we’ll meet again, that we’ll kiss and hug, that’s she’ll tell me she missed me and that she loves me. Hopeful that I’ll be able to carry her home, to her bed, as I did on our wedding day flying above colorful storms and thunder. Hopeful that she’ll be mine again. I fear that I’ll give up on her, I’m scared that I’ll forget about her and that I’ll start a new life back home. I’m terrified to be without her. I’m afraid because the sadness is accumulating. Hundreds of years have taken their toll on my hope.
I have been doing this longer than I’ve done anything else. The memory of my wife is now only but a feeling, a sense of wellness and calm. Something I’ve not felt since that adventurous day. Something I long for every waking second. Were it not for the picture in my pack, I would not recognize her face. But I do. I will.
There are 300 billion stars in our galaxy; Our spectacle of the night. I have gone through 200 of them, searching their every world, their every crack, their every cave and mountain, hoping with all my heart that each will be the last and that she will be there in stasis waiting for me, yearning for home. But my days end with disappointment and solitude.
I have thought of ending it. The search for her, my happiness, my sadness, my desperation… my life and hers. I’ve thought of diving straight into one of the many radiant burning furnaces of the sky. The shining beacons that give light to my search for the love that I have lost. After all, she is most likely dead, her body hidden away in a celestial tomb by the unforgiving passage of time; A lonely corpse in a sea of dirt and rock where no soul in the universe will ever peer.
But I will not lose hope. I will not give up. I will continue my journey, my search. I will spend a thousand years more looking for her. And another million if necessary. I will not let her go. I will not forget her. I will not forget you.
I didn’t know what year it was. I had spent countless lifetimes on my journey, on my mission, my purpose for living, the reason I had not lost my mind, the search for my long lost love in the infinite emptiness of the black sea of our galaxy. People back on earth were born, grew up, cried and learned, fell in love, died. They evolved, unimaginable technologies emerged, wars were fought, dead were mourned. Not a single one remembered me and that was ok, because I remembered no one… no one but her, my Gwen.
My day started the same way the past thousands of them did. I woke up feeling empty, I ate synthetic food and looked at my map of the galaxy, thirteen thousand planets down, a hundred billion to go. I had planned my search for her extending out from our original destined planet. A day I could no longer remember, a date written on my notebook in digital ink, a place in the universe, a fake memory trying to be real.
I teleported to the next planet, a barren, rocky, dusty one with no atmosphere. I had taken a liking to these; They were my favorite, I related to them, sometimes if the mood was right we would talk for hours the planet and I, and it would tell me so many stories of the stars. I was always awed by them, and when it finished telling me – the only one who could listen – it would ask me to tell it my stories. But I’ve only ever had one story to tell.
I began my search on the planet, scanning the surface already knowing that the little red light on the device would start blinking at the end of the scan, indicating that no life or technology had been found on it. I had known this so much, there was nothing truer in the mind. And so when the light began blinking blue, I mistook it for red. I stared at it confused, wondering why the color red looked so different that day, that second, in that place above my hand. I worried it had stopped working. I turned the device around and read the writing on it where it specified that the color blue meant that technology had been detected. It dawned on me that I was not looking at the color red, but the color blue, the color that gave me hope. I stood motionless hoping, with the device turned backwards praying to the gods, stars, and planets that I had not confused red with blue. The very idea of that color brought tears to my eyes, and a knot of tight ropes descended into my throat.
I turned the device around again and there it was. A small blinking blue light.
I dropped to my knees and felt the weight of a million worlds be lifted from my tired shoulders. I sobbed so very loud, I screamed the screams I had kept in me for many thousands of years. I wailed, my arms and legs trembled, my head and my back ached, my heart boomed. My tears and spit blended with the dusty ground and my cries echoed in the lonely valleys. I fell in the dirt and lay there screaming. I was sad, and I was happy. I was fearful and I was excited. I was every emotion at once. I was happy I had found hope, I was sad because my long journey may have come to an end. I was fearful that it was a false positive, or that I would find my Gwen dead.
I woke up hours later not knowing how much time had passed. I looked at my scanner and still the blue light blinked, exclaiming its own excitement of having finally found something in its travels with me. I put it in my pocket and began my walk towards the source of the signal.
The location was surprisingly close to where I was and my walk lasted twenty six hours; It was the longest day I had ever lived. I held her picture in my hand during the walk. I looked at her every second I could spare, I tried to burn her face into my mind; I could not bare the thought of finding and then not recognizing her. Every step I took sent a shock of anticipation and excitement through my nerves, each one felt like a lighting bolt striking my heart. I could think of nothing other than reaching the destination on the scanner’s map. I walked fast, I walked quietly, I walked hard.
When I was 400 meters from the objective I realized I had reached the edge of a large crater. Before descending into it I took my binoculars out from my pack and glanced through them into the crater’s center. In it, half buried in the sand I could see what appeared to be a bubble and a pole protruding from it. A white light slowly pulsed on the pole’s top end. I don’t know how long I stared at it, it may have been minutes, it may have been months. The soft glow of the beacon’s pulsing light gently illuminated my mind back from its trance. And in an instant the startling realization that I was looking at a stasis pod hit me like a supernova’s energetic explosion.
A jolt of adrenaline was injected into my bloodstream. My heart raced with excitement. With a tattered careless motion I threw my binoculars on the ground. I stared into the crater, the last obstacle between me and my Gwen. I ran into it at full speed hearing only the thud of my leaps, my gasps for air and the hammering of my heart against the silent soundtrack of space. Each step took me closer to the end of my life’s suffering, the end of my search, the end of me as I’ve known myself for thousands of years. The pulsing of the soft white light became brighter and then I found myself next to it, looking at the reflection on the bubble a few steps away from me.
I walked slowly to the half buried bubble, peered into it, and there she was. The love that was longest lost, the love that I craved for millennia, the woman that I first met on that watery planet so many ages ago, petrified, mummified, fossilized. Her beautiful green eyes turned black voids. Her charming pink skin turned gray cracked flakes. Her captivating smile turned to a horrible grimace.
The self left me.
I was an empty vessel devoid of thought and feeling.
I sat beside her corpse on that barren planet and I stayed awake with her for many days. I told her about my travels, the many different planets that I visited, the many millions of hours I spent thinking of her, the tale of the longest journey of the saddest man alive.
I will leave this place soon and I will take her with me. We will take one last trip together. We will go where no one has gone before, a place where we will be together for all time. We will travel into the nearest star and say our goodbyes. Our bodies will fuse with each other and we will become one with it. When the star dies we will join the universe and her particles will be indistinguishable from mine. And when someone in a distant planet in a distant future takes a handful of dirt he will unknowingly take part in the eight thousand year journey of a man that searched for his wife, and found her.
With tears in my eyes and an indescribable sorrow, I stood up and placed the small device back inside the radiation container. I could not imagine what that man had gone through, the ungodly amount of time he suffered and his extreme dedication to his wife. I was sad it happened to him, and to her, I was sad it happened at all. I didn’t even know the name of this poor soul or anything about him.
I glanced through the window and saw that the star began to rise in the horizon. I walked outside and one of my teammates, Herbert, was digging a hole by his cell. He took a look at me and asked me if I was ok. I replied with a simple nod. I brought a chair with me and sat down to watch the sun. It was as if I was seeing it for the first time. Not because I haven’t travelled much, I have travelled more than most. But this star was different because I knew that within it resided the souls of the two people that loved each other most in the history of human kind.
That morning I decided to take the day off and I sat outside, watching as the shadows gently moved from east to west. Bathing in the light of the star and the love of the man that now lived there, in its core.
I watched as the sun went down again later that evening and as it did Herbert approached me and curiously asked,
“Do you know what they’re naming the star yet?”
“Yeah”, I replied. “Gwen”.