In a distant planet of a distant stellar system, under the dimming light of an orange star, a man stood silent, staring at his fallen ship. He didn’t know what had happened, he didn’t know how he had ended up in that alien planet, with his fate almost sealed, with his crew dead and buried.
“This is Captain Van Kelt. The Tero 4 has suffered a catastrophic accident. Its wreckage lays now on planet SE-8388. If anyone is out there, I ask only that you come back for our bodies, for I’ll be long dead before these radio waves reach you. Have a good journey, my friends. Over and out.”
Image created by John Erickson
Darkness engulfed Earth. Acid and ash rained over the continents. The wind screamed as it passed through the cracks and the holes and the windows of the decaying cities. A sad melody rang over its atmosphere reaching every corner of the world to remind its non-existent inhabitants of the death they had endured.
A beep echoed in the cockpit of the Starship Sphenis, eighty thousand light-years away, on the other side of the Milky Way galaxy.
Uh… Ruben what was that?
“What was what?”
Didn’t you just get a message? I think I heard a beep.
“We’re in the middle of something.”
It could be from the empire.
“Just answer the question.”
Fine… well, are we stopping by planet Hunnon on the way back?
I could really use some of their-
Another beep from the command center resonated around them.
Just look at the message!
Ruben Malvarma, one of the last remaining penguins in the galaxy sighed at the voice in his head. “Okay!”
He walked across the bright room, across the metal floors and under the glass ceiling, through the myriad lights of the thousand controls and touched a glowing screen that read: “New Message.”
I can still see it from here. I haven’t lost track of it yet. Among the millions of stars around it, it still shines blue, it still looks like home.
I spend my days walking through these white hallways, the ones with the soft floors, the ones where your feet don’t hurt after having walked all day. I talk to other people in them, like ants we work, and their feet too never hurt. At night we smile to each other and on occasion say ‘good night’, for old times sake.
Sometimes, when I sleep, I can smell the salt of the ocean, I can hear the waves caress the sands outside my home. It used to be the shore that marked the limit, the limit beyond which humans could not go, a blue infinite that was impossible to conquer. Until someone did. It’s how we humans learned there are no limits. They conquered the sea and then the land. They conquered the depths of the ocean and then the peaks of the mountains that scratched the stars.