I looked up from the mangled bulk-head and into the distance
between the ripped hull.
some explosion that had created the gap, yet the ‘Brigand’s sensors
hadn’t worked out what had caused it. That was our mission. Yet
the team’s presence and purpose had ceased to be of any importance.
fixed on the sight I beheld.
was wide enough to see both the twirling clusters of stars that
made of our galaxy’s bulk, and the other end - the void.
was big. Very big, very vast, and very cold. It was the expanse
that separated our galaxies from its neighbours: darkness itself.
Not blank however - for ‘nearby’ galaxies were visible if one
searched for long enough.
were silent, and still.
captured the eye in its simplicity, its absolute nothingness.
For there was practically nothing - out there, dark matter was
scarce, and light scarcer.
post stood out like a light-house from the spiral galaxy it belonged
to. We were on the horizontal plane, the spiral arms like the
twirling skirt of a dancer. Somewhere in the nearest spiral -
home. Not for myself or any of the crew. Home for our species.
Earth - a tiny orb in a tiny system surrounding a tiny star.
a universe without end - just billions of other galaxies spurting
out in every direction, pushing back the limits -
wakey MJ.” Startled, I looked up and saw a white vacuum suit floating
towards me. The galaxy slipped along the shielded visor. Yet I
knew the voice, and I knew the torso.
You surprised me.”
- but if not me it would have been the Brigand’s warp-drive as
she headed back in.”
right - the sight of darkness would have held my attention until
my air ran out.
happening on your end?”
haven’t found what blew the station apart - a generator implosion
most likely, yet there’s little plasma on the hull and debris.”
strike, perhaps?” I theorised, and imagined a smile covering my
sister’s face. We’d often discussed the idea of galactic neighbours
coming for more than just coffee - but over the past few days
spent in hyperspace on our way to the unmanned listening post,
next time you see one of your ET friends, say ‘hi’ for me.” She
laughed, and pushed off with her thrusters towards the rest of
the team. I followed, watching the workers and scientists rub
shoulders like white Amazonian ants, carting huge plates of titanium
in their wakes.
and undeniably though, the void drew me back. I looked into the
distance, into my past-
“Look at the darkness, not into it.” My mentor and the ship’s
engineer, Tristian, asked. “What do you see?”
- no, wait. A few glitters - galaxies right?”
Now if you pointed a strong enough telescope into the darkness
within those galaxies, what do you think you’ll see?”
galaxies?” Tristian smiled, and concluded for me:
those galaxies there would be more galaxies - and the further
you went the more you would find?”
smile faded. He nodded.
I nodded within my helmet.
a big place all right.”
corner of my eye, against the core of the galaxy, I watched the
EVA team return to our floating island in space.
to join them, and then remembered the small metallic sphere I
had found above the computer panel. My scanner had described it
as an intricate, dynamic object, containing an unusual matrix
of energy. I made sure the velcro sealant on my pouch was secure.
I wanted to show the others - find out what it really was, though
somehow I already knew. It was a message, belonging to whatever
entity had arrived on the edge of our realm. Like us, looking
for someone to talk to.
out into the void. Somehow, it wasn’t so cold and lonely.