The Deconstruction of Falling Stars

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The year, 3025. The place, The Deep Exploration Camp. I'm here, I see her from across the room. But in space, the rule is cold space and colder hearts.

Submitted: March 23, 2008

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Submitted: March 23, 2008

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The Deconstruction of Falling Stars

 
 

Cold space, and colder hearts. That’s the rule. If you’re going into cold space, you have to leave behind your feelings, your loves, because there is a 78% chance you’re not coming back. Colder hearts. But I’m used to it, ‘cause most of the orphans born on Titan don’t know love anyway.

 
\\~*~/
 

They don’t tell you half the stuff, the speed of light travel, the years. The feeling weightlessness of space, and the weight of gravity after all that. The fact that you could run out of food at any minute, or that alien contact is presumed to be in conflict. It’s not fun. It doesn’t feel good. You could die at any moment.

But that’s okay, because I knew all of that anyway. It’s what you’re taught when you go to the top university on the moon. Or when you’re born on Titan.

Anyway, I was born on the biggest Titan colony, May 8th, 3000. My mother died of Pakethisyisis when I was two, and my father was too busy blowing up Atlit War Cruisers to notice, and died a year later staging a frontal assault against their homeworld, Atlitrini. The only reason we didn’t blow each other up is because the Engenica interfered.

As soon as I graduated the high school provided to the orphans at 16, two years early, I jumped off that hell hole and went straight for the Moon colony as fast as I could.

Titan was a hell hole then; it’s supposed to be better now, though. Said they even developed a cure for Pakethisyisis, but I can’t believe that. It can’t have a cure, it’s physically impossible. It’s undetectable until your bone matter, flesh and skin starts melting. That’s one thing I remember from my early days, the image of my dead mother.

Or, at least, what they said was my mother. I couldn’t recognize it. To be honest, I think they showed me a lesser case so I wouldn’t be upset. Or more upset than I was. It’s the kind of thing that makes you vomit several times over, and you dream about it for decades. Imagine a person devoid of skin, and with only enough flesh and bone matter to hold together the organs. But it’s almost impossible to get, unique to Titan, and only by eating a certain type of fish that’s gone bad. Of course, it’s illegal to buy, sell, or eat that now, but it tastes wonderful so people don’t seem to care.

Once on the Moon, I was accepted in the University of Faster than Light Travel and Space Technology. (UFLTST for short. Yeah, I know. Long name.) It’s the best university anywhere on the Earth Colonies, Mars, Titan, the Moon, or even Earth itself. Not to mention it’s hell expensive and a scholarship is practically impossible. But my background, my grades, and my affinity to space were exemplary, and so, I won a scholarship.

What they told me was surprising, though. All the stuff about space they leave out in the training information. Faster than light travel, for instance: that for every year you spend in it, 32 years pass on the Colonies, and the only way to cancel that out is by using a jump gate, which cost billons of dollars to build and millions to use.

That the first time you get into a zero gravity spaceship you feel like all your insides are floating around, and by the time you get used to it, you generally have to come back and then the gravity feels like you’re being crushed.

Oh, and of course, spacing. The most painful death in the galaxy, so the say. Worse than Pakethisyisis, (and that’s really, really, really fucking damn painful) because after a while you go numb with Pakethisyisis, and the last two weeks you’re not even conscious. Spacing’s only five minutes, but is more painful than a lifetime of Pakethisyisis. Because at first, your eyes begin to freeze in place, then your lungs slowly follow, suffocating you slowly. But before you even pass out, your heart explodes. Oh, but ladies and gentlemen, that doesn’t kill you instantly, in fact, you get just a few seconds afterward to feel the pain. After you’re dead, your lungs explode. That, is spacing. They don’t include any of the gory details when you’re being trained.

At this point most of the kids heading for deep space travel get turned off, deciding to stay closer to home, look for new alien life forms, that sort of thing. But a few stay on. Like me. I was born in the stars. They sing to me, a song too beautiful to ignore. For the longest time I loved them more than any person. Because, when I looked up, into the sky, there were the stars, calling me back home.

And that’s how, eight years after I was accepted into UFLTST, at age 25, I got here, at the deep space exploration camp.

 
\\~*~/
 

It’s tough. I’ve been here a week, and my body is already cracking under the stress. I’ve managed to pull myself back together, though, and now it’s just tough. Right now we’re being trained in how to operate a jump gate, because we’re going to take one right out to the rim, but once we’re there it’s going to be only light speed travel from then on out.

Some new kids are coming today, boosting the count to eighty. But by the end of the year, only thirteen kids will be on the ship into deep space. My team. Because I swear to god that I will be on that ship. I will not fail.

I’m waiting at the docking station when I see her across the room. She’s not particularly pretty, and doesn’t stand out that much, except for her hair, but she catches my eye and holds it as she walks off the ship. She had pale blue eyes, very pale, with purple interlacing them. Her hair was a silvery, ivory color, with extremely pale pink highlights. Her skin was nearly white, and her figure wasn’t particularly nice. Her face was too round, but it would have been beautiful if there had been laugh lines. There weren’t. Her eyes were bright, but she didn’t seem…happy. She also had glasses hanging from her neck, implying she needed reading glasses, which was practically unheard of in this day an age. She couldn’t have been older than twenty. Nineteen, maybe.

And then I heard her name, echoed across the room as her head whipped around, away from me, towards her caller. Gwynne.

 
\\~*~/
 

I spoke to her a month after she came. She’s a kind, sweet, compassionate girl, and she’s easy to talk to. The words just sort of flow out, and there’s no awkward silences. A more annoying point, you can’t really seem to not say something you’re thinking around her. You learn to get used to it and just be out with it. We’re friends now; we eat together and spend most of our time together. She’s at the top of the camp, extremely smart and stubborn to boot. The best, even more than me. But I’m still going to make it, and she’ll come. I know it, and she’ll be the first one whose name is called.

Sometimes, when she comes over to my room to study, we end up getting off topic and spend the whole night chatting it up.

I’m twenty five years old and this is the first time I have ever had anything like this.

And I love her for it.

I love her in everyway. In her smile and her laugh, as a friend and as a sister. I love her in everyway except for the way she loves me. But that’s okay. I can tell in the way she walks and laughs. I asked her about it once, and she only said: “The greatest thing I could ever have, is just to love.” And she smiled. It was not a sad, bitter sweet smile. It was pure and happy, as happy as I had ever seen it. I smiled too, slowly, and then we turned and started walking to the mess hall.

One day I ask her how she managed to get her hair color and skin tone, because she said that back on Earth she was always in the sun, but she so pale.

“It’s because somewhere up my line, my great grandfather, I think, married an Engenica.” She said, looking up at ceiling, as she often did when concentrating. “I guess that explains why people talk so freely around me. Weird, isn’t it? I don’t feel like I’m part alien.” We laughed, and the conversation continued. Most of the time our conversations jumped around. It was what made talking to her so fun. You never knew what was coming next.

 
\\~*~/
 

One day, we were walking up to the main room for a conference, she looked over and saw a one of the doors to the airlocks. She frowned. “That doesn’t look right.” And proceeded to walk over there. I stayed where I was, frozen in place. “Gwynne, get back here.” I pleaded. She didn’t even look at me.

“Relax.” She said. “The only open the airlock on Thursday, and I won’t even be going inside it. I just don’t want the whole station being spaced when it is Thursday.” She turned around, smiled, and went back to her work. She told me to go on ahead, reading my thoughts.

Slowly, I nodded and went down the hall.

God, I should have stayed with her.

The meeting went, as planned, but Gwynne never came. When I went to the door she was working on, I assumed that she would still be there, but instead the corridor was empty, and the airlock door itself fixed.

Well, I had gone down a different path to reach the door, so I decided to try the same one I went up. And there she sat, beautiful as ever, eyes closed as if in sleep. The only problem was the trickle of blood down her chin from her mouth.

I’m pretty sure my scream woke up the entire station.

 
\\~*~/

The said it was space microbes. The entire airlock was infested with them. They get in your lungs and throat passages. The thing is, they aren’t what kill you. They simply start the bleeding. It’s not that much, but the microbes have a sedative in their bite that causes the victim to fall asleep. Then, asleep, you…you chock on your own blood. Painless, they said. Just like falling asleep. That’s the scientific answer, the scientific autopsy. I hurt too much to give a damn.

They shipped the body back to Earth, to be buried in their family’s private cemetery. I never even got to say goodbye.

 
\\~*~/
 

When the day finally arrives, a month later, to select the thirteen people to go on the mission, I’m to emotionless to care. I can still here her last sentence floating through my head. “Go on, Eva. I’ll be coming shortly. Just tell them I got held up.

I’m surprised that her name wasn’t called first, when I heard the first acceptance’s name called. This should be her going up there. I think, as the first name rings out through the hall. I walk up to receive the list of appropriate gear and where to get it.

The autopsy said she wouldn’t have survived the zero gravity conditions, anyway. Said she was lucky she died here, where her body could be buried.

My angel. My star. She was dead before she hit the ground. Doomed from the beginning.

But I can’t help feeling that if she had died out there, it would have been better. That we could send her out to the stars, where she belonged. I think she would have been happy, out there for eternity.

I loved her in everyway but one, and I hope it was enough.

My heart’s cold enough for space now. I have to go.

 
\\~*~/
 

Back in my room, I’m packing all the necessities. Only the necessities. They made that quite clear, not to bring any extras. I pick a frame, a picture of me and Gwynne, look at it for a minute, then place in flat on the bedside table, picture facing downward. I shove one more thing into my pocket, and head to the ship.

I only then see the rest of my team. Already packed into the rocket. The man shows me the way in. Before I was strapped in, I pull out a picture of Gwynne. Just Gwynne. I found it in her dresser. She had sent it to her brother. He had sent it back.

I’m taking her to the stars. She’s going, after all. I clutch the picture in my hand as I’m strapped in.

The engines roar once, and then there is only the silence of space, the cold, the loneliness. Through the small window I can see the orange-yellow of the gate that accompanies entering hyperspace. I’m finally going to the rim. The void, the unknown, home.

The cold of space beckons. Well, darling, I’m coming.

 
\\~*~/


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