by R.T. Allenson
The light was flashing green – everything was ready to go. The man clad in a suit of moon-silver stretched his hand outwards, feeling a sense of longing and content as he felt the emptiness in his hands settle. There was work to be done but for a moment he tarried, taking everything around him. He was expecting Earth to be with him, floating luminously in the vastness of space as it was the last time he did the spacewalk but there was nothing else but the blackness of space. Deep space, and he feels it getting deeper and deeper…
His radio had begun beeping. “Hey Scott? How’s it going out there? I can’t see you from the window.”
The man in the silver-gleaming suit stared endlessly into the darkness, unflinching, breathing in deeply as everything settled in. There was something wrong with the communications array and he was the only one who could fix it between him and the rest of the five-man crew of The Moneres, three of which were in long-term hibernation. “I’m just getting ready, son.” he replied slightly irritated. He’s done this for years now, braving the darkness with nothing else but a suit of moon-silver and a wrench and the last thing he needs is some greenhorn hurrying him up.
He was standing on the edge of the bridge, tethered and ready to jump into the emptiness before him. The radio was beeping again but this time he didn’t answer, instead closing his eyes until the cacophony of beeping alarms faded into silence. His senses were in-tuned to his heartbeat, beating monotonously as he felt the last bits of fear leave him.
And then he jumped. Arms wide, embracing the darkness…
The only music was his beating heart and the faint echo of space – the last vibrations of a dying monotony of sound when the loudest thunder roared across the universe. Wordlessly the man clad in moon-silver raised a hand and waved at the stretch of glass; someone on the other side waved back, flashing green lights in approval. The communications array was just a few spaces before him but it seemed that he was floating in space for a long time, that the minute distances between here and there were endless. But he wasn’t in a rush at all; in fact he took it all in, the vault of coldness and the distant, faintly visible colors from the edges of space – vistas too far to reach, too indescribable and too difficult to know. He’d always imagine himself reaching into the edge of space and touching what lay beyond it and as he reached for the array, in his heart, he was also reaching out into the horizon.
And his heart was beating fast, faster now with each moment his hand neared its destination. Each moment he neared his destination. Thoughts were racing in his mind of all the long years he spent in a cold, metal structure adrift in the emptiness. There were things back home, many things that he gave up for this endless solitude. He remembers faintly the smell of grass and rainwater, the color of the sky and the sound of people laughing. His breathing was still despite all this – when he first started, the memories were unbearable. And in space, a cry in sorrow is as empty as the blackness.
The man in moon-silver floated above the platform leading to the communications array; his radio was beeping again and though he answered it, he only heard empty words on the other line. A monotonous dribble of instructions and alterations that meant nothing to him in the end.
“Scott, the array’s actually jammed this time. It’s time to repair the cable. Have you got the replacement?”
“I’m on it.” he said, eyebrows furrowed and slightly twitching. He didn’t even bother listening for a reply; the cable was already replaced and the array was back to working just fine. He smiles to himself, turning the radio off before it began beeping again. He stood at the edge of the array, staring into the edge of space. It’s hard not to get lonely here, he admits to himself.
But there’s peace here, though loneliness is as eternal as anything. You can be lonely amongst others after all and here it is hard to distinguish the abyss in each other’s eyes from the void of space. Both stare out endlessly you see…how deep they are. The eyes wander aimlessly as they search for familiarity and meaning amidst nothingness while words ring hollow, echoing until it falls back into the recesses of the deep. That’s something…somewhere you wouldn’t want to go but I fear that the darkest reaches of eternity lie not in space, but in our own empty hearts.
His tears escape his eyes and float aimlessly within his helmet. A flurry of emotions and memories sweep over him like a great wind and he chokes on it.
The man clad in silver descended into the metal construct that he came to know as home for several years – long-winded years of loneliness and solitude mixed with colors of grief and foreboding. His senses have always played him for a fool, his intuition a parody of knowledge. There are things in his past worth everything to forget, but he never counted on the quietness being a fuel for remembrance. Whatever happiness he found before, he lost it in the abyss. Lost it in the cold and the metal pathways, lost it as he stared into that far-off horizon that would be there had he had the courage to touch.
“I’ve had enough of this.” His hands reach for the button on his suit; lights sharply flashed red – the sound of alarm ringing in his ear overcame everything else. Blue, blue, blue. He remembers the words his father told him.
“Blue, blue, blue. Blueshift, that’s what you wait for. You’ll see it soon.” He smiles, closing his eyes in content as his breath slowly leaves him. “I’ll see it soon…”
And then he jumped. Arms wide, embracing the darkness…