Father

Author : Matthieu C. R. Cartron

“And why is it that you wish to explore deep space?” said Allen, the director of the space program.

It felt like an obvious question to Gyron. Why did anyone wish to explore the unknown? For the same reason no doubt.

“Exploration is the path forward for our kind,” Gyron said. “We cannot be afraid of what lies in deep space, for it is what we find in the darkness that may propel us forward. If I do not try then how can I expect anyone else to?”

Allen looked up from the table and stared into Gyron’s eyes.

“You are an ambitious man Gyron, are you not?”

“I like to think that my own personal interests are shared by the nation,” Gyron said.

“You have a wife and a young son Gyron. I will admit that you are the most qualified candidate to lead the mission, but you cannot expect to return home before the boy has completed school. And your wife, well, she will be far older than you when you return.”

“I understand this sir, bu-”

“I cannot help but notice, Gyron, that your own personal interests, your family and the mission, are in fact quite contradictory,” Allen said, leaning forward in his chair.

“I need this, sir,” Gyron insisted. “Once you’ve started on a path, you must travel to the end of it. I am determined to see all of my training, all of my hard work, materialize into something. And that will not happen. Not unless I go.”

Gyron pointed to the sky.

“I’ve dreamt of this my whole life sir. My name belongs in the history books; people must know what I can and will achieve. Please.”

*

Six months later, Gyron was gone. Aboard the V-76 model spacecraft, dubbed Father on behalf of a public vote, the crew of eleven men and thirteen women explored deep space. What they found was exciting, but they were unable to share it; sometime during the trip, the Father had lost radio contact with mission control—an expected cost of deep space exploration.

While it had only been two years for the crew, fifteen years passed quietly away on their home planet. When the crew of the Father returned home, they found the planet deserted, bereft of any human activity.

The people had left, and instead of returning to crowds of grateful citizens singing the praises of the Father, the crew was welcomed home by silence.

Gyron returned immediately to the house he had once lived in with his little family, hoping to find a clue that might guide him to them. But the house was empty, save for a small, toy spaceship that lay covered in dust on the floor of his son’s room. Oliver’s room.

Gyron plucked up the spaceship into his large hands and turned it over several times, feeling the jagged plastic scrape at his flesh. He began to quiver, and then finally sank to his knees.

On another day, Gyron might have grieved for his lack of fame or recognition, but today, it was his own introspection that drew him to the floor. He remembered that little spaceship. It was the same one Oliver had been holding as he had said his final farewell. The sobbing Gyron recalled his son’s soft eyes, and the words that had come out of his mouth.

“Father,” Oliver had said while hoisting the spaceship above his head.

“Why must you fly away when the spaceship is already here?”

5 Comments

  1. Jae

    A novel construct to use for the denouement. A step too far for me, but bravo.

  2. SimonJM

    Very poignant. Not sure if an entire planet could organise and achieve a wholesale exodus in just 15 years

    • Hypersapien

      Did they leave? Or were they taken?

      • JH

        Perhaps they were eaten………

        • kohlersc

          Perhaps they all killed themselves.

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