To Infinity and Beyond

Author: Aethelric Jones

Am I human? I feel like a human being. I’m Jack Hawkins, married with two children. But that was a very long time ago. I don’t look like a human being. I have no flesh or bones, I never get hungry. Actually, I’m a starship, or more like a star drone really as I’m unmanned. An unmanned man!

I’ve been traveling for thousands, well actually
17654.238 years
by Earth time but it only feels like a few months to me. Time compression due to my speed accounts for a very small part of the difference. Most of it is due to simply a reduced clock rate. For example, I have been traveling over 100 earth years since I checked the clock a few seconds (to me) ago, well actually
125.632 years.

I keep dropping relay stations into space. Then I send my data to one and it sends it to the next and then to the next and so on back to Earth. I wonder if Earth is still there. I had a reply a few days ago but I’ll have to wait a week or two even at my current timescales for a reply this time.

But soon I’ll be in a planetary system and I’ll speed up the clock. It’s quite an experience when the clock changes, and one which a regular human can never experience. At a few micro Hertz, the stars move and I can see my destination getting closer. At a few gigaHertz, I can see the languid eruptions of plasma from a star.

They did worry about me going insane, knowing that I will never see another human being again and I would live forever (or until something goes disastrously wrong). I feel fine, but I wonder if I have gone insane in the past and been re-booted. My memory would have been automatically adjusted so I would not actually know. It may have happened more than once, maybe hundreds of times for all I know. Whatever Jack! Live in the NOW.

The planetary system is a day away at this clock speed. Time to slow a bit.

Oh, here it is, I’m coming in at almost right angles, well actually
78.2 degrees
to the ecliptic.
Sun – bigger than Sol
1.28 times.
Hotter than Sol
7200 degrees.
Six planets, three gas giants, one small one too far out to be in the habitable zone, TWO in the habitable zone. Wow, thats a first. Let’s get closer.
Planet A – very young, recently formed or reformed, all lava and volcanoes under the ash clouds.
It has a very wobbly orbit. That sucker has been hit hard by something.
Planet B – very old – strange – no atmosphere, no water.
There’s no life here, may as well move on.
I’ll do a slingshot maneuver around the sun (I like doing that, reminds me of a roller coaster) pick up some matter on the way for fuel and head to the next port of call. That didn’t take long, well actually
35.286 years
in Earth time.
Data sent back to Earth, if it’s still there!
That reply for my last transmission should be here soon – well actually
1768.239 years
in Earth time.

Onwards, to infinity and beyond – oh good old Buzz Lightyear. My kids loved him.

Oh, here’s the reply from Earth. Let’s see who is in charge now.

3 Comments

  1. SimonJM

    A nice idea, but the science is, I think, a bit too ropey for it to sit well with me.

  2. Jae

    Now there’s a slice-of-life from a far tomorrow. Well done.

  3. xdhz8

    Always fun to read a story that plays around with time.

Submit a Comment

Random Story :

The Past

365tomorrows launched August 1st, 2005 with the lofty goal of providing a new story every day for a year. We’ve been on the wire ever since. Our stories are a mix of those lovingly hand crafted by a talented pool of staff writers, and select stories received by submission.

The archives are deep, feel free to dive in.

Flash Fiction

"Flash fiction is fiction with its teeth bared and its claws extended, lithe and muscular with no extra fat. It pounces in the first paragraph, and if those claws aren’t embedded in the reader by the start of the second, the story began a paragraph too soon. There is no margin for error. Every word must be essential, and if it isn’t essential, it must be eliminated."

Kathy Kachelries
Founding Member

Submissions

We're open to submissions of original Science or Speculative Fiction of 600 words or less. We only accepting work which you previously haven't sold or given away the rights to. That means your work must not have been published elsewhere, either in print or on the web. When your story is accepted, you're giving us first electronic publication rights and non-exclusive subsequent publication rights. You retain ownership over your story. We are not a paying market.

Voices of Tomorrow

Voices of Tomorrow is the official podcast of 365tomorrows, with audio versions of many of the stories published here.

If you're interested in recording stories for Voices of Tomorrow, or for any other inquiries, please contact ssmith@365tomorrows.com