Author : Kenny R. Brown
Our research ship; the Threshold, hovered about 800,000 kilometers from the event horizon. We could’ve taken better readings by moving closer, but then even the most powerful engines ever designed wouldn’t have been able to hold us back from the intense pull of gravity generated by our test subject.
Though our shielding was sufficient to protect us from the intense X-ray radiation, there was something unnerving about looking at the black hole with the naked eye. Some compared it to staring down the barrel of a weapon. I felt more like a projectile; about to be forced through the barrel at inconceivable speed.
We were on the final leg of our mission, examining the black hole known as subject K14-683. For the last three days, it has been business as usual for us; taking readings and performing tests.
“Sir!” Lieutenant Caruthers shouted; “Positive contact in optical.”
“What’ve we got?” I asked.
“It looks like a vessel of some kind, holding station about 12 kilometers from the event horizon; spherical, 6 meters in diameter.”
The Lieutenant scowled as he examined the various displays arrayed at his station.
“Unknown, it seems to have no source of propulsion. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
I ordered a routine scan of the object, probing the object in a wide range of spectra and frequencies.
Ensign Michaels began shouting, bypassing the usual chain of command. “The unknown is moving. It’s on a collision course!”
Lieutenant Caruthers hit the collision alarm. “Time to intercept; 25 seconds.”
The expected impact never came; the unknown vessel stopped 10 meters off of our bow. Then our engines went dead.
“Main engine shutdown! We’re being pulled in.” The Lieutenant paused a moment, then continued; â€œ40 seconds to event horizon.”
There was nothing left to do, every member of the crew knew there was no hope; the bridge was silent as we each prepared to meet death. The unknown kept its position off our bow, exactly matching our acceleration. We reached the event horizon, but instead of being destroyed; we suddenly found ourselves in normal space once again.
The silence was finally broken by Lieutenant Caruthers; “Ensign Michaels; report.”
“The unknown is still off the bow; engines operating at station keeping.”
“What’s our position?â€ I asked.
Lieutenant Caruthers consulted his stellar maps. Finally; he responded; “Position… uncharted.”
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows
365 Tomorrows Merchandise: The 365 Tomorrows Store
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow