Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
The red vinyl of the gearshifter was warm from conducting the engine heat. I readjusted my grip on the softening plastic and aimed for the sun. This was gravity surfing at its finest.
The cab of my surfship was alive with luck trinkets. Dice from friends, small engine parts from past crashes, nicks in the windshield denoting dead surfers that I knew. Even the knob on the gearshift was a gift from Johnny Demon back when he was a star and I was a promising upstart.
He told me I had something special.
Well, heâ€™s dead now and he must have seen something that wasnâ€™t there because Iâ€™m now old, unfamous, and my surfing runs are cautious. Itâ€™s like these surfships are held together by will alone and my will is fading. At the beginning of a shake or a shudder, I pull back and just let myself find the easiest parabola.
The gravity well grabbed hold of me and I started the roller coaster slingshot of mathematical certainty. The trick was to do it without computers. One had to guess from experience and feel the best point in the invisible miasma of gravity to cut oneâ€™s engines and just go with it.
There came a point about halfway through the arc where even if one was to turn oneâ€™s engines on and try to carve out of the path one was on, it wouldnâ€™t matter. The gravity of the sun was too much. It would be like trying to swim against a tidal wave back on Earth.
The light and radiation from the sun flooded the cab of my surfship. My plants were grateful and lapped it up. I always imagined them telling their plant friends back home about their exotic journeys.
Every year there were a few surfers that wrecked. There were also a few with lush endorsements that dropped out and quit while they were ahead.
And every few years, a surfer winked out.
The thing is with these ships and these shields, there are times when people approach 0.8c of light. Now and again, a surfer steps lightly across that lightspeed boundary and disappears. They wink out.
Logic dictates that theyâ€™ve been smeared into greasy atoms but I like to think that theyâ€™ve pierced reality with the nose of their ship and gone somewhere else.
This is why I pointed the nose of my ship down to the edge of the horizon for the sharpest hugging curve Iâ€™ve ever tried. This was going to be my last run, one way or the other, with one of three outcomes.
Back to earth, up to heaven, or through the fabric of space time to another place.