Author : Tim Hatton

The black is total.

Oedi’s life is devoid of light and endlessly deep.

Only stars prick the canvas. He stares at them, each in turn, for entire shifts. He finds it odd to realize that what he is looking at has moved from that spot eons before the light reaches his eyes.

Silence is the most common media.

Long stretches separate the use of his ears. Sound becomes painful.

His maintenance sentence was called “lenient” by the magistrate. He was dropped off on the station equipped with nothing but the clothes he was given and a thin instruction manual.

The only assurances he has of the functionality of his mind are the rare, random explosions that emanate from the Solar Span Gate. Exiting ships burst from it in a fanfare of sound. The pent up energy that held open the sub-space passage is unleashed as a fantastic show of swirling color. Reds shrouded in orange present a flame in the night, while yellow tickles the edge. Greens sprout healthy beside the warmth, soaking up the blues while they live. Surrounding it all indigo fades to violet, their soft transition back to space. No wavelength is neglected.

Every so often, one of these craft will dock with his prison and inject food and water. The rest fire up their electro-magnetic generators upon exit and gracefully glide away, propelled by their own polarized force field. The gift of their colorful arrival spent, they wander away from Oedi without acknowledgement.

His presence on this revolving maintenance deck is decidedly unnecessary. Computers regulate the day to day functioning of the Gate. Oedi is an overseer – a strange irony for a convict. In the rare event that the system is unable to repair its own malfunctions, Oedi does it. The rest of his life is spent idle. Nutrient paste is administered every eight hours. Water is available any time, but only four liters every twenty hours. The water is Oedi’s favorite. Sometimes he tries to cup it in his hands.

Oedi’s face is a gauze of pigment-deprived wax. His eyes are consumed by pupils, and in their black voids, his existence is mirrored. Life on the deck is permanent, but this situation has taken something from Oedi that he did not mind relinquishing. Oedi will die here, and that reality, coupled with the doldrums of his experience, has erased all fear of death. In his dreams, his mind melts with the blackness of space and his body fuels the light reactions that dance magnificently from the Gate.

For now, he resumes his examination of the stars – always staring at those things that are no longer there.

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