Author : Damien Krsteski
“So, will you finally tell me why we’re here?” The ice cubes rattled as Jane drank the remaining drops of her orange juice and vodka cocktail. “I hate it when you’re so secretive.”
Nick smiled and slurped his vodka. Krylania was a wondrous place. With its small size, even surface and perfect distance from Sol, it was most certainly his favorite asteroid. A place he often called his own.
One he used to visit in times of doubt or when he lacked perspective, to acquire a sense of belonging, marvel at the immensity of the cosmos, to think things through.
But mostly, he used to come for the distance it provided between himself and the others. Something he inherited from his father- the desire to be left alone.
The day before he’d met her was his last trip to the asteroid. He had never told her a single word about Krylania, or what it all meant to him.
Now, two and a half years later, they were there, tanning on his yellow beach chairs, drinking alcohol with cute umbrellas in their glasses. Above their heads, space was dark and endless.
“Jane,” he said softly, “when my father left the Swarm and erased himself, I realized something.”
She stopped chewing her straw, and set the glass down.
A clumsy grin stretched Nick’s mouth and he said, “I realized I hate this place.” He got on his feet and scooped up the vodka bottle, clutching it firmly by its neck. “He never understood our society, Jane. Never.” He waved the bottle around a bit, then took a sip. “He thought it’s good to be alone. He told me I should be a distinguished individual. He never bought the whole nanotech hivemind hocus pocus.” He poked his chest with his thumb. “Heck, even I didn’t back then.”
Jane eyed him sympathetically. He dragged his chair next to hers and sat down.
He passed her the alcohol, then said quietly, “But after all that’s happened, I think I finally do.” She drank.
Then he did too.
“I brought you here to show you something,” he said, got up and pulled her to her feet. “Come.”
The two walked hand-in-hand on the asteroid’s dusty surface, barefoot and naked, their artificial bodies unscathed by space radiation, minds separated by a great distance from everyone else, isolated, alone. For the time being, they were only with one another.
A short distance later, they arrived at a large irregular bump on the surface, and climbed on it. Before them, preceded by a neverending gap of vacuous space, was Sol, shining brightly their way.
“Once in a couple of years this rock passes through a much bigger asteroid cloud,” said Nick, hand raised up before his eyes. “It is happening now.” He pointed at the empty space before them. “Watch.”
As he spoke, the blinding rays of sunshine were interrupted by a massive cluster of small asteroids in all shapes and sizes. They sailed graciously by, as if riding on the crest of a giant lightwave, soaring faster and faster until they blocked out the sunlight in its entirety. Jane ducked instinctively, as the group of rocks cast a cold shadow over them. It was sunset on asteroid Krylania.
Nick put his hand around her shoulder.
“Thanks,” he said. “For being you. For being here. And for being a part of what we are.”
It was over as soon as it began. The cluster of rocks passed quietly out of view, and the sun was back up. Jane nodded, and leaned over to kiss him. Moments later, both of them rejoined the rest of their race, leaving the asteroid far behind.
They could hardly wait to share the experience with the others.