Author : Sevanaka

It is an unnatural sensation. A man is meant to stand; two feet solidly planted on the ground. Oh, for the sweet touch of earth between toes, grassy shoots tickling bare feet. Instead there is only a sinking sensation while the wind whispers its secrets; its guarded words lost to the noise of a singing hull slipping through the sky.

One by one the stars fade. Streaming clouds and slowly forming atmosphere obscure the shining motes. Constellations dim, and vanish. The radiance of the heavens, now reduced to a dull blur beyond the screens. This man is going home.

His hands ache from the grip he keeps on the console before him. His head throbs from the swinging acceleration. Planetfall used to be much worse, he knows, but that doesn’t mean he must enjoy the transition. Yet a ragged smile teases his lips with its presence – it had been ages since he had last seen home. He ponders, for a moment, the woman he is returning to. It has been a year. He has seen the stars, in all their glory, unfazed by clouded nights or city lights. He has been to the far reaches of human space. The quiet blackness that threatens to take you into itself. The edge, where the stars themselves beckon the souls of men with songs of light and brilliance, echoing secrets of a furious inferno.

And still he returns, to the woman he once loved. He stares again at the picture taped to the console. Stares and wonders. He remembers the struggle, out on the edge of sanity, where the pull of those fiery pins of light was almost too great… where the tug was in fact too great for some of the crew. She will not remember this. He remembers the fight, the struggle, to turn the ship back. He remembers the men that lost themselves to the blackness, who walked off the ship and into the nothingness. She will not. He remembers the siren call of the stars, how they begged for his company. She has never heard them speak, let alone sing.

He tries to clear his head, to shake loose these lingering thoughts of the stars beyond the stars, as the capsule jostles his tired body. A sharp jab of turbulence catches him off guard and he bites his tongue. He hears a curse growled in the cabin, and is surprised to realize it is his voice echoed back to him. Turbulence means atmosphere. Turbulence means he is moments from… his scowl quickly turns to a laugh: one of relief, of satisfaction – this man is going home.

But to what? It has been a year. The smile in the photograph seems so unfamiliar. But the feeling that tightens his chest, that feeling the stars could never provide, reminds him.

Falling. It is such an unnatural sensation.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows