Author : Desmond Hussey
“Hello darkness, my old friend.
I’ve come to talk with you again.
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain,
Within the sound of silence.”
– Simon and Garfunkel
I awake from dreams about a person I once knew. Was it me? Opening my “eyes”, the brilliance of a new day assaults my senses, but it’s not the light of home. I’m 7,600 light years from my birthplace and it’s not one sun but two which dazzles my vision. I’m looking at Eta Carinae, a binary solar system possessing the largest known sun in the Milky Way galaxy, EC-A; a hundred solar masses and five hundred times brighter than Sol.
Blinking, I switch filters, shifting into the cooler ultraviolet range. This is as natural to me now as squinting once was. My brain, (the only real thing I’ve left that I can call my own), communicates via a synthetic nervous system to sensory units capable of 360 degree vision and can peer deep into all spectrums of light.
My “ears” hear radio waves like they once heard sound. When I first left Earth, I thrilled at the illusion of traveling back in time as I moved through (slightly Doppler shifted) radio signals broadcast since the dawn of radio. It was comforting to relive those transmissions from bygone ages of wars, musical genres and radio plays, but I never felt more alone than the moment I crossed the threshold of Earth’s first broadcast. What a strange form of resurrection it is, hearing Hienrich Hertze a thousand years after his death, a billion miles from home. When his historic oscillations cut silent, replaced by the cold, alien, inscrutable frequencies of space, I knew that I was truly alone. It took ages to comprehend the seemingly random and chaotic signals filling the void. But now, I understand the language of space as easily as a conversation in a crowded room. The rotations of suns are heartbeats to me now, pulsars, like the ticking of clocks. When I listen carefully, I can even hear the faint music of creation.
Moving through the Homunculus Nebula, twin billowing clouds of celestial dust blown from EC-A in one of its false supernova’s, my “tongue” begins to taste the bitter tang of iron and nickel, my “nose” detects the sweet aroma of oxygen and hydrogen. I compare the sensation to the sharp effervescence of a deep, red wine aged in oak barrels. Don’t ask me why.
A million units of data are unconsciously recorded and categorized as I’m caught in the gravity well of the massive binary system. It’s stored within my “memory”, remotely accessible by my Earth bound research team even should I “die” out here. I only wish I could remember more of my own memories… before the transplant. Only in the long dream, as I travel the vast gulfs of space to my destinations can I glimpse fragments of my terrestrial life, but it’s like gazing into a shaken snow globe full of shadows. The doctors told me this was to protect me from madness. I have no idea if they’re right, but I have an ache, an inexplicable emptiness I yearn to fill.
I feel gravity’s grip as I carefully maneuver my sleek, mirrored, oblong “body” into a trajectory which will make the best use of the extremely high gravity, one that will sling me like a catapult further on my journey, deeper into the unknown and closer to sleep. To sleep, perchance to dream…
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