Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
I’ve stabbed deep into the envelope around the white dwarf sun at the center of this solar system. My gravity repellers are maxed. I’ve skimmed the perihelion right in the onionskin. I came in at .75c and the slingshot here has nudged me just past full light. This experimental craft is performing perfectly. A silver arrow of flexible diamond called The Needle. The seventeen thrusters that have burst-accelerated me across a fifth of the Milky Way to end up here have all been discarded behind me like Fibonacci-spaced buoys. I was by all accounts the fastest human-constructed artifact in the universe.
I am seven miles away from the surface of the dwarf and here I will stay.
I can look up from my cockpit and see the whorls and radiation of the star like a static, unchanging borealis. My ship’s cabin protects me from the effects as does my hubris.
I have found out what happens when a ship with mass goes faster than the speed of light. Caught by surprise, physics found a mutually agreeable solution that I have not found agreeable.
The moment I hit 1.0000001.c, all of my control panels stopped. They didn’t turn off. They just stopped. Anything that oscillated froze in mid strobe. My shuddering, screaming, deafening ship became silent. Oddly, I am free to move about. I can touch everything in my cockpit but I cannot move it. It’s like I am immersed in a three-dimensional photograph.
I am a fly trapped in an amber bulb of time. Why my consciousness has been permitted to remain alert is a mystery. Perhaps something to do with Schrodinger and perception. Even though there will be no outcome, there needs to be an observer.
The folks back home are waiting for telemetry from my ship. By my viewpoint, they will always be waiting.
I have been here for six days so far. My ship has not moved forward and I have not run out of air and I’m felt no hunger or thirst. I seem to be destined to remain here. In a few years, I suppose I’ll find out if I’m even aging at all.
If I’m caught in a loop, it’s a loop too small for me to detect. I won’t go forward. I won’t go back. I have been put ‘oh hold’ by the universe’s laws.
I wonder how many alien astronauts dot the border of light with me, strung out across the galaxy like doomed fireflies in jars.
Perhaps when the universe ends and physical laws break down we will all be set free to complete our parabolas.
Until then, my orbit is not done. My orbit will never be done.
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