Author : Sevanaka

It is an unnatural sensation. A man is meant to act; meant to take measured, deliberate steps after rational thought. Oh, for the keen, decisive edge of ideology, or the white-hot flurry of passion to drive thought from mind to hands. Instead there is only the unknown – the great, big, Outside – beckoning to him with the pirouetting lights of the tangled slipstream of subspace.

He had imagined it would have been silent: dark, cold, and uninviting, like some of the older films suggested. Yet here, in the slip, there was something he could only relate to a kind of music. An orchestra; a synesthetic orgasm that tore at his mind in a way that the holosims back home never could. A wild, pulsating and writhing symphony; a polyphonic ensemble of greater proportion than what might have been gleaned from the tutorials, or the guides, or the training. Here, this journey out of known space – just shy of six months out – was rapidly coming to a middle.

There had been little left of the excitement of exploration – of adventure! – left in the eyes of the crew. Their glazed-over expressions seemed to reveal a strange mixture of fascination and dull acceptance. Already, the constellations he grew up with were gone, or at least that’s what the navigation console would have told him. Already, the light from home would be a microscopic speck, or so the spectrometer might have read. But for right now he, like the others, was lost in the swirl.

It reminded him of dancing. Despite two left feet, and an absolute lack of rhythm, his mind wandered to the melody that had once carried his body across the floor. He thought of the tinkering laughter that made the waltz seem simplistic, natural. He lingered on the distinctly tactile memory of twisting limbs and searching lips, as the night wore onward towards morning. He recalled the joyous whispers, the rustle of silk, the profession of love. But his eyes were dazzled by the whirling lights; alas, he could not seem to picture the smile from the wrinkled image that faded, forgotten, at arm’s length.

To him, it felt surreal. There was nothing left of the wit and will of the crew around him; each standing dumbfounded and drooling. Slowly… slowly, the man tore himself away from the mesmerizing spectacle and glanced instead at the instruments. Alarming lights, harsh even against the cacophony of the stars, demanded attention and he gaped at the incoming reports.

The ship was screaming, the reports told him. Posts: abandoned, by men wholly lost to the blankness of space. Airlocks: left gaping, by crew wanting nothing but to swim in the stream of colors just outside. He considered it, briefly, but out of the corner of his eye, her face beamed up at him, chiding him with blissful ignorance.

And in that moment, he knew with a certainty that drowned even the starlight: he must act.

He must return.

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