Author : Rick Tobin

“O holy night, the stars are brightly shining…” She choked off her singing of the next phrase, unable to overcome phlegm from fearful regret as Marcus lay still next to her in the dark, cramped ejection pod. Oxygen recycler packs heated smooth surfaces of the stark plastic enclosure. Air supply would not threaten the long journey—their final voyage into a tarry abyss rising before them. Susan cleared her throat. A ferry craft’s bright window glints shrank as the pods escort sped away from the black hole’s gravitational tendrils. The couple had signed all documents for the eternal assignation: entwining two souls to each other’s minds, while meandering timelessly in an unforgiving universe. Their last kindred adventure waited just ahead.

“Susan,” he muttered, lowly, squeezing her wrinkled hands in the raised console between their scooped, padded recesses. She stopped the Christmas carols they had agreed would serenade their sojourn until bonding was complete.

“My love,” she whispered, grasping his tired fingers for a squeeze of remembrance—times before disease and fatigue overcame the ripeness of youth and middle age fortitude. His cancers grew without guilt for the host pummeled in agony. Electronic pain blocks maintained some of Marcus’s sanity as he was hoisted into the space station entwinement box. Many friends and honored guests celebrated their release from spoiled bodies that could no longer be rejuvenated by injections, replacements, transplants or new miracle cures. “There is always a marker in time for us all,” Susan said in her parting elegy played over the ship’s speaker system as the entwinement tug guided them out from the shuttle bay into the frigid vacuum.

Elderly couples were allowed internment into black holes now that the concepts of heaven, hell and an afterlife were universally discarded. The entwinement process was a lasting remembrance and bonding believed to continue for centuries for souls who had a life-long commitment to their pairing. Probes revealed the second part of the journey outward in its three phases as travelers entered the chasm. Participants were carefully trained for each stage, including appropriate technical and support elements for a successful blending.

Phase I: Entry
Silent Night filled the soundless void of the cabin as velocity increased. They passed the darkening rim with other particles of cosmic space debris fluttering into the vacuum cleaner maw. Susan increased musical volume and bass so their beds vibrated in harmony with choirs from past ages. The portal before them grew inky. She closed the view screens. There would be little need to view outward and they combined inwardly.

Phase II: Blending
Susan activated the hallucinogenic drug injections and brain implant stimulation of their nucleus reticularis pontis oralis, to ensure deep REM sleep. As the ejection pod started its violent swirling, the couple’s amalgamated memories bonded for eons to come.

Phase III: Drifting
The whirlpool of initial entanglement with matter in time-space continuum slowed to a near halt as Susan and Marcus shared singularity, already a thousand years past the time of their injection near the black hole’s horizon. Inside the sightless womb, they would circle, for millennia, bonded in love and memories of pure health, until their rebirth as piercing energy from the fiery mouth of a quasar on the other side of the maelstrom.

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