Author: Rick Tobin

“He’s blind. He ignored shielding restrictions.” Carose bent away from his medical monitor while speaking to Captain Wolir on video screen. “There’s nothing to do. Earthers never evolved protective eye membranes for such space encounters. How did he get through psych screenings?”

“Not sure, Carose. Central Command assured he was fully vetted. Such a loss. What is it this cycle; thirty or forty have found ways to reach 35W7 just to peer into what they believe is the face of their God? There are so many beautiful nebulae to visit, but of course, up close, they are just dull dust clouds…except this one that generates its own light. Maybe that’s why they believe this myth. I wished we didn’t have to vacuum these rare ions from here for our power units. It draws fanatics who desire direct cosmic experiences at any cost.”

“It’s a pity. I’ll do what I can to maintain him as long as I can.” Carose looked over the young ensign lying before him on a metal inspection table. “He can be assigned to parts cleaning in storage.”

“Truly a waste of his skills. He won’t last long. We only send condemned prisoners to handle those chemicals.” Commander Wolir sounded peeved.

“Doesn’t really matter,” Carose interrupted. “Once Earthers have their exposure to 35W7’s light their autonomic nervous system fails in weeks. He’ll stop eating and then drinking. You’ve seen films of them staggering aimlessly, with that disturbing grin, while circling endlessly until they drop. Most of their brain reaches a vegetative stage. What was his assignment onboard?”

“Unfortunately, he was our primary engine charge specialist. Luckily, we’ve got a Sreontan who is also trained as his backup.”

“This disturbing compulsion of humans risks all of our work here. What hubris to seek the face of God.” Carose did not hide displeasure in his voices or contorted facial features in both his heads.

“Really, Carose, I’d expect a being with your experience to understand such attraction. Would your people not risk anything to meet Chalac, your creator myth?”

Yellow streaks erupted and bubbled about Carose’s facial membranes. Commander Wolir noted he had broken protocol regarding religious sensitivities.

“We do not speak of Chalac with your kind, of He who had two faces, then split them to make those of us with two separate heads to honor His binary holiness. Now, do you need me to write another report on this incident, Commander? There are so many insane humans seeking 35W7…it seems redundant.” Carose scanned over his current readings, evaluating efforts it would take to reproduce a new summary workup.

“Sorry, but Central was clear on this. Their policies need strengthening for enforcement after bootleg movies of 35W7 were smuggled onto Earth, before that planet blew up. There is no certainty that it caused their chaos, but when billions suddenly believe they’ve seen their God, civilization collapses. We’ve got to use our powers to reduce future losses of their species still traveling in space. Every report helps establish better barriers to prevent suicide encounters threatening commercial vessels.”

“I’ll have it to your office tomorrow. Meanwhile, send someone down to escort this fool to the parts department. We might get some use from him before he shuts down. I hope what remains in him is at peace.”

“It’s a shame Earthers don’t follow warnings in their own holy books.”

“How’s that?” Carose asked.

“In my study of this phenomenon, I encountered a passage in their Bible stating, ‘You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!’ How could they ignore that?”

“How indeed?” Carose pondered.