Author: Palmer Caine
There is nothing until the buzzing and ringing disturbs my deepest thoughts, my darkest dreams, and I am awoken. I’d heard tales of dreams unlike any terrestrial imaginings where memories are colours organised in a table of elements. A place where worries and fears are vanquished or conquered in extended sleep, when the physical no longer matters and space expands before us. But I saw nothing to enrich my sleep, my rest, my journey, save the sloppy biscuits at the bottom of grandma’s cup.
Eyes focus on pale hands with pale digits that wriggle and crack and dart over dials to press switches to quell the din. The capsule might spin and pivot uncontrollable through the cosmos, but I am unaware. In zero G I am fish or amphibian, I am atrophy.
The stars barely shine through voids of unimaginable size, and I remember the Fells and the floods and the islands in the marshes. Through the power-lines of my mind I see these things again as lights flash and needles peak. Everything wobbles and warps around an approaching gravity field. Reality phases once, twice, thrice and again and again until we’ve passed through. But time is loose now, an illusion we all believe and seconds become minutes, become hours, become days ad infinitum. Dreams of grandma’s biscuits are all I have when distance is time and length is measured by improbable clocks. Everything is dead or dying, you are only a binary image stored someplace inaccessible. Oh, I have missed you in the dark.
The silence of space eases through the seams of my conveyance and the blackness outside becomes the blackness within. If the universe is forever then darkness is our only true companion, the worlds of colour and light mere oases on the grid. Sometimes the Caravan is lost in the dunes searching for the road. Sometimes the Caravan never returns.
Bucky held on ‘til the crunch. He was my back up, a body to replace weight lost. He would go on but his time it seems is limited to just one life. The islands of the mind cast adrift on wandering photons and his torso is removed, ingested by the machine for energy.
“This’ll be an up-hill slog.” I say it twice so not to forget. The comment is recorded and the machine names it prophetic.
I can remember fighting thistles and thorns, cutting back the flora on a hot summer’s day with you in the yard drinking squash and reading my thoughts. My skin is still scared as I float naked around the capsule; every mark reminds me of the loss. Though we were born in the same decade of the same century of the same species, you are now older than grandma as I remember her, wrinkled and pox marked. Older than anybody I truly remember.
Now the lights have ceased and the sirens stopped screaming, I may return to slumber, first inserting the straws for the liquid provided for sustenance in solitude. It runs like milk from the udders of banished bovine.
Oh, I will miss you in the darkness.
This piece is like a visual hangover, and I mean that in a good way. “It runs like milk from the udders of banished bovine.” The whole story is worth that one line.