Author: Glenn Leung
This happened so long ago, so I’ll understand if you doubt this story’s authenticity. Nevertheless, I swear on my honour, whatever that’s worth, that everything I’m about to describe, really happened.
I don’t think I need to tell you about the Titania. I’m sure you’ve seen those century-old photos of that magnificent space cruiser, including the ones of it blowing up after colliding with Comet P187. I grew up fascinated with those stories; about how it was the first Faster-Than-Light liner, about how it had artificial gravity equivalent to that of Earth’s. So when the Titania exhibition came to our space city, I begged my parents to take me. I was eight at the time, and my parents were baffled as to why I would engage in what they considered a morbid subject. Nevertheless, they relented after I agreed to do chores for a week.
The Titania exhibition was a showcase of the artefacts recovered over the past century. There was a section in which the technology used to comb the million square miles of space was displayed, but I had no interest in that. Instead, I rushed over to see the pieces of the great ship itself. I remember gaping at the smashed-up ion engine, splayed in two jagged parts. I remember the Graviton Generator and how it was still leaking to this day. You could feel those Gravitons tugging at your knees like unseen phantoms!
But I digress, those were amusements from a simpler time.
I remember it happened in a smaller part of the hall, where they showcased recovered personal effects. There were some 1500 people who lost their lives that day, and while their atoms had been scattered to the solar wind, some of their possessions miraculously survived. This part of the hall also had a small viewing window. You couldn’t really see much from here, since we were near the Kuiper belt and the sun’s rather far. Occasionally though, the city’s lights would reveal some space debris. It was usually tiny and boring, which was good. If you could see something big, it meant that our comet alarm had failed and we were all about to die. That day though, I did see something big.
The viewing window was beside this display of salvaged perfumes, still pungent. I remember distinctly, that century-old scent as I peered outside and saw another window, back-illuminated by musky light. I was frozen, a deer-in-the-headlights moment, trying to process why another space city was looming near us. I saw a woman appear at this window, eyes wide in terror. I took a step back, and the extra window began moving away as well. I then saw it was part of a whole row of windows pasted on dark steel. Behind each one was a person, their faces drained of colour and loaded with defeated panic. As it backed away even farther, I saw the tip of a huge letter ‘T’ below that cursed array. Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, that ghastly vision vanished into the darkness of space.
If you had guessed that our city was located not far from the Titania’s crash site, you’d be right. However, even at eight, I was quite a rational kid. I don’t believe in ghosts. I’ve spent the last twenty or so years investigating, but sadly, I had been the only witness. Perhaps the old perfumes were messing with my head. Or perhaps a wormhole had opened to the past. Sadly, I’m not sure I’ll be able to find a satisfactory answer.