Author: James Callan
Our sad faces press close, one last communion, gathered at the stern as we gaze out at tiny lights growing dim, fading fast, much like any hope we might yet cling onto. Smaller and smaller becomes the last meager port, a derelict post on the fringes of all that is known, dwindling with each passing second, each moment that we drift further, farther away, deeper into whatever lies beyond, a great nothing; the endless black.
Resources of old, vestigial wealth, knowledge, joy, have all been squandered, now a faint ghost of some distant memory, the ancient rumination of a golden era long dead, turned to rot. Riding the ragged coattails of our brethren, we are charged with their insurmountable debt, the unthinkable price of their greed, their lack of forethought. Unable to pay, unable to cope, we run from the great collapse in the wake of our jet stream. We look behind us once more, and forever hence, look forward.
Restless and forlorn, the last of us stew in agitation, brew in discontent, seep ourselves, head-to-toe, in a crippling anxiety so potent as to numb, a simulation of death that awaits. Huddled, grim and despondent, we cram each corner of the remaining starship among man’s vast catalogue of lost creations, past achievements, perversions, mistakes. The dregs of our kind, the final characters in a drawn-out narrative, a saga of compiled regrets and would-ifs left hanging like cadavers on a taut, swaying pendulum, we knowingly turn the last page to our story. We set aside a thick tome, a volume grown tedious, and recognize that even our long story is a veritable blip in the endless time and expanse of the infinite cosmos.
Starved and dazed, we meet the eyes of our brothers, our lovers, our children one last time. Conviction and trepidation wrestle within our broken hearts as we break eye contact and know it to be the final goodbye, know that we are all of us now alone. With one last burn for our final wake we drift outward, further than anyone before us, deep into the dark of whatever awaits.
Our bodies frozen, our voices mute with unending slumber, we yet call out among the star-studded canvas of black. Radio frequencies ride outward on the currents of a spectral ether, a message in a bottle bobbing on a surfaceless, black sea. Carried on the far-reaching voice of a ghost, a signal on unseen waves, our collective voices call out to no one: If you find us, let us be. We’ve set our hearts on endless sleep.
Through the empty, eternal night, among the distant pinpricks of ancient light, we drift.
A haunting tale, very well done.