I am old and the story I have to tell is older. Old as humans themselves perhaps, being one of love found, lost, than found again in such a way all true love is. By the ways, by the means, by the yearnings of an all too human heart.
The year is inconsequential, as is a date or even a time. Suffice it to say only that it is in the future and that humans are, well, still human. And of humans, there is one central to this story, so let us look in on his present life.
A man alone, a sailor of rocket ships across great voids. Searcher, seeker, explorer, all these things he is and more to be. Yet he remains a man alone for there are no others among the great sanitized decks and galleys as this gleaming sphere transcends stars and worlds without the slightest drop in momentum. She is headed home and there will be no further foolishness to hinder her run to earth and fresh oxygen, green trees and other people.
Before a grand portal, a viewport to the stars, stands this man, watching out over a hundred million points of light, not one really his.
Why he is here on this ship, on this journey, alone, is of no concern to us, other than to note, once it was not this way. That years ago this ship teamed with life, with families; mothers, fathers and their children. Working, playing, and being all too human.
No longer, now there was only loneliness. An eternal silence that suffocated this man into acts of desperation and irresponsibility. Emotions that possessed this human to send propulsion units into a cycle they were not designed to operate within. He did not mind, knowing full well the danger. The only thought was to reach earth long before his sanity gave way or he would die trying.
These are his thoughts then, his concerns as he stands, head hung with chin resting on chest, standing before the portal as days turn artificial day back to artificial night. All that he had needed to do, had been done. Left now was time, to stand, hope and watch stars pass by.
With interior lights dimming, the stars seem to grow brighter, illuminating a hundred thousand, thousand, brothers, and sisters, so let us look outside this speeding globe.
There, just behind, can you see a faint prick of light? No, not there. This one, the bluish speck. See how effortlessly it moves to catch up? Indeed, no match in speed is evident here, for look the light has caught its prey. Circling, searching, perhaps wondering what this strange world is.
I know that this is no mere speck of light, no simple illumination, it indeed is not! Know that as fish inherit the waters of earth, birds the skies and humans the earth, this is a creature of the cold voids. One which needs not air to breath or fire for warmth. She is as home in the voids as we are not. It is where she lives, where she belongs. Here, between worlds is where she evolved and where she must forever live.
Gods do not dictate otherwise.
She sees the man from the other side of the viewport. He cannot see her. Curiosity, she is curious as she watches what she does not comprehend. In all her travels, she has seen nothing such as this. Great worlds she has seen rise and fall, but always from cold, great distances, never participating.
Now, inches away, there is nothing separating the two but metallizied glass. How she wants to reach out to touch, to feel, to say that she is here.
Knowledge of death forbids such insanity, curbing such foolish actions, for she knows she will die in the warmth of the strange world. She has heard stories of those who attempted such a thing, and are never seen forevermore.
Could it be she is foolish or insane, as her thoughts are set? She will do what she needs to do. Perhaps, she too is simply lonely.
Loosely planted feet are uprooted by a gust of cold that pushes itself into the warmth of his environment. Quickly catching him off guard, freezing molecules do not surround him, they penetrate him, rushing through him with such great speed his body is tossed back. Falling, he cannot breath and for an instant, as hands reach to clutch his heart, a thought of a past day. When as a child he ventured out in the midst of a cold winter day and the hardness of breath sent him scurrying back to the warmth of a crisp fire. As winter cold was a thousand memories old, so too was it as warmth and security returned. Flat on his back, regaining a semblance of former self, he heard a groan from behind and he broke his stare on the bulkhead
Fear is a result of disbelief, of some one thing being where it is not supposed to be. Yet there remains a sense that if it is there, it may well be it is intended to be there all the while. What remains, is a question of what one expects, and often what one expects, seldom gives birth to a desired reality.
Disbelief of the impossible. It could not be and the man lost his fear as he understood that the loss of his mind was at hand. There was, could not be any other explanation for the presence of a naked woman. Lying in a fetal position, whimpering like a newborn pup, she was drenched in sweat on the cold, hard floor of his ship, of his world, of his home.
It could not be!
But it was.
Time in the form of fleeting seconds and eternal minutes, healed the wound of disbelief. Because there was no other thing to do, the man found a blanket, an old tattered one, from some odd place and wrapped the women in a cocoon, then gently picked her up to lay her across the room in the confines of a large, plush couch.
Her eyes fluttered, mind stirred and did not recognize what she had become. Long, thin appendages, a narrow vision field and touch, smells, and sound all at once, all too much, almost. But again with time she grew accustomed to her human form, yet she did not understand what had happened. This was unexpected, not supposed to be. Of all what she thought would be, this was not one.
What was this strange substance this life form gave her, this man who hovered over her, sat by her, and made her feel strange. Strange in the belly; warm, full and strong. And as strength came, so too did an understanding of what had happened, not fully, barely enough to guess.
The man would talk of things she had no knowledge, even so, she listened. Much of the time not understanding. Words she knew, for she was a quick, but the words drew no picture, illustrated no certain point and this bothered her.
He had rambled. Knowing he had done so, he struggled to return to the point he desired to make andwas caught off guard when she quietly asked a question. Her first words, so quietly spoken, almost went unnoticed.
How strange the look on his face. How lost for answers to a question he had asked so many times over the period of his life. There were no words to form, no simple answer to who he was, and all he could do, was to repeat the question back to her.
Such as strange things are, a smile crossed her lips. A smile whose sincerity was reflected deep within cool blue eyes that birthed satisfaction. Satisfaction that for all she had been through, this smile made it all worth her while.
Stranger yet, he responded with a smile of his own and it surprised him. And there was satisfaction with him as well in that he was still capable of that simple human emotion. One which he had not felt for what seemed and probably had been, several years.
From those smiles grew friendship. With days passing into weeks and turning to months, they came to know each other. To know and not to fear, but to appreciate, to trust and to depend on the other. In this time which was theirs, they talked. Her of her life, of her race. She spoke howthey once roamed the galaxies in a multitude of numbers, yet now few remained. In human words, she explained why she had made her decision, from a sense she now knew as desperation, to move into the ship, to be a part of his life. Hers had been one of isolation, of watching worlds rise and fall, of watching lives she could never be a part of. She could only view from the depths of the ocean, always alone, never participating.
From all this, a great desire to be a part of something, of someone had forced her decision to move into the ship. Apparently her actions were too swift, she had pressed too hard against the viewport, entering with too much momentum and energy. She was unable to stop and instead had passed through the man in the space of his thought. It had been long enough for the unexpected to happen, to gather enough genetic information to become what she truly wanted to become, but did not believe she could.
When she was finished, exhausted, her turn was to rest and to listen as he began with his childhood, his dreams, his aspirations. The reasons he had chosen this life. How hundreds had begun this mission, how they all had chosen to stay behind to colonize their new found world, and he could not bear to do so. All others had families. Those who had been single, found mates, married and bore children and he had thought of himself as an outsider, alone, and bereft of companionship. ‘That was no one’s fault, just the way it had worked out’, he explained.
So he choose the rigors of a prolonged journey back to earth, even though home offered nothing more than what he had left behind. He harbored hope though, in a possibility of finding a wife. Perhaps even someday there could be children.
Words flowed into forming attachments between both, continuing weeks passed into months and even years. From their words grew actions. Cuddling, touching, holding hands and eventually gentle kisses. They each had come to care for the other and without expectation, fell in love.
But their love was too simple, uncontested and therefore could not be pure. True, each had suffered at their own hands, yet not at the hand of the other and for their love to survive, it must transcend individual actions. And being in love, they had no knowledge of what must be. This blindness, this ignorance of what love requires allowed both a chance that of innocence allowed. Few, including you and I have had such luck
All things, good and bad, end. Men die, women grow old, worlds collide, societies crumble, childre
n are born, and it all begins again.
As the sphere approached earth, there were thoughts to be said, things to be done and decisions to be made.
She could not survive on earth. She knew this in the manner that a man knows that without food, he will wither and die. That without air to fill their lungs, man will perish in agony. She suspected life in this form had been possible due to the small amounts of radiation that continually seeped into the spheres hull. Enough that she had been able to feed upon it. Upon earth, there was not sufficient energy to survive.
He too realized this when she spoke of her concern.
Agony and desire are twofold. Choices are never simple and are many times motivated by unrealized desires. His desire was not strong, not burning to return to his homeland. For what reason he choose to do, escaped logic.
So it was made! A choice to return home even though his soul knew it was wrong. And he likened his choice to a moth attracted by a light that served no purpose to the moth but to end its life. There was not much difference.
A quiet, all too human and somber mood permeated the shuttle bay. He
, ready to begin his life anew. She, ready to return to surfing the particle waves of the void, and a life of loneliness.
But she would remember.
They embraced, kissed, and said good-bye with tears in their eyes and the heaviest of hearts. As he pulled away, turning to the craft for his decent toward green grass trampled by a billion lives, she called out his name, telling him, that if he ever needed her, all he need do was call her name from the cold blackness of space and she would hear. No matter in what galaxy, what system she was in, she would hear and she would come.
Speaking such, she walked from the room to return to what was her world.
He too, returned to his, to lives which were not his, to those who he could not understand as his life was now elsewhere. He had found that which was a part of him and let it go. Understand, he knew this from the moment she had left, but had not admitted it, and if he had, paid no attention.
Thus it was on a chilled, starry, spring-filled night he stood upon a hilltop in the lush countryside, looking to a night sky and back to a past he found hard to believe.
Where was she?
Would she really come?
And his decision was made, out of faith and a realization of what the truth was.
Because of this, this human found himself, again alone in a shuttle headed into the depths of spac
e. This time in a ship woefully inadequate for such a journey but that concern was not a consideration.
From the moment he had breached the planets atmosphere, he had called her name. She had not came, but he knew she would, only time was a question.
Now he stood in the pressure lock, the shuttles oxygen supply depleted, wearing a heavy, bulky suit. Opening the air lock, the man pushed himself out into the weightlessness of space. Around him, our sun and distant stars, with their planets and pockmarked little moons danced and played out their lives. He was not alone.
With his last breath fast approaching, he held no fear. He still knew she would come.
Out of air, the man gasped and unlocked his helmet to send it spiraling away. His last breath was of cold, deep space and with that last breath, he called out her name.
And she was there, as he had been there for her.