By: A.R. Minhas
I am drifting in space, moving alone in silence. The radio screeches:
Distortion… like the crackle of a fire licking: Slurp! Slurp! Feed-back of the self-contained cacophony, growling, louder and louder, penetrating ear drums: shrill as chalkboard claws and meaningless as a whisper of devotion. The emptiness of nerve anarchy; as I engage into deeper levels of conversations within the spiraling platforms of thoughts—illuminated— only by the intervals of shining stars, whose light is trapped within the body of its flatulent, gaseous structures and the thermo-nuclear blaze, shimmers, like a parody of unrequited astronauts sentenced to death. The poor, helpless moths drifting in space, following meteorites while they float in the periphery of my vision colliding with each other to form new shapes and distances, while the sun immolates itself spewing out radiation.
“I don’t belong here” said someone beyond the drapes of consciousness, blurted, as if he was drowning in the tidal wave of darkness and in boredom expectorating saliva and watching it being ignored by gravity— suspended within the fish-bowl container.
“M-Man O-ver-board… R-R-R-Respond… I-I repeat! Man-n-O-ver-b-b-board!” he shouted. The radio command of Odysseus 42 had to respond, he hoped, they would just have to respond. “G-Gawd-Dammit, help me!”
The radio dies alone because it could not communicate with other radios. The stomach just underwent massive seismic activity and has caused the space-time to bounce. I lurched forward holding myself back—trying not to hurl—to re-collect shattered thoughts, embalming myself in patience.
“An astronaut is drifting alone in space”, said an abstraction of someone from below the deck. Maybe it was me or another entity. “He is losing his mind.”
I was inspecting the perimeters of the shuttle. I had to report any damage to the shaft, result of our ships encounter with Earth’s rings of garbage that had attained an orbit of sorts around the planet. As we had travelled further, debris had punctured the outer layer of shields. Tethered to the ship through an umbilical, I made my way to inspect. I floated perilously into the void, I saw the Earth for the first time, from a distance; stepping out into the vacuum— disoriented by space—I made my way along the streamlined body of the ship. The frame of Odysseus was badly damaged; the junk had deformed its body— bruised purple coursing through its thick cut of veins, sickened by the poison that had transformed its body. It somehow had grown old and rusty. The wingspan had clutters of waste; only a moment later, something went whizzing past me like crashing bullets. It was here, it froze around Earth, formed its own circumnavigation: the debris was a concoction of garbage and raw sewage…yellowbrown balls of plastic ice hurtling through space; some in perfect harmony, others flung like rocks dopplering into blackwater … creating ripples in the chaos well—we were briefed that the junk would have attained high velocities.
As I dived beneath the wingspan to avoid being pummeled by what I would assume to be foul smelling snow-balls — Skktsh!…I imagined that it sounded like that as it snapped the umbilical cord, I laughed a little, after all the years of gestating in the shuttle and now the umbilical snaps… severing the connection. My body is lost. The thing that held me close to being real is gone, and now I’m all out of oxygen, drowning and ejected out of uterus once again. Although, I had managed to turn on my imaginary lungs, I am in that hexagonal room again and my eyes aren’t used to this new vision.
“Patient is sedated,”, “Scalpel, please”, “Peel open”, “Implanting the probe”, “Monitor breathing”, “Document the human nervous system”, “Serotonin”, “Endorphins”, “ Pupils Dilated”, “Dopamine”, “Pineal gland stimulated.”
I woke up from a dream. I had a rescue mission planned, in desperation, I conjured up fantasies of hope – or how my life would turn out like, unfortunately, I had awoken to a universe, alone and stained with excrement. They must have something in the manual for this…something…anything. On the other hand, I do have a gigantic death wish and it’s throbbing for fulfillment.
I lose count of my fingers, they seem dislocated yet multiplied at the same time… the numbers in my head slip through the cracks of my skull. I’m not in Earth’s orbit anymore or within the radius of Odysseus 42— emptiness— a disembodied entity sucked into a vacuum cleaner, let the verses of the alien gods penetrate cerebrum, planting their seeds of electric activity, radio waves do that to you: they induce doubt in everything. The reserve tank of lungs had a puncture, its last breath of oxygen kissing my lips. I would repeat the arithmetic try not to expect, because both despair and hope are pointless. All I ever once was: darkness, and now just an unspectacular end to be accomplished by mediocrity. A sense of self lost in the void.
My lips are caked. I feel every drop of sweat eroding the features of my face. I also have a severe itch on my nose, but I can’t scratch it. The stillness mixed with the dispersion of oxygen… adding stress on my breathing patterns. O my god! Can someone, please, scratch my fucking nose!
In my last conscious moments, I remember the sun glazing over my feet. The suit was there to protect me from the UV-beams and yet it was insulated with bulky armor because of the cold… Space is bi-polar with vast stretches of it freezing, but with any proximity to the sun, it gets that much warmer. By now it was almost certain that radiation had crept into my body. I could feel my skin burning.
Roaming infinitely, a vagrant among the cosmos. I would soon be a dead body, although some microorganism culture could make a good host out of me and feed themselves off this table. Who knows? Maybe while Earth and all its occupants wither away and die, I’m making life here in darkness.
In my final moments, I had accepted death; although, in all honesty I might have accepted it ever since I was severed from the umbilical; maybe, the thought of finally escaping the void somehow had entered my mind. Formless. Naked. Peaceful. I accepted death as much as I had accepted life and all its consequences. The oxygen runs out with the stars shining on the fish-bowl. Who knows if those stars are dying or being born? Maybe I am too. A song appears in my head, like someone had scrawled it on fogged breath:
“At my feet
I barely see
Hands are near,
Just like truths
Always seem to become
As you embrace only despair
That is when the bright lights appear.”
© A.R. Minhas 2015