**This is an edited version of one of my first short story, ‘Void’. I don’t know if you will believe it or not, but this was written way before the movie ‘Gravity.’ It was actually inspired by the Marilyn Manson song ‘Disassociative.’ I hope you enjoy it and please leave your comments below. **
I am drifting in space, moving in disassociation. The radio screeches:
—BzzZZZzt—EEEEEE—TNN NN NN—
Distortion, like the crackle of a fire licking: Slurp! Slurp! Feedback of the self-contained cacophony, growling louder and louder, penetrating eardrums, shrill as chalkboard claws and meaningless as a whisper of devotion. The nerves are in anarchy. I engage in deeper levels of conversations within the spiraling platforms of thoughts. They were 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, shimmering a parody of unrequited astronauts sentenced to death.
Those poor, helpless moths are drifting in space-time. Meteorites float in the periphery of my vision colliding with each other to form new shapes and distances. The sun immolates itself, spewing out radiation.
‘I-I don’t belong here’ said someone beyond the mezzanine, blurted, drowning in the tidal wave of darkness and boredom; expectorating saliva and watching gravity ignore it, suspended within the fishbowl container, it forms an amorphous blob.
“M-May-day… R-R-R-Respond… I-I repeat! May-day! T-t-the radio-command of Odysseus 762 R-r-respond…G-Gawd-Dammit!!”
The radio dies alone because it could not communicate with other radios. The stomach just underwent massive seismic activity. I lurched forward, holding myself back (trying not to hurl) to recollect shattered thoughts with the pretense of patience.
“An astronaut is drifting alone in space,” said an abstraction of someone from below the deck.
I was inspecting the perimeters of the shuttle. I had to report any damage to the shaft—the result of our ship’s encounters with the rings of garbage orbiting around Earth. Traveling 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 severely damaged; the junk had deformed its shape— bruised purple coursing through its thick cut of veins, sickened by the poison that had transformed its appearance. The wingspan had clusters of it; only a moment later, that it was whizzing past me like crashing bullets. It was here, and it froze around Earth, forming its circumnavigation. The debris was raw sewage, yellowbrown balls of ice hurtling through space; some in perfect harmony, others flung like rocks dopplering into black water, creating ripples. We were briefed about the junk would have attained high velocities and would be the biggest obstacle to the mission, other than, of course, the unique isolation that is presented by space.
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: the snapping of the umbilical cord, I laughed a little, after all, the years of gestating and shuttle-worship, and now it snaps– severing the connection. The thing that held me close 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, where my eyes haven’t adjusted to this new vision.
I had a rescue mission planned, in desolation, I conjured up fantasies of hope – or how my new life would turn out like, unfortunately, I awoke to a universe, alone and stained with piss and shit. They must have something in the manual for this–something–anything. On the other hand, I do have a gigantic death wish, and it was getting harder to ignore.
I lost count. My fingers seem dislocated yet multiplied at the same time. The numbers in my head slip through the cracks of my skull. I roam no longer in Earth’s orbit or within the radius of Odysseus— emptiness— a disembodied entity sucked into a vacuum cleaner, “let the verses of the alien gods penetrate cerebrum, planting their seeds of electric activity; radioactive thoughts do that to you— they induce doubt in everything.“
The reserve tank of lungs had a puncture, with 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.
My lips are caking; they plead for water. I feel every drop of sweat eroding the features of my face. My tongue slurps the saltiness, and then it refrains. I also have a severe itch on my nose, but I can’t scratch it. The stillness mixed with the dispersion of oxygen has rendered me deaf, adding stress to my breathing patterns.
Oh, my God! Can someone scratch my fucking nose!
In my last conscious moments, I remember the sun gazing upon my feet; although the suit was there to protect me from the UV-beams, it still insulated with bulky armor because of the cold, space is bi-polar with vast stretches of it freezing and unparalleled heat. Still, with any proximity to the sun, it gets much warmer. By now, it was almost inevitable that radiation had crept into my body. I could feel my skin burning.
Roaming in the infinite, a vagrant among the cosmos. I was a dead body through which life can still exist; while, Earth and all its occupants will wither away. The fact that my body can have a culture of life, maybe, the thought of existing in some other way allowed me to accept this fate and eventually gave me some peace and calmness.
Formless. Naked. Peaceful. I accept death as much as I accept life and all its consequences. The oxygen runs out with the stars shining on the fishbowl. Who knows if those stars are dead or merely resurrected? Maybe I will be reborn again, as I lull myself to sleep:
“At my feet
I see hands approach
Little aphorisms always hold true
Because as you embrace despair
That is when the bright lights appear.”
© A.R. Minhas 2017