The heart of Space

by JP Kemmick

Staring out the ship's front window I contemplated what might be hiding in that infinite blackness. Squinting, I almost believed I could make out strange alien shapes rustling behind the stars or clinging to the rings of immense, far-away planets like vines off a tree's branches. Our little rust bucket of a ship, oh how it quivered against the fury of eternal space, against the bombardment of the unknown universe.

And the pilgrims milled about above and below me, floating by on tasks I could only try and fail to comprehend, muttering to themselves about our stated goal, which could not be, despite the company's efforts, explained to me in satisfactory terms. Were we a rescue mission, being sent to the far reaches to save one of our own, or were we only trying to save those mineral goods he had managed to mine from the planet's rocky crags and cavernous depths? I suppose it depended upon whether I listened to their overly-loud exhortations or to the dull and quiet late night whispers. I imagined it was a combination of both, in some way, although if it came down to it it was clear the minerals would win out over the man.

It was the navigation I was focused on, gingerly stepping us through an asteroid field, when one of the pilgrims drifting past me began bleeding from the head. Somehow it was this I noticed first and not the great shaking of the ship, or the sirens and shouts of the other men. Great thuds echoed off the sides of the ship causing it to tumble and be flung about the great blackness of space. The pilgrims all jumped to their defense stations and began blasting out into the darkness so that wide swaths of weaponized energy cut through the ink and kept me from seeing what, if anything, was attacking us.

It is only in these moments of utter blindness that a man has any sense of what it means to truly see, to have an appreciation for what messages his eyes might deliver to him. My eyes gave me no such hint of what perilous forces might exist within all that black and so I engaged the hyperdrive and thrust us forth into what I could not divine.

Above all else, it is speed we truly crave, that which can hurry us to our end. And knowing no other solution, speed is what I gave us.