For my Social Studies class I was suppose to: “Write out a story text that best expresses your values on how you relate to the world and on how you define wilderness. The story can be based upon a memorable event, specific place or particular person in your personal life or you can create an original story based upon your imagination.”
Everyone’s posting these personal stories about camping and storms or growing up on farms in the middle of nowhere. So I decided to take the “original story based upon your imagination” to heart….
Black. Not the void she was used to seeing, vast and dark with distant flecks of light and scattered streams of hinted color. The view before her eyes was flat and empty, full – no, empty – of less than nothing, because full implies that there could be something. She double checked her visor to make sure it wasn’t a trick of the tinting. The HUD readout notified her that tinting was set to 5%, and a quick turn to the left informed her that she was still securely latched to the ship. Glancing up at the entrance portal above, she completed her diagnostic of the outboard thruster before pushing up and floating into the safety of the airlock.
“Welcome back, Lt. Derren.” a stilted voice echoed in her helmet as the portal closed and the airlock pressurized.
“Eseu, bring the outboards online and verify our position.” ESEU, Edge Space Exploration Unit, was Derren’s traveling companion, or she was its. It was never quite clear through her training whether ESEU was her aid on this mission, or if she was simply acting as the body for a computer that had none.
“Outboards, online. Modifying trajectory and verifying position as designated by the mission schedule.”
Derren began the process of unsuiting, “Mission status?”
“48.6 days since launch. 22.4 days until contact with NOVA.”
“Thank you, Eseu.”
48 days since she had contact with another living being, another 22 until she even heard a voice other than her own or the synthetic approximations of ESEU. Exploring the “Edge Space” as scientists called it, was not for those that required constant human contact. Floating the parameter of what was considered “The End of the Universe,” sending out probes, taking readings, monitoring nonexistent fluctuations, was a test to even the most seasoned long-jump explorers.
It wasn’t so much being alone as the living next to nothing for 70 days that got to people. Space, for all of its void, is full of dust, glittering stars, whisps of colorful gasses, flotsam and jetsam of planets long-gone, remnants of civilizations hurling themselves at the stars. But the Edge Space is just that, the edge. There is nothing. As she heard a merc describe it “let me tell you with math; you got nothing into nothing, carry the nothing – still nothing”. Everything just ends and there is only black, like staring into a pit where you can’t see the bottom, only you can’t see the edges either, you just see what you perceive as existing end into total emptiness.
“Ex nihilo nihil fit” is the credo spoken by the Edge Space Exploration Organization, “Nothing comes from nothing,” and it seems to be the truth; nothing comes from the Nothing, no readings, no fluctuations on the scans. According to a computer, there is nothing there. Probes sent in read nothing, travel for lightyears without resistance, and come back with no changes.
Derren mused on this as she checked through the unchanging readout logs. Humans can’t truly conceive “nothing” just like they can’t fully comprehend “infinity”. Boundaries and limits are demanded, sought out. Without lines to push, rules to break, the human race loses its momentum.
“Eseu, prep my pod for sleep cycle.”
“Pod ready. For optimum functionality, a minimum of 7 hours is suggested.”
So that’s why she’s here, drifting to sleep on the edge of the black, waiting for something to come from nothing.