Monthly Archives: July 2008
By Rob Shelsky
Read by Rob Shelsky
They were all dead when we found them–all of them. We knew how they had died. Telltale clues were waiting there for us to discover, to painstakingly piece together, bit by horrible bit, and just as we had done twice before in two other solar systems. But why? That question haunted us. It stalked our every waking hour. Because, you see, there was a twin ghost to that question, and that was a foreboding, a dread as to what it all might mean.
Yet, we were careful never to speak of that fear. We never acted, for the most part, as if we were even aware of it. Each of us too afraid, I suppose, that if we did it would make it real, make it manifest. So, from that dark wellspring of anxiety, that potential prophecy surged a constant apprehension. It rankled daily in the pits of our stomachs. Its bitter bile mounted in our throats to sour our hopes, and magnify all our fears…
* * * * *
“There it is.” Javier, a stocky but soft-spoken man, was the first to see it. There was no missing his excitement. His voice vibrated with it, making it sound husky.
Our destination, an alien solar system, lay ahead of us. Its star glowed buttercup yellow on our view screen.
“It’s marvelous,” I said, speaking for everyone, I think, because all our eyes were alight with wonder, an almost greedy awe. And why not? After all, we were the very first, us three, to behold unknown worlds that orbited a sun other than our own.
Exploring it, however, would involve a number of relocations. These would be tricky because the Interstitial Drive, or ID as we called it, was not available this close to a star. We’d have to employ our secondary drive, which was matter-antimatter. It beat using chemical rockets, but still, it took time, precision, and much effort […]