Scholar-Journalist

Short Story: My Space Odyssey

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By Anusha Arora

I wiped the grease off my face with a dirty rag and sucked in a breath as I finished fixing the last electrode of my ‘Fusioner Helmet’. I switched on the video camera, giddy with excitement as I tossed the dirty rag on the floor of my workshop. 

“Two years ago, I had a vision”, I spoke out loud, focusing on the red-light blinking in my camera. “That what if I invented a machine…. based on the theory of time dilation, implemented with the multi-dimensional universe. What if I managed to use it to hack a dark hole…and see the future….?” I completed, exhaling sharply.

“and I did it!”, I squealed, clapping my hands together like a 10-year-old and not a 22-year-old brilliant physicist who had just conquered the future.

“I sent a small satellite to the nearest black hole to the Earth which is in the constellation of Telescopium, 1000 light years away from the Earth. My satellite will send visual input to the electromagnetic wave receptor helmet that I’ve made. The waves regulate at the speed of the planetary revolution which is faster than the speed of light and does escape the dark hole.” I yammered, attaching the electrodes to my forehead. With a deep breath, I placed the helmet on my head and closed my eyes, ready to see what was in store for me 6 years from now.

x———————————————————————————–x  

I was inside a spacesuit. Behind me was what seemed like a space habitual center on an asteroid.  “I’m in space!” I exclaimed. My body felt different and I could not control it. I was like a passenger in the body of my future self.

“This is my 48th message. 9 February 2098. This is Elle Jackson. I’m 28 years old or 83 …according to the Earth’s time….” I muttered. Wow! I was sprouting stuff I didn’t know about.

“I have been here on asteroid 8321 for 55 years. Time in comparison to Earth here is very slow. I had sent distress messages 52 years back. For the first time in all those years, I’ve received a message a minute back…. (That is half a year for Earth) on asteroid 8321. I received a small drone containing a message that around a year (Earth time), a spaceship will be arriving to take me back to Earth. I have lost all contact with my team on Earth and this is the first contact I have had with them in years.

“I paused not knowing what to say before ending the recording. I numbly shut down my laptop in disbelief. I had sent my SOS capsule to Earth and the team of scientists at our headquarters had decoded it. The message I received said that they had sent a spaceship to rescue me. Like a huge mass of machinery; the spaceship descended on the surface.

I took all my stuff and entered inside. I went into the engine room and quickly re-programmed its controls; programming them to go back to Earth.

When I entered my cabin, I saw a small glass tablet on my desk, beeping. I unlocked it and the image of Doctor Woods blinked on the screen. “Elle Jackson” he said “welcome aboard on ‘The Hermes’. We hope that your journey back to Earth is a pleasant one. The technology has changed long since you were gone.

We have left the speed of light behind and we are now moving 3 times faster. It will only take 30 years of Earth’s time and an hour for you to return” he paused and added “this is a recording; your questions cannot be answered here. Any questions you have may be answered in the archives of the data I have uploaded in your tablet. Thank you” he said at last.

The message blinked. “Okay” I said to myself as I opened the file with my name on it. I skimmed through the logs looking for something interesting to read. I found a nuclear power file and opened it. Thousands of images whizzed past the screen at full speed and then through my eyes. I was surprised to look at them. Apparently, nuclear power stations in many countries have come up.

Everything, from cooking, lighting to air conditioning and running airplanes, spacecraft was now done with the help of nuclear power. “Now that’s interesting “I said to myself before setting the tab aside. I hastily flipped my laptop open, ready to record some messages.”13 March 2098″ I said “I will be approaching planet Earth in approximately 15 minutes ….. pause video” I said as I suddenly remembered to follow the safety protocols and processes that were  given in the archive.

I went to the engine room and promptly began preparing myself for entering the Earth’s orbit. Suddenly, a red light reflected across the glass pane of the engine room. I floated towards the window. To my surprise, I saw Earth as a huge ball of gas and fire, like a new star except that it appeared smaller than I anticipated.

“What no no…” I whispered in dread. I stared at the window in deep concentration as another blast set off from its surface. I shuddered. I drifted to the biggest window to get a better view. Nuclear power was said to destroy men and now it has” I murmured.

“For almost a century I had waited to come back to my home…and now I have nowhere to go,” I said in a pained voice. I glanced at Space around me at the rubble from the explosion. The whole area around me was a sea of fire. Earth itself looked like a huge ball of fire; like it had looked millions of years ago when the planets first came into being.

A huge chunk of rubble from Earth’s explosion came dashing towards me at full speed. I glanced wistfully at the controls knowing that I would never have enough time to go back to steer the ship away. Then I turned back to the window, my head high as I got ready to face my death in an extraordinary, beautifully terrifying way.

I blinked my eyes open, panting and took off the electrodes from my forehead with shaking hands. I lifted the helmet from my head, terrified and stared at it like it was the most gut-wrenching thing I had ever seen…

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