Thursday, June 7, 2018

Gravity, by Jan Suda

I always wondered how our little cube looked from outside,
 but if I knew.
I’ve never would have left.

It’s a cube. It’s always been a cube. Not globe, not disc, even not some weird shaped potato floating in space. No. It’s a cube. The Cube. Our Cube. And we are living on it peacefully. Well, right now it is kinda peaceful. It hasn’t always been that way. As you could probably imagine, we were pretty cocky and ambitious in the past and it led to some seriously messed up, dangerous times on our little cube. I’m no historian. That’s just what I’ve been taught. But that’s not important. Our world was created by Gravity. Everyone has always said: “Gravity is what made this miracle happen,” or “Gravity created us all,” or “It’s all part of god’s plan.” I don’t really understand the science, or religion in the last case, behind it. I’m no scientist either, but I feel like this deserves a little bit of further explanation.
They say there is something inside our cube that made it so special. Something that made this unique object in the universe filled with sorta floating-falling globes. In the centres of each of six facets you feel much heavier. Everything grows up to smaller highs, even the existence feels so crushing that most of us don’t really like to go there. It also makes self-esteem of overweight girls break the floor. But the vertexes! Oh boy that’s where the magic happens. That’s where I am now. The downward pulling force here is so low that you can jump twice as high, you can run twice as fast, you can lift twice as much on bench. You can even drink twice as much! Sure you will feel twice like shit next morning, but you can and that’s important. Yes, this is the place where you can truly be free. Well, if you’re not locked up in a cell like me right now.
As a species we still haven’t been outside of our little cube. We were so caught up in the net of egoistic maniacs busy with their stupid pissing contests that we never really had the time to look up and wonder. Wonder about what exactly is up there. What is the universe made of? Can we touch it? Can we bring back a bit of it home as souvenir and on birthdays and holidays bloat about it to family and later on pass it to our children so they are proud to be ours and also to bloat about it too? Shit I’m so excited! Our brightest minds created this big beautiful rocket to achieve those wonders. The time is now and the place is here. I guess we’re still pretty cocky and ambitious, but as it appears with the right direction those can be actually useful traits.
Then there is me. My only significant achievement in my short life was tax evasion. Nothing really major, just couple of hundred thousand bucks. However it is actually quite funny because, yes I stole little bit of money from the government blah blah blah, but since they are about to launch that rocket up in the sky, they gave us a choice. They needed three expendables. Three individuals with zero value for society who would mount that thingy and ride it to the places noone has ever been before. Most of us saw that big red flag with the word “suicide” written all over it, but I saw an opportunity. I mean it’s a damn outer space guys! What bigger thing I could dream to be a part of? Also if you think about it they actually sort of paid me to do it. That was an offer my ego couldn’t refuse, so I naturally volunteered the second I’ve heard about it.
The other two people who joined the mission with me was this big guy Chad, who was rapist-murderer, and young pyromaniac called Elsa. We were sitting together in a nice comfy cell when they came for us.
“It’s time,” said the guard abruptly, and opened the cell.
I felt chills of excitement flow through my body which resulted in brief smile hanging on my lips.
“What are you so happy about, kid?” grunted Chad and walked out of the room.
I just shook my head and looked at Elsa’s troubled face. No one seemed to share my enthusiasm, but that was okay. I wasn’t looking for new friends anyway.
They’ve led us to the preparation room, where were couple of scientist checking our equipment and space suits. Space suits! Well, if I’m to be really honest they looked more like space coffins. Big white sort-of-boxes with glass helmets, so you could watch the spectacular death blow to the very end. No one said anything, but I was sure that was on everybody's mind. After all, we were the only truly disposable material on this mission.
After one last general check up of our vitals, they shoved us into our suits and we were together awaiting the lift up to the rocket. You could feel the tension in the air like some lethal disease that was spreading around our little team. Guards were still pointing their guns on us like we weren’t damn sure that any attempt to run would be impossible. Not only because the security measures, but simply because we were glad we could at least walk in straight line with the crushing weight of the equipment on our shoulders. They’ve said that in space it would be different. I was very much looking for that.
As the lift was rising up to the capsule I could feel that the shit was indeed getting serious. Both metaphorically and literally. I was just glad that our space coffins were sealed shut and tried to keep straight face. From the look on others faces, it seemed that they weren’t very far from my situation either. To my surprise, Chad looked a lot worse than me. I don’t know why, but that kinda calmed me a bit.
What seemed strange was that no one from outside of our suicide squad wasn’t talking to us. We had radio ready to receive any kind of info or instructions, but nobody was even trying to tell us something. I started to feel just like glorified lab rat and I imagine I wasn’t really far from the truth.
Guards led us into our seats and strapped us in. Maybe they expected some kind of resistance from us, but we were all past that.
“And what now?” Asked Elsa. Her voice was cracking and it wasn’t the radio.
“I’d suggest praying,” answered one of the guards as they were closing the hatch.
“Fuck you,” responded Chad, but was to late. We were sealed shut inside. I felt like a matrioska.
“I mean we could start this thing by ourselves, since everybody is ignoring us,” said Elsa.
“Oh and you know how?” grunted Chad through radio.
“Well, they’re gonna use fire for engines aren’t they? I’m good with that and there has to be a button of some sorts to make that magic happen.”
“I know we’re not supposed to come back from this mission, but I’d like to at least lift off,” I couldn’t resist and lashed out.
“What he said,” ended the conversation Chad.
I think the mission control have heard us, because the radio in our helmets finally kicked in and we´ve heard the commander's approval of starting the launch sequence.
“T minus one minute.”
We’ve heard hissing sounds as the cables connected to the rocket we’re ejecting themselves.
“T minus thirty seconds.”
The console in front of us lit up with a cascade of colours.
“T minus fifteen seconds.”
I’ve overheard Chad’s cursing. He was very creative.
“T minus ten seconds.”
The whole rocket started shaking.
“T minus five seconds.”
Chad’s got much louder. Elsa started screaming.
“Lift off.”
I shat my pants again.
As the machine was making its way up to the sky I passed out from the strong g-force, which rushed all of the blood out of my brain. I got woken up later by a horrible screaming in my helmet. It was Elsa through the radio:
“Wake up! Oh my god wake up you two!”
Apparently me and Chad had the same endurance as the before mentioned lab rats. I mean I’d suppose that men would be more tolerant to have their blood moved out of the brain somewhere else.
The first thing I felt when I woke up was the familiar metallic taste of blood in my mouth and horrible headache.
“Stop screaming, for god’s sake, woman,” took Chad the words out of my mouth.
The second thing I felt was nothing. I felt no weight at all pulling me downwards. Remember the “This is the place where you can truly be free” I mentioned before? Screw that. This is the real deal. Elsa calmed down a bit when she’s heard Chad's voice filled with pain. I just grunted to check in.
“All three subject survived the start,” spoke the voice from radio.
“We’re experiencing some leaks in hatch sealing. Be advised,” added another one.
“What?!” Started panicking again Elsa.
I looked over my shoulder as far as I could and saw the hatch doors. There was no trace of a leaking.
“It looks all good over here,” I said.
“Yes it does,” agreed Chad. “Hold on.”
“What?” I asked with bad feeling in my guts.
“Somebody do something!” shouted Elsa.
“And what? I’m just an accountant. I cut taxes for living!”
“Nah It’s all good,” assured us Chad. “And a bad one if you got caught,” added he as if trying to lighten up the mood.
“I could say the same about you, but I have some decency and I am actually glad they caught rapist slash murderer,” I was, as you can see, very sensitive to my failure.
“Burn,” added the pyromaniac and I’ve bursted into laughter.
“Oh, I’m so raping your ass the minute we touch the ground,” lashed out Chad.
But he wasn’t. The hatch exploded and the atmosphere release catapulted everything what was inside the capsule into open space. Well, almost everything. It looked like Elsa’s seat was sturdier than ours since only hers stayed in its place. Chad was closest to the door when that happened and smashed his helmet on the edge as he went through. He was dead on the spot. I flew at high speed away from the vehicle and was slowly spinning. Terrified as I was, I screamed my lungs with calling for help into the radio and received similarly toned Elsa’s voice back. Nobody else apparently gave a shit.
As I was turned away from the rocket her voice suddenly stopped and I’ve seen bright explosion reflecting at me from the blackness in front of me. At that time the reflection didn’t occurred to me as strange. I was worried what I was going to see on my next spin and I was right. The ship was shattered to pieces. I bursted into tears. Everything was quiet. I’ve heard nothing except my sobbing. It was so horrifying.
I was buried so deep in my misery and caught up by the look on our little cube getting smaller and smaller, that it took me a few seconds to realize I bumped into something. It wasn’t sudden. It happened over few seconds like falling onto mattress and it stopped my movement completely. That realization froze me on the spot. What the hell? Then I noticed something like rings on the water surface when you throw a rock in it spreading from the spot where I was through the darkness, which I to this moment presumed were the endless depths of universe, but no. It was something else. The rings reached the opposite side where the Sun was and I could see through my shielding that the edges around the Sun were shaking and the star was wiggling like a water balloon. I couldn't believe my eyes. Was the Sun and stars all around just some holes in big black spherical membrane surrounding us? Was this even real? At that moment bright beams of light started rising from the star and followed the path of the rings on that what-do-I-know-probably-a-membrane and my theory was confirming itself. The spikes, or gaps, or something, started to enlarge and the sphere was opening. It looked like peeling an orange.
But it wasn’t the only thing that was opening. To my horror I noticed that our cube, my cube, began to unfold. The sides were slowly opening until the whole world was just a cube net and in the middle of that wasn’t a core, or at least a rock, but spaceship. I was done. This wasn’t real. This couldn’t be real. Shit.
The sphere around me completely opened and revealed the true universe. I could see billions of stars. I could see one of them, big and flaming hot, far in front of me - much bigger than our supposed Sun. I could see planets both rocky and made out of gas. I could see another galaxy so close and beautiful yet so incredibly far away that I couldn’t even imagine the distance. I could see all of that only if I was looking. But my eyes laid on my little cube. Well not cube anymore, a box to be correct. Well not that too. No, now it looked more like piece of paper that was backwards folding into itself until it disappeared from my sight.
In that moment I was alone. I was sure of that even when I couldn’t admit it to myself yet. Me as the last one of my race now slowly fading to cold death. I was alone, but I didn’t feel like it. Why? The ship started its engines with big bright blue flash and began its way towards me. On its side was in big letters written: GRAVITY.


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