Oblivion

I feel the pull of oblivion.

I’m about to die, and no one will ever know. It was a risk, they told us, but not one I ever took all that seriously. Instead, I had imagined celebrity. I had expected interviews about the courage it took to leave my planet and sail off into the unknown.

Stupid.

The crushing pressure of inevitability.

Half the reason I left was because I knew no one would miss me. Exploration! Adventure! The advancement of the human race! It sounded fantastic – like an opportunity to give my life meaning, instead of surrendering to the empty void that was open in front of me.

Ironic.

I’m falling, and I may never stop.

If it had been a supernova, then eventually earth would have found out. Centuries later, that annihilating light would have reached terrestrial eyes. They would have known my fate, if not the details. Even if it was a simple equipment malfunction, remains might have endured. But nothing escapes a black hole. No distress signals, no wreckage, not even light.

Inescapable.

What was it all for?

Wonder and awe. Light bends and swirls. Time stretches and breaks apart. Reality ripples. The universe consumes me.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox

Skip

Jun was waving as I stepped out of the skip station, but I didn’t rush to meet them. They reached out to take my hand, and I flinched, startled by the contact.

“Is something wrong?”

“I . . .” I hesitated. Uncertain? Embarrassed? Afraid? “I think I had a bad skip.”

I tried to read Jun’s reaction, but their features suddenly seemed foreign in a way they never had before. “Let’s get some food,” was all they said, “then you’ll feel better.”

There hadn’t been anything strange about this evening’s skip. I had stepped into the pod in Philadelphia and 17:23:51 planetary standard time and stepped out in Kyoto at 17:24:07. Practically instantaneous transportation. Not transportation, I reminded myself, reconstitution.

“Is something wrong with your noodles?” Jun asked. Was that concern on their face? Confusion? Fear? How long had I been staring at my noodles lost in thought?

Lost echoed in my mind.

“Bathroom,” I muttered, then left the table.

I studied my reflection and found every freckle, every hair, every scar exactly where I expected. Something still felt wrong. I splashed water on my face, gripped the edge of the sink, tried desperately to convince myself I was more than a ghost.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox