* this text was written about seven years ago. It was an assignment to university as we should write a short story. At the time, the professor thought I had plagiarized some text, and i cannot deny I had tried to put together a lot of things i liked about science fiction. I hadn't heard then of intertextuality. It was slightly changed now and I am posting it here. My style has changed and so has my vision of people. It would never come out like this nowadays.
– All the systems running stably – said the feminine electronic voice.
– Great, Orb. – the mid-twenties, black-haired scientist answered. Captain William Faces, the only crew member of the starship Dragonfly, in its first mission to the recently discovered stellar system of Alpha Centauri.
– My ship, my trip, my mission, my glory… – thought William while he was pushing some of the buttons on the large console. His only companion was his highly developed computer, Orb. “But this was not what they wanted. All those envious scientists who wanted to be here, to spoil my project, to dazzle my greatness, to disturb my peace…”
The captain was very criticized on Earth. He was a brilliant scientist who had developed a new ship moved by photonic impulse, but the ship would carry only one human passenger. The press named the ship Dragonfly, since the solar and communication antennas were shaped like wings of a dragonfly and the permanent decks of the rocket resembled its body.
– Message from Earth on channel 5.
– Put it through, Orb.
– Captain Faces, here is Tokyo Station. We have lost visual contact. Your ship is now beyond the outer limits of observation, our most powerful telescopes cannot display images of your ship anymore. We request radio reports every 2 cycles, over?
– That sounds great. Orb, how long has this transmission taken to reach us here?
– Twelve Earth days or 24 cycles.
– Record message: all systems are operational and the estimated time to reach Middle Point is 9 cycles. There were two radiation waves but the shields did well. Over and out. Orb, send it.
Good. Twelve days to get Earth and twelve more to get their answer, which means I will have about 25 days of peace. A two-year mission. Madness, they would say. Alone, in the cold and dark space for two long years. Bullshit. Those renowned psychologists trying to convince me I should take another person with me. But why? I need no one. I have all the books humankind has ever produced to amuse me, I have the music, TV records of the last two centuries… They said an accident could kill me and all those billions invested in the mission would be only a floating piece trash… Silly thoughts. If I can’t make it, nobody will. I know every screw of this ship, I designed and built it, who else could fly it?” – his thoughts were interrupted by the computer’s voice.
– It’s time for your exercises.
– All right. Report to me on any fluctuations. Switch manual to automatic navigation.
Should I miss anything from back home? I never really belonged there. Since I was a child my dream was to live among the stars. Maybe I find one planet or two, and one of them will be named after me. Planet Faces. It sounds so good. It is the least they can do. Too bad I won’t be able to land, but the probes will take enough pictures and collect data to the next expeditions.”
– Captain, energetic fluctuations 700.000 km ahead.
– What is it, Orb? Another radiation cloud?
– Impossible to identify. Scanners on maximum, but no response. Electromagnetic interference.
– How far are we from the Middle Point?
– The Middle Point of the way to Alpha Centauri is 700.000 km or 0.2 cycle.
– Can we get around it?
– No, it is moving toward the ship. The mass has ejected a small piece of it and this part is in collision route.
– Is it a weapon?
– Impossible to identify. Three minutes to impact.
– Full stop. Evasive maneuver.
– Impossible to set a route to avoid collision. Collision in two minutes.
I didn’t think this damn machine would piss me off, but it’s wearing me out!
– One minute to impact… Fifty seconds…
– Orb, switch off countdown.
Suddenly, the whole ship started to shake. The bridge was invaded by a dazzling light. Captain William began to pray to every god he knew and for the first time he cringed and thought that the trip was a mistake. He would be murdered by something he didn’t even have a clue about what it was.
Gradually, the light started to fade until he could open his eyes. He blinked once and twice and was astounded. Standing before him, face to face, there was something, someone he had no word to describe. A transparent being, with a big head, with rays of energy going through it, two large black ‘eyes’, but no mouth. Its body was covered by a gown, made by a material half solid, half liquid very similar to mercury.
– Who are you? My name is Captain William Faces, scientist of the Earth Empire in a mission to explore new planets to…
His voice reeled. He could not produce any sound. A heat wave took his body and there was pain on his forehead, burning and throbbing. The light was on again. He thought a star had just invaded his ship. He felt he was surrounded by a reddish brown curtain. It was so silent, so peaceful. The only distant and constant noise seemed a fast heart beating. He could stay there forever, but some force pulled him out, into a chilling place, a blinding light.
As soon as he could open the eyes again, he had another surprise. There was a man standing before him. He knew that man. It was his father. Then he remembered his childhood, the walks to the small pond there was near his house, the times he would sit on his father lap while he wisely named the stars and showed them through a telescope. He remembered the calls from his sister trying to persuade him to take a license from the university to visit his old man who was not in his best days, but what could he do in such a situation? He was not a physician, he could do nothing against that illness. He might pray, if only he were a faithful one, though some years in college had easily led him to a path of skepticism.
– Papa, what are doing here? “What am I doing? He cannot be my father. My father is dead some light-years away.” He kept on – I demand an explanation. What the hell…
Another flash of light which was all over the cabin. Another heat wave. He felt his muscles were tense as if he had been running 10 km without a break. His stomach was spinning, he felt his guts would come outside very soon to say hello.
He didn’t want to open his eyes again, to see that ghost, that hellish vision which was trying to haunt him and disturb his mission. But slowly he moved one eyelid and then the other. There was a girl with him.
– Hope, is that you? “No, you dork, your best student and assistant in the project, with whom you had one affair though both knew it could not last, is on Earth.”
¬– Why are you doing that to me? Who are you?
To his surprise, the girl didn’t move any facial muscle, but he could hear her voice echoing inside his mind, no doubt it was Hope’s voice as icy as it could sound:
– Why did you leave me Will? We had so beautiful a life to live. Together. Why couldn’t you take me with you? I am a scientist as well, I could be of use.
– No, I had to do it by myself. I yearn for the glory, the greatness of my species…
– Of your species?! – the girl blinked, her forehead wrinkled.
– Of MY greatness. There will be dozens of statues of me all over Earth. The amazing explorer who discovered distant planets, who contacted a higher intelligence…
– You are right, human. We are a higher intelligence. Thus, it is our desire to wait until your moral values are better developed, when a universal perception is part of you.
The girl’s hair, as black as the universe, began to slightly move upwards as if a soft breeze was blowing from below her. Each hair was just squirming like Medusa’s snake-hairs, which gave her a demonic look. And some hairs just flew from her scalp, keeping on moving around her head so fast that one could think they were little beams of light. But they started to slow down until he could distinguish what they were. They were dragonflies.
– Do you remember, Captain, when you were a child that you used to pull out dragonflies’ wings because you wanted to understand how they flew? Do you remember what you used to tell them?
– Yeah. That if I would not fly, they shouldn’t have this right either.
– Do you know the legend of… Icarus, as your people know him? – and she lifted her finger so that those dragonflies could land there. – Would you like to clip their wings now?
– What are you talking about? What is your point? I was just a child. – William was almost shouting. He was getting angry.
– Tell me, Billy – and that kind of intimate way of addressing to him was making him angrier – isn’t that child hidden inside yourself, waiting to come out to play? What are you going to do when you get back home with such valuable information? What will you ask for in return? A planet for yourself to be the king? What if it is inhabited? Will that civilization, considering it is less developed than yours, be enslaved by you? Will you humans take out all the natural resources, to try to make up for your spoiled Earth?
He could not understand how that creature knew that much about him, or his species. Were they angels, or rangers, the universe police? He was trying to be rational, he was reaching the edge of the craziness. He took for granted he had the right to be there, he had spent his life, his existence toward that point. He should try to gather some arguments to deny those facts, if only could he find one!
– You are really a demon. And tuning to the computer: – Orb, I want a complete scan…
But his voice vanished. The damn light started to fill up the room and his forehead was about to explode. He could hear nothing but an ever-lasting buzz like those ones we seemingly hear when our body is exposed to different pressures.
– Hope is gone – he heard himself saying that before he could hear no more.
“Am I on a hangover? My head is killing me.” Again Captain William Faces opened his eyes and stood up from the floor of the cabin. Everything seemed normal, no one was there but him. “So, I must have fallen asleep… It was just a nightmare.”
– Orb, where are we?
– We are getting away from Middle Point. The estimate time to reach Earth is 6 months or 360 cycles.
– What? We should be heading for the opposite side. Change course to Alpha Centauri.
– Impossible to change course. Fuel level is under the patterns of mission.
– What the hell are you talking about? I planned to have round-trip fuel. Orb, what is the current capacity of the tanks?
– There is fuel to fly for six months or 360 cycles.
“Oh no! I have been tricked! That thing stole my fuel and changed my ship’s route. Now going to Alpha means there is no way to go back and get famous. No, I am sure they will consider I was a failure and I will be reason for jokes and mockery. But wait, I may not have discovered the planets, but I have been the first human to get in contact with aliens. A scapegoat. I will be a hero anyway.”
– Orb, show me some the records of the internal camera.
– Specify the deck or camera number.
– Camera 5 of the bridge.
– How much should I rewind?
– Let’s try 10 minutes…
And on the screen Captain William saw… nothing. Only statics.
– Orb, rewind three minutes. – his voice was anxious, he was predicting bad news.
Nothing happened again. There was only him pedaling his exercise bike.
– Orb, isolate the part of tape with statics… when was it the last image?
– There are seventeen seconds of statics.
“God, seventeen seconds?” – Orb, purify images.
– Impossible to retrieve data.
– What is the interference cause?
– An electromagnetic spacial phenomenon, probably the cause of your losing consciousness. The computer of the ship as well as every life-support systems was turned off.
“Well, I have two options…Either I get back to Earth and be a zillion-dollar failure or I can go to Alpha Centauri, even though I know I won’t ever get back. One of the planets I may discover will be my grave… I have oxygen for some months but I might find a breathable atmosphere and live on…I am powerless, a wingless dragonfly…”
– Orb, change the course to Alpha Centauri in maximum speed.
– The fuel level…
– Ignore it. Record message to earth: Due to an unknown phenomenon, my fuel has been reduced to half. It was an outer phenomenon as the systems of the ship are working well. Thank you for everyone who trusted me. I will be the first seed in the new planet. Over and out. Send!