Sojourn on the Space Egg, Part II
Years pass. Decades. Each of us find something to keep us busy, something besides astronomy and scrabble that is.
With the long years, our interactions are increasingly abstracted, a dance. We are the movable furniture of the Station-our shuffling slow, geriatric, our activities increasingly cryptic and meaningless. No food, no sleep. Decades pass. Steelhearth seems amused by our individual withdraws, the mortal minds retreat from the infinity that confronts us daily on the other side of the glass: space. We become quiet, passive, conform to the cards we’ve been dealt.
“Coping, somehow. Keep it together, right? Did I say that out loud? Echo, echo, echo…”
At some point, some 83 years later, our host (keeper, captor, muse) Steelhearth notifies us that the ley lines that regulate, orient and enable reliable teleportation within the House Cannith network “…appear to be realigning”.
This is hopeful-don’t get your hopes up-keep it together, right? Echo, echo, echo…
Another decade passes. Ginson celebrates another launch, to no avail, as the capsule burns up upon re-entry, always burns up on re-entry. If only there was popcorn. Echo, echo, echo. Zero preforms his magnum opus, the Music of the Spheres. In many ways Zero is the only one of us to retain a living connection to the planet and our past, and the only vibrant spark of spirit remaining.
Then one day, everything changes. The ley lines have settled down, and we may leave. Transport is reliable, but there is no way of knowing just what one will find on the other side. Furthermore, it’s likely to be a one way trip. We resolve to go, but like an ape that has been imprisoned too long in a cage we have forgotten the feeling of freedom, of future, of the world beyond our cage. In fact, it takes us some months to set a date, to commit to the idea of a return to the surface.
We assemble, stepping into our old clothes, and some of us into our old bodies for the first time in nearly a century. Emptiness, meatsack, gurgle goes the tummy. Although fully thawed, piloting the bodies proves difficult; motor control is poor, balance issues, the bathroom…The more subtle nuances escape us; facial expressions are particularly comical for a time. A program of retraining is undertaken. To touch again-the sense of touch, odd. For some of us it is too strange. Friend Ginson can’t take it and retreats back to his polished steel chassis.
Uggh, the flesh!
The whole experience is anachronism, weird, freaky. Some stain of our time here is indelible-we are marked for having walked with the angels and tripped through the star ways. We have lived a second existence, just as long in years and as rich in experience as our time before, on the planet.
Someone: “Father Steelhearth, bless us before we go. We will always love you. Look down on our endeavors, watch over us!”
Then with a crackle, we are gone.