Sunday, November 4, 2007
I wonder how long it has been.
The sky moves in stop-motion, stars and planets jerking across the black like King Kong jittering through 1930s New York City. There are three pulsars which used to blink in sync every night; now, they're solid bright. The switch would make me laugh if I could. You need oxygen to laugh, you see.
Occasionally a piece of debris drifts by, moves in star-strobe through my field of vision. Every start and stop in time with the relentless thuds in my chest. The thuds are maddening, but even in my state I know not to try and stop them. Every concentrated pulse of electricity, every shoot of agony, every flick on and off of some immortal switch--
They are why I'm still alive.
Well, alive, then dead, then alive again.
Oh, how proud they must have been. The cardio paddles and cart of old condensed to a tool the size of a stethoscope, sitting ready and Aware above the wearer's chest. Too rugged to break, too smart to activate unnecessarily, and--thanks to the almost atomic-scale battery inside it--too vital to ever, ever die. No more lost sailors, those planetside cried; how well we answered their calls! In this suit a man adrift in orbit will die of old age before he'd go from heart or brain failure.
I wonder how long that will be?
The thinking is, you will be rescued. Any sailor of the vast black sea will eventually see a new galleon floating towards him, ready to give grog and food and an insanely thorough bout of medical treatment. The soft bleating rescue becon, tied to that same miniscule battery and timed with every electric thud, is a guarantee.
Thud. Beep. Thud.
They are not exactly Holst's The Planets, but they are my light show's musical accompaniment. I try to hum along--feel the utterly alien feeling of truly empty lungs. There is not even carbon dioxide to poison me; the suit has jettisoned it.
I wonder, in fits and starts, if I can roll over. Let the vastness pan out of view, look down towards the rock I'm slowly puttering around. Maybe I'll see more than the Universe frame-by-frame. Maybe a ship flickering closer, flying my colors!
Maybe I'll see the blackened craters I assume are really there.
I'll find out eventually.
I have plenty of time.