Hernan looked out at the Void. It was empty, as expected. In a few minutes, his space capsule would be plunging into it, and it would reemerge elsewhere. What that “elsewhere” was was what Hernan wanted to find out.
“I don’t think I’m ready for this,” he said suddenly, surprising himself.
“Of course you’re ready,” Diego said over the commlink. “You’ve been preparing for three years. You are going in that Void. There’s no turning back.”
And Hernan knew it was true. There was only one place he could go now: the Void. It was indescribable, really; the Void was just an emptiness; but it wasn’t just empty space. It was a Void. One had to be there to understand what it was.
Hernan gulped. He didn’t really want to do this. How he got to be in this position was a long story, involving illegal financial transactions of various kinds, an accidental yet premeditated murder (long story), 1,528,682 galactic credits worth of property damage, and a mole of identical amorphous green-and-blue blobs dumped on some backwater planet whose name no one remembered, not to mention the seven million people and robots left unemployed because of everything previously briefly mentioned. It was complicated. In short, Hernan wasn’t really here by his own choice, and now he was panicking.
“Let me out, darn it!” Hernan said, knowing it was futile, that the capsule had already begun its plunge into the Void and that it couldn’t possibly turn back even if Hernan were able to override the autopilot, which was so close to impossible it could accurately be labeled as such.
“Sorry, can’t do,” Diego said.
“Let me out! I never willingly signed up for this! It was a forgery! They threatened to kill my brother! Then they accidentally did! They killed my brother! They killed my brother, curse it! Let me out of here!”
There was no reply from Diego. The commlink had been cut off by the capsule’ s proximity to the Void. Hernan gazed out the window and felt the emptiness encroach upon him.
Gaamrax scratched her center head, wondering what the mess before her was supposed to be. It was a rather large spheroidal mass, melted into the ground and giving off streams of smoke. This was totally unexpected, especially on the Day of the Great Giving. On this day, the people should be giving to the gods, not the other way around. What had the gods sent them?
She turned back and was about to head toward the village when she heard a sound behind her.
It was the large mass.
She turned around in time to see the side of it fall away and land on the ground, sending a spray of fine sand particles diffusing into the atmosphere.
Something clambered out of the hole and fell on the ground, next to the piece of the object that had fallen. It was alive.
She gasped, and then she heard a sound behind her. It was M’ktazem, the chief of the village. She was gazing at the fallen object.
“What is this, Gaamrax?” M’ktazem said.
“It... it fell from the sky. I do not know what it is. Perhaps... the gods...”
M’ktazem made the gesture of agreement. “Let us see what the gods have brought us, then.” And she approached the object and the unmoving figure beside it.
Copyright © 2003 by The Invincible Spud