Thursday, July 25, 2019

7/25/19

The Horizon Eternal
By Andrew Johnston


Ten thousand miles from home. Already I feel the loss of gravity's embrace, the wisdom of up and down that I had taken for granted in my terrestrial life. Moment by moment I shed my attachments to the old place, and with them go my very sense of reality, my notions of self and place. Here I am, caught between a moment of truest regret and the trackless void. But what lies beyond...oh, what must await these eyes beyond that void is surely worth this mere apprehension, this transient discomfort.

Ten million miles from home. I can scarcely breathe for the terror worming through my flesh. Fear rides alongside me now, whispering dark words into my ear, hectoring me with dire predictions of what awaits us. One erroneous calculation, one inadequately secured seam, one unforeseen celestial body and I am no more than a handful of dust scattered across the whole of existence. I am bent to the waves of fate and the whims of the cosmos, and why? What deceiver spirit convinced me that there was wisdom in this exodus?

Ten billion miles from home. I have found some peace in my mission, at least for now. The doubts still wound me, but their voices are muted now, lost within a quadrillion cubic miles of oblivion. That fury at myself has passed, and all that remains is the mission. Yet, I have also discarded the thrill of the voyage. Terror and wonder have both faded from my eyes. Have I so soon become jaded? Is my very soul preparing me for disappointment when this vessel at last alights on that dead rock?

Ten trillion miles from home. The machines that propel this fragile body through the endless expanse are falling silent one by one. The monitor tells me that all is still well but this is nothing but a fantasy dispensed by a machine that knows only what is placed before its mute sensors. Deep in my soul, in a place where instinct triumphs over false rationalism, I know what will soon come. Fear is gone; it is death that perches next to me. If this beast is fixable, then it is well beyond my meager gifts. My time grows shorter...and yet I feel so little. What has become of me that this does not evoke emotion?

Location unknown. This elegy for my mission and my hopes of discovery shall be my last attempt at communications with home. It seems I will never reach that rock, and I will never know if my final missive has reached my old superiors. Am I a cautionary tale, or a martyr, or simply an unforeseen cost in a vital mission? Ah, I will never know. All is quiet now, within and without. I feel no fear or anger or regret. The machines have gone to their resting places, and now it is my turn to offer my life to the void. The voyage has prepared me for this. To my fellow explorers: I wish you luck, and wish you the serenity I now know when your time finally comes.


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Born in rural western Kansas, ANDREW JOHNSTON discovered his Sinophilia while attending the University of Kansas. Subsequently, he has spent most of his adult life shuttling back and forth across the Pacific Ocean. He is currently based out of Hefei, Anhui province. He has published short fiction in Nature: Futures, the Arcanist and Mythic and will be featured in the upcoming Bad Dream Entertainment Horror/Humor Anthology. You can learn more about his projects at findthefabulist.com.

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