Friday, May 22, 2015

Truth in Space, Part 4

Hello, everyone! Here’s the fourth part of my short story, Truth in Space. Catch up with Parts 1, 2, and 3.

Truth in Space Part 4

Warpagram: In flight toward Leos. Will contact upon landing.

Return Warpagram: Stay on target.

October 13, 3021

I agonized over today’s warpagram forever. What was I supposed to say? That I’m feeling nauseous, which I never do in space? That I’ve picked up an extra passenger? Yeah, that would go over well: “Oh, by the way, I’ve picked up the last scientist you sent on this mission. He’s not too happy with you; hope you’re excited to see him!” Despite my sarcasm, I don’t find that the least bit funny. I’m in so much trouble. And then that return warpagram… I’m feeling legitimately ill right now.

Fergus watched me pace for the better part of an hour before he finally asked what was wrong. I think telling me his story the other night wore him out, because he hasn’t said much else to me. Of course, I suppose it would be strange to talk if you’ve gone the past five years without human contact. I find him staring into space sometimes. Other times he looks like he’s seen a ghost. But he doesn’t explain these moments, and I’m not sure I want to ask.

When he asked about my pacing, I gave him my dilemma: the base at Konachi will be expecting a report, but what can I possibly say? After marveling that warpagrams have progressed so far, he suggested I give the minimum facts. After all, they can hardly fault me for brevity when I only have ten words available. Though sending it gave me some breathing room for today (I can only send one per day), it didn’t make me feel any better.

We’re heading toward the planet Leos, which, by all preliminary research, is similar to Earth. No water that we can tell, but with the ability to create water in the lab on a large scale, I doubt the NCSP will be concerned by that. As long as the temperature is manageable and the planet’s surface is solid, they can easily create a protected city. Their biggest requirement is magnetic interference so the base will be hidden from the eastern countries’ instruments.

Fergus hasn’t spoken since he helped me with the warpagram. He knows where we’re headed, and I doubt he approves. Yet he says nothing. I can’t decide if his attention is fully here or not. He sleeps a lot; that’s what he’s doing now, actually. I don’t journal when he’s out here. Even though he’s part of the reason I haven’t burned the pages yet, I’m not sure I want him to know about them. Knowledge is power and that kind of power could get my family and I killed. The journal is a huge liability, but part of me wants to keep it. I feel like Fergus’ story should be told, and I don’t think he’s going to get to tell it himself. I know how these people work. He won’t make it back to civilian life. His mission doesn’t exist publicly; soon enough, neither will he. Having been the one to find him, I may not make it either. And I’m scared.

I just threw up in the sink, violently enough that I was briefly disoriented afterward. But then my situation came rushing back at me in a wave. I don’t know what to do other than complete the mission. And then maybe I can get this story to the right people. And, somehow, maybe it will make up for the destruction I’m enabling.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Time, Meaning, and Moments

“Time and tide wait for no man.” – Geoffrey Chaucer

                                 “You may delay, but time will not.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Time, the devourer of all things.” – Ovid

Time, Meaning, and Moments

I’ve been thinking about time lately. How it shapes us, how it imparts meaning. We’ve all heard and experienced how time seems to go more quickly when we’re enjoying ourselves and how it seems to drag on when we’re not. I recently watched the Harry Potter films for the first time, and one of the magical items caught my attention. One of the professors at Hogwarts has an hourglass that slows down when conversation is stimulating and speeds up when it’s not. In effect, then, it allows more time for something enjoyable.

I find myself wishing that was real. Wishing that good times didn’t have to end and that unpleasant times would just be a wisp, a momentary blip on the radar. Wishing that I could control time.

Yet where would that leave me, truly? Would the result be what I wanted? Or would I lose an important aspect of meaning?

In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon lays out a fascinating discussion about time, which begins with this in verse 1: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Seasons. Moments. Time. It’s not meant to be stopped; it’s designed to march on. That doesn’t always make it easy, though. Seasons are a part of life. That’s easily recognized when we look at the natural world and its progression through Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, and back to Winter. Yet the transitions can be difficult. I often get sick during season changes.  My body struggles to adapt when we go through Daylight Savings Time or the leaves begin to drop.

The same is true with other seasons in our lives. Change is hard. It can be painful to move away from something wonderful. That’s where I find myself now, at the end of an amazing, life-changing season.

I don’t want it to be gone.

Yet I can’t stop it, anymore than I can make summer stay a month longer or keep people from moving away. As much as I want to, I can’t keep these changes at bay. They’re seasons. And seasons end.

Perhaps they’re more meaningful because they end. Because we know that someday our moments will come to a stop, we can treasure them. Imagine if time didn’t matter. Imagine a world where things never ended. After a while, whatever we were doing wouldn’t matter anymore, would it? And if nothing ever ended, how could anything else begin? Endings and beginnings go hand-in-hand. When one thing ends, something else always begins. It may not seem as good right away. It may not be what you wanted. It’s life, though. When you think about it, it’s beautiful, because, just as wonderful things end, challenging things end too. And each season has something to teach us.

My summer is a new season, entirely different from the one that’s ending now. Am I sad? Definitely. I’m leaving a known situation, one that I’m comfortable in, and beginning something new. Yet I know that God’s the one changing my seasons, and, regardless of what this one holds, I know it’s for my good.

Here on Earth, our lives are measured in moments. Each moment means something because it ends. I want to treasure them. I want to use them as God designs them to be used. I want to live a life of meaning.

How do you impart meaning into your moments? Are you at the end of a season in your life? Let me know in the comments; I love to chat!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Truth in Space, Part 3

First of all, I’d like to quickly apologize for the sparseness of my posts over the past few weeks. I have been rather busy, but posts will return to their normal weekly routine now. I was unable to post this earlier, but here’s today’s post, Part 3 of my short story, “Truth in Space.” You can find Parts 1 and 2 here.

Truth in Space Part 3

Warpagram: Storm kept me on ship. Stay another day?

Return warpagram: No, continue as planned.

October 12, 3021

I haven’t destroyed yesterday’s entry yet. I was interrupted while writing (thus the unfinished sentence), and I’ve been occupied ever since. I should burn it right this minute, but I’m hesitant for some reason. I think it has to do with the man snoozing at the other end of the ship. Yeah, he was my interruption. The sound I heard wasn’t the wind; it was Fergus creeping around the ship.

It’s a quaint name, Fergus. Sounds like someone you’d find in an old novel, not the Space Age. Yet there he is, gray tinging his surprisingly-kempt black hair and beard. He’s definitely human and he says he’s from Earth. And, yes, I believe him. Fergus has been on Vortega for five years.

He’s the original me. Not literally, of course, but positionally. Five years ago, the National Coalition for Space Progression, which began long ago as NASA, sent a three-person team on a mega-lightyear mission like mine. Only they didn’t tell the public about that mission. Anyone witnessing the launch must have thought it was a trip to one of the lunar colonies.

Fergus was the crew’s navigator. And the only survivor. When I heard him last night, I slipped outside to investigate. I came perilously close to shooting him with my laser gun when he jumped around the corner of the ship. I say perilously because I truly am a dead shot with the weapon. He looked so startled to see me, but he couldn’t have been as surprised as I was. I mean, when I’d been told that I would be the first to venture more than 500 light years beyond Earth, the last thing I expected to see was another human being. Took me several minutes to even think rationally. Keeping my gun trained on him was purely instinct. I finally let him come inside the ship once we were both shivering and I was positive he had no weapons of any kind. Then we stayed up all night as he told me his story.

Unlike me, Fergus was not a recent college graduate when he blasted off into space. Instead, he’d been a researcher for the NCSP for ten years. Before that, our stories are similar. We were both recruited right after graduation and had little contact with our parents during school. He studied space navigation and nuclear chemistry, while I majored in dimensional physics. But we’re both only children and A+ students. In other words, no one lifted an eyebrow when either of us went to work for the NCSP. We were the people everyone expected to succeed and no one truly cared about.

Sheesh! My lack of sleep must be making me overly psycho-analytical. Or it could just be the disturbance of Fergus’ presence. Or it could be both. Maybe I’m just going plum crazy. Anyway, Fergus’ story really rocked my world, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Thus the lack of sleep. He and his partners were sent on a year-long mission, like me, to the Zako Sector. Their first stop actually was not Vortega, though. It was a dwarf planet about fifty light years from here.

“It didn’t have a name,” he said. “Just a meaningless collection of numbers and letters. We named it Veritas, which is Latin for ‘truth’.”

He got really quiet at that point, looking around the cabin. When he finally focused on me again, he said they named it “Veritas” because that’s where they learned the truth. Up to that point, only the pilot knew the real purpose of their mission. Fergus and the engineer, Katherine, though they were mapping the sector and looking for signs of life. I’m shuddering now just thinking about his words. When he said them, I got violent shivers down my body. See, that’s what people all over Earth and the lunar colonies think I’m doing. Ignoring the fact that the NCSP essentially is the Western government, the public thinks I’m living out the fascination humans have had with space for over a millennium. Instead, I’m scouting out a place deep in the Zako Sector for a military base. The government of Western Earth is planning to wipe out the rest of the world, and I’m helping them do it.