First piece from Berlin. It is a reflection of my feelings here as much as it is about space. It has been super distracting to write. So many strange and interesting things going on.
I think this will be the Epilogue to the Monarchs. Maybe. I have this character appear in his past form in the next story. He will meet the other two, Kong and Emma.
Waking on the moon
By The Egg Party
As the sun expanded, over many aeons, it began to lose mass. The gravitational tug on both the earth and the moon lessened as the older parent slowly became infirm. The two bodies, celestial and terrestrial, would not survive expansion. For a brief window they were freer than they had ever been. The red giant phase of the sun was entering peak activity.
A rounded box, three meters long and two meters wide, was nestled within the highlands of the light side of moon. The surface was an earthen colour, almost ceramic. Every side was deeply scorched and marked. An alarm rose from within the box, signalling initialisation. For three days an internal machine produced a series of unusual frequencies. The sound of liquid flowing came from deep inside. After the three days a mechanical arm thrust its way out of the outer shell. Cracks appeared across the entire surface.
The robotic hand held a perfect orb. The orb was released where it bounced twice before settling in the dust of the moon. From there it began to vibrate. It started levitating away from the moon to the point where it was floating four meters in the air. The thin lunar atmosphere around the ball gained a hazy quality. A large energy barrier was projected out of the hovering ball, encompassing the box and surroundings. The barrier had a radius of twenty-five meters. The orb then did two things simultaneously: it emitted a loud piercing whistle and it began releasing breathable gas within the shield.
The whistle caused the collapse of the remaining shell fragments around the box, revealing an interstitial layer consisting of three electronic shields, which deactivated in sequence.
1st: Heated plasma gas window
2nd: Laser curtain
3rd: Temporal lining
The lid opened, the robotic arm dangling lifeless to the side. One body was contained: Sigurd. He lay awake as the systems began to repair his body. After three further days the process had rejuvenated him back to optimum condition. He was alert. More importantly he was satisfied with a successful plan.He then set the box to snooze as he slept a further six hours. When he arose he was freshly cleaned so he dressed. He put on his spacesuit, boots and gloves. A helmet was not necessary. Sunglasses were a must. The suit was an orange and black number that was both comfortable and durable. The most important aspect was that the joints that were especially flexible, allowing for the full motion of dance.
Sigurd suffered through a particular sort of sickness for the entirety of his lifetime. The basis of which was a phobia that, later in his life, became closer to a generalised anxiety disorder. He had a fear of talking about the weather. A therapist on Eiron spent time directing him through extensive neural stimulated cognitive behavioural therapy (Neutherapy). She continually reminded him he 'needed' to talk about the weather. That running in the opposite direction when someone looked at a sky was 'anti-social'. That him screaming when that upward look was followed by a slight opening of the mouth was 'inappropriate.'
He had been hearing about the seasonal changes of multiple planets over the course of 365 years and it never became easier. Interpedia gave him all the reading he wanted on how to classify and validate his disorder. He felt it was a cross between Lucobrevisphobia (the fear of small talk), Cryophobia (fear of cold) and Thermophobia (fear of heat).
Avoiding talk about the weather led him to a life on the road. Down the various space highways dotted with monotonous beacon robots. He was a man on the lam. Whenever he landed on a new colony he would only disembark when the weather was fine. The cold was worse for weather babble. He had spent seventy-three summers in a row travelling endlessly. He was so accustomed to the warm that he could barely even tolerate the action of opening his fridge on the shuttle.
He found through personal sociological and scientific studies that people talk about the weather the least between 294.63ºK and 296.65ºK. Even then it was not very simple. Semi-arid climate? Sub-tropical? Sun-kissed alien terrain covered in phallic plantoids?
He delayed full planetary departures by jumping from continent to continent, hemisphere to hemisphere. Staying warm, trying not to wonder why. Usually he had enough chitchat, to the point of nervous breakdown, during one planetary rotation. Then he was onto the next. Between every planet he would slip back into his nicotine fuelled cryosleep. Lovely Stasis. Eventually he was adding the nicotine patches to his arm every trip. As he travelled the drug would send him back to his prolonged fever dream.
Various weather women/men would occasionally be picked up and patched into the shuttle when he entered an orbit of a new planet. All signal was welcome through his Entanglement Radio. That smug sounding human or other was the monkey on his back. Claws deep, whispering in his ear: run! Keep going you bastard!
He reached a point where he began to question whether the problem was the weather or the population. Whatever the problem, he knew he could escape through Stasis. Prior to the execution of Protocol 34, and the human exodus into the stars, Sigurd had been a chronic insomniac.
This initial departure was the first time he had the true sleep that Stasis technology allowed. His sadness over leaving everyone was distracted and false. A 24mg transdermal nicotine left on his shoulder blade further complicated matters. As he travelled saw any farewell vision of his home through this fearful lens. These initial impressions soon formed Sigurd's reality.
It was said that no human had ever slept a proper night’s sleep before Stasis. Humans would talk about getting their eight hours a night. None of them had woken after sleeping for three weeks. Or fifty years. Humans had regressed and created a new form of hibernation. For many it was bliss. Waking up with an energetic glow.
Stasis captivated Sigurd.
After having stood up, he stretched and began walking in a rectangle around the box. He repeated this path five times. Each time he measured the distances of his steps. The readings were different every time. Because he was a lazy man he made an average: fifteen leg steps across and twenty down. He put a mechanised stake on each corner. Each was activated and when the four were in place their collective projections combined. False nature appeared around him. Grass, trees, even virtual insects. He found himself standing under the shade of two trees, in a small park, under a bubble, on the surface of the moon.
The biggest tree was of the variety Sequoia Sempervirens. It was native to Northern California in the United States of America. The tree stood tall extending beyond the barrier and into the night sky. It was the tallest discovered tree on the Earth when his Grandparents were still walking the land. Grandpa Senior described visiting the marvel. Sigurd had designed a fairly accurate replication. This coastal redwood was called Hyperion. The second tree was not a tree. It was a perennial herb, a fifteen meter tall Cavendish banana tree covered with large bunches of green fruit fully formed.
He stepped between the greenery and shook a stone filled glass jar he had removed from his suit. The tiny stones in the container became active and the mix within the jar began to grow and froth. He poured the contents onto the ground where they became obscured by the fake grass. The base of the two plants began to waver as the stones, now clearly nano-machines, began recreating the projection from the inside out. No sooner had the two trees finished their construction than a small thread shot from one trunk to the other. From that anchoring strand a hammock began to take shape.
It could be there was a genetic component to his condition but he had yet to investigate with any depth. His Mother and Father on Earth were a pair of individuals who loved the weather conversation. And jet skiing. 'Outdoorsy' was a term that described them. To his surprise that ugly word survived the trimming of the planetary lexicon when Earth was evacuated.
But his Father's parents were the same as Sigurd. The pair were famous recluses who were terrified of their local population. Grandpa Senior swore heavily and unrepentantly that, 'those damn, wine swilling suburbanites,’ would hold their lawn watering until they could catch him leaving the house. ‘Then they ask me about the weather,’ he’d continue. ‘Or humidity. Or some fucking thing. Well, fuck, I do not know. How about that water in the air? Or that strange Sun God above us controlling our fucking existence?'
His paternal grandparents eventually chose to live in the centre of the sun. It was difficult to discuss a median temperature of 15000273.15ºK. The neighbours would get as far as 'how bout that hea...' before exploding and having their existences obliterated. It was a peaceful but thoroughly unsustainable life.
He decided to take their lead with his own style. He left planet dwellers in the end and sought the roving bands of pirates floating in the distances between occupied worlds. They didn't talk about weather. They didn't have weather. They lived entirely floating in the neutralised areas between gravity. Daedaleans was the collective term that was preferred by the pirates. He briefly lived amongst that diaspora of neo-humans. No sun, no moon, no satellites of consistent type. It seemed perfect.
The problem presented when they drank alcohol, or imbibed vapour. They created traditional poisons with a huge range of creative ingredients. How they produced the ethanol was, mainly, from recycling anything created or excreted on the ship.
They would often float about, high to the point of sick. Conversation would lead to talking about their dreams of the weather. Sigurd decided that hearing about imaginary weather was much worse than anything he had feared. Perhaps the worst thing in the universe.
So he left those strange nomads with the knowledge of having exhausted all attempts at integrating with humanity. He returned to see his scant remaining friends; Astro and Bacon back on the planet Eiron. It was the robot Astro that designed the box, which allowed the last sleep for Sigurd. The box which took him back to the moon.
It took him a long time to convince Bacon that his mind had already left long before he was departing.
Sessions of cryosleep, both voluntary and enforced, had changed his mind drastically. The initial Stasis nightmare was lost. He had reached the plateau in his dream landscape. His consistent vision was of solitude. In his unconsciousness he travelled to empty worlds, vacant star systems, dead stars. He would wake from Stasis with the uncomfortable weight of others. His mental state had finally declined to the point where he had to say goodbye to everyone, his best friend Bacon included. This seclusion was important - it was all he could handle.
Bacon asked how long he intended to sleep. Sigurd wanted to awake when there was little left of the Earth star system. The pod was designed so it would land on the single moon of Earth. The journey would take some time. His estimated time of arrival was 5,088,352,040 years A.D.
He lay in preparation for his trip with the box lid held above him by his pal. As his friend shut the lid he blew a burp into the stasis pod. Bacon must have been eating some highly specialised diet plan because that burp was the worst Sigurd had ever smelt. Just like when leaving New York, he thought with a smile. He fell asleep in the cycled oxygen and he giggled at long forgotten memories, of filthy pastrami from that deli in the Lower East Side, Katzenjammer's.
When he awoke it was closer to 5143,203,660 AD but that was no concern to Sigurd. He awoke when the sensors told him and that was enough. He found himself now at the climax to his decision, watching the sun gear up towards supernova. The last summer from our man Sol. He had the robots build a series of trestle tables, which ran along the edge of the grass. On one end of the table he set up a sandwich station. Peanut butter, jam, bread. The robots were efficient at producing everything, food included. He then set them to create a very specific audio set up on the other end.
It was the replica of his old radio station equipment he used on Eiron. A cardioid microphone extended over the hammock. The remaining Rooibos Rudeboy would play a last show.
The only live audience he knew of were the bacteria remaining in his body. Together they would live and listen. The intrinsic symbiosis remained. They had no choice but to die with Sigurd. If the micro-organisms had the ability for complex thought then he thought they would be celebrating.
Their long term propagation had beaten out all other bacterial species. They were the fittest survivors. But that was dated biological nonsense now.
He injected himself with a mixture of stimulants and slow release hallucinogens. The gradual peak would end with death by either exhaustion or fire.
He danced, a peanut and jelly sandwich in one hand, a cigarette in his mouth. He keyed the unique pin code into the wrist module on his suit and set the music for stun. His legs began wobbling to the beat. It was such a nice day he could do nothing else. It was a beautiful summer night. As his hand, feet, shoulders, pelvis and tentacle all came into play he was, at that point, without question, the greatest dancer in the universe.