Its Community week and we have a bit of a treat this week. For the first time a guest blogger is sharing a short story and I think you will really enjoy this. Bryan Aiello and I first met when he reached out to me to be interviewed for his podcast. I've returned a few times now and I've enjoyed ever conversation. Bryan is a speculative fiction author himself who has written many short stories, which he shares on his blog among other places, and he has published an Urban Fantasy called "Compounded Interest" which I am going to be reading very soon. If you want to learn more about Bryan you can find him on his website, and on Amazon. You can also find Bryan's podcasts: Origin and Mirage, on YouTube as well as itunes and other podcast platforms. You can also find Bryan on Twitter and Facebook. I hope you enjoy this short story as much as I did.
Pulled To Far, by Bryan Aiello
Italian Navy Captain Hubert Scappato died 2000 years ago, yet he hasn't aged a day. The absolute beauty of the moment of his death was, is, and will be astounding. For him, perhaps the moment only lasts a fraction, a sliver of time. No longer than possible to actually record the moment of pain, disappointment, and animalistic scramble to live in his own doomed brain as he is caught in the gravity well of the black hole called Sagittarius A-star.
For the shuttle crew that observed the event, it was over fast. They could not have done anything to save him. They could only hope to him it was bam and over. Yet he was also, in that single moment arching over the event horizon, privy to the entire spectrum of light in the universe as it ripped through his retinas, privy to all time and no time, existing and not existing.
Perhaps in Hubert's case, death was for the best. The horror of being crushed into the smallest possible configuration of atoms is hard to imagine.
Most likely this was, is, and will be unpleasant for the cosmic explorer from Italy whose link to his shuttle and her crew snapped through some quirk of structural weakness.
Why was he out in space so near a black hole?
As the Italians would say, La povertа è la madre di tutte le arti - Necessity is the mother of invention.
Yet as confusing as all this might be, and even though he is dead, and dying, and yet to be born, a ship will pull him out of the time dilation in which he has been frozen for all these millennia.
The ship is small but bulky. It is primarily an antigravity generator with crew quarters and a four-person command deck. It was built in orbit of the Jupiter moon, Europa.
The ship is proof gravity is not a force, but the result of the geometry of spacetime, yet no one wanted it to explode anywhere near Earth, scientific breakthrough or not.
Time is the concept of the sun rising and falling, when paychecks will be deposited into bank accounts, when babies are due and turn old, and when dinner is on the table.
Yet time is codependent on the result of gravity. Time can be dilated based on an accelerated reference frame.
Poor Italian Navy Captain Hubert Scappato died 2000 years ago and was the perfect first mission to experiment on.
"The effect is like watching a 3D movie without glasses.' The man speaking has a shiny bald head rimmed with greying red hair and thick lenses in his gold-rimmed glasses, the crew calls him Mr. Clean. He wears the standard pressure suit, just badly, as if his soft body is being bent out of proportion. He pauses to rub at his scalp, "just multiply the number of images by a quantity so vast it not even worth mentioning."
"Meaning Hubert Scappato is only dead based on a certain perspective?" The engineer is talkative as he works the remote-controlled mech arm, the grabber pinches the Italian astronaut's life support pack and begins to swing him towards the ship.
"Mr. Clean! I don't mean to interrupt your little science lesson, but is your doohickey even working?" the ship's commander has her hands on the stick. The Black Hole pulls and she fights against it. It might just be psychological, but through the ship's front windows, she thinks that she can see an echo forming with many layers of the ship. Tiny strips of reality. Countless. She attempts to ignore the phenomenon and keep the stick steady as they rescue the Italian.
"Got him," the engineer calls out and a loud pop indicates the airlock has sealed and the newly acquired cargo is safely captured.
"You are not going to believe this, commander, but Scappato is actually moving around in there."
The commander needs no other incentive and flips the ship around, good, let's go home.
The spectrum of colors surrounding the ship fades away as she pilots the ship out of the event horizon and into normal space time. Trillions of pinpoints of starlight are suddenly visible stunning yet pale in comparison to the spectrum of color the ship was just immersed in.
The engineer drags Scappato into the vessel and is helping him off with his EVA suit. As he removes the man’s helmet, the familiar face, hooked nose, black beard scruff and pouty lips famous from all the pictures taken 2000 years ago now sits in the crew section of the antigravity ship. He looks no older, the only difference would be his eyes, once chocolate brown they are bleached pure white.
"Can you see, Captain?" the engineer asks touching gingerly at the red inflamed flesh on his forehead and cheeks.
“Umm.” he says as if doubting the obvious, craning his neck searching for something to lay his gaze on. His breathing becomes haggard as the pieces of his EVA suit are peeled away.
“Shit he is going into shock.” the engineer screams as Scappato begins to thrash on the corrugated metal floor.
"Mr. Clean! Get the crash-case!" the commander screams from the flight deck.
The chief science officer doesn't move. He just stares out the window mumbling to himself.
"It didn't work."
"What are you on about man. He is going to die!" The engineer screams beginning CPR on the blind Italian.
"We are all going to die."
The commander flips her chair around to face the crew quarters, "No, we will be fine."
"No commander, we won't."
"The solar system is all wrong."
'What do you mean."
"It’s too young. We might just be the only humans alive."