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The taste of coffee, I thought after our shuttle ruptured, I’ll miss that the most.
When I realized I was alive and breathing, I looked toward the endless void. The stars unseeable, the distant planets unreachable. Something had gone wrong during the shuttle transfer. Did we run out of fuel? Was there some sort of electrical failure?
I don’t know what happened.
How much time passed between me being thrown against a wall, and waking up?
All I knew was I was the only survivor. Our crew was small with the manifest made private. But who they were didn’t matter. I was marooned, drifting through space on a hunk of useless metal.
I was hired by one of our mystery VIP passengers—their identity was hidden from me, per our contractual agreement, hence by I was riding with the luggage.
A big payout for some paranoid executive, political asset, or celebrity was nothing new to me.
But now, all I wanted before the emergency power shut off or the air ran out, was a strong cup of coffee. To smell a pot brewing again—I wanted nothing more.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a cooking module in the storage bay.
Looking out a small viewport, the important part of the shuttle was mangled. The guts of the hallway leading to the rest of the deck were split open like an egg, the yoke and shell floating around, tossed into the vastness of space.
“Welp,” I say aloud, my voice cracked and hoarse, “No coffee for me.”
As I spoke, a mass of rocky alloy, or whatever asteroids are made of, drifted by at the same trajectory.
With all the space of space, we managed to hit a goddamn pebble.
That revelation—our pilot flying into a stray rock—was particularly disheartening. There wasn’t a deliberate saboteur or marauder or defense platform, making it…
“Just dumb, stupid luc—”
I winced an ear-piercing noise.
An alarm blared over the, already blaring alarms.
“Oxygeney: ean tasarub al'uks. Alnudub min alshifa'i. Abhath—...”
The staticky command repeated itself. Luckily, some words are universal. Also luckily, I was in the one place holding environmental suits and oxygen canisters. Being in the personal security business, I was accustomed to the variety of environmental suits.
By the time my oxygen tube was connected, and my suit sealed, silence came—alarms included. Clipping myself to a fixed handle, I waited. I had an idea of what happened but had no idea what was going to happen.
Even though I was secured to the haul when the storage module depressurized all hell broke loose. The part of the module across from me tore free from itself, opening to the black, ever-expanding void. The floor I was standing on became the ceiling, then the floor again, and then the ceiling.
We spun out of control heading straight towards the asteroid—or moon. I’d been in enough firefights, knife fights—all sorts of fights—to know the closeness of death. I’d told myself I wasn’t afraid of dying, adopting a cynical sense of humor, which isn’t unique to my profession.
Well, nothing was more terrifying than being out in the vastness of space, alone, clipped to a hunk of metal, hurdling towards a chunk of rock.
But what happened when I struck the moon-asteroid was strange.
I was fine.
Minus being on a large rock with no way of getting off.
As I walked the moonscape, I checked my vitals, making sure my suit hadn’t been damaged. Everything was in prime condition, even my oxygen was maxed out.
A disorienting feeling came exploring the surface. There was gravity. Like, normal gravity—not some artificial generator or weak gravitational pull. This was legitimate gravity.
As I realized this, I approached a cave plunging deeper into the thing I was on. But, instead of it being a dark, descending cavern, it moved like a staircase. This staircase being illuminated, ascending and descending both—which confused me.
The deeper I went, the brighter it became, like climbing from a basement and into a sunroom. As I emerged—or descended?—the end became closer, clearer.
I crossed a plateau looking out a massive crater.
But it wasn’t a crater, instead a window.
Or an eye.
It beckoned me, and I continued forward. I stumble (up?) towards this great, looking eye. The sight was of nothing I could comprehend. It extended beyond the vastness of space seeming to be from different times. I was looking at Sol—out the eye of the universe. I thought.
I kept walking towards the lip of that eye, closer to this thing breaking my comprehension, breaking all meaning and laws of—of—of everything.
I was on the edge, becoming it, trying to understand. Trying to see what was shown. But I couldn’t. The experience looked back upon me instead. I looked for longer than I intended, feeling myself crumbling and blooming under its gaze—its endless gaze of everything and nothing.
So much nothing.
So much ev…
And when I stepped off there was indeed, nothing, amongst all the everything.
* * *
Medical Testimony: Survivor 08120
IPL-Rep (Inter-Planitary Logistics): For insurance/liability purposes, we need your report of Survivor 08120.
RA (Residence Assistant): The patient found on the outer rim of Raabi’a is in stable condition, though heavily sedated.
IPL-Rep: What state was the survivor found in?
RA: The survivor was found near the wreckage of a shuttle traveling from the inner rim to transfer station Raabi’a 003.
IPL Rep: To the best of your ability, are you able to assess what caused the crash of shuttle 1121?
RA: No. EMS reported the private shuttle crashed with nothing in its vicinity; no sign of sabotage, assault, or debris.
RA: Although, the survivor muttered something before sedation. He spoke of an asteroid or moon and wanting coffee. EMA stated Survivor-08120 looked through the Eye of Sol—what did he mean?
IPL-Rep: We cannot use that degree of speculative information for our claims purposes. The analyst reviewing this report will redact the RA’s statement.
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The Eye of Sol
The universe looked back and no one answered