C'mon in, take yer shoes off, and set yerself down. Here you will find comics, cartoons, musings, rants, . . . whatever strikes my fancy, or "Spins my Plush", so to speak.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Day After . . .

( . . . and thanks for the help, Harv! . . .)

2-The Devil’s Treehouse

Space Station Andromeda-Class XXIII, had been heralded as the greatest advance in space travel at the time of its inception. A fully operational living environment for thousands, a full ten lightyears from the nearest colonized planet, Powell. The most advanced research facilities of the nearest fifty-seven solar systems. Full A.I. operating systems. And most importantly, all of these facilities occupying a structure held in stationary orbit about the crushing pull of black hole 32A, aka the "Bowl."

The space station had taken fifteen years to build - ten years longer than anticipated. Thousands of what the Earth government termed "glitches" were blamed. What was known was that over one hundred men, women, "genies", and A.I.'s died in its construction; more than the space station program had lost since "The Contact," when humans learned that they weren't alone in the universe, as they attempted to convert an inhabited moon into a useable vessel. Even after it had been commissioned, these "glitches" had continued until it had all but been abandoned when it was deemed obsolete.

In spite of the fact that Ragnarok had reduced the Earth Commonwealth to all but a few sparse planets and space stations, including government headquarters on Earth and former headquarters on Jordan, which were now splintered in the devastation of the war, S.S.A.C.XXIII still rises up as a glowing sphere over the lip of the Bowl; so named because, although a fracture in space possessed of no matter, looking down from the space station, it appeared almost like a giant black bowl as objects and even light itself were pulled in, swirling almost like puffs of wheat in a child's cereal, spun round and round by a spoon that would ultimately deliver them to be devoured and destroyed as if they had never existed. A closer inspection of the station reveals an odd site. The oddly purple "gleam" that had been apparent before can now be seen to be only off the upper portions of the large central globe, outer wheel, and the three "spokes" once used as passages between the two. The lower portions seemingly cease to exist, as any light at that point can no longer escape the pull of the Bowl. Even in its heyday, the station always appeared lifeless to all but an A.I. as windows and portals were deemed useless in the pull of a black hole, and the only breaks in the unendingly cold metal surface were odd, plate-like antennas, less easily broken in the stress of an unyielding gravitational pull. One portal provided access through the top of the globe--if such references as top and bottom, up and down matter in such an environment--to boarding scientists and explorers and, later, weary star travellers when the station had become little more than a way station, paradoxically providing life-giving sustenance where life was never meant to exist. Even the sight of approaching ships and far off stars would flicker like ghosts as their images were sucked into the bowl like all other life signs save the odd structure hung unmoving in this, the coldest region of space.

In this hellish environment, Space Station Andromeda Class XXIII gained the appropriate nickname "The Devil's Treehouse," where the gods could merely rent a room - from which they had ultimately been evicted.

If one were to enter this treehouse, they would find, much like in a treehouse he or she had abandoned in youth, the toys of a child: cavernous rooms filled to capacity with rows of keyboarded computers, burned-out lights and signals and buzzers, labs lined with beakers and test-tubes and vials, and probes and scopes that once told of the power of the life now as dead as its toys. Were one to pass through these walls they could but marvel at the darkness that can fill an airless, man-made void; only the low hum of an ancient engine meant to preserve a tenuous, life-giving environment amid the antithesis leaves any trace of that life.

It had once been believed that nothing could resist the irresistible forces found only within a black hole. Imagine, if you will, a collection of matter--the same material from which all we know and do not know is composed, if only a bit less organized and a bit more dense - filling an area millions of times the size of our home, the Earth. From this collection spews light, energy, and warmth, giving life and creating life where none once existed; in essence, a life in itself, herself. Long before humans dared to reach out and touch this heavenly body, they dared to peer at her and her brothers and sisters in the sky, painting them, wishing upon them, singing of them, and naming them: stars. However, in daring to live, they also dared to die. And so each star eventually does die, imploding in upon itself. As a drowning man struggles to survive, clawing and grabbing for life, so to does the dying star, reaching out for life, hoping against hope for salvation. When a life burns as brightly as a star, however, none but a universe may dream to save it, and the black hole is the last child of the star. Heaven becomes hell.

And the Bowl is hell.

Then, one day, the day that concerns us, when the story begins, the inexplicable occurs. If anyone remained upon the space station that day, and if they could somehow pierce the untelling darkness below, they would witness a "crack" in the bottom of the Bowl. A crack that would begin to open up, almost as if something were trying to force its way through. Indeed, they would soon learn that something was not only trying, but succeeding in passing from death to life. A hand, clawing and grabbing, would appear. The realization that would occur would be that a long dead star was giving birth one last time. Or perhaps the devil is merely coming from hell to play in his treehouse.

A final sign of life echoes from the station as a forgotten command issues a signal to home, and the devil, deciding his plaything no longer pleases him, tosses it aside. Somehow sensing that the final spark he allowed to issue forth may lead him to more playthings, he catches its scent and chases after it.

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