Monday, January 30, 2006

On time, slowness

Well it seems to be taking slightly longer to get things moving in the Hall. An infestation of paperwork has caused myself and Mcavoy to spend more time in the cursed wings of the hall. its no fun fighting an entrenched beurocratic nightmare with nothing more than a stapler and correcting fluid. but we will triumph, be sure of that.
Till then i will leave you with a tiny tale, to wheat the appetites of the Artificial Intelligences and the men from NSA who monitor all communications, no matter how nonsensical. i'm not sure any real humans see these words, but then it has been a long time since i last saw a real person. I must go, the howls of the crazed civil servants are getting louder. something must have spooked them.
Mcavoy, ready the correcting fluid and prime the stapler. Lets hunt some pen pushers...

The Beacon at the end of the Universe

In my grandfathers time many craft sailed past the beacon and out into the night. There were ships larger than planets and orbs black edged so those inside would never see the ever blackness of the infinite. In my fathers time it was all trade, and unmanned ships slid by the beacon in automated dances. Often there were stowaways and spies in tiny ship clinging underneath. There were pirates too, and soldiers expelled from wars half a galaxy away. My father held the beacon with a force of nearly a thousand, there were fighting people and technical people and a whole community of souls.
In my time there was no one left, and few craft ever slid by. I am left in the beacon, the tower of light growing from a great lump of magnetic rock. I sit at the top with ten thousand rooms empty but for memories beneath me. Everything is automated but for me, I am motivated by other concerns.
I roam the rooms, I have lived my whole life here and it is an ancient beautiful place, feeling older than the stars that surround me because it was built by humans who had but a tiny span on this plane with which to expend their energy. That energy was expended here, in the massive grown stones that made the beacon, that carved the figurative patterns with mathematical algarythms and grew great gargoyles to amuse their minds. They are all here too, the impressions and recordings of their time immortalised on the tapes of the infinite library. The library is encoded into the rock and stones of the beacon, I fancied as a child that every twinkling shine was not a vein of quartz or some random impurity but a single thought of the crew who gave the beacon their love, their time and sometimes their lives.
The ghosts are there at every step, there to guide the living crew in the completion of their duties, though that now is only me, star ways and trade routes change like the flow of rivers and no one passes this way now. It is only I who turns the great ears towards the ticking of cosmic static, who listens to the infinite messages and the echoing sounds of the universe. Those who say sound does not travel in a vacuum have only a very elementary knowledge of those things. I hear a universe from my beacon, the sound of god’s booming voice, of the shout of life as it is born and its screams as it dies. I hear the arguments of old wars and the lovemaking of star systems.
I am older now than either my father or grandfather though they would think to look at me I was merely a youth. Longevity feels like a gift of the beacon, a reward for having had no life beyond.
Then a day came that a craft again slid my way. A great old lump of welded machinery, a melange of a hundred cultures, built over a dozen centuries and with men and women and animals and spirits of a million races and creeds. They pinged me and I them, a line of contact drawn and old niceties observed. The beacon is there for a reason, one that even I might forget. It is there to protect anyone from straying to close to the edge.
You would know, if you had seen where the beacon lies and which way it faces, that we only look one way. That we are there to warn starcraft and shipwares from ever going to far, for magnetic storms and mirages can lure even the most trusty of computational software into error. Before the beacon there were many accidents, ships flipping off course to be pulled into places too far gone to ever come back. The universe is big enough, there is no need to try and go beyond.
This lonely ship though was looking out into the unknown with a face of grim resolve. We are going out there, it said, for reasons to numerous to expand upon, and we do not intend to come back.
I spoke them for a while, and their beliefs filtered through my sceptical mind, though I remained unconvinced. I thought them mad, of course, that they were religious nuts whose millennial prophesies were uttered with reference to dubious facts and assumed premises. I did not trust them, but sent them on their way.

They disappeared into the night, swallowed up by the eddies of inter dimensional forces beyond our understanding. Who knows where that would lead? What times they would appear in, what strange unknowable civilisations live out there? I gladly turned my back on them and went back to talk with my ghosts, to feel long dead soft female hands cool my brow and minds long gone merge with mine, hedonism and fantasy, music of the stars and a sea of human experience.
But there were other ships, some sensible and ordered, the space craft of races older than man, more learned and far higher on the evolutionary plane, minds like triangles and faces of infinite beauty. They spoke to me in a jangly language, strange mathematics of telepathy, like they were talking to me through my body. Signals my brain had to try and understand. They politely invited me too, but I knew to them I could be only a pet, an easily exhausted curiosity.
I asked where they thought they were going, and a burst of mind data nearly ruptured my kidneys. It wasn’t a god thing with them, it was something that transliterated into human experience was a little like a desire to return to the innocent of childhood. For that race whose adulthood had been longer than my entire planet's life that was a truly awesome thing, that such intelligence and depth still hungered for that ancient mystery and state of innocence.
I was tempted then, but knew what place they hoped to seek would be alien to me, I have no doubt it would be delightful but I could not bear such beauty. A heart such as mine has direct experience of so little that it would warp and shatter when given so much to absorb.
They went on then into dark, and my Beacon was mine again. Though there were more, a whole caravan of eager seekers after mysterious, scientifically impossible goals. They were all of places whose intelligence and enlightenment is undreamingly high yet they all came drawn to this unknowable mystery, as if by its merely unknown quantity it would equal the size of whatever it was they felt they lacked in their lives.
There were primitives whose basic ships left stinking ion trails through my sector of space and left the great space faring worms wrinkle their fine nostrils with displeasure, as they too took the plunge beyond the wall of the known. There were religions whose members had given their all willingly to make the journey, there were slave societies whose wishes were unknown, the slave owner had decided, thus it must be so. Their great pyrameic shuttles flew in perfect lines, billions of souls pulled by that one independent and ever ruling person.
They came for many years, until I stopped even bothering to talk to them all. The universe was emptying, the time was up for this plane of reality and all had opted for others. I am sure there were planets where life was only just beginning and it was fresh and full of possibilities. For them I stayed and manned the beacon, for they might stray and fall through before they were ready, and that would never do.
And then there was silence, only not silence, never that. It was quiet, the sound of new things in the universe died away. No more wars or interstellar musical concerts or meetings of minds vaster than the Magellen cloud. I listened still though, for there were always echoes I had never listened to before, sounds to be picked up, messages to be decoded. I thought sometimes that I was ready to follow the others beyond, but this was my life, my ghosts and my ears and my beacon.


Post a Comment

<< Home