into_the_worm_holeBone-shaking fear and anxiety: these were my initial responses, when I first saw the supermassive black hole from the observation deck on the Shinkai Maru 5 nearly three months ago. From thousands of kilometers away, I watched, stunned by its ferocity.

The great and ancient maw swallowed any matter unfortunate enough to come within the grasp of its gravitational pull. With its mindless and unforgiving appetite, the supermassive now loomed just outside the viewport, pulling the ship ever closer toward the crushing gravity down in the throat of the beast. Now, the fear and anxiety would be fully realized.

My free hand was shaking and my gut nervously churned. This ship was built and prepared with countermeasures against such gravitational deformities, but never fully tested in the field. When the pressure began, only a momentary burst of exotic matter would separate the ship from one of the most-frightening forces in the universe. If this was a wormhole of sorts, as Maxim said, I was in for a rare experience.

Like a stone skipping across the pond, the ship struck the rise and fall of the gravitational waves toward the center of the supermassive. I fought to fight to keep my eyes open and my thoughts focused on the job at hand.

I swiveled around to the console next to me. As the data transfer countdown came to its end, and the files and records from the SM5 were now in my possession, I quickly opened my shirt font and stuck the warm M-patch storage medium to my chest. The patch registered contact with my skin and the center pulsed with a dim light. The historical record and files from the SM5 would be safe for as long as I was alive. If there was any actual insurgency working against the actions of the LMOs at the end of this terrible trip, I would have data they could use in their effort. This is what Maxim told me before he died.

With a deep breath, I swiveled my seat back to face the viewport and locked in. I stared deep into the mouth of the beast. For an instant, the black center of the deformity seemed to bulge outward. All around the perimeter of the cockpit, the dim white running lamps that signaled normal space travel conditions turned dark blue, as the exotic matter pump created a bubble of negative energy around the entire ship.

I stared down into the dark opening outside the main viewport. It was a huge black cavity, wide and deep. I quickly belted myself in. The display units streamed an endless torrent of alerts about the coming whirlpool of gravity. I reached to the console and switched them all off.

It began. The hole opened wide to swallow the ship and we dropped into the bulging blackness.

From my observation, the light from the stars distorted and stretched into a thin white line around the rim of the great black mass. The dark mouth bulged outward even further. We fell through the surface. The ring of starlight then appeared to break off into two separate streams that scattered quickly to the periphery. We were gone, completely folded into the darkness.

I felt that I lost both feeling and connection with the space and substance that surrounded me. I could not close my eyes. I saw what appeared to be folds of black fabric wafting and rippling around us. There was no sound and no vibration. Weightless, I felt myself rising slightly from the seat of the chair but I was held in place by the belts on the seat. My feet felt as if they were meters away from my body. My thoughts and my mind were hovering far above. I didn’t breathe and if my heart was beating, I could not tell.

If this was death finally coming for me, it was perfect… sublime.

Awash in the calm, my thoughts were of home. I remembered warm breezes on a summer day in Japan. Overhead was a great expanse of azure sky and clusters of white cumulus clouds. It was a beautiful day. I was a young boy again, running through a field of tall green grasses toward a small fishing pond near Mt. Takahata. I saw the blue hydrangea with perfect snowball flowers lining the edges of the field. As I ran, I could smell the sweet scent of clover underneath my feet.

Near the pond, I saw my uncle Setsuo waiting for me on the dock. I saw him waving to me. His funny anglers hat made me laugh. I raced to meet him. He raised a spare fishing pole over his head, encouraging me on. “Faster, Maxim,” he shouted to me. “The fish are waiting for you. Faster!

I loved my uncle Setsuo dearly and I was so happy to see him again. My heart swelled. Tears of joy streaked my cheeks and the warm wind blew them dry. I ran faster, closing the distance. He was so near to me. I could see the warmth in his eyes. I could see the happiness in his broad smile. I could hear him calling me again. I was almost there. I almost was.

But then… the ship began to suddenly wobble and vibrate, tearing me from my thoughts. Something was wrong. Around the cockpit, the dark blue lamps that signaled the active state of the exotic matter pump began to flicker white again. I heard a tearing and wrenching of metal behind me and a loud hissing. A brutal thrumming sound engulfed the cockpit. Then, an explosion rocked the ship forward. I was thrown violently against the belts that held me to the seat. The noise was so loud that I screamed in pain and terror. My ears instantly began to ring. All around me, it felt as if the ship was tumbling out of control and breaking apart. I was helpless.

The blackness before me suddenly gave way to three quick bursts of bright light. It was a blinding white, unbearable to my eyes, yet I could not shut them. I was frozen, fixated. The ship shook more violently, vibrating my chair so ferociously that I thought that it would break free from the decking. I heard another explosion, followed by a shrill howling outside the ship. The running lamps in the cockpit flickered once more and turned ruby red, signaling an oncoming event of some devastating nature. White light streamed through the viewport and engulfed the entire cockpit in its blinding radiance. I finally shut my eyes as tightly as I could against the excruciating light.

»»transmission end««

[Communication sent: 22FEB2186 Shinkai Maru 5]

PDF24    Send article as PDF