Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dancing The Night Away

penumbra . 31

Phoebe opens the airlock. She’s watched the old man do it whenever the ship needs some maintenance task performed on its outer bits. The suit’s a bit baggy in the arse but not uncomfortable given that even the bulky helmet is practically weightless in zero gravity.
She pulls herself out as the planet looms above her, bigger than the ship’s tiny windows could ever convey, suffers a wave of vertigo as she sees the moon, impossibly oversized and coppery-orange, rising from behind the planet.
Don’t think Phoebe.
With both hands on the grips placed there for the very purpose, she jack-knifes around until the magnets in her boots make contact with the ship’s outer hull.
She hears nothing except the blood pumping in her ears, but she feels the clang travel up her legs; the old man is gonna blow a vent. She checks the observation window beside the airlock but the expected furious face of her father does not appear.
She releases her hold on the grips and stands upright; looks ahead at the Leviathan and forces herself to breath normally.
Knut is strapped to her chest.
“Can you hear me Ivan?”
“I hear you Phoebe”
Phoebe twists her body in the bulky suit to look to her left, away from the planet and the moon, away from the Leviathan; she is confronted with howling maw of space; bigger than anything, inscrutable and psychologically deafening.
“Concentrate Phoebe”
She looks forward once more, the Leviathan’s tail slaps lazily, silently against the huge silver bullet of the OLS about which Ivan has told her so much and in such complicated detail, little of which she’s been able to grasp in any way that she can see relevant.
“You know the sequence?”
Phoebe wishes her voice sounded more confident.
Phoebe wonders if she is doing the right thing.
Phoebe tells herself that her fear is attempting to interfere with the knowledge that this is the most real thing she is ever gonna do.
Phoebe realises that she is grinning.

DeSandro, already on his back, feels as if he might fall into the blooming flower that now owns the sky; and he but a mote of dust on the surface of god’s eye.

Invisible for the first time in too many years John Smith stands with the crowd, open mouthed, looking up. He becomes aware of Anna-Marie’s body warm against his, and becoming aware, tears his eyes from the sky and looks into hers. The moon is reflected there along with all the love and hope that he feels pouring from his throat; from the base of his spine.

Anna-Marie, who after all, is a lot more than the mere ghost she was set up to be, is filled with warm acceptance; an ecstasy of sadness. And looking away from John’s face she is confronted with a view far greater than the need to see it with both eyes; a monocular version of what the crowd around her see, a flattening of the perspective so often responsible for overpowering this species’ ability to make sound decisions; a view too beautiful to be ignored.

“I’m gonna feed out the grapple now, it should appear from under the tail.”
Phoebe watches and is rewarded to see the cable emerge and slowly snake itself in her general direction.
She wonders at the possibility that somewhere, somehow, the prospect of a teenage girl in a space suit, hanging by a rope from the arsehole of a space-faring whale could be construed as a bad joke, absurd or amusing; or at best, surreal.
Sketching geometric arcs and tangents; angles and radii measured by trial and error; she makes her way to the assigned spot on the skin of the OLS and there she opens the small hatch behind which a handle awaits bearing the absurdly placed
Manual Override
She takes one last look around her but everything has lost its power to amaze
She pulls the lever.

The Leviathan feels the heat range from under her jaw to the almost end of her tail. She remembers this bit from before; from when she was hurled from the planet. Perhaps she will be forced to sleep once more; to dream those dreams of duty and of responsibility. She feels the sharp tug on her chest where all the metalwork is anchored to her bones and she feels the change in magnetic direction.

The tears, or more anatomically, the faecal droppings that cling in the Leviathan’s wake; they too feel the tug as it rattles down their linkages. As the Leviathan’s course veers sharply away from the planet a number of small craft are wrenched free by rote of weak linkage or bad position on the chain. They tumble silently away toward Mars, there to burn a fiery re-entry.

And across the looming orange and, thus far, expressionless face of the moon there is drawn, for the benefit of those upturned faces below, faintly, but unmistakably, a smile.


… the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.
- Umberto Eco

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Garth said...

That's the last episode of Penumbra folks - hope you enjoyed it.

Harlequin said...

i loved this!! wow. great visuals and a nice resolution, of sorts. wow.

nice eco touch at the end, there.