Sunday, 20 March 2011

Murder between the Stars

I am nothing but a flea to this behemoth of a starship, less, but I shall be its downfall.

I am invisible as I walk these hollow corridors; these rusted echoing hallways where no one knows to look for me. I am an acceptable fluctuation of resources; I exist within the boundaries of expected levels.

The crew are astronauts, explorers, heroes. And villains.

They ride this monstrous machine-beast through lower dimensions not meant for our kind of thought, let alone our kind of physicality; layers of the universe meant for smaller, low-energy creatures. They rupture delicate boundaries for the sake of speed and distance. And they do so uncaring of the consequences.

They are no longer even human. To tolerate awareness of this howling existence they must be engineered, made different, made more and made less. They must be aware of what it is they navigate, and they must not shy from the pain they cause, the pain they could not help but feel if they were any kind of human anymore.

And I made them this way.

By now my superiors will know I can’t be found. They will know the reasons. And they will be demanding to know why they can do nothing about it. Cowering technicians will be trying to explain to military men why there is no way of communicating with a ship that, relative to our universe, is travelling so much faster than the speed of light that were it to re-enter without drastic deceleration it would have so much mass it would instantly consume itself and everything around it in the ravenous hunger of a newborn black hole.

There is no danger of that, though. When it does re-enter the native universe deceleration is assured as the ship rips forcibly through dimensional membranes – it was designed that way. Unfortunately it is an act as violent and harmful as it sounds, and these alien dimensions are richer in life than our ocean ever was, even before we polluted it sterile. The turmoil and damage will be horrendous.

I secretly suspect that is why this craft was abandoned by whatever race built it, millennia before we stumbled across it. Whether their morals got the better of them before they used it, or whether guilt drove them to cease, I couldn’t say. Maybe I am wrong and there is some other reason. Maybe they were uncaring too. I would say inhuman, but that would seem to be a misnomer, in the face of current evidence.

I can feel this foreign dimension pressing on me, even though I have no contact with it. My mind feels disparate, affected, particulate. My mutiny has already been staged though, the virus already roams these sepulchrous passages. Soon my life’s work will be undone, the crew will be undone. This mighty thing will never re-enter the home dimension, it will remain here, where no other race of my dimension can stumble upon it and make the wrong decision again, the decision we made: to use it.

Recommended Reading:

Banshee Lullabies by Chazley Dotson.
Simply outstanding writing. Does one of my favourite things... makes the unreal, real. And does it with such feeling.

and My Space Plane by John Wiswell.
Very funny and uses an interesting and clever structure. A great example of just what is possible in the flash form.


  1. We do have that bad habit of continuing to use those things we know are harmful… whether from fear of change or mere convenience. But to take up something, knowing in advance that it's harmful and doing it anyway? I hate to say it, but the crew is getting what they deserve.

  2. Thanks for the comment, FAR.

    Unfortunately, I can totally see the government (any government) jumping on any chance for interstellar travel that fell in their lap, even if there was a polluting/ harmful aspect they had to hush up. So long as it doesn't hurt us in the short term, right...?

  3. Oh my, John! The dread... I'm still a bit dizzy with the pain. What a way to overload a bit of writing with enough emotion to make it hurt. Maybe I'm just rekindling the bad things of a decade + of military service. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved being a Marine, but the extra things attached to government work can really undo someone.

    This is powerful.

  4. Wow, Magaly. For a piece of writing to have such impact is, I think, what every writer ultimately aims for. Harder still to do it with SF, so that is a great compliment. Thank you.

  5. A very richly-written sci-fi short John.

    In a similar vein, I believe mankind's only chance for long-term survival is to conquer space enough to be able to colonise other planets.

    I once read a book called "The star virus" and we WERE the virus.

  6. I really liked this one. Thought it was well written and well explained as to what was going on with the science (felt plausible and dangerous), and a strangely organic nature to the universe. St.

  7. Thanks Steve and Stephen =D

    I held this back and kept re-writing until I felt happy with the concept being clear, it was quite confusing in the first few drafts!

    As a species we don't seem to be able to -not- expand, so I don't see us not moving out into the solar system when the technology's right. FTL travel I'm not so sure about though, and when the solar system is full... then we'll see some spectacular wars... D=

    Looks like there are a few cheap copies of Star Virus around online, Steve, is it worth getting?

  8. Hi again John, it is such a long time since I read the book, I don't really remember how good, or bad it was, I just remember the concept behind it, your story kinda jogged my memory of it. I have read countless sci-fi books in my time, it is one of my favourite genres.

  9. Me too, without a doubt my favourite genre. And I've spent my whole working life selling it... =D

  10. Very nicely done. At first I thought this was one of the multi-dimensional creatures looking at what had been done; but it became clear quickly. The concept reminded me a lot of the other intelligences in Dan Simmon's Hyperion/Endymion series, which is probably why I went to thinking it was from the PoV of the multi-dimensional creature.

  11. Thanks Aidan, I've always meant to read them, but never got round to it.

    (My 'to read' list & pile is insane... between what I buy and what publishers send me...)