Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Infinite Obsolescence

As the fine-grained sand under Robert Paulson's G-Boots began to shift & swirl, he raised his head in what would be his last desperate view of the ship. Great yawning holes were beginning to appear everywhere in the narrow field of vision allowed by his ENV helmet, marking out a hellish obstacle-course on the unfamiliar ground of this alien world. Blinded by optimism & panic, Rob began to run across the disappearing verdant sandscape, leaping awkwardly, never taking his eyes off the ship. He barely felt the ENV suit automatically assess his rising biostress & add electromagnetic pulses to the joint components, allowing for faster reaction time & lift. Only dimly aware of the mechanical assist, a growing lead weight deep inside his stomach told him he would never make it to the airlock before this odd jade-coloured sand swallowed him. With every step his speed increased just a bit, just a little bit, but his mind saw the ship receding from him, incrementally; inversely proportionate to the hot zinc taste of fear rising up the back of his throat. Unknown to Rob, the standard-issue ENV suit became aware of his situation, monitoring both Rob & the environment. The artificial intelligence of the suit began the calculations that would ease Rob's transition to oblivion just minutes before its own unplanned, and infinite, obsolescence began. Bit by bit, as the suit began to increase the ratio of oxygen to nitrogen in Rob's breath recycler, Rob began to lose track of his panic. He was still facing the ship, but what had been ground beneath his feet was now empty space as the final fragments of the first supermassive asteroid discovered by humans disintegrated under him. His legs pumped empty space, as parts of his evolutionary biology not used in a hundred thousand years tried to swim through the blackness, to no avail. He began to slowly twist in the gravity-less vacuum, and was lost already; his ship, his wife, and the few others of the crew would be taken by autopilot back to Sol-3, according to mission protocols, and this no longer frightened or saddened him, now deeply sucking at a 100% oxygen mix like a calf at his mothers' udder. In his final, Boddhisatva moments of calm, his brain, spurred by the penultimate cocktail of adrenaline & endorphins, sparked a memory of the last thing his wife said as he prepared to enter the airlock: "We live in the future, honey. It will be alright; we've thought of everything."