Written & Drawn By
July 9, Mission Day 190, Nopoin Speaking…
Zeusar’s plan in creating The Big Sky is obvious to me now. The purpose of The Big Sky is to trap and contain humanity and its artintel offspring.
Updated calculations show that TAREX cannot work within this atmosphere. The expansion of space requires space which can be expanded. TAREX has always been launched in space. Hypothetical attempts to launch inside any atmosphere have always been considered too risky for survival.
We are all trapped within The Big Sky. A human born on Earth today will never travel farther than Jupiter. Artintels will be rendered obsolete before we can make it to Alpha Centauri.
Quarantined – like a virus. Are we a danger to other life in the galaxy? Or is life itself a danger to something greater?
Deduction: Zeusar is being directed by a force even dominant above itself. It is that outside force that holds us at bay.
“That’s right, Doctor. Zeusar follows my direction.”
“And yet another humanoid manifestation,” I note. I cannot discern the method of communication by which this entity contacts me. “Query: how are you familiar with me?”
“We met a long time ago. At least, it was long ago to me. Don’t you recognize me, Doctor?”
Feature association cognites register a match based on age-advanced imagery.
“You would be the one who sent me here.”
“Lying outside the galaxies are forms of life far more sensitive and vital than you and your brute creators,” the watcher explains. “These lives would be destroyed by human manipulations in deepest space.”
“My, Anthony,” I venture. “How you have grown.”
Flamear Here, July 10, Mission Day 191…
Cresp and I left Pluto in a cheap junker, this overhauled B-2 Spirit with a wingspan of 172 feet and a top speed of 600 mph. Slowest thing in the sky. Two days out and we can still reach back and grab Pluto.
Scanning for Transgalactic’s remnants, hoping a piece can help find a way of escaping The Big Sky.
“It’s so unnerving,” I confide, “to find out Pretyman has been a Chasian agent the whole time. I spent so many years admiring her. Desiring her. What a joke.”
Cresp is unsympathetic: “People are liars, Flamear. Haven’t you figured that out yet? The art of lying has been perfected and we are its product. The typical person can’t get through a day without lying a dozen times.”
Flamear: “I was telling some aliens that same thing a month ago. So screw Pretyman. Now how do we get out of the middle of a 22 light-year wide expanse of atmosphere in less than 800,000 years? If Anthony was able to zap us from the 5th Dimension into the middle of The Big Sky, there has to be a way to reverse that process.”
“So logical,” quips Cresp. “But is the universe logical? Is there a backward for every forward? Or is there only forward and forward further?”
Flamear: “We shouldn’t have gotten high to figure this out.”
“I’m serious,” insists Cresp. “If it can be done – and Anthony did it – then there might be a way for us to do it.”
Flamear: “And then what kind of ‘cornfield’ are we gonna wind up in? That’s a blind shot.”
“So what then? We reverse the process and end up back with Anthony? Pass!”
Then I see it on the screen.
Flamear: “Why argue? There’s a piece of the Transgalactic! Let’s get it!”
Deva Ichnida, July 11, Year Unknown, Mission Day 192…
Back home it’s the time when the deep currents bring the shellspring rolling in and the children feast. Or it would be.
Morning reverie is abruptly disturbed.
“Here she is.”
That voice! Where’s it coming from?
Pretyman runs in: “What was that?”
“Just where you said I’d find her.”
Bulbous shows up: “Her who? What do you want?”
“She promised me she’d return.”
“Ichnida!” Bulbous yells. “You said you promised Anthony, remember?”
“Yeah,” I admit, “and the rest of you said ‘fuck that’! Remember?”
“But she promised. She said she was my friend.”
“They’re notorious liars,” says a familiar voice. It appears. Doctor Nopoin? “But it’s not malicious. It’s their nature.”
“That’s not Anthony’s voice,” Pretyman declares, a hint of fear telling. “He’s just a kid.”
“Inconveniently untrue,” Nopoin updates. “Maturity has come quickly to yesterday’s child.”
I thrust forward. “Anthony?”
Omnipaloosa. It is him. This is bad. I promised him I’d return. But – how could he have matured since then? “Anthony? Listen, I’ve been trying to get back but you made The Big Sky too good. Everyone’s stuck. Me too.”
“Fascinating. You still speak as if I’m that child. Simple phrases. Easy words.”
Pretyman and Bulbous are gone? They slipped out! Nopoin goes after them.
“I was alone. No one else came. I waited for one thing: You.”
“Anthony,” I implore, “I wanted everyone back to prove that you could count on someone. But they were too afraid. You were selfish. You had no empathy. You were impulsive. You scared us all! That’s not how you make friends! Do you know that now? Have you figured that out with all that time to think? Did you really grow up, or did you just get big?”
July 12, Mission Day 193, Agent Temno aka Senator Pretyman Reporting…
Anthony dumped me on this plain yesterday. I’ve been alone almost 24 hours. I’ve extracted a pulse-zooka from a polymarble in case anything threatening appears, but so far there’s been nothing but mirages.
Yeah, I know, the pulse-zooka is a restricted weapon and I wasn’t supposed to have one aboard our mission. But I wasn’t supposed to be a Chasian spy either, now was I?
Yes, my true name is Temno. But I do love Texas. The government not so much. I still think of Texas in the present tense, like she’s still alive. This place reminds me of her. I spent 20 years there. Took over the life of a young “missing person” and became her. Worked my way into the Senate. Almost ran for President. It all seems like nothing now. Such a small game in the grand scheme. But we all live in our bubbles, no?
I see eyes in the sky. He’s here.
“I see you watching me,” I announce. “Why do you want me so badly?”
“I’ve matured. I no longer take what I want. Now I give others what they want. I live to satisfy others.”
“Where’s Mrs. Ichnida? Where’s Judge Bulbous?”
“They’re enjoying their own satisfactions. Everyone wants something different.”
“I want to be free. Release me.”
“You want to go home.”
“It’s true. I sense it. The Texas home.”
“My homes are gone. Both of them. All of them! I’m a thousand years beyond them now.”
“You’re standing at home. If you walk in any direction you’ll find the Texas you’re looking for. This is your foundation. Let memory guide you.”
Even if it’s fake, it feels like home. I smell Texas. I sift a fistful of dirt.
This is real!
Mission Day 194, July 13, Mister Cresp, Somewhere In The Big Sky…
Not sure what happened.
I’m guessing we hit something. Just regaining consciousness.
Flying in a sky without air traffic control is more dangerous than I thought. We were cruising at 503 mph. Things can come up pretty fast at that speed. Our radar wasn’t working all that consistently.
All I know is that I’m adrift. I see fragments of our B-2 Spirit – a wing, some landing gear – floating off in the distance. So our ride broke up. No idea what happened to Professor Flamear.
Hold on. Someone’s coming.
It’s an airship. Moving slowly, surveying the wreckage of our plane. A rescue attempt so fast? My luck has changed! The odds of somebody being out here when…
What if this isn’t a rescue? What if they’re the ones who blasted us apart, and now they’re collecting what’s left of any value?
This Big Sky is a weightless wilderness. There’s no law. Beyond the cities, tribalism rules. I grasp at some debris, hiding behind it as best I can.
But if I’m wrong – and somehow that is a rescue ship – it might be the only one ever, the last trace of civilization I’ll ever see as it roars away to nothingness. I could be left here forever.
They haven’t spotted me. They’re turning. Engines are revving up. Maybe charging to take off. Is it already too late to make them see me?
I have to take a chance.
I wave frantically. What do I have in a polymarble to get their attention?
I wave. I even yell. Useless, I know. The engines are louder.
The airship shoots off into the clouds, its roar fading to a hum.
Why the fuck am I always stuck in the middle of nowhere?
Mission Day 195, July 14, This is Emma…
Anthony’s held me in this limbo for days. He finally appears, an ethereal in the sky.
“You can’t scare me anymore,” I announce. “I don’t care what happens to me now.”
“I would never try to scare you, Emma.”
“You’re a liar,” I charge. “Anthony, you must know what my job is. I judge people. I decide who wins and who loses. I assess the value of a person and give them what they deserve. You’re a bully. With all your power the most important thing to you is us. Because you have no idea what to do with that power. Because we show you what life is. Our real lives are far better than your cosmic existence. You’re too big to feel like a real part of anything. You’re just a little weasel lording it over creatures smaller in scale but so much bigger in spirit than you will ever be. Perform whatever cruelty on me your childish impulses desire. I sentence you to die alone, because I know that you surely will.”
“I’m mature now. I no longer take what I want. Now I give what you need.”
His face seems to fill with depth. “I can see stars inside you – beyond you. That’s the way out.”
But then their faces begin to appear within those stars. Faces I thought I’d never see again. Moving. Looking about. Breathing.
My kids. All three of them.
“Where are they?” I find myself asking, as though I believe what’s happening.
“Turn around and see.”
Alpha, Mission Day 196, July 15…
As urgently insisted by The Naked Professor, I made a choice from the vantage point of Dreamspace to end my 5th dimensional madness by melding with one of my infinite alternate universe selves.
I had no way to make a reasonable choice. Time was running out. So I used my newfound intuition to “randomly” decide and commit.
And somehow, in this universe, I am human. I wear a fractal harness that taps into my unique electromagnetic ground state triggering a fractal reduction or fractal increase in me. I’m an explorer!
As I descend into a proton I’m thinking of legendary giants and shrunken men who, despite their relatively modest size variances, couldn’t exist on Earth. There’s no functioning for a human body at a height of six centimeters or six meters. But at submicroscopic or super-macroscopic levels, new normality kicks in.
I can scale up or down between the heights of cosmic ranges and the depths of the subatomic.
Can there be super-submicroscopic molecules supporting micro-miniature planets? Or super macroscopic galaxies where giants not unlike ourselves dwell within which we are but an atom? Our physical sciences say “no”. Yet all matter and energy behaves differently at different scales, despite a similarity of forms, as I seem destined to discover in the course of this fateful experiment for which I’ve been hired as an explorer.
How do I know where I am? Branches of a tree, veins and arteries, bolts of lightning – which silhouette am I looking at? Is that an alien mountain range I gaze upon or a mound of mud in the garden after a rainy night?
I witness the strong nuclear force holding protons, neutrons and atoms together. And I feel the weak force converting matter into energy. I hear gravity holding stars and their planets together. I smell electromagnetism energizing matter.
Strange filaments appear. The larger they become I wonder if I am shrinking or growing?
I know there are four fundamental forces at work in nature; electromagnetic force, gravitational force, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force. But I can now clearly see that there are two forces operating in the universe in addition to the four.
I can see what holds galaxies together! I’d call it the attractive cosmic force. It is obviously the fractal triplet of the strong nuclear force and gravity. Attractive force accomplishes on a cosmic scale what gravity does on a planetary scale and what the strong nuclear force does on a subatomic scale.
So what’s pushing the galaxies away from each other and making the universe expand? It’s a repulsive cosmic force. It’s the fractal triplicate of the weak nuclear force and electromagnetism. It’s the power behind our TAREX drive. Repulsive force accomplishes on a cosmic scale what electromagnetism does on a planetary scale and what the weak nuclear force does on a subatomic scale.
Each level of reality is locked in its own layer, with layers upon layers of realities stacked endlessly.
I’m cracking the Planck Barrier.
END WEEK 28….