Is this one way trip to nowhere?
“We are launching a single person mission and we have a very limited knowledge what lies beyond the wormhole.”
“If we want to solve this equation, I need to be there.”
“Mom, do you have to go?”
How will I do this?
“Based on all the data, there is a possibility of several habitable planets. But you are still going in blind.”
“I’ll miss you.”
“Due to the effects of the velocity time dilation and proximity of a black hole, there is a high probability that in your near future no one you know will be around here. But there are protocols for future generations to follow.”
“You are going to be a Grandma. We decided to name her after you.”
I love you.
The view up here is beautiful, the splendor of my home below more distant every minute. Everything I ever knew and loved is there. DNA of my ancestors and my descendants compressed in building blocks of future. And still…there is this calmness I feel, the sense of fulfillment as I reach for my final frontier.
My great-grandmother taught me to look up, to search the sky: “One day you could be up there.”
“But I am not a bird.”, I would exclaim in wonder.
She would smile and caress my cheek: “No, you are a ray of light.”
Well, here I am, soon to become just that.
I am a Grandmother. My future is split in two ways. One is behind me and the other awaits ahead. I wonder if the two will meet someday.
The last transmission was received several hours ago. She is beautiful, my granddaughter. Margaret. A dark-haired spark of life, stretching her little arms towards the sky. I imagine she is waiving at me.
After a lifetime of running and rushing, this quiet solitude is still enjoyable. But moments like these hit hard. I wish I could hold her in my arms.
I am alone. I am truly alone. And still…I am not afraid.
Year 4 Day 54
I am passing Saturn, A ring seems almost at my hand’s reach. If I don’t emerge on the other side of the wormhole, just what I’ve seen so far will be enough. My readings on Cassini show it is still surfing on the Titan’s waves. Who knew it would last this long, years beyond our wildest expectations.
I am half way to Neptune
Year 8 Day 17
Wormhole is 2 days ahead and this might be my final log entry. I sent my latest video recording yesterday. My daughter finally forgave me for leaving, I think she understands, now that she is a mother. I always told her I would go to the ends of the world for her, that I would do impossible to ensure her future.
“What is impossible?” Rowena used to ask me when she was a child.
“Unknown is impossible until we learn enough to make it probable.”
“Stuff of dreams.” she told me when she grew up, ever the pragmatic.
“And dreams make probable become possible, my love.” I replied, my heart breaking for her absence of dreams.
Did I love her enough? Does she dream of me? I am not afraid. But there is this feeling of regret.
Year 8 Day 21
I spent last 4 days receiving and analyzing data from the other side of the wormhole. It appears the probes I launched from this side work as some kind of relay stations, picking up signals from the old probes, some of them going back several decades.
The exit from the wormhole sits right on the rim of the black hole’s event horizon. The transmission from two probes is so slow, that I am still receiving data from their first hours on the other side. If my calculations are off by a fragment, I will be caught in the accretion disc. Point of no return.
With my last findings and equations transmitted, it is time. I wonder if I’ll ever see it. The Blue Planet. My cradle of life that holds my roots, my past and my future. Once I was brave. Now I am not so sure. Was it worth it? I guess there is only one way to find out.
I am alone. And I am afraid.
For you, Rowena. End of the world.
Year 8 Day 21 – the other side
“Don’t fight the wheel, kid. Just let the car slide and gently steer it, let it find its way back.”
“Like this, Dad?”
“Yes, just like that. And don’t ever touch the breaks when you’re on ice. You’ll spin and lose control.”
“So, no fighting and no breaking. Just let it slide. I’ve got this.”
“You got it, kid. Just like that.”
I almost passed out at one point. I can’t explain it, the wormhole. There were ridges and canyons. Mountains and valley. Voids and bursts of light. And there was nothing. I was wrestling with the ship’s controls and then I remembered. No fighting. No breaking. Just let it slide.
I missed the accretion disc by a hair-line. The ship is on course to MXp1, leaving the black hole behind. It seems something is wrong with the beacon configuration, it receives the unusual amount of data from home. The wormhole is not visible from this side, but the transmission is getting through.
I need to rest.
Year 8 Day 22 – the other side/ Year 55 Day 153 – Earth
My daughter is dead.
My granddaughter Margaret is older than I am. I have four grandkids and eleven great grandkids.
My daughter is dead.
I am alone.
Year 8 Day 35 – the other side / Year 55 Day 166 – Earth
I came too close to the black hole. What seemed like hours to me was actually decades. For every hour I was passing by accretion disc, I lost eleven years. 55 years in a blink of an eye. I am 97 years old.
My daughter is dead.
Year 8 Day 101 / Year 55 Day 180
78% of Earth’s population is gone. Victims of the plague. I traveled through wormhole to another galaxy and barely escaped the black hole, while back home people died of a 400 years old plague. What a joke.
Margaret is an astrophysicist and an astronaut. Just like another Margaret I know. She is flying a spaceship, approaching the Neptune. But she is so much smarter. She didn’t leave her daughter behind. They are all with her. Her family. My family.
The humans built an arc, after all. We solved the equation. The plague wiped most of the population, but it also erased the borders, quenched wars, drowned the hatred. Fear of loneliness overcame all obstacles and united the human race. 127 people volunteered for the Arc Mission. 34 of them are related to me by blood or by marriage.
They will enter the wormhole tomorrow. The data they received from my passing through gave them a perfect trajectory, leading them away from the black hole.
“You must go.”, my husband said, when I told him the truth.
“She will hate me.”
“No, she will be angry. But she will not hate you.”
“Do you hate me?”
“Hate you? Oh, my love…Never.” he held me close, his lips pressed to my forehead. “You will be alone out there. But don’t be afraid. I believe in you.”
“I love you.”
His cancer spread to his brain as I passed the Moon. He died when I was half way to Saturn.
Year 8 Day 286 / Year 56 Day 1
Today is my birthday. 98 years old. 51 years young. Margaret complains that she can’t call me Grandma, when I am actually younger than she. I just laugh at her teasing, watching my family gather around the table.
We found a home. Breathable atmosphere, 83% of earth’s gravitation, water, solid rock under our feet. The Arc is huge, equipped with everything we need for a fresh start. Plants and animals will be kept there until we establish the more permanent base camp. There are few basic life forms, but nothing we are interfering with. Eco-system is rudimentary, but stable. With careful approach, our own species can be introduced.
We are mostly scientist, doctors and teachers. There are no weapons, no private property, no government. We will make a fresh start.
When I was 14, my mother died. But I still remember her last words:
“When you were born, I said I would never leave you. But life is funny, sometimes it gives you no other choice. You are strong, Margaret. Smart. Resilient. Don’t waste it. Make it count. Everything you do.”
Year 9 Day 30 / Year 56 Day 110
Margaret said her mother made her promise something. That she would bring her to me. Yesterday I found a little urn on my desk.
There is an ocean 2 hours drive from our camp. I went there today. The water is deep blue, just like back home. She always liked the ocean. Summers on our sailboat, her dad teaching her how to stretch the sails. She would love it here.
For you, my love…To the ends of the world. I guess I was wrong. I was searching for the end just to find the beginning. I left my roots behind just to let them grow again. I watched my future split in two just to see it whole again.
I am not alone.
Year 1 Day 1