BLUE SHIFT INTO ABSENCE
The recycled air was hushed. My scientists assured me we were on
the brink of a revolutionary breakthrough in interstellar technology.
I had it on authority they were wrong.
I sat alone in the crowded dining area of my scientific star vessel, Pequod. I was carving the baby Jesus from a very sensitive compound to put in the manger of my one of a kind Nativity Scene on my table.
I watched the pudgy bald-headed woman pry herself from the squirming mass of scientists, decadent rich, and media stars. Clothes were archaic. Body paint was the rage. I shook my head. Many of their bodies were painted to create the illusion of wearing clothes.
It was the sorry story of Man: rebellion just replaced new restraints for the old. Conformity was the jailer of the soul and the enemy of freedom. It was no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
I scandalized the passengers by being clothed in my black Stetson, broadcloth jacket, shirt, jeans, and boots. I was determined to die with my boots on. General Custer would be so proud of me.
I sighed as I studied the jerkily approaching woman. Fashion Obesity was all the rage in the populated worlds as were women's heads scalped to look like hard boiled eggs. I recognized her.
Rocio Facundo, the darling of slit-throat reporting. She had been responsible for so many suicides, she was called Lady Death. That name would not sit well with my expected guest. Rocio twitched continually as she approached me.
One - humans were addicted to the feel of others' bodies pressed against them.
Two - humans now needed constant stimulation so much that most had neural stimulators implanted into their brains.
When she spoke, Rocio affected an Argentine accent. Five hundred years ago, when the world finally succumbed to Man's cascading failure to deal with terrorism, nationalism, and bacteria, Argentina had been the only country on earth to survive.
Rocio frowned as only some of her words were heard at my table. Lady Lovelace's last invention was her sound-filter of "colorful metaphors" as she called them, crying as she did so, thinking of the end of my son, Victor, and his Alice.
Rocio's lips were glowing, letting me know we were being broadcast to her vicious, sadistic viewers.
"McCord, what harm are you festering here, breaking the law by sitting by yourself? You know as well as I that privacy has been outlawed as the lone citizen is a potential risk to society!"
"As has heterosexuality," murmured Rind, suddenly appearing in the seat beside me dressed in a mini-skirted black Getaspo uniform.
It was hard to believe that the Nazi nightmare had faded in the memory of Man like morning mist from a winter lake. Myself, I still couldn’t rid myself of the images of freeing the few pitiful survivors of the death camps. I sighed. I remembered too much, understood too little.
Rind purposely flung back her long silver hair as a slap to the fashion-addicted Rocio. "Samuel, you named your craft Pequod. How utterly poetic of you."
Rocio rasped, "Teleportation in a moving star craft is not possible!"
Rind smiled with very sharp teeth. "The good news is that after this moment, child, you will not need to delete any more memories to make room for more."
Rocio frowned, "McCord, what does this out-of-date hag (eternal youth had been achieved by the Thymus Implants) mean by poetic?"
I said, "Pequod was named for the Pequot tribe of Native Americans who once inhabited New England during the 17th century, but were annihilated during the Pequot War and are now as extinct as the ancient Medes."
I smiled wryly, "Call it foreshadowing."
Rocio frowned, "I do not understand."
Rind smiled, "You and the known universe will when this craft's Heisenberg Drive is activated."
Rocio said, "That fantastic drive will fold known space in ways that will allow Man to be a galaxy away in an eye-blink."
“It's nice to be sure," I said, finishing carving the detonator as the Baby Jesus, leaving his face an empty space as was befitting the Great Mystery.
A phalanx of armed guards tramped to my table as Rocio pointed at me with an accusing forefinger. "See! Against Galactic Statute, McCord is practicing religion."
I shook my Stetson-covered head. "Don't do religion … just being respectful."
"Arrest him!" cried Rocio.
The guards' leader gruffed to me. "Shall we eject her into open space, Captain?"
I shook my head again. "It would be redundant."
I flicked cold eyes to Rocio. "As long as there has been Man, a fella could always buy the law if he had enough money."
I sighed. We increasingly lived in a world that forgets. Companies had almost no sense of their own history, while politicians positively reveled in the fact that voters couldn’t remember (or chose to forget) lies, deceptions and even criminal behavior. That was a problem because power was essentially a battle between memory and forgetting.
I could tell my Head of Security to forcibly download Rocio’s memory of me into my ship's Recycle Bin. But in a moment that would be unnecessary.
"Bring her back to her womb of 'friends.'"
I turned to Rind, the angelus of death. "There are beds of kelp smarter than Man is right now. But you're sure the Great Mystery says it's time?"
Rind smiled as if it were a raw wound. "Our Victor would call it Existence's Blue Christmas."
"Now, it's me that doesn't understand."
Rind lightly touched the empty manager. "When He was born, the sky was in red shift, the stars and galaxies heading away from your planet."
She sighed, "Now, outside this vessel, your eyes would see the blue shift as all descends into the center."
Her winter frost eyes grew wet and snowflakes flew up from them.
"I have come for the universe, Samuel. Trigger the Uncertainty Drive of this vessel and start the chain-reaction."
Her voice became that of a little girl's. "When none live will I cease to exist?"
Inserting the Baby Jesus into the manger triggering devise, I smiled sadly. "He promised Forever."