Thursday, May 26, 2005

vignette: the vessel

When the last of the reserve power was spent, we found ourselves in darkness, blind to the starlight beyond the confines of our vessel. What little warmth we had began to surrender to the impossibly cold temperatures outside. Anya’s hand found mine and our fingers interlocked, a final act of desperation.

“We’ll run out of air soon,” she whispered.

“Yes,” I said, numbed by the inevitability of the situation. I closed my eyes and waited for the cold to take me, to take us, to embrace us fully and finally. I thought about our mission, about how it had begun with hope and succumbed to disaster after disaster: the betrayal of Nichols, the madness of Ilsa, the loss of Hideo, my own dismal failure to lead.

“This is the furthest, you know,” Anya said, squeezing my hand. Already her fingers felt like brittle wood, so easy to snap. “We’ve gone the furthest anyone has ever gone.”

Though she was right, our singular achievement of piercing the nearest boundaries of the Oort Cloud offered little comfort. What use was achievement if human nature, by its own expressed character, was destined to devour itself? What did achievement matter when the two people who were aware of it were doomed to pass into ignominious silence?

“I wish I could see outside,” she said with a small gasp. “If I could see, if I could only see.”

The portion of the vessel where we barricaded ourselves in after Ilsa’s semi-successful attempt to murder us all was bereft of any means to view what was outside. It was here, two feet away from Hideo’s tongueless corpse, that Anya and I waited for the end.

“Do you think she’s still alive,” Anya suddenly asked. “Maybe Ilsa is still-“

“No,” I said, shifting my cramped legs. “I don’t think she-“

Anya’s unexpected movement and shouts took me completely by surprise.

“Ilsa!” Anya cried, her voice startlingly strong. “Ilsa! We want to come out! We want to come out! We want to come out!”

“Anya, please,” I said, reaching for her in the darkness. “Stop. Please, stop.”


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