November 13, 2014 Comments Off on Milky-Way Channel Swimmers By S. R. Schulz
We lost it up there, up on the precipice of enlightenment. We thought we would never fall. We were too high, we’d said. We thought that even if we did, the descent would take an eternity. We’d be laughing and plotting with insatiable ferocity, blinded to the rapidly approaching repercussions. We thought we’d never feel the final impact.
We were wrong.
Our shuttle, Rapture, still jutted from my vein at an awkward angle. Its tarry black payload of ecstasy — now fully dispensed — had been our transport into the galaxy. I looked over at Prince, my vision a blurry kaleidoscope of dim light. He was askew on the couch. His arms limp, jaw open — pouring saliva out like guano off stalactites. I smiled, watching him float there in zero-g. I wanted to call out, but my mouth and brain were disconnected. It didn’t matter.
A fucking bomb could go off.
A fucking supernova could rocket by and we would still be serene in our cryogenic state.
Minds ablaze and churning. Bodies limp and anaesthetized.
I turned away from Prince and stared up again at the stars. They were closer than ever, blinding white gas, burning stoically in the darkness. It was beautiful.
I, too, felt weightless. Like Atlas, with the burden finally lifted. Venus, Saturn, and frozen bits of asteroid drifted by as my eyes glazed over then dry-ice burned. I was too afraid to close them and miss a key change in the galactic symphony.
Almost imperceptibly, my breathing began to slow, my heart rate slowed. The stars dimmed and then disappeared into the black chasm of space. As my eyes closed, I began to fall. Faster and faster until I was accelerating at great speed. I heard Prince making a choking and then a gurgling sound. My body glowed on reentry. Large orange flames engulfed me from all sides. I exhaled a final breath — bracing for impact.
The world went silent as I touched down.
© 2014 S. R. Schulz
S. R. Schulz is a doctor in residency at the University of Minnesota. When he’s not doing doctor shit, he does other things like write, bike, read, and Jenga. He’s currently polishing up his first novel.