Not sure where this is going, but here’s what I wrote tonight:
Once I Was You
Every time your heart beats, a ghost spins off. Invisible, a perfect copy of your state of mind, he or she ascends, rising into the dark of the eternal night, bound for the edge of time and the unimaginable conflict that will inevitably arise there, someday, between entropy and hope.
Sometimes one comes back.
Someone–some artisan, some dreamer–had reshaped the Whiptail nebula. Stellar nurseries had been torn apart, protostars thrown free, scattered like pearls skittering across a floor from a snapped necklace. Dust lanes had been threaded and braided into skeins like hair. Two tiny blue stars, surely artificially induced, sat in positions of unstable gravitational equipotential. Twin red stars pulsed further down, variables that scaled up and down the brightness scale on a period of less than an hour.
Whoever had done it had made the nebula look like a naked woman, standing on empty black space, hips cocked, a look of grim determination on her face. It had to have been done recently, because even as I watched–for something less than an Earth decade, with my consciousness flitting in and out of R‑space about ten times a second–it was starting to come apart, the relentless demands of physical laws pulling her asunder, collapsing this, diverging that.
Was she meant to be a message, I wondered, and if so to whom, and what did she mean? The fact that she looked like a baseline Earth-normal human meant little; I’d been doing tasks for the ghost lords for seven seasons of the galaxy, something like three-quarters of a billion years, and I’d never run across a being that wasn’t descended from the human race. There were tales told in dark spaces at the edges of dead solar systems, of course, stories about Others, beings that dwelled amid the Core singularities, or creatures of sin and fire that had stormed through the Milky Way from Sculptor in the days before Sol had begun to blow its T Tauri wind, cleansing the galaxy of all life, of all trace of life. Campfire stories, these, meant to chill and thrill, to induce nightmares in the susceptible.
The blue star that formed the woman’s left eye drifted rightward, dragging the dust that formed the sculpted plane of her face, maiming her beauty and erasing her expression. It was plain to see that, if I had but another millennium to watch, I’d be able to watch the blue stars collide. But I had work to do, and I’d dallied long enough.
I turned my back on the strange woman, flexed the fabric of spacetime, and went.