Another start

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.