The Infinite Matrix
 

Stories Columns Archive FAQ Home

02.19.02

 
ocean of stars
 
by Myra Çakan

translated from the German by Jim Young
 

part 2

  illustration
 

10/10/07:23 CET

It's been 53 hours since I last talked to Ground Control. Why haven't they called back? Something's going wrong up here.

I've just listened to these recordings I've been making. What's the matter with me? I didn't say when I managed to get through to Ground Control. And the transmitter is completely dead. How could I have believed that I fixed it? What's wrong with me — am I losing it?

 

10/10/15:08 CET

I found the suit radio in the lab. Apparently I tried to jury-rig a link to the directional antenna. Now I know what happened. It was a dream. Wish fulfillment. But it seemed so real that I really thought I'd gotten in touch with Ground Control.

Is this a sign that I'm going crazy? I wasn't trained for long-term missions, after all. Not prepared for it at all. Any of it. If only there was someone I could talk to.

 

10/15/12:18 CET

The temperature throughout the station continues to sink. Just had another breakdown in the life-support system. Right now the station is running on emergency power. And it keeps getting colder. Almost as though the vacuum of space were trying to get inside here with me. I've got to locate the source of the trouble. Even though there isn't very much I can do. I used up all the energy in Vassiliy's jet pack on the last EVA. All I can do is wait. When was it that the Commander said they were going to send that shuttle up here?

 

10/15/22:12 CET

The catalytic unit has gone belly up. Now all I've got to breathe is the station air. Wasn't the next ATV supposed to have arrived? I've totally lost track of time. The transporter could have been here for a couple of days trying to dock without me even noticing. Its supplies could have burned up in the atmosphere already. Benya always prepared for the worst. I should check in the lab — maybe she stowed a couple of oxygen sticks there someplace.

 

10/16/07:45 CET

Lara. I had a dream about Lara. When I woke up I could feel the weight of her head against my arm. The scent of her skin was everywhere. It was so real. Just like she was here with me. I can't let myself think about that. But what harm does dreaming do? It doesn't hurt anybody.

Any way, in two more days she's going to be able to talk to me. I'll have to make sure I establish contact with Ground Control. She's probably worrying herself sick. I am so sorry.

 

10/18/17:03 CET

Well, I've checked everything over again. No reason why the emergency transmitter I've rigged up shouldn't work.

But what if they don't want to listen to me? Maybe they've already written off the whole station.

You can't let yourself think like that.

Tomorrow's Lara's birthday. Lara said "I love you." It was when we said good-bye, just before liftoff. She came down to Canaveral specially. She waited. Waited for me to say "I love you too.". But I couldn't. Again, I was just too shy.

And now it's too late. I don't think anybody's going to come and get me. There just isn't enough time.

Don't think that way.

No. No — I just can't stop it. I can't keep my mind off it.

 

10/20/00:08 CET

Two hours ago, there was a depressurization incident in the crew module. I couldn't fix it, so I sealed it shut. All my things are still in there. Including Lara's photo. I'm scared I'm going to forget about her.

I'm forgetting things so quickly. I wish to hell I'd taken the time to say good-bye to the Earth when I was on that last EVA. Now I only see the Earth — smell its grass, its snow — in my dreams. This artificial world is my habitat now.

It's a good thing I put some emergency supplies in each of the modules around the station. Here in the lab, I'll be able to get by for awhile. I found two oxygen sticks in here.

 

10/25/03:18 CET

For two days now, it's been the same thing, over and over. They keep saying, "Delta 2, Delta 2, can you hear us? We observed an explosion. What is your status? Please advise so we can initiate proper procedures. This is a recording."

They don't say anything about the shuttle. What happened to the crew? Why won't they say anything about the shuttle?

I can't stand it in here much longer. You know, before they accepted us, we all went through the complete set of psychological tests. Never had anything like claustrophobia. Wouldn't be here if I did. But why do I have the feeling that I'm — I'm being tossed into the emptiness, into space?

 

10/27/14:00 CET

Finally. I reached Ground Control. The connection was terrible, but at least they know there's still somebody alive up here.

They said there was some kind of delay in launching the new team.

I'm scared they're not going to make it in time.

 

10/29/00:06 CET

I guess I've figured out what's going on: the station doesn't want me around. The signs are clear. All systems have crashed. It's dark and cold.

 

10/30/04:09 CET

I feel dizzy, and it's getting hard to breathe. I can't get through to Ground Control any more, either.

It's so cold I can't stop my hands from shaking.

They sure have left me holding the bag.

I wonder if they've sent the shuttle yet?

There I go again with those thoughts.

I can determine the hour of my own death. Does this make me privileged? But I don't want to die, not out here in an ocean of stars. So alone.

 

10/30/11:15 CET

I've put on Vassiliy's space suit. The heating element isn't working, but at least his oxygen tank is almost half full. I'm going into the airlock now. All I can do is wait.

I really wish I could see the Earth. But there are only the stars. Lara knows their names.

Space isn't black. It's a gray veil made out of starlight and layers of energy and matter. I'm part of that matter: there's some of the Overwhelming in every one of us Out there is the beginning of all life, and the end.

Lara, if you ever hear this, I wanted to tell you so much more. I had a lot of plans…

 

10/30/12:12 CET

Instruments in Vassiliy's suit not working right… hard to breathe… the suit… air… Think I can see the rescue shuttle. Have to open the outer lock.

Strange. Why do they always talk about the cold light of the stars? Out there… millions of warm suns. Never have to freeze any more. Never…

 

[ Part 1 ]    [ Part 2 ]


Myra Çakan is a novelist and journalist living in Hamburg, Germany. She is the author of three novels, including the acclaimed German cyberpunk novel When the Music's Over. Her fourth novel is due out this year. Her work appears in Die Woche, Konr@d, Der Spiegel, and Der Suddeutsche Zeitung. She is presently writing the screenplay for When the Music's Over.

home | stories | columns | archive | faq | talk