Several months ago, a former co-worker of mine showed me a song of his while we were having beers. It was extremely rough, but it hit me far harder than I expected. Weeks later, it inspired a story from the cosmic imagery it invoked. This was the result.
We made love in the desert.
She liked it that way. There was this spot right outside of Stead Spaceport where she liked to camp out. For some reason, she always dragged me along with her to watch the colonial rockets take flight. Eventually, stargazing turned into gazing into each others’ eyes. Sex was a side-effect.
“This is still a weird place to be doing this,” I said amidst grunts and giggles.
I wasn’t looking at her, but rather past her. Regardless of the light and noise pollution emitted from the nearby port, the stars at this particular spot appeared like firefly swarms.
“Shut up, Vin, and concentrate,” she replied angrily while on top of me - thrusting upright.
Her red hair spilled about her shoulders, masking her face. But I could tell she was trying to hold back laughter. The absurdity of our location wasn’t lost on her.
She also knew that I was at my limit. There was only so much a guy could do with a woman on top of him. Frankly, a half-hour was a record! I could no longer distract myself away from the moment for the sake of…uh…longevity. She was too good, and I was too enamored. Our bodies were one writhing being - symbiotic, dirty, yet destined.
At that moment, the ground rumbled. A low growl perforated the air. The wind picked up from the east. I looked at my phonepad.
Crap, a launch! I thought.
The roar of engines and fuel invaded the quiet sagebrush-laden landscape. A massive, chrome-colored body of metal took flight several miles away from us. It took to the sky with ferocity, rending its connection to Earth’s gravity with the assistance of several rings coiled around its cylindrical body. I could hold out no longer.
I emitted a high-pitched whine of climax and let out one last thrust. I was done. And I blamed the rocket. Laughter escaped me. How could it not? The rocket was a fitting metaphor. With a sigh of disappointment, Rae removed herself from me. I wanted to apologize, but I couldn’t. The moment - at least for me - had been perfect. A launch followed by a die-off - parallel and pristine. Completely poem-worthy.
Rae pulled out something from her camouflage-colored duffel-bag, an odd transparent pipe with a fluorescent pink flower at the base. It looked similar to a traditional bong but more…alien. I frowned. Since when did she become a petal-puffer? Disappointing. Were Earth herbs no longer good enough for her?
I shrugged and grasped for a pair of binoculars to my right. The rocket was reaching its second stage. Coils fell from its massive body like a serpent shedding its skin. Someone had told me those were “gravitic repulsors”. They made it easier for massive, multi-ton, space-bound vehicles to exit the atmosphere. Once they reached the ionosphere, the vessels cast them off like useless clothing.
With a flare of light, the colonial rocket disappeared.
“Where do you suppose that one went?” I said in attempt to make small-talk, grabbing for a joint.
Rae gently puffed at the edge of the beaker-like mouthpiece of her “bong”.
“Dunno,” she said, exhaling pinkish steam from her nose. “More than likely, Gliese 163C. Terraforming efforts have begun there.”
“That’s New Sahara, right?” I said, lighting the wrapping of paper and leaf in my mouth. Canadian estate-grown cannabis - couldn’t beat it. Why anyone would want to puff petal over this was beyond me.
“Mhm,” Rae mumbled with a nod. Her eyes were fixed on the spot where the rocket’s wake had been.
“More and more phallics are leaving each month,” I mentioned. That was our local nickname for colonial rockets - phallics. For obvious reasons.
“Not hard to see why,” Rae responded. “Not much left here.”
I shook my head - my raven-haired cue whipping back and forth. “Bullshit. Earth’s still got some life in it.”
“We had a good run here,” Rae said cryptically.
“The planet’s still very much alive,” I rebuked while tasting burnt leaf.
“But it would be better off without us,” she returned. “At least some of us.”
I had no reply to that one. It was a given that the planet was overpopulated. Whole sections of it were uninhabitable. Continents were left barren, and the few fertile places left were massively impacted. Colonization of the few habitable worlds we discovered was inevitable. Still, there was a lot here to love.
Rae whipped around, nearly dropping her petal pipe, and leaned toward me. Almost within kissing distance. Here green eyes were dilated. Damn, I loved those eyes.
“Do you know what they call the duration it takes messages to cross the vastness of space?” she asked suddenly.
It was a weird question. I only had a rough idea of what she was referring to. Apparently, when ships traveled faster than light, time no longer moved the same way. I didn’t know my physics from flowers, but for every week that past when traveling at (or beyond) the speed of light, years past for those planet-side. Or something like that. I didn’t know the exact figures.
“Time…depth?” I guessed.
“Time-dept,” she corrected.
I gave a slow nod. “Heard about it. Something about faster-than-light travel affecting travelers.”
“Five months to us could be five minutes to a traveler,” she explained briefly. “Hard to say.”
“Time is a touchy thing,” I tried to agree, taking another puff. “I’m fine with the time I have left here.”
She said nothing.
After a few minutes, I asked, “You okay?”
“I think it’s time to go,” she finally said - dressing and packing her duffel.
I dropped her off an hour later. She lived in Reno; I lived in Sparks. Not too far apart…but just far enough. When I got back home to my dingy apartment, I zapped her a message via phonepad.
“Where did you go with your thoughts?”
Five years later, I received a reply.
“My thoughts are still with you.”
You can hear the original song - “Gravitational” - HERE.
You can find the other Knownothings songs HERE.
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