Snapshots of Eternity

Submitted by Arthur Tiberio to Contest #6 in response to: Write a story about a road trip taking place 300 years from now.... view prompt

The stars drifted like motes of dust, swept under the cosmic rug to gather and breed into beings of dark speculation. Their closeness was deceptive; many a light-year had passed now, and no new encounter seemed at all imminent. A lone vessel travels the deserted hyperway, the quiet hum of the motors inaudible to we who drift in the vacuum, yet if we were to enter the small bubble of atmosphere which surrounds that road, we would hear the sparking music of the circuits flashing without end, propelling its partakers at speeds that would have made Einstein's head spin.

But the vessel. Unlikely though it may seem, this is the rush hour, and the traffic monitors from their perches on the asteroid designation Raxl-09H are watching the crowded byways with the needless concern of their ilk. But even in a galaxy populated by trillions of Elevated organisms, the vast blankness of the stars has proven yet insurmountable to the rigorous advance of overpopulation. The last car had passed some thirty minutes ago, riding a separate hyperway which had disappeared in its wake, swallowed by the tenuous pocket-dimensions which bound it for common usage.

In the car (it is so very hard to follow, at this speed), hear the children's quiet snores, the low conversation of adults discussing rest stops and local attractions.

"Yes, Hadeir is nice this cycle, but think of Klanem, deary! You wouldn't want our children to miss the Terrogahn, now would you?"

"Bloody disturbing, the Terrogahn. I wouldn't much mind an AmnoRet, if we could afford it, for the bleeding thing."

"It's local culture, honey... do show some respect for differences."

"They eat their children!"

"Only the weaklings... they wouldn't make it past their ninth gendak anyway!"

"It's Dorphag that uses gendaks, dear. Klanem uses Yeinu'uns. Three moons, see?"

A bleary voice, from the back of the vessel. "Woss noon..."

"See what you've done. Now Daniel's up."

"Noon...?" The voice, not as young as its sleep-shaken tone would suggest, belongs to a teen of healthy size and direct Earth descent, who is rubbing instinctively at the blotchy acne of his face.

"There's no noon out here," offered the mother - a bubbly woman named Sarah - "I think deep space uses Xarnath relativity... isn't that right, honey?"

"Gvorak pocket time," he mutters, for he is a Cartographer by trade, a position most auspicious in a constantly expanding universe. His name by birth was Hank. The profession demanded he change it to Horatio.

"I just want lunch," said Daniel, and stretched luxuriously in his chair. But Sarah has turned back to her brochures, and Horatio is grumbling about always being ignored, so the boy pinches his sister in passionless malice, and chuckles at her blazing rage upon waking.

Sarah's head jerks back. "Daniel!"

"Who, me?" The look on his face bears an admirable facade of innocence, especially since he must wear it while under siege from a barrage of whirling, furious limbs. The girl is short, but surprisingly foul-mouthed for her young age of ten, a fact which has brought a discreet smile on her father's face. "You know," Daniel is saying, "I think some food would do us all good. Mom, can we please stop for some lunch?" The girl stills, a brief calculation rushing across her small features. She is weighing the benefits of a continued assault on her aggressor, against those of quieting down, and voicing her opinions on the upcoming meal. Her name is Penelope, and she has not won the tenuous respect of her older relatives without a cleverness rivaling that of her Grecian namesake.

"I want a hamburger," she says, and how sweet her voice can be! It takes her brother off guard, halfway though he is through his slow petition for Gorfaergen hog roast.

"Well, yes," he rallies, "but we've come so far, don't you think, and it'd be a shame not to have some local cuisine..."

Sarah brightens, and it is perhaps to his own harm that Daniel awoke too late, for the first words out of her mouth are enough to chill Horace's blood.

"Well, that's a good point! We could stop at the Ter"-

"Hamburgers."

"What was that, honey?"

A swerve of the wheel, and the hyperway hums in dissatisfaction at the sudden demand. "Ham... burgers." His gritted teeth broke no argument.

"Hmph. I still think it would have been a good experience for the children..."

And Horace lets her talk. For long years of marriage have at least taught him that women love to talk, and do so with real earnest and persuasion, and their retribution to an unresponsive man can be vicious to the degree that the Terrogahn might seem a pleasant walk through the Earth Alps, and yet for all their cunning and ire, he is the one behind the wheel.

So they go, the vessel streaking errant particles behind it, and the planets very bright where they illuminate the void, and the stars so like the fireflies of home as to warm the hearts of all who look upon them. They go, they leave, and the cosmos waves a thin salute - bright arcs of ice in the dead night of infinity - in their wake.

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3 likes 1 comment

23:51 Sep 17, 2019

I think this is really funny. You did a good job.

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