Seeker Lab Complex — Year 2058
Sian Morgan, ten-years-old, blue eyed and cute, sits on a steel chair, hands together on her lap. She studies Edward Franks, a tall, rumpled-looking scientist.
Franks places a gentle hand to the side of her face.
“Our new beginning, dear Sian, from you and John. You will carry our hope to the stars.”
In deep space, a crystal slither flashes silently past. Closer, the slither is clear and pitted and moulded tightly around a naked woman.
Sian’s frosted eyelids flicker open. She shivers. Electric-blue current sparks over her face and body, warming her. Her frozen lips part, trying to form words to recognise the computer’s instruction, recorded in Franks’ voice.
Slowdown-jump initiated. You have arrived.
Sian travels through an alien solar system. Sprinkles of advanced civilizations, patterns of lights appear on planets as she flashes past artificial satellites orbiting the strangely coloured worlds.
Her eyes open further, empty, till the visuals light up. John’s crystal form, encapsulated like hers, curves around towards her.
Do you know why you are here, Sian?
Space ahead is much brighter, making her squeeze her eyes half shut. Sian tries to open her mouth to answer. Her pale eyes focus as she awakens further.
“Who… where… am I?”
Earth is no more. You and John are the only ones left of our race. Do you know why you are here?
You are billions of light-years from home. At the centre of the universe. Why?
“To continue… our race.”
Your trajectory is a degree away. Correct your path.
Sian’s arms are flat by her sides. Her fingers tremble, but move toward small keypads strapped to her thighs.
Dark energy release.
Seeker Lab Complex – Year 2067
Through a second-floor window, a greying Franks watches Sian and John stroll through the gardens. Hanna stands alongside Franks; his beautiful, but intense-looking Middle Eastern colleague. Her brown eyes blind to all but light and dark turn to him.
“What do you see?”
“They are fine looking specimens—both lean and fit. Sian’s blond hair is short, standing out against the green lawns and John’s dark skin.”
“We will continue in our most pure expression, Edward. Ours is a divine task.”
“You still believe, Hanna. When the planet is a frozen ball of rock, who will give your God life then?”
Hanna raises her palms to the window. “From inside her a trillion-fold. It is time we told them.”
That night, John and Sian lie together on the garden’s manicured lawn, looking up at the vast spread of stars. Sian’s face is smooth and white in the moonlight. He rolls over to her. “We’ll jump-curve space, ending up in the most densely populated region.”
“Where a slower rate of expansion exists. The journey will take years, John.”
“It’s forever. I could not bear it, Si, being apart from you. We were supposed to go together, not separately. And the choices we’ll need to make out there.” He sighs, and waits.
“We don’t have to go, you know. What if we don’t make it to the middle, to this beginning? We could break out of the complex.”
Sian stiffens; a question in her eyes. “You have never thought that way before, ever.”
“Yes I have. We could be here on earth, together at least for a time. And if his calculations are wrong…”
Franks and Hanna stand close in a small lift capsule, dropping fast past multiples of sublevels. He holds a 3-D tablet—a purring vortex of tiny star systems swells up from the screen.
Hanna turns to him, a frown on her face. “Alpha phase is set. The time to go is now.”
“They are not ready. More simulations will prepare them—”
“For what? Who knows exactly what they will find out there. You have exhausted every known possibility.” Hanna swipes her hand through the 3-D image, scattering tiny stars about the capsule.
In the evening countryside outside the lab complex, Sian and John hide under bushes; John looks scared. He is dirty, has cuts and bruises, and his clothing is torn, like hers.
“What now, John? The complex is all we know.”
“We’ll get by. It can’t be that difficult living with the rest of them.”
“As long as we’re together, that’s all that matters.” Sian takes his hand and they hunker down closer under cover. “Two gifted orphans—look at us now.”
“Yeah, the very first to leave the solar system, to find new worlds.”
“And there’d have been no one left to remember us anyway. If he’s right.” Torchlight appears in the distance. “Quick, John, they’re coming.” John scrambles up after her.
John breathes hard, lying on a hill that overlooks the distant lab complex. “Screw them all, especially Franks. He should have told us from the start what they were up to.”
Sian rolls over to stare up at the moon. “The professor and Hanna are so caught up in the program. But you are right, we could have prepared.”
“He is all about the science and Hanna… You know her name means goddess of life. Ha. They are both obsessed. Pure science beside unquestionable faith.”
“She has been like our mother, John. I trust her more than the professor. I would have gone, for her. What she has been talking about all our lives I think was not supposed to be a part of the program.”
“Hanna’s God must have been having a bad day when the earth was made—everything feeds off everything else. Most creatures die horrible deaths. That’s what it is all about? Survival?”
“That’s why I am here now, with you.”
“The moon will first spin out of orbit, which will shift earth’s plates and move our seas. The end of the world, the end of us.”
Sian rolls over and kisses him. He rolls her back over—they become aroused and suddenly, urgently start to make love.
“You know… they forbid this… Si.”
“Screw them.” Sian gazes at the night sky as she moves, holding John tightly—stars begin to shift and spin and expand into her vision.
Sian and John evade the security squads that are relentlessly closing in. They break into an abandoned manor house. Moonlight though panelled windows reveals large, once-grand rooms.
“Looks like we have lost them for a while, Si.”
Sian looks about. “This place, it’s a shell, nobody here to give it meaning. Just dead space. Like Hanna’s ending for our galaxy.”
John turns his palm up, clenches his hand, then flicks it open, bringing up a small light screen.
“Show latest news, seeker lab complex.” His hand brushes a dusty table that makes the screen sit stationary. Their faces appear on it, as does an aerial view of the lab complex. They watch the screen’s imagery for a moment.
“Look what they have done!”
They jump at a noise from behind and scramble through the manor, out into a courtyard, and Franks is there, standing next to a vine-covered statue. John pulls up in front of Sain.
“Get away from us. We have decided not to go.”
“Please, listen a moment.”
“No. We do not want to leave. What if you are wrong?”
“Continuing the program, John is our only hope. This world will not survive the drift. Nothing will for a billion light-years. It will all start again, from you.”
Sian steps around John. “How can you be so sure, professor?”
“Bang-separation has increased to unimaginable velocities. The solar system, the galaxy, everything will disassemble and the tipping point is right now. You have seen the data.”
“Well, the whole world knows about us now. How did that get out so quickly?”
Morning sunlight through the office window-wall silhouettes Franks sitting opposite Sian and John. He waves away the guards. Bizarre, spiralling stratospheric cloud formations are building outside.
“Hanna was always… her faith clouded her judgment. When you escaped she became desperate, broke protocol and broadcast your faces everywhere. And what we have been preparing for all this time.”
“The complex won’t last. I’ve seen the news reports, professor.”
“Yes, Sian, other races, other religions want their people to go in your place. They say they are the pure ones. We need to initiate lift ahead of schedule, before they come.”
John finally raises his head and looks straight at Franks.
“Our whole existence has been for this heavenly mission of yours. We never had a choice—you never asked us what we wanted to do!”
“No, not heavenly, John. Only for the continuation of us. I’m asking you both now. The choice will be yours to make, you have my word.” He stands and looks out the window. “My whole life too, it seems, has been for this moment.”
In a large, multi-screen monitor room, Franks stands behind an unsettled, middle-aged operator, sitting at his desk in front of screens showing the smooth outer walls of the complex. News reporters and volatile hordes gather at the gates.
“Security has been alerted, professor Franks.”
“They won’t hold them for long. Show me the chamber.”
The operator points at a screen, which cycles through a series of shots, going deeper underground. It stops to show a circular granite room. Two silver, human-shaped moulds are suspended in the middle.
“The dark-matter thread is liquid and ready, professor.”
“We need time for the substance to set around them and then reconstruct.”
“To freeze, fuel, and shield.”
“And something much, much more. Let me see them.”
The operator brings up a picture: Sian and John embracing, wearing only white robes. On another screen, the mob outside the gates is explosive. Rocks, and anything they can get their hands on, are hurled over, breaking roof tiles and smashing the windows of the closer buildings.
“Begin the countdown. When I’m inside the chamber, close it off completely.” Franks places a hand on the operator’s shoulder. “When they leave earth’s gravity, our work here is done. Go home to your family.”
The operator dips his head, then wipes away a tear. “Yes, professor. You won’t survive inside the chamber, the reaction…”
Inside the lift chamber, Franks and Hanna stand apart, wearing light-green gowns and surgical gloves.
“Thank you for letting me say goodbye to them. For letting me stay. They have been in my care for so long.”
“You could have ruined everything, Hanna.”
“It’s all history now, Edward.”
“What’s left of it? All of our triumphs… I felt it outside the complex. The poles are reversing and then other forces—“
“Then our bodily existence here will be no more.” Hanna steps toward Franks’ voice; she is shaking, her hand out in front .
“To be angry with you is so futile, Hanna.”
“What you see and feel will change, but you will go on, Edward.”
“In a short time I will cease to exist, that is all.” He takes Hanna’s hand and draws her in. She strokes his face before wrapping her arms around him.
A door slides open, letting in Sian and John; both are naked. Without a word they climb into the moulds.
Tears streak Sian’s face, but she looks resolute, meeting Edward’s eyes. “And if other advanced life exists out in the middle?”
“Making contact, the choice will be yours, dear Sian.”
Hanna attends to John, pushing him back gently into the mould, which begins to fill with fizzing blue current. She touches his face and then whispers something in his ear. Hanna swaps places with Franks and leans close to Sian.
“Space is nearly all dark energy, enough to fuel our revival a billion times over. It is from the dark that life begins again. You will know who you are then, Sian. You will know what to do.”
Sian and John, pressed into the moulds, are almost covered by the now bubbling, chaotic blue current. Hanna’s eyes are wide. A portal in the ceiling spirals open. The whole chamber is bathed in blue light. Hanna winces in pain and whispers her last decrees…
Sian and John, rocket through space toward each other. Sian’s eyes open further, very blue in the starlight.
“Sian? Do… I know you?” the ghostly whisper comes.
“Yes… But all is clouded. You are… John?”
“Our mission… the complex?”
“I Remember. To start again out here. Back… at the beginning.”
“Just us two.”
“It will all start from usss.”
“There is life here. Look at the planets.”
“We need to choose… That’s what he said.”
“Who said, John?”
“Franks. Do you remember?”
Very fast through star systems, but slowing to reveal blue and green worlds—inhabited planets, like Earth was. Sian’s suit has a comet tail of sparkling blue current. Same as John’s as they flash along, closing in on each other.
“I can feel the darkness around me, John.”
“We can choose—which one.”
“No, John. Which way.”
“Hanna, she told you. I know!”
Despair emanates from Sian. “Lock activated.”
“It is the only way. I remember now… we will be together, always. Never apart.”
“There is life here. We can choose!”
Sian’s eyes are wide; a tear forms.
“Good… bye, John.”
She sees in her mind Hanna’s face, fervently whispering: And in that greatest of all particle bangs, your molecular traces will meld together, your life seed will proliferate across the new, rushing universe. Who will you be at the end of time? Who?
Sian and John crash together in an instant. Slowly, the crystal suits shatter into shards that float away. Their bodies smash together and disintegrate into particles that blend to glow at first red, then gold. Vortexes of electric-blue fizz swirl away and trail off into space, then everything EXPLODES into searing white light that sweeps all before it—worlds and stars alike.
Everywhere is light, and golden, twirling specks of gold stream along in the great, outward rush of matter.