We thought we had found god, so we came to see if he looked like us.
| "I'm sorry"
"No, but really... I am sorry... the system is degrading... it wasn't my choice."
Frank scanned the panels in front of him. Lights were blinking, things were flashing, he'd never really known what they were all there for. That wasn't his job. He was security, the enforcer, the guy on board who made sure everybody stayed in line. All he had needed to know was what the crew shouldn't be doing, and when they were doing it. "Frank? Are you still there?" He looked up at the overhead speaker. "The hell would I be going Karen?" "Frank, please. I tried... it's sealed. We'll get you out soon, just hold on" He gave a dry laugh and slumped onto the floor. It was his own damn fault. Eighteen months on board the Xenophanes and he was easily fooled into thinking the crew still had hiding places. In the EVA shuttle of all places. There was a single compartment in the shuttle and the only thing inside was a pair of dark glasses. Frank put the glasses on; if he was going to die he was going to look good while he did so.
"Karen? Are you there?" A low static had been coming out of the speaker for close to twenty minutes. It wasn't getting louder, but it was getting higher. "Karen?!" "Yes Frank, sorry, I'm here." "You wouldn't leave me alone would you? How's the breakout going?" "Of course I wouldn't. You know I've always looked after you." Frank smiled, and waited. "Karen?" There was silence through the speaker, just the sounds of static and tension. "The breakout's not looking so good Frank. We're still drifting towards the anomaly and it's playing havoc with all our automated systems. Just sit tight, I'm not going anywhere until we get this sorted. Ok Frank?"
Frank took another look around the shuttle to see if he could find some way of opening the hatch but he came up empty handed yet again. There was really nothing for it but to wait for someone to get the computers back online and open the doors for him. "Talk to me Karen, the silence will drive me mad" ...
"What do you want to talk about?" Her voice sounded strained, Frank could almost hear the screams she was holding in. "What's going on out there?" "I don't know Frank... Shipwide Comms are down; I only have near field left. I've had one page through from the bridge. The captain said 'Power failing, backup online, it's beautiful.' ... I don't know what that means but I'm in contact with maintenance and it's not looking good... We shouldn't have come this close." Frank sat in silence. It hadn't occurred to him that the doors sealing was just a symptom of some other failure. "What is this anomaly Karen? Why are we out here?" There was no answer.
"Frank?" The speaker buzzed and crackled loudly as Karen's voice came struggling through. Frank had been asleep in the pilots chair for what seemed like only a few minutes, but the change in Karen's voice suggest a couple of hours. "Frank, I'm so sorry... I can't get you out of there" He shook himself out of his sleepy haze and jumped to his feet. "What?! Karen? Don't say that Karen, what's going on out there?" "It's bad Frank. We've changed course, the ship's not even fighting the pull anymore. Maintenance says one of the engines has inverted, the anomaly caused fusion in its reactor or something and the whole thing just caved in... I heard shouting... and shots fired... things are bad out here Frank, you're safer in the shuttle." "God... Karen, what can I do?" "I've locked myself in, only maintenance knows I'm still in here. We're good for now... just... talk to me Frank, I'm scared..." Frank put his head in his hands and let out a long sigh. "Something I've always wondered..." "Yeah?" "What kind of name is Xenophanes for a spaceship?" Karen chuckled. "Xenophanes was Greek, ancient Greek, way back. Famous for saying 'if cows could imagine gods... the gods would all look like cows.'" "That's it? The hell kinda reasoning is that for a name?" Karen laughed, out loud. "This ship was actually called the Bismarck, after an old ocean going ship, but we changed the name for this research expedition. We found this thing, and we thought we may have found God... so we came to see if he looked like us." "Looks like he was just a big angry blob this time Karen... maybe we'll have better luck with the next god..."
"... Oh Frank, Frank this is bad..." "What is it?" "I just got another page from maintenance... it's the captain. He's lost it. Claims he's seen the heart of space and wants to take us all with him. Maintenance was seen sending me this page, it's only a matter of time... you better go Frank."
"Go? Go where? I've already tried the door."
"You're in a shuttle Frank. Get in the chair and fly it out of here. Leave... while you can..."
"Don't be a fool Karen, all that's waiting for me out there is the god blob, I'm safer in here."
"It's not a blob Frank, it's a hole. A doorway, a trap, and tunnel... any of those things, or all of them. That's why we're here, to see what's on the other side... but we never got the chance. You have the chance Frank. Don't waste the time we spent to get here... don't waste our efforts and our dreams. All that's waiting for you here is... is..."
"Frank?" It was another voice. For the first time in hours. It filled Frank with dread. It was the captain, which meant that Karen had been found. "Goodbye Karen." Frank jumped into the pilots chair and started flipping switches. He didn't know how the shuttle worked, but he'd be damned if he was going to die without trying.
"There's no point Frank. The gateway isn't looking for you. It found me. Stay with me Frank and be like me,"
"I don't think I want to sir... if it's all the same to you... I might go now"
With that, Frank managed to start the shuttle and open the shuttle bay doors.
"You're right about something captain... it's beautiful"