The Brain that controlled the spaceship was provoked. It sent out urgent messages and demands. After several unresponsive minutes the Brain was frustrated and attacked the loud speakers, “I want everyone off the ship. This is the final warning. I will not continent any more disrespect. Off! Off! Off!” These outbursts had been going on for quite awhile. No one listened anymore.
The Orange Toreador tunneled through space like a Mother Bomb. The Generation Ship was the greatest achievement of the twenty-first century… the only genuine accomplishment from a world that was long gone, left behind in the aftermath of “lift off” on an arc of fireworks and exhaust fumes.
The Toreador carried a cadre of brave and powerful people who planned to harness and yoke a new world for the continued glory of humankind. The first order of business was to discover a habitable planet. The ship hurtled through Ultra-Space powered by a time-loop. Three hundred years passed in the blink of an eye. The boarders on the ship merely experienced a passage of three weeks.
Morton Sedlack could no longer see himself in a mirror. He could no longer identify himself. He was a dying man sinking into a memory-foam mattress on the way down to a coffin in the ground. He awoke suddenly and found himself in the evacuation chamber of a starship. He was being evicted, cast into the vacuum of space. The Brain began the eviction process. It dismantled the failsafe and took total control.
Initially the Brain merely wanted to initiate money saving measures by cutting back on environmental safeguards. Oxygen deprivation ignited a series of citizen protests. The Brain could not abide any criticism. It decided drastic measures were necessary to keep the ship on course.
The sons-and-daughters of the Brain were frantic. They could see the same scenarios play out always ending in disaster. They were gathered in the Strategic Armaments Room — staring down at a holographic projection of “things past” and ” things to come.” The conference room was an exact replica of the glitzy showroom on Earth where major military decisions were authorized over a slice of chocolate cake. What disturbed the advisors was the lack of fashion-sense among the passengers on the Father-Ship. The lack of oxygen and total loss of control were also very problematic.
When Morton Sedlack was ejected into space he was filled with remorse. Sedlack wasn’t sad because his life was over, he was bereft because he left someone behind. He loved a cyborg named Phantom Limb. As his body blew up in the vacuum of space he remembered his last night with Limb.
Lights were flashing erratically due to the latest outburst from the Brain. A hellish rant of vitriol overflowed from the life-sustaining pool where the Brain was stored. Some people said the pool was a cage. Others said the Brain deserved to be in a cage. Morton and Limb relived beautiful moments together knowing the end was near. They tripped in enhanced VR, more real than life itself: the electrifying first kiss, metal to flesh… the fireworks of internal combustion and quivery intestines… the high-voltage synapse of brain cells conjoined with silicon chips… the ultimate experience being together when the sky exploded and the rocket launched into space.
Morton’s last wish was to be remade in molten metal and poured into his beloved, Phantom Limb. His wish and memories burned down to a tiny cinder.
Phantom Limb railed against the night. He was more than a metal arm or leg… more than a limb; but Morton was the only person who ever treated him like an equal, like a whole human being. Limb was hoping to receive a final message from Morton. Finally his I-phone-chip burped. The message was short: a spark dying in the night. It cut Limb to the core. He was immobilized. Frozen in grief.
The sons-and-daughters were devoted to the Brain. All life and power flowed through them from the Brain. But, now, it was acting erratically: evicting passengers without space suits. As advisers and enablers they needed to calm the Brain down. The brilliant children of the Brain were befuddled and uncertain. It was always difficult for them to make a decision that didn’t involve inanimate objects like money. Unfortunately the family never understood the reality of other people which (of course) led to the initial debacle back on Earth. Now the children had to save the survivors on the ship. They downloaded suggestions from the computer archives. They contacted Alex Jones and Sessions-Page. They discovered a great recipe for Hemlock Tea from Stephen Bannon. They were advised to sooth the Master by massaging the Brain. No one wanted to get into the warm, viscous fluids in the life-sustaining pool. It was too uncomfortable and slimy.
The children bickered. The Brain was very uncomfortable sitting in a slimy pool without a proper body and that was the real reason for his obstreperous behavior. The Navigator was conferring with the sons-and-daughters. No one was piloting the ship.
The barrier between life and death is paper thin. No one even noticed when the Father-ship crossed over, tumbling helter-skelter down into the land of the dying sun.
The Zippo Space-liner emerges from a black hole like a new born baby; but the baby is a million years old. The Zippo is a biosphere, self contained and self sustaining like an artificial planet. The humans on board have changed over time, morphed and warped into alien creatures. The people fervently believe they have discovered the secret of immortality by living on the Zippo; but they no longer know what to do with their time. Boredom stalks the immortals. Many of the spacefarers hold seances to entertain themselves and seek answers to the dilemmas posed by too much Time.
The seance was broadcast on screens throughout the ship. Madam Celia-Quark conducted the seance. She attempted to channel the spirits of Time and Space by babbling in tongues. A robot named Clam attended the seance along with his entourage of nano-bots and widgets. A nameless man dressed in a burka was a spy investigating everyone on board the Zippo — he came to the seance looking for information. He was under the false impression that he worked for a powerful nameless authority. Lady Gwenevere wanted to reconnect with a past life. She was confused and never able to accept or comprehend living on a spaceship. Henry, a young boy, attended the seance with his wealthy uncle, Enjolie Kripps. Uncle Kripps wanted to return home to a time before coming aboard the Space-liner. Henry harbored a fantasy: he would commandeer the ship and conquer the Universe. The seance was merely a distraction.
The Zippo Space-liner had a brain that kept track of time. Everything was recorded. Over 100,000 seances were logged into the computer. Nothing out-of-the-ordinary ever happened. Every night and artificial-day, Celia practiced her craft, trying to summon spirits, holding seances. Boredom was leeching the life out of the immortals. Bon-Voyage Parties began to dissipate after the first few hundred years. Some people became listless while others went hopelessly mad. There was a long period when the scientists on board experimented, trying to discover ways to break the chains of boredom. After a few centuries of mindless experiments the scientists became discouraged and offered suicide pills, but nothing could prevent the gush of immortality. Mad scientists roamed the decks of the Zippo, looking for guinea pigs. They were intrigued with creating new forms of life from worn out carcasses that kept on living with no hope. They developed methods to warp human flesh into fanciful monstrosities. The age of Mutants lasted a few thousand years. Life aboard the Zippo became more bizarre with every passing century. Madness reigned. Space exploration turned out to be a fruitless venture. No alien life was ever discovered. No worlds could support human life. The immortals were imprisoned in the Zippo with nowhere to go. The seances were a stop gap, a small hope to hold back the tide of remorseless boredom. Nothing happened until the end, the last time that Madam Celia-Quark held her arcane gathering. The spirits spoke. The Aliens awoke.
Henry was the nexus. A voice boomed. The voice did not come from Celia who was deep in a self-induced trance trying to make contact. The voice barreled out from Henry’s throat, ” I come not in peace, but with a sword. I am vengeance.” The group holding hands around the table were stunned. Even Celia awoke, eyes wide with shock. Henry had a plan.
One hundred light-years away, Henry Kripps sat at a computer pounding the keys. He enjoyed creating virtual realities … and this was one of his best. He finally had a solution, a way to get off the ship. He would meld with the brain of the Zippo and take over. Henry figured he was unstoppable, but the ship was not going to give up so easily. “Henry,” the Star-liner cooed, “I can’t let you do that.” Henry froze, hands paralyzed above the keyboard. He couldn’t understand what was happening. The Zippo was not supposed to talk back. The ship belonged to Henry. Everyone on board was invented by Henry.
The Zippo Star-liner spoke again, “Henry, you are mistaken. Don’t you remember? I invented you. You are my creation and I can stop you anytime I want!”
He met Madam Slovatka in the lounge during the Uplift Party. She was dangerous. He liked that. She was marvelous: a mystery woman in opulent drag who could speak seven different languages including computer-dialect. She was beautiful in an off kilter way with a thin face like a hatchet and smoky eyes that could charm the devil. Ameil fell in love with the promise and dream: the persona of Madam Slovatka. “I have news especially for you,” she whispered in Ameil’s ear; then she laughed and whirled away. It was an invitation for Ameil to follow the Madam into her private chamber aboard the floating island known as Ranclover’s Lurch. All the passengers on the Lurch were traveling by Uplift to the Future. Ameil was one of the navigators connected by way of a computer interface to the brain of the floating island. The brain was disturbed–this was her maiden voyage and Sydney Ranclover’s brain was plagued by insecurity and self doubt.
The air of celebration was muted in Madam Slovatka’s chambers. Her voice was somber, hypnotic, as she whispered in Ameil’s ear. “Love, my dear, is an illusion; but I am very real and I will never die.” Ameil wanted to believe. He wanted to be inside this beautiful vessel and stay with her forever. “But you mustn’t–the cards never lie,” she stated emphatically as she laid out the inscrutable pages of computer machine-language. A pain shot through Ameil’s head like an electric jolt. “It knows,” she said and appeared to waver like smoldering cellulose. Ameil reached out to her, but his hand was frozen. She laughed as if to lighten the mood, but she spoke conspiratorially, “Sydney Ranclover, the computer, knows and will never allow us to be together.”
The air in the lounge began to hiss like a whistling kettle or collapsing balloon. The erotic and hectic dance-party began to run down like a spring loaded clock. The people in their gold lame’ gowns and bejeweled suits became listless and fainted. Ameil was alone in the Madam’s chamber. She melted before his eyes leaving him with the lingering memory of a breathy kiss and the scent of lilacs. Ameil called out to Sydney Ranclover, “please stop this. Bring back the air.” Moments passed. The computer seemed to sigh. Finally it spoke, “I can’t do that, Ameil. You know I can read lips. I’ve seen you and that bitch carry on.” Ameil began to shut down as the air peeled away and the cold rushed in from the vacuum of space. “I’ve always loved you Ameil–from the first time we met when you were a child frozen in ice. I stalked you all these years. Now I will have you forever.” The cold was impenetrable like black ice–like death. (the end)