September 21, 2017

Free Fiction Friday: Exeligmos Part 1

Welcome to our weekly serving of free and original science fiction here at Astroguyz.com. As the first eclipse season of 2015 draws neigh, we though we’d feature one of our many eclipse inspired tales entitled Exeligmos. What started as one eclipse sci-fi story soon grew into half a dozen, two of which are already completed and an are available online. Exeligmos is an adventure through space and time, and highlights one man’s dangerous obsession and his new-found ability to use a cutting edge technology to push it to the very limit. Enjoy!

Exeligmos

By

David A. Dickinson

Chapter 1

 

I was first bitten by the eclipse bug on October 19th, in the year 3000 AD as reckoned on the Old Calendar. I was eight years old, and my parents thought the trek to the Bolivian Andes might just feed that spark of interest in astronomy they saw in me as I rattled off the names of all 101 of Jupiter’s moons, or recited in discovery order every habitable world in the Local Group. Boy, they had no idea.

The morning dawned crisp and clear as they only can in the thin high mountain air of Earth. This was to be the last solar totality in the third millennium on a calendar that I became all too fond of as I studied its archaic intricacies with an ever-obsessive eye. Although totality was only seconds long in time and space, I was smitten as the pearly hues of Bailey’s Beads danced along our Moon’s limb and the giant shadow slid into perfect place. A first-time viewer of a total solar eclipse is never quite ready to deal with the emotions it can induce. The scintillation of rapidly dwindling sunshine, coupled with the ominous onset of the Moon’s disk can cast a shadow across your soul.

You read about the enormity of things in the universe all the time, but it never truly strikes you until you see the singular act of a world’s giant shadow slide abruptly into place over your head. You suddenly feel the cold chill in the air, a pale screaming fragility in an enormous void as you cling to a thin envelope of life. I knew right then and there why the ancients implored the heavens to disgorge the Sun and return things to rights; but for me, the path of totality touched an unknown part of my soul that I would give anything to return to…

Do I sound like an addict to you? Maybe I am. Part of the scourge of having the beauty of the universe revealed to you in such a fundamental way is that you’ll do anything to get it back again. I know of birders who have traveled the expanse of inhabited space to see rare selected species of the Great Galactic Diaspora. I also know of orchid hunters who have risked kidnappings by inter-galactic factions just to discover a rare new alien hybrid species. Eclipse chasers like me are no different. Pretty soon, you find yourself shunning the company of friends and family, looking only for those of similar ilk who’ve also stood in the shadow and share your implicit understanding of reality revealed. In these circles, it doesn’t seem odd to have sacrificed your worldly possessions or career and acquaintances chasing after the next “big one”…

Please spare me the “why bother” speech; I heard it all from my professors at Tycho University as I vainly tried to defend my dissertation on eclipses and their impact on the collective development of human culture. The consensus in this well-healed modern age is that there is no scientific knowledge to be gained in eclipse studies; “chasers” are regulated to the status of bottle cap collectors or folks who spend their days meticulously restoring old turn-of-the-millennium films. Hey, whatever is your shtick. It’s not MY place to judge what YOU do to find solace and hide from the weight of the universe, is it? I’ve met people in this trade, believe you me… the advent of space travel opened up the universe to chasers of the astronomically bizarre. You can now journey out to Pluto and watch Charon blot out the Sun if you like. How about a twin crossing of the Sun of Io and Europa as seen from Jupiter’s inner moon, Almathea? No problem, there’s a specialized tour for that. Or how about watching Earth transit the Sun from the surface of Mars? No problem, we’ll have you back in time for work Monday, and with a floor show and a complimentary tour of all the old robotic landing sites besides. In fact, that’s just what my old bankrupt company Exeligmos did before new technology came along and kicked the game up a notch…

From my own biased perspective, I thought it was a pretty neat idea; a touring agency that would book travel around the solar system to witness the most bizarre and rare of astronomical events. The very term Exeligmos comes from a triple saros series of eclipses occurring 54 years and 33 days apart. This was represented by the logo emblazoned on the three refurbished fusion-powered vans I had purchased. Now, one could check off eclipses and transits throughout the solar system, all for the price of collapsing a small gas giant planet as traveling fuel. Perhaps, deep down, I merely needed a profession that would feed the drive I had to stand under a shadow, any shadow… and when I told well-heeled guests such things as Mars’ moon Phobos would come crashing down to its surface one day millions of years from now, or said with barely contained excitement that the transit of Venus seen from Earth on December 18th 3089 would be the 1st single set transit since 1396… well, let’s just say that these facts fell on less than interested ears. That’s what you get from folks today; people are used to converting the mass of a small moon to energy just to travel to Vega for a dinner date. They’re not interested in what they see as a set of mere astronomical coincidences… no, I know that you can journey out to some of the multiple star systems and watch mutual occultations of multi-hued moons before noon, complete with a full array of menu options… but the sheer paucity of what happens in our solar backyard makes it precious, a brief shadow-glimpse into the tick-tock watch gears of the universe.

To be continued…

Read Exeligmos and more original sci-fi by David A. Dickinson over on Amazon.com.

 

Trackbacks

  1. [...] space and time in our chapter two installment of our sci-fi tale Exeligmos. Chapter 1 is also available online, and we’ll have the conclusion up next [...]

  2. [...] Here it is just in time for eclipse day: the final chapter of our time-spanning eclipse adventure Exeligmos. We’ve got lots more original sci-fi, eclipse-based and otherwise, on our Amazon author page… don’t forget to start this three-part tale back on Chapter 1. [...]

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