8 | Buoys


 How else can it be?” Aji declared, speaking into a silver, and black microphone with an habitual squint, scarcely above a whisper, in the base trailer of the American Legion camp at Sombrero. “It was uniquely sad. The situation would have been the end of the lives of most people. Imagine. His eyes. The first set of human eyes to see our future – the physical world of the future, the first viable exoplanet. Man’s home for the 24th Century. See what Bud sees. Bud Adorjan. His name was Bud Adorjan. He’s slowly plummeting, hoping not to burn into the light atmosphere of Orison’s Mirror, NSC-55 in the Hydra galaxy. Orison’s Mirror is warmed by the bright star “a-Hya.” His sky is azure. The white of the clouds. The landing party cannot land, see; it can’t find any entry point; there is countless centuries of pioneering families, the brave, new scions of the tiny blue dot, doomed to a maiden desolation. There must be moments Adorjan could glimpse it; and the contour of continents of Orison’s Mirror -– new oceans, new mountains, everything glows in the blue a-hyalight. (Pause.) It was his mission. No one assigned it. Bud. He doesn’t get to live in this new, and bountiful eden. Hydra.” 

She continued, “Of course, you know the story. These stories. No one could have expected his valor. The fast divot of ground, and ash. The air of Hydra was hot. There was not sufficient gravity. No chance to adapt. The desperate rescue was needed for many thousands, then millions from A1060. It was the only fair galaxy of the 157 galaxies of Hydra, away by 100 million light years. Many comprised the descendants of the very first voyage sent from Earth. They needed a gyre of a kind, a gash through Orison’s Mirror’s atmosphere, a funnel to relieve the air pressure. A time-venue, we call it; a time stamp. It was awful to watch the rescue ship orbit, and orbit, and orbit. Bud begins into spin; the drama is whether he will pull his cord. (Pause.) No. The camera shows just the billow of dust, the storied dust billow. (Pause.) No more.”


hydra const guide paint irf


Aji stood from the gray office desk, switching the recorder to pause. She gazed through the window at the solitary, dark rain at Sombrero. “The beauty of it,” Aji breathed. “Bud Adorjan died of irony.”

She spoke casually, and poured tea from a blue iron flask. She rearranged the office chair, and pressed the button quickly to continue her version of the record. “As history likes to say, paradox was a pillar of the Hydra mission; a reflection of its saint.” Her account of facts was required by the American Legion, generally an oral history; the international law said any party alive in deep space, with a personal knowledge of a given event, must present a complete record; it was such an event. Her attitude was mild, but the Landing at Hydra was not a pleasant memory. “I’m personally stymied by Hydra,” she confessed. “As much, or even more than Coda. But not about Bud.” Aji was lost in a thought, and a stream of logic.

She tried not to be disrupted by her emotions. “There were some — many? – who believed, or were willing to believe Orison’s Mirror was the actual Orison, not a namesake. Orison, Orison. It is a mystical fable like heaven, or more like Milky Way’s Planet 9, a hankering of astrophysics, or Alpha Centauri’s Bb, which not only happily vanished in fact, but in math, yes. Bud Adorjan, I must say, was one of the ones who loved the Orison myth. It was his conjecture leading the crunchers to the possibility Orison did exist. His famous quote, his charge: ‘It is a distant, gray sphere, the very Orb inviting Man to escape to the next universe, and to the next, and the next, and escape thus death, that dark monster, neither natural, nor anyone’s true destiny.’ (Pause.) If it ever was real, it dissolved in…time.”

It is difficult for me,” Aji said, beginning anew, after sipping bottled water. “What I wanted to say. Before I got off on that tangent. It was also difficult for the trained aeronauts of the day. This is a different story. The rescue of the people was a necessary, because they were not qualified to explore space. They knew, we all know, the day arrives, the day this becomes the norm, and it could be celebrated. Aeronauts are but a fraction of the population of humans, yes. Of course. Aeronauts were meant to become the constables, the emergency technicians, like an ambulance. But this story, this very first lot, had no affinity for space, the beauty of the next world; not but what they had seen from the windows of their homes. I suppose it’s true, yes: they were paying, they were underwriting this new, Hydra colony, a Grand Central Station, and it would become The Great Depot, yes; yes, it did! And they were paying for it.”

She reported, “They gave us a huge capital infusion for our explorations. It was not a small sum of money. The catch. They were the first five thousand emigres to Hydra from the Milky Way; whichever way the deck may shuffle; that was the phrase, yes. The deck. Hah. Untold millions would follow, yes; but none of these could depart until the United Nations declared the Hydra Landing a success. And it wasn’t.”

Aji said, “There is Bud Adorjan. There’s his science staff. They fly in a separate capsule of aeronauts. They’ll land separately, and signal when it is deemed safe. What I would give for a selfie of Bud inspecting the sponsor ship.” She continued, “Well, they were called ‘dinghies.’ They would sail the oceans of Orison’s Mirror, or so was the plan. So they were told. ‘Dinghies,’ like skiffs used in a lake; but these were not skiffs. These were ultra-franc Ships; yachts; there were bateaux, possessing the states of art, and technology. (Chuckles.) Probably better than the pod. They were supposed to form, like, a wagon trail, once the pod moored at Hydra. The nameplates still get to me. They are amazing, somehow. It’s not an aspersion. Not at all. The names were humorous. I guess, it helped them relieve their fears, and tensions, the real destiny of all of it. I’ve never not been an aeronaut. I can’t visualize Bud Adorjan walking through this space marina; seeing these gateaux.”

She flipped the cardboard cover of a manila file in front of her. She read into the microphone, Fish & Chip. Amusing. And Great Catch. Sea-sic. Sea Deuce; Tannen-Beer. Sea-duct. The Man & Tee. Is that not ridiculous. Hail-Jerry? Golden Brawn. My Other Ship is a Pod.”

Aji said, “The transport door grates to open, but was almost welded by the heat of the new World. I’m told one of the new colonists at Orison’s Mirror ran ecstatically out of the passenger door, circled the cargo door, and alone yanked the overhead. It fell gradually into the soft gravel of mirror. The man’s name is lost to history. Unsure why. He probably spoke the first official words of Orison’s Mirror, mankind’s new home.”

She added, “And the yachts are revealed; the cargo hold creaks for the mass of Orison’s Mirror’s first people.” The ships were parked afore, and gaggled in the rope supports, their nameplates gleaming in the bright a-hyalight. Oh-Shun-Going, Duck-Duck-Goose. Buoys.  ◊  > top


Theme |Flea Markets, No. 10” | playlist, nos. 1-15 

Norah Jones


“The Shadows” is one of three works by SODA TOM

Selections have appeared on Tumblr, and Medium, including “The Shadow of Mines.”




Copyright Notice

“The Shadows,” by Soda Tom, Vol. I of III,

from The Echo By Seas; & Other Stories

Copyright (C), 2018; 2017, ff., by the author

All Rights Reserved

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