#58 Forbidden Planet

by John C. Mannone

For a moment, I saw my galaxy, my home for the last time—before the dazzle of color, before the silent explosion—the last of the gold-flecked universe disappearing at the bottom of my portal.

Jeanette had already engaged the faster-than-light drive. And I had laid the course to our new home in another fold of space-time where the stars are said to be like ours. It was logical. But I wish we had stolen a newer spacecraft; we nearly got crushed in the dark matter implosion.

Dozens of panel lights twinkled as stars. And her long red hair had a sheen in their soft light. She told me last night we were expecting a child. My eyes gleamed like her hazel green ones; surprise has a way to brighten faces in dark times. But then mine faded to a pale blank. The uncertainty of the trip; the worry of past quarrels. Even after a month in space, there is too much silence between us.

“John.” Jeanette swivels to face me. “We’re approaching the Virgo cluster.”

“Great, Honey. Calibrating. Coordinates reset. Ready to disengage hyper-drive.”

“Roger that. Slowing to sub-light.”

“Picking up an emergency radio beacon. Decoding.” John’s expression flattens.

“What is it, John?”

“Listen for yourself.” John switches to audio.

Danger. Planet Earth quarantined. High risk of emotional contamination. Avoid at all cost.

We stared at each other for the longest time, read each other’s faces. Do we dare risk extinction; it’s illogical?

We set the controls for re-entry.

3 comments:

Sam Knight said...

I love the idea of 'emotional contamination'!

Nick Braker said...

John, great imagery but not too much to spoil my interpretation. I can relate to these characters.

Wendy said...

Nice, John. I really like your phrase, "gold-flecked universe." --Wendy from writing group