blueprint grey on grey
Forty seconds later, the main hold filled with light.
Internal comms tanked. Up in the control room, error signals jammed the boards. “Accept!” Liv Hula told the pilot connexion. Nothing. She stuffed the wires into her mouth by hand. “Akphept!” Too late. They were half in, half out when the connect halted. She pushed until she bled, but the system wouldn’t receive. Instead, Liv was snatched out of herself and began some long, identityless transit.
When things returned, she was seeing them via an exterior camera-swarm. Autorepair media raced along the brass-coloured hull like dust down a hot street. The stern assembly pulsed in and out of view. Outriggers, fusion pods, the tubby avocado-shaped bulge housing the Dynaflow drive: you could see the stars through them. From a source down there, where the holds and motors had once been, intermittent, washy-looking streams of plasma curved out into the dark, already an AU long and curved like scimitars. Liv felt sick. With the connector a lump of gold wire half-fused into the tissue of her soft palate, she was reduced to flicking switches.
“Antoyne ? Hello ?”
No one responded. Inside the ship, engine rooms, holds, companionways, ventilator shafts, stairwells, winked out one by one. Go through the wrong door, who knew what you’d see ? Liv was aware but blind. If you could blueprint grey on grey, that’s what filled the control room screens–a kind of luminous darkness where her spaceship had been. There was nothing there, but it had a strong sense of order.
“Jesus, Antoyne,” she said. “What are you fucking around with now ?”
–from Empty Space, 2013