Sunday, May 3, 2009

Daily Story 18: The High Road

Doctor Pressmin had mixed feelings about the progress of his experiment. The Earth was beautiful from a distance, and he was grateful that he ended up facing it so he could watch as it dropped away from him. On the other hand, he had to admit that all things considered he would prefer to be back on the space station where he would - in a nutshell - not be flying off into the inky void of space to die. He was tempted to do some math and figure out what had gone wrong, but the equipment he needed was still happily orbiting Earth, further and further from his reach.

The plan had involved teleporting a beacon from inside the station to the outside. Looking around to the best of his ability Pressmin didn't see the beacon, and guessed that it was still floating around the lab. Instead it was Pressmin that was teleported, a full seven feet. Seven feet! He was thrilled at this on some level, excited that he had been the first human to teleport through space and live to tell the tale - well, he amended, live anyway. Telling the tale would require actually getting back to Earth, and it was already looking fairly small to him. For the first time, Doctor Pressmin wondered if he would hit a planet before leaving the solar system. What a spectacular burial that would be, a sort of Viking funeral!

That he had been teleported was a minor setback, one he knew his remaining colleagues would solve. Pressmin's worry now was about the spin - for presumably that had caused his current situation. The average person on Earth is unaware of the complicated dance they are performing through space - speeding up, slowing down, changing direction. The Earth spins, and orbits, and the solar system moves, the Galaxy, the universe. Insane speeds and forces, all the time. We never notice because we are swept along with them. You can zip along merrily at absurd speeds as long as everything around you is doing the same, but if you suddenly find yourself rotated without any change to your inertia...

Doctor Pressmin realized he was lecturing to himself as if rehearsing to tell the anecdote to friends later, and he felt a wave of sadness wash over him. Not for his death, but for the inability to tell everyone about how it happened. Watching the vast sweeping river of the Milky way for a moment cheered him up, and he had a sudden thought. His life had been dedicated to mysteries of science, to the wonder of the unknown. Why would he want to take the joy from this situation for others? Surely there could be no greater hope in death than to be found eons later an impossible distance from Earth, thereby confusing the hell out of whatever found you? Thoughts of a Viking funeral dismissed, Pressmin hoped for a rendezvous with Andromeda.