29 08 2009

She awoke to the sound of the klaxon alarm and a feeling a weightlessness. It seemed as if a great chasm separated her from wakefulness. She was disconnected from her limbs. It took some concentration, but she was finally able to move her hand to her belly. She hoped to feel the baby moving. Perhaps if she could feel the baby move, her consciousness could surface and get her across the abyss.

There was no anxiety at the lack of movement, but it made her realize that she really had no idea what time it was. She had noticed the baby had fallen into a sleep pattern. The baby must be sleeping, she thought.

The alarm was replaced by the sound of distant voices. She tried to think back to the last thing she remembered. Her mind zeroed in on the rumbling sound just before . . . before what? Where was she at the time? Confusion fogged her mind. She recalled being uneasy and a strong feeling of dread. She involuntarily shuddered at a dark incursion of terror upon her memories.

The voices were becoming clearer now. She could hear Manuel’s voice. “… and life support is still online. There are two big issues right now. We’ve completely lost the graviton field generator and the propulsor is back off-line.” The graviton field was what provided their artificial gravity. She realized that the floating sensation was due to the fact that she was actually floating.

“Do we still have sensor function?” The sound of Jason’s voice pulled her consciousness closer to the surface.

“I think she’s coming to,” Manuel said.

A sudden impact jolted Atlanta awake. Jason’s apparent misjudgment of his trajectory had sent them both spinning slowly across the room. He held her closely in his arms and braced his arm against the bulkhead. With her eyes open, the feeling of disorientation was even more pronounced. The room lighting seemed . . . off. It was as if everything looked smudged.

They settled into a corner of the room. She pulled away from him enough to look into his eyes. “Did we make it away from the black hole?”

Jason squinted his eyes and clenched his jaw. “We crossed the event horizon about five minutes ago.”

“Shouldn’t we have been torn apart?” Her eyes were wide with disbelief. “The tidal forces alone would have . . . ” She looked down and blinked twice before meeting his eyes again. “Why aren’t we dead?”

“It appears that our graviton field protected us enough to get us through the worst of it,” Jason said.

“And the generator took a beating for it,” Manuel added. “I got the sensors back up, you’ve got to see this.”

Jason pushed off from the wall more gently this time so that they were able to float over to the projector without incident. “Let me turn down the brightness a little bit,” Manuel said. “This is really quite amazing. It seems that we’re going fast enough to enter into an orbit around the singularity, just inside of the event horizon.”

Atlanta was beginning to understand. A singularity was an infinitesimal object with enormous mass. A black hole was the region around the singularity under the influence of its gravity. The reason a black hole is black is because not even light is able to escape from the singularity’s gravity pull. Once past the event horizon, light was trapped just as they were. “So it’s just like being in orbit around a planet; we are constantly falling, but our momentum is enough to keep us aloft.”

“Right. That’s why the ambient space surrounding us is so bright, light is caught in the same orbit we are.”

“So are we trapped here?” she asked.

“Not necessarily,” Jason said. “If we can get the propulsor back on line, I think we can get enough velocity to break free.”

Atlanta was nodding her head. In the days before superluminous propulsion, escape would have been unthinkable. But the light barrier had been broken thanks to the discovery of 5th dimensional physics. The same technology that enabled them to cross the interstellar void could now help them in their egression. Light may not be able to travel fast enough, but they could. “So let’s get the propulsor up.”

“Hold on,” Manuel said. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The propulsor can’t work without the graviton field generator. We’ll have to see about repairing that first.” An image on the holograph caught his eye. “Hello. Looks like we have company.”






One response

31 08 2009

Thanks for the cliffhanger.

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