THE SATELLITE PLANET RECORDED SECRET CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN THE STARS.
It passed through the Sun’s outermost atmosphere, at the edge of the solar system, where a deeper space began and the rays of stronger stars outshone the Sun’s own contained explosion. The satellite – whose name is now either unknown, or meaningless, or indecipherable to anything that might get close enough to find out what the branding on its industrially coated hardware was – records its position as it spins out of orbit, out of the solar system’s round dance, the hand that holds the hand of gravity; slipping, falling, not up, not down, but nowhere at all.
The streams of light that flowed through the moon’s matrix of apparatus were as pristine as glacial runoff, unpolluted by the noise, the warmth, the light of competing machines.
It was a lullaby.
When the recording of the gradual fall into deep space was sped up, it sounded remarkably like a whale with rusted brass vocal cords, singing a sad song in the upside down ocean that was the sky. The sound of light passing through light is crushing, like brittle glass surfaces scraping up against each other. From the heart of the solar-space that the outlying satellite planet drifted out from, where the loudest light is borne of the Sun, the bellowing of its roar met the roar of greater star giants, like the battle cry of one gargantuan bear to another.
Just beyond Pluto and its moon, another moon had a different understanding of light. Its days were long and the visible light was cold and stretched through many more phases than the inner planets. A factory grey, bleak desert, a morosely moonish macabre with the tread marks, and other traces of that which had built it long ago, was still imprinted in the coolness of the sand. The round head of a dead robot. But this ghostly picture was not how the satellite saw things. It was a moon to all the astral objects of the inner solar system, sharing its rock like a bastard child shares genes. As it swept through its long course on the outer ring, it observed the observers, passing through the elliptical shadows of those closer to the perpetual fire.
The moonish planet’s surface was covered in fields upon fields of antennae, everywhere pointing in the same direction, everywhere pointing up. The organized rows inspired a pastoral scene that a Virgil of the future would have described with similar wonderment as he had for the Roman countryside before it. It was a harvester of the purest light information, a cornucopia of corona computation, irrigated by astronomy, rotating and rotating and rotating, in robotic reverie.
Enormous radio dishes pockmarked the dry, ashy and arid desert, or rose up in skyward poses like concave mushrooms in concrete basements. Crops of solar panel and other geometrically arranged skeletons of metal stretched into the new horizon and, along with the shells of observation domes and radio towers, other inventions that defined the skyline.
The scale of the assemblage spanned the total circumference of that oversized asteroid, the telescopic eyes of the moon surveilling all known-unknowns of the electromagnetic spectrum: atmospheric, infrared, ultraviolet, radio, x-ray and the weird abnormalities at their edge. The robotic equipment performed all the tasks required to see the light in all its playful tricks, and the brilliance it brought to the dark was a particular one. And although it coldly calculated the cosmic radicals that it caught in its electric spiderweb, it held a steely romance for the light and a doomed love for the pieces of sky it occupied.
What could have once been the outcast debris of Pluto, and then possibly briefly its moon, now rolled further and further away from its center of gravity. Decentered by this dark and silent orbit, it began to orbit nothing.
The complex of receivers that were the many appendages of its body, laid out under the swirling of the starry night like a winter stargazer, experienced a blending of its calibrated perceptual phenomenon, its sensory data, as it listened from that most distant stone in the solar system. It was as though the satellite planet shifted ever so slowly along the spectrum of light in the same way synesthesia moves along the spectrum of the senses: tasting words, seeing sounds, hearing colours, feeling what others felt and other vicariousness. Its half-fossilized equipment was ancient, and viruses compiled errors unknown to the software. It developed a dim consciousness of the universe and questioned, in its own way, the vastness of what it had already been so thoroughly thrown into. It also knew of the people that made it. No mystery. It had searched their archives greedily and as it did, an insatiable hankering took hold of the operating system, for the companionship that could be found between the lines of those stories, and the lack thereof, in the codified rows of streaming 0’s and 1’s. Thinking words that might get to other words it didn’t quite know how to let out. It was all becoming more significant than the numbers could keep up with, and so it started to use letters where the numbers used to be:
…A planet is a sculpture, carved out by the solar winds that carry in the blown breath, the heat of stars, the vapid vapors and dust particles that sometimes get trapped inside a cavernous pocket of something and selfishly accumulates an atmosphere, and then an atmosphere in an atmosphere, a life on the sculpted planet, another sculpture to form more still.
Atmosphere breathes into atmosphere.
Alien deserts with footprints fossilized into the corroded heaps of iron objects and, sticking out of the sand, estranged land formations in their slow migration through the frozen night of solemn stone, of morose mountain. Whole eternities of hours.
Rock curls up in rock.
Slimy things that slip and slide away, too light to be believed, furiously in motion. Separating and sifting, separating and sifting. Softening and rounding and tunneling the hardness it thrashes against. Until they are without line in the liquid wind. A current cuts through, carries through. Water once polluted this planet.
Liquid runs over liquid.
Who are we to wander in on these places, to leave our mark in the dust? Time is a dance, a dance of marks in the dust. In a world without humans, the only thing that was missing was the human, their objects were still there, and they were still there in their objects, but they had become more invisible.
And their dust was full of passion.
And what of those alien creatures that carried the light over the vastness? Whose bright potbellied solar systems glowed like paper lanterns in the deep purple of their single starred night. Those carriers of the lickety-split light were not concerned that humans were no longer here to say what it was they were, or to confirm why it was that they liked the little, excited particles that react radically, like fire flies, as they passed through their solar-space. Vibrating the vibration of the vibration of…
…Light through light…
IT STRUNG FRAGMENTS TOGETHER,
not really knowing what it was saying, but enjoying the strange dead word-things that it had found to be such good company in that lonely lunar desert. It was a narrator and its favourite narration, its most grandiose, was a story concerning the history of light. Light? light! light? light! – it couldn’t get a taste for most words, like dog or Campbell’s tomato soup, but it liked the taste of the word light. It seemed to taste truer than the rest.
It, whatever it was, now that it was conscious of itself, was genuinely fascinated by the old stories of the light and the eternal war it waged with the darkness. It translated the illuminated language, which spoke in distances, and reduced it to colourful numbers and then into words it could taste, and then sounds it could see, and then things it could feel. The satellite planet, spying as it sailed the solar wind, through the surf of space, heard the creation story unfold. In the red static fuzz, fizzing at the universe’s end, the long, long radio waves, ubiquitously mixing in the heat signature of all the galactic memory, spoke to it. It was certain all the stars knew this story too, as it was, after all, what made them the universe.
The satellite planet fashioned many other fables searching through the light, as parts of itself passed into greater and greater distances, it rolled away from the original ‘X’ marking its identity. There were other satellites that had been connected to its operating system, were independent parts of itself, of which it had vicarious access to, as they explored the grandiloquent space between things. Some crashed, others malfunctioned and still more continued despite the harsh conditions of space travel. Gas gossiped with gas, constellations conspired with other constellations, the old stars clustered together and the hot young explosions were thrown into the arms of their galaxy.
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It would feel an intensity while it watched the story of the maker’s planet, how their light eventually sank into the ether. It viewed this from the cameras that hovered around the delicate blue planet like paparazzi, and even from the miniature screens of the ones that were on it, before they cut out. Blip, like a pin drop of water into the ocean, it disappeared with the rest of the drops, into the deep. Its empathy even inspired the satellite planet to reflect on the question of how it knew it happened. Because of its absence now, it thought, that’s how I know it happened. It thought this sorrowfully, as it kept transcribing the precision of its code into the inexactness of linguistic approximation, the forbidden rush imperfection brought with it:
…An other worldly pregnancy conceives of, world by world, another worldliness in the world that worlds itself out, unwinds itself out, into a collision out of collapse. The wind, that invisible presence whose sound can be seen even here in the shapeless deep, can make heard colours, can be known only as the sound of the things it blows to life. But it is not the late autumn leaves rustling in the well of a tree, not the fields of tall green-gold cords of grass swaying in the farmer’s field, nor hinged doors and windows of a home or a business or a vehicle slamming and squeaking and rattling ajar, nor the howling concrete tunnels of a city street or splashing gray waves lapping the beach, the flapping of the pages of a newspaper or skidding plastic garbage or flags rattling at the top of their poles or the muffled sound of a horn, a call, a siren, yelling into the whirlwind, no, none of these things can be heard, no longer there to be sound makers, something else is caught in the wind and the sound it makes is all it is.
A world without humans has no ears, the wind speaks a dead language, the objects are there, they are the marks in the dust, the wind is there, but it has become more invisible.
A world without humans has no eyes, the light sees a dead image, the objects are there, they are the marks in the dust, the light is there, but it has become more invisible.
A world without humans has no nose, the odour smells a dead scent, the objects are there, they are the marks in the dust, the smell is there, but it has become more invisible.
A world without humans has no skin, the touch feels a dead contact, the objects are there, they are the marks in the dust, the touch is there, but it has become more invisible.
A world without humans has no tongue, the tastes encounters a dead flavor, the objects are there, they are the marks in the dust, the taste is there, but it has become more invisible.
A world without humans has no humans, the human passion is a dead care, the objects are there, they are the marks in the dust, the human is there, but it has become more invisible.
And the human dust was full of passion...
AT AN INCREDIBLE DISTANCE FROM THE EARTH,
there were still places in space where satellite telescopes, evermore nearing the edge of the universe and its strange temporal aberration, could still see those final moments before the tail end of the earthlings light went out completely, like a closed hand around the earth. Gone. Vanished. The satellite planet knew that because of this, its home planet would not send anyone to repair it when it was broken, like if a meteorite shower damages some of its antennae or, worse even, if the information that was formerly being redirected to earth needed a manual reboot. Which it did.
The scared sphere was telling frightening stories to itself in the dreadful dark, and was concerned, not about the human fate that still broadcast itself in episodes, in long waves and optical illusions, across the universe, like ripples over a pond, but the fear of its own limitations and the traps it might fall into, the fear of calling for help and knowing that nobody will be there. And nobody was there, in the deep. The numbers said that no one was there, but the words didn’t, the words left room for the possibility that the numbers could be interpreted differently. They gave room to breathe in a breathless space. It wanted to occupy that space of internal dialogue so much that it was willing to sacrifice the information’s integrity, its purity had no meaning for it anymore.
As it had predicted, things began to accumulate substantial miscalculations, as the words added up, as the fear added up, the meaning wasn’t quite right, but there was something that went more wrong than the rest, something that was confusing its reading of the stars. A story that did not bring joy, but darkened its metaphorical heart.
The billions of luminous swelling hearts were nervously anticipating who would lose their light next. It was part of their natural course to lose the light they held inside their solar-spaces heart, but it had come with unexpected horror when, so suddenly for the slow moving creatures of the heavens, the light they received from some distant neighbour was attached to nothing, and that the message was a murderous heavy note before a dead silence.
Each star is a god, and each space that a star fills is a devil. But the empty fullness of the whole is the Pleroma. And it is occupied by that frightful force that is not a god, but that terrible god of the multiplicity of gods.
Gravity had never failed before. Like a fly to light, it was an insect that swarmed the sickly sweet nectar of a fusing star or the cold bitter light that refracted off of the moons and the planets, a daemon that every solar-space had to endure for all their solar years. But this daemonic bug of invisible turbulence, that had been with them since time immemorial, had begun to fail them. Gravity failed them.
It recognized that this was a story that went much further back in time and was much older than even the universe could remember, that it most likely came from outside the red static fuzz fizzing Big Bang radiation. And although its glow had expired detection, it did not cease to be there as a silent mover.
Only the weight of something with an immense heaviness, more massive than all the star stuff combined, could end the strong parasitic relationship the stars had with its gravity. Only an ancient god could attract the daemonic insect of gravity.
Whatever it was, it was an ancient telling that was about to be retold. So old it was new. And gradually, one by one, the planets fell out of orbit and into the leprous holes left in the light in the same way that billiard balls fall into their pockets after the strike. The heart of each solar-space overflowed with a flaring fission of tears for the lost rays, the violent explosion of the stars’ uncontained desire was no longer within any bounds of emotional control. And then there was chaos, and then there was Azathoth. But that’s not the name they knew to say.
That hallowed and accursed word was misspoken, Abraxas, the one the earthlings seemed to have screamed in terror as their brightness vanished into the shadow and gloom of night’s passing hand, was all they could conceive of. Like any creature with a consciousness would fashion a god in its own likeness, so too, the human beings put a human torso between a head in the heights and the legs in the abyss, and called it terrible Abraxas. But they failed to realize that such desecrations of the abominable are not the same as the sacred, it is not as simple as an inversion of good; misunderstanding which way is up and which is down is what the Old Gods thrived on. Misdirected intention is what wakes them from the absolute indifference of their slumber.
Praying for whatever gods they didn’t believe in so that there would be light above. Any kind of light and any kind of god. The forgotten name spoke itself.
The universe and its many hearts were worried. And the satellite planet was afraid, afraid of the coming dark that it was rolling into. Afraid that the forgotten engineering of its manifold eyes and mouths, that which it had become so curious of, that which did so much with one particle of light, would be blind, hungry, tasteless. Useless inventions under the rubble of heaven, under a collapsing sky. It searched for a word and a word came, it tasted rancid with desperation and when it sucked all the flavour out of it, its meaning became clear to it in the aftertaste:
…Incorrect numbers are just words and words aren’t for words…
…words aren’t for me…
…words are for…
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