Ramon F. Irizarri
have fourteen minutes to live,” Major Henning bleated,
his voice ringing hollow in his ears.
His gaze fell on the console situated in front of his chest, and all
color drained from his countenance.
Fourteen minutes – what was he to do with his last fourteen minutes? Should
he write a poem, wax poetic with brave
last words that would be engulfed by the void surrounding their ship? Major
Henning silently wished he had more
time. He thought that it was too soon to
minutes and five seconds,” his first officer,
ensign Smith said. “And no splash detected.” Splash; the informal term for a
hit by one of their ship’s microwave bolts, as the enemy craft was filled with
water to support the aquatic life of the enemy and the destruction of their
ship would involve the flowing of water into the void of space.
flipped some switches and spoke with enforced
calm. “Confirmed fusion scatterpack rockets closing in our position at point
seven the speed of light...We can’t outrun the rockets. Thirteen minutes to
was a matter of waiting. No ship or missile
could exceed the speed of light as the speed of light was the universal limit
of velocity according to Einstein’s theory of special relativity. It took ships
decades to travel between solar systems, making a war transpire decades after
hostilities had been declared. Ships surged towards the inhabited plants of the
adversary, hoping to strike a decisive blow with fusion, fission and
biochemical platforms. Ship-to-ship combat was also a waiting game, with
missiles and masers taking nerve-racking time to close with their targets.
my God,” Smith quavered. “I’m scared, I don’t want to
closed his eyes and inhaled. “It’s okay… maybe
there is an afterlife.”
spoke. “With all of our science I don’t think
felt better when he spoke, a wave of calm
surging over him as he articulated his thoughts. “Is there anything you want to
say or do with your last thirteen minutes?”
cringed, and buried her face in her
the Major said. “Nothing in life matters. The
Universe is vast and our lives are a remote speck of time given the enormity of
distance and time in the Universe. We are born from nothing and to nothing we
Ensign Smith began to sob.
time before our birth never troubled us, so the time
after our death also need not preoccupy us.”
Ensign Smith was too upset to
Major Henning glanced at the
clock on the wall of the bridge. Suddenly his senses were more acute that
normal, suddenly he could hear the hum of the electronics on the bridge. He
could taste the staleness of the air from the reclamation machines of the life
support. The Major felt he was the most alive that he had ever been.
was lost in his reverie as the clock counted down
ashes we come, to ashes we go.” Major Henning said. He
barely felt the heat of the fusion rockets as they detonated, engulfing the
ship in the heat generated by the hydrogen warhead.
In a few seconds, there was no remaining
indicating that their vessel once existed. The void engulfed them all.
Ramon Irizarri hails from
Miami, FL., and has a BA in philosophy from Yale and has been published a total
of six times, including this issue (twice at Bewildering Stories, once
at Aphelion, and three times at Black Petals.