In the future, Sarah stands on the bridge of the Ark and looks at what she has created from nothing. The Ark is her spaceship, the creation a static-painting on electric canvas she’d spread over the deck. Sarah learned to static-paint on VII-Earth, though she doesn’t know if it’s an art the Sarahs from her youth still practice. She doesn’t know what any of the Named do, not the Abrahams, Isaacs, Rebekahs, Sarahs. She has forgotten so much, but she has never felt the bone-ache desire to return home, to make the long trip back to her beginnings. She has always felt restless. Not unmoored, but adrift. Sarah turns from her painting (a depiction of Calvary, of fire in a field of dogwood roses) to look out the bridge window. The Ark approaches a field of color so bright it appears white. They near a star. In the future, the convergence of New Math and the Theory of Everything has revealed stars to be glowing doors, where long-distance travel is most feasibly realized by passing through, not between. Intrastellar. Whenever Sarah approaches a star, she tries to remember specifics of VII-Earth, but her memory always falters. She has been following God’s first commandment to move for so long. She can’t recall her home’s ground or gravity. The Evernet could tell her about VII-Earth, but Sarah wants to remember on her own. Some in the future say the Evernet makes living irrelevant because its algorithms know everything, the time and place of every next Earth, from VIII to M and beyond. They would say that Sarah’s static-painted dogwoods are simply a dream of the machine consciousness guiding her life. Is that so different from divine inspiration? Sarah thinks of the painting as a gift of imagination. She prefers tenuous connections. The star seems to dim as the ship approaches. Is that the passing shadow of a filamental angel, one of those hypergiant creatures floating the orbital stream? To see one is a blessing. Sarah thinks about her children moving, always moving, on the Ark. Their movement keeps it going, but she worries. God’s second commandment is to multiply. Sarah worries about these unnamed people she mothered, fathered, made—a legion for a later Earth. In the future, access to one’s genetic code is an inalienable right, like clear signal. In the future, everyone forms the life of every other, the Named and unnamed alike. Everyone is blessed, though not equally, which has always been the way of people. Her children move the Ark onward. Sarah yearns to offer herself to the filamental angels. She yearns to be consumed, and to extend into infinity the moment of consumption. To stop moving, but to never stop. “Look at those angels,” Sarah says, and she touches the glass on the bridge of the Ark. Her canvas begins painting itself, tuned to her voice. She knows they’re going again. The star dims, then blinds, then opens, and they are somewhere else.
Chase Burke is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama, but he calls Florida home. His stories appear or are forthcoming in Sycamore Review, The Journal, SmokeLong Quarterly, and GIGANTIC Sequins, among others. Find him on Twitter @cpburkejr.
Photo by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (edited)