A/N Couldn’t sleep. Was listening to M83’s Junk which inspired most of what’s below.
Last of Time
“Lost memories, faded pictures…where did you all go?
Old memory, from the limbo, from the night.”
-Sunday Night 1987 (M83)
Tendrils of space reach from all sides, trailing gently, assuredly, as he sits gazing at the never ending expanse before him. They had sent him too far. He tries to understand the eternal consequence of a miscalculation, an accident. He was once their star pilot. Now he’s nothing but a ghost, a phantom limb, never to return. Things lost at the edge of space are inevitably forgotten. People too.
He looks down at a single tattered photo tucked under a tangle of wires on the dead control panel. He removes it and stares at the smiling faces of him and his friends, frozen in the past many, many months ago. The photo is long faded by time, the edges slightly tattered and worn. He runs a finger over it slowly, a weak smile twitching on his lips. On the control panel there is only one device that still works, running on the last legs of batteries. With a slightly shaking finger, he presses play.
Hey how are you doing man? It’s been forever since we saw each other. You remember the old primary school playground right? They tore it down a few days ago. I know, tragic right? And I thought maybe we could go visit it when you come back.
His chest clenches and he sits there unmoving, not making a single sound.
What’s up? Hope things are good out there. They opened this new ice cream store a block over, you’d seriously love it. They have the weirdest flavours, that’s always your kind of thing. Gross. But that’ll be the first place we go, promise. Hurry your ass back here.
The voice falters into static as the device runs out of power at last, the lights blinking once, twice, then nothing.
He breaks it off and clutches it to his chest, fingers grasping the hard edges of the small communications recorder so hard it begins to hurt against his skin and bones.
With a final resolve, he returns to the back of the cabin. It’s all routine, muscle memory. He quiets his brain and lets his body do the work. He runs a hand gently over the suit.
Several moments later, he is floating outside, held delicately by the curling tube, an umbilical cord tethered to a lifeless mother.
He feels each gentle breath in and out of his lungs. The world collapses then expands around him. The distant stars blink indifferently back, dots of light perhaps long perished now. Time melts into nothing. Fading stars, supernovas, black holes. Elements clashing and seething and burning, but it’s all so impossibly far, everything so impossibly cold. God must be the universe itself.
The cord keeps him gently connected, but he lets himself float freely, slowly closing his eyes.
The memories, they wash over him, every small, insignificant word, laugh, joke, touch, smile, all of which begin to expand bigger, stronger, brighter, more than the universe itself. The memories, they push and pull like an ocean tide. He sees their faces, hears their voices, and lets it all overwhelm him in one single moment. He clings desperately to each moment, only to feel them evaporate slowly away from him. He prays for just one more minute, one more second. Just to have it all back. He swears he will never let go again.
Can’t wait for you to come home. Tell me when, I’ll pick you up. See you soon man.