Penelope Hart

The hull of the ship spread out like a firework, shards of glass and steel glittering in the inky black. Slater tumbled with them, his ragged breath the only sound in his ears. He clung to himself, screamed and howled, kicked at the void.

“Slater, come in Slater.” A voice called to him through his earpiece.

“Kingsley? Oh my god Kingsley, what happened?”

“A valve blew in the rear annex. Where are you?”

Slater looked around but all he could see was dust and smoke and twisted shrapnel.

“I’ll call someone,” said Kingsley. “Hold on”

To what? There was nothing but darkness and fear. “Kingsley?,” cried Slater, “Kingsley!”

He was gone.

Silence engulfed Slater. The universe spun around him like a giant globe, the gas and dust and fire twisting in endless layers. The longer he looked, the more he could see, the galaxies piling on top of each other until they merged in a smoky haze.

Space was no longer space, but time as well, everything shrinking to a single point, bursting out with a bang around him. He watched rays of light reflect off his visor, travel across the void, enter the eye of a another man — no longer human, evolved beyond earth, beyond the Milky Way.

Fear left him. His edges melted. His consciousness mingled with the shrapnel and the light from thousands of blinking stars. He was limitless, all knowing, all powerful. And suddenly he understood —

“Slater, come in Slater.”

His body gripped him. “No!” He reached out with his mind but moved his hand instead.

“Jonathan Slater? This is the Bridge. You’ve been separated from your ship. We’re going to bring you in.”

“Shut up!” cried Slater. He held his hands over his ears — tried to concentrate but it was like holding water in his palm.

“Remain calm. Please cross your arms in front of your chest.”

He let go, allowed them to float perpendicular to his body. For a moment he saw himself reflected in the window of the spaceship: a t-shape, arms stretched out at his sides.

“What are you doing?” said the voice. “You’ll die out there.”

Slater no longer had a body so he spoke with his mind instead: I cannot die.

The ship fell from view.

He melted into space.