“Do you need help?” The man in the car asked. His voice cut through the night, raised above the downpour, the steady drone of raindrops spattering against the road, the trees, the roof of his car. The girl raised her head, startled.
Damien closed contact, then sat in the armchair at the center of the room to wait. The ship was nearing the end of the waking cycle. All throughout its myriad passages and doorways, Covenant prepared for the night. If he strained his senses, Damien imagined he could feel the thrum of activity passing through the metal walls around him, hear the shuffling feet, doorways closing against the light of waking.
He opened his eyes. The world was blurred, but undoubtedly real—he was aboard Covenant again. All around him were slight details that he had not noticed before, but which now glared at him from seemingly every surface—minute imperfections that somehow suggested reality.
Morning came in a haze of memories from the night before. Leon savored the feeling of relaxation that blanketed his mind, the way his bed seemed to embrace his body in a comfort he never wanted to leave, the warmth of Elle beside him. He glanced at the clock face set into the opposite wall—it... Continue Reading →
Leon was hovering in that strange world between sleep and waking, where sounds cannot be placed, and true experience begins to meld into the dreamscapes of the mind. The first knock at the door seemed a distant echo out of those drifting half-dreams and did not rouse him. The second, more forceful, pulled him unwillingly back to what was surely reality. He groaned as he raised himself to his feet and shuffled out to the main room of his quarters. Another knock, and the abrasive sound grated against him.
Elle could hardly breathe as her eyes drank in the blue lines like so many delicate veins branching across a bare arm. They reminded her with striking fierceness of the etchings on the surface of the sphere itself. Here, they were surrounded by black stretches indicating land, as well vast black deserts...
Leon knew that he was small, but he had never before felt the truth of it so deep within his bones that it sent his thoughts scurrying into dark corners of his mind to hide from that fact.
Coming out of that first vision, out of a world of fire that had scorched his eyes, his skin, filled his lungs with burning air, he had feared it. Over time the fear lessened, then morphed into the curiosity that now brimmed within him.
Before he could look away, she opened her eyes and he became acutely aware of those two spots of storm. When open, they transformed her face entirely from softness to something intense and focused. He felt certain she could see straight through him—his thoughts seemed to be laid out like an open book.
Leon focused somewhat more intensely than he had before, holding onto each item a breath longer, feeling it as his father must once have done. He didn’t notice the single sheet of cellfilm that made Damien’s eyes light with a strange fire, and which was quickly slid into his thin jacket before he continued his work as though nothing had happened.
Leon’s quarters were dim, but enough light bled from the edges of the table at the center of the room to see Damien’s face, his eyes closed as he approached the world within the sphere. Only a few seconds passed before the sphere fell from his hands onto the table. He looked up into Leon and Lena’s waiting faces, their unspoken question the same, hovering on their lips.
Lena gasped, her breath tangled with a cry, choked within her. Her eyes flew open, the sphere fell hard from her hands to thud against the floor and roll away from the table. Leon flicked on the lights and bent to pick it up, set it gently on the table, then sat and watched the wild motion of Lena’s thoughts as they played across her face. Confusion, fear, disbelief vying against each other for dominance. She picked up her glass of water and drank with trembling hands.
The rest of Leon’s patients that day came and went in slow procession. He listened, responded, tried to help while his thoughts stayed far away. When the last patient had thanked him and left, Leon slipped their file into his desk and swept out into the corridor...
Leon stood on uncertain feet, suddenly desperate to prove to himself that he was truly back aboard Covenant. When he pulled the window shade open he was relieved to look upon the infinity of space, stretching in all directions, glittering with innumerable stars. Below, the stern of the ship fell away...
Isaac Binder’s body, like all who died aboard Covenant, was jettisoned into space. Leon watched its silent launch through a viewport above the rear airlock, and inevitably found himself wondering about his father’s destination. Perhaps he would one day fall through an alien atmosphere to strike an unknown landscape—a Pioneer once more in death. Maybe... Continue Reading →