Listen to the Podcast:
I sit on the prow of my rocket ship plowing the starry night, penetrating the rings of apprehension, plummeting into the deep cold of Outer Silence.
I am the last of my kind. The people who knew me are no longer around to hold me accountable to who I was. I have the sort of liberty that human beings have always dreamed of. But of what use? I live in a state of endless, mindless liberty. But it is lonely out here: I long for someone to offend, to contradict, some line to cross. No one out here cares what I do or what I think. No one notices. Out here, no one is here. Back there, there no one is there.
In the old science fiction fantasies, the exploration of Outer Silence was something heroic. It was Man against the The Void (or Man against the Creepy Alien Lifeform). As they told the story back then, Man through his wiles or courage or selfless commitment to other members of his species would eventually triumph over The Void. Based on my experience, I have come to a slightly different conclusion: The Void always wins.
At the Museum of Science and Technology where they took me as a child, they exhibited things we made. Man was extremely handy at creating devices. Most of them are quaint and useless to me now. I have my rocket ship and food and fuel for several light-years. I don’t need anything more. None of those things they invented can replace what I have lost in holding the dubious honor of being the last of my kind. If I haven’t found anyone before my food runs out, I won’t want to live anyway.
In Outer Silence, there is no sunrise and no sunset. The days (or the nights) are interminable. It’s all shimmering darkness out here. Nothing tells me that a day has come and gone; there is nothing to be nostalgic about because there is no measurable past. There is nothing to long for as there is no future. It is all one big expanding present that overwhelms me in its empty embrace.
I have a clock on my dashboard whose face turns lighter or darker based on the cycle of day and night back on Earth. It is a novelty, a relic from the time when I still believed I would return. If it ever stops working I won’t remember what a day ever felt like.
I sit on the prow of my rocket ship, hugging my knees, burrowing into the night and putting names to the constellations. There are certain names that I like best, so I use them over and over again. It doesn’t matter. I know that I will never be back this way again.