I was sipping egg nog and looking out the window of my quarters at the Station Kronos Kuiper on the dwarf planet Pluto. I was 3.6 billion miles away from my home on Earth and it was Christmas again. The weather outside was perfect for Christmas. It’s always perfect for Christmas here. It was my seventh Christmas in this eternal void of the soul.
I don’t know why I volunteered for the Pluto mission, but then again, I do. I suppose it was a hasty decision driven by the heart. All I remember is I was reading a newspaper in a diner on a rainy day in New York when my fiancée found me and informed me that she was in love with someone else. I had asked her if she had forgotten about the wedding we were planning for. I asked her if she just didn’t want a future with me because I was a rocket jockey. She just rolled her eyes at me and then removed the engagement ring and slid it across the table in my direction.
I caught her glancing out the window and then I looked too, through the mist of the city. There was a tough guy outside on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette beneath a black umbrella as he leaned against a pole. He looked like a fancy pants Wall Street James Dean.
“That’s the guy?” I asked her.
She just halfheartedly nodded and slid out of the booth. She looked at me for the very last time and said, “Have a nice life among the stars.”
It was right after that when I volunteered for the mission with no return trip back to Earth. I didn’t care. I wanted as far away from that shitty world as I could possibly be… And then some. I had to put together and submit pounds of end-of-existence paperwork, agreements, contracts, and final wishes for out here. Talk about signing your life away.
And now here I am. It’s Christmas again, and I am the only one here. All those words and directives mean nothing now because there is no one left to abide to them in my name. I suppose at some point I will just fall over and eventually turn to dust.
I handled the death procedure for the last of the others. And now they are all out there, floating around me somewhere in far-out space unseen. It’s cold. It’s gray as metal. I am lonely.
There hasn’t been any communication with Earth in a very long time. They never answer or maybe they never even receive my transmissions. Either something bad has happened there, or they have simply forgotten about me. Perhaps they have moved on to something more viable and fresher and exciting. Like my ex-fiancée. I took another sip of egg nog and looked out in the vastness of it all even deeper. This is a depth of loneliness unseen, yet at times it is nourishing to me.
I often take my loneliness with me and just sit in the great worship hall to visit with all the various gods of the universe we have created. They all have our own interpretations of what they may look like, or what we want them to look like, painted or chiseled or lasered into and upon various places throughout the sanctuary. I think I prefer the God of Time or the God of Lost Places the most. There’s a god for most anything on Pluto. We had to devise reasons for existing and passing on.
It’s a vast place with arches and buttresses and golden windows and statues and rows upon rows of pews for the people who once came there. There’s a large, clear dome at the top to allow one a glimpse of the wet universe that surrounds this place. I appear in the sanctuary at a spot in the middle and pause and admire the work of the ones before me who built it all. I owe them my life at this point really, for their vast creations on this planet have kept me alive and for the most part, safe.
Instead of the plethora of gods, I pray to the astro-engineers and architects and builders and the mechanical men who carved out a whole new world here on the outer Kuiper. I thank them for their ingenuity, patience, and skill. But the silence here now is nearly deafening. What a strange thing. But even so, there are at times distant rattles, invisible things falling, dust skittering in the low light. They often frighten me because it makes me wonder if I am truly alone after all.
Author’s note: I hope to craft more of this story over time as an experiment in writing some science fiction. Thanks for reading and supporting independent content creators who just want to do what they love to do.