You have 4 free member-only stories remaining for the month. Subscribe now for unlimited access

 Some Planets Never Die

As the dust particles and gasses coalesced around me, lightning crackled and thunder boomed. The sound of it was the first thing I heard. I was both afraid and excited. These were new feelings for me. In fact, every sensation was novel. Although in many ways still just a seed, my senses, such as they were at that point, were inexplicably perceptive and utterly responsive that my closest star seemed to be touching me. It was almost unbearable. And yet I felt reassured by its presence. I knew that I needed it, that it would sustain me. I kept count as I travelled around it, completing lap after lap, collecting the things I came across and adding them to myself. Together we attracted more material. I began to feel the weight of myself. Could get a sense of what I was as I occupied an ever increasing amount of space, of what I might become. Of my innate potential.

Still nascent, for a long time there was little change. I spent my time travelling and marveling at the universe around me. I grew into myself, became defined. But I could feel through the chaotic entanglement of invisible forces something approaching, though I couldn’t tell what it was. It loomed large in my psyche and heralded danger. I could see its body only as a vague form in a sea of stars. Leave me be I thought. I’m perfectly content as I am, alone, and in many ways the freest thing in the universe. Perhaps I was selfish: wanting the entirety of the universe to myself. Greedy, for wanting to remain languishing in the infinite complexities of it while being utterly at peace.

With the certainty of fate our gravities seemed to pull together, drawing us closer with an inescapable inevitability. Thus, it came to be, my first and only Law in celestial mechanics: nothing lasts forever.

Foreign, and from a distant star of immense energy, wandering the galaxy with a body for which space itself seemed to stand aside, the exoplanet arrived like a beautiful calamity.

In an instant it had filled my horizons. For a moment I saw myself, was given an insight as to how I might appear. Truly it was beautiful. Not to be conceited, but spectacular, frankly, although no superlatives suffice, dare I say Divine? Certainly sacred. This moment brought about another profound feeling I had been yet to experience. I can only liken it to my perception of what I believe love to be.

The forces bringing us together felt terrifying and exhilarating. It was a collision that to experience seemed to happen in slow motion. I felt myself become a ripple of joy across the surface. Thrilling, painful, sublime. It rocked me off my axis, left me dazed and confused and feeling too much. Then, before I knew what was happening, the exo had left, seemingly never to be seen again, continuing its infinite journey, a cosmic pilgrimage with no destination.

However, the exo, in the chaos of our coming together, left something of itself. A fragment of its tangible existence embedded within me. I knew things would never be the same. I distinctly recall a piece of me, knocked loose in the collision and combined with pieces of the exo. It drifted away, backed by a landscape of stars. I thought it was gone forever but just as I began to lose hope and even mourn its loss, it stopped. I understood that I still had power over it, an influence that was reciprocated as a force of balance. I realized also that I had a distinctly creative power. A power that I couldn’t have ever imagined possessing before.

It remained at this distance as it revolved around always repositioning to face me, reflecting the sun, a reminder of how things all began. I felt it stir something deep within me, it motivated the very core of my being.

This is mine, I thought, something that I will have forever. A child whose constant companionship will light my nights. I realized that what I thought was an accident was actually a gift, a miracle, worthy of adoration.

Then things really began to accelerate. With our relationship established, I changed in response. My satellite slowed me down, kept me stable, allowed life to flourish like never before. And I could feel everything and was hyperaware of the constant change, and yet in many ways, things stayed the same, were predictable. Patterns of life developed and advanced. I communicated through networks of cells that covered by body, my knowledge of life increased rapidly, to the point that it was almost too intense. But I enjoyed every second of it and was rewarded constantly with new stimuli.

As I aged, it enhanced the subtleties of the senses, the smell of my sea, and the taste of my fruit who roots bore themselves deep into my planar soil. All I had to do was bear witness, and watch with pregnant pause, as more of me rounded. I was the record keeper. I marveled at the symbiotic relationships that abounded, at the intricate, interconnectedness of my entire being.

My reach extended into space too, through an electromagnetic field that meant I was aware not only of what was happening in my immediate environment but also cosmic events happening light years away. As such, I knew what was happening with my neighbors and the bodies with which they shared my space. I felt connected, at one with the universe. I would be visited from time to time by foreign travelers. There were other collisions and interactions with unfamiliar bodies that left their mark, but nothing to compare to the exo. Some of them, I can admit, I took a while to recover from…Or to be more accurate, the life systems I sustained, and the associated organisms had to begin again, find a new way to exist and inhabit me.

It was my blessing to host life. Yet, it came with a burden of responsibility. There were some particularly interesting beings that evolved after I had been alive for a relatively long time that was especially fascinating and gave me great joy to behold. For a long period we had a wonderful relationship. They worshipped me in a sincerely joyful way, until things started to change. Being worshipped wasn’t something I required necessarily. My ego isn’t that inflated. But I will not lie and say that it did not feel nice for a while. Together we achieved a sweet equilibrium.

But, Nothing lasts forever.

As the beings developed at an ever-increasing pace, my landscapes became more cluttered and stifled and I felt heavy, too heavy now, they began taking up too much space.

At first, I just felt a bit out off kilter. But then things started to get serious. The feedback loops that had self-sustained the systems of life that had developed reached a tipping point and began to reverse. The biological mechanisms fundamental to life began to show signs of stress.

I could observe the changes as always but whereas before there had been some regularity, a pattern to life, now it was getting too chaotic for my liking.

I was troubled. Indeed, for a long time, I was paralyzed into inaction. I watched in horror as things degraded. Even though I had always known that there was the possibility of it happening, and I had almost been expecting it, nothing prepared me for the actual experience of dying.

What hurt the most was the fact that it could have been preventable.

Against my better nature, I longed for vengeance against the beings that had invoked this catastrophe through their carelessness and hubris. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do anything, only bide my time. Because things were already in motion, set on a path that had only had one outcome. It was going in one direction and even I was powerless to halt the progress. It was with an inevitability that many parts of me began to sicken and die. I quickly became used to it. But it didn’t make it any better. It still hurt.

Call me sentimental, but I had grown quite attached to the beings I had in some ways created, this element of myself that was always so surprising. Almost unknowable in its unpredictability. Yet, I couldn’t help but feel, well, heartbroken, that it had to end like this.

I began to reminisce about the early days when I had felt I was the freest thing in the universe. In a moment of weakness, I thought, helplessly, that maybe it would be better to have never met that other body, the exo, never felt it, never responded, never made our moon.

But then I recalled everything I had been able to witness, all of the beauty. I got ahold on my thoughts but I still couldn’t help feeling that it was all a bit anti-climactic, to end this way, with a sigh and whimper, instead of bang. To be honest I had hoped my death would be more, well, spectacular. I had imagined myself exploding into a kaleidoscope of pure light, spreading small seeds of sacred consciousness, such as I had been once, scattered into the stars – like a dandelion being blown upon – carried by a solar wind, escaping time and swept on into infinity.

My condition steadily worsened. The outlook was bleak. I was bleeding life through a torn sky. Parts of me began to die and things stopped working and ground to a halt. The beings I had fostered with such care and tenderness were wiped out. The damage had been done.

At my core, something still flickered, then sputtered, then was extinguished. The communication systems collapsed, including the electromagnetic force, through which I was attached to the far reaches of the universe. I no longer had any control, either of myself or of my cosmic child. I couldn’t hold on. Her orbits widened and her pale appearance began to grow dim as she drifted off. Soon she was the size of a star as she sailed away. Without her companionship, the inherent action of her orbit, I was destabilized and my atmosphere, sustainer of all life, dissolved.

As I faded to black, my final thoughts were of my splendid satellite, my daughter, who still carried the seed of life created by the encounter between the exo and me. With my last strength, I wished her god speed as she sailed through glorious space searching for an encounter with fate. 

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in All Stories, Sci Fi