Starting today, I will be posting the short story “From the Black, the Blues” which is featured in my short story collection The Juice and Other Stories, available for the Kindle and in paperback (the paperback version contains 2 extra stories). “From the Black” was first published in the Literary Underground’s short story anthology, Time. It details the burgeoning romance between two scientists separated by time and distance. The story is 4,500 words, so it will be released in several parts. I’m publishing it here because it reminds me of a recent situation I’ve come across.
I hope you like it. It was my 1st short story, so be gentle. 😉
Her ship sailed long ago. That’s what I remind myself as I squint past the moon into a starless sky. I pull my pea coat tighter, aware, in some vague sense, that it’s not the night air that chills me. Though it has been months since her departure, I can smell the perfume of her everywhere. Every so often, I find an abnormally long strand of hair in the shower. On most days, I resist the urge to save them. This is not one of those days. I keep the bits of her I find in a jar – a jar full of nothing, according to my shrink. Screw him.
I am a scientist by vocation. I have always felt secure wrapped in a blanket of logic. It doesn’t exactly keep the chill off at night, but it hurts a hell of a lot less than dreams or faith. I never did so well with faith. The Scientific Method is my Shepherd, I shall not want. It maketh me to lie down my silly hypotheses. It restoreth my sanity. It leadeth me past shrill derision. Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Apostates, I shall fear no evil.
Their scorn no longer fazes me.
I’ve had plenty of time to shield myself against others’ ridicule. Once in a while, I can even protect myself from my own. I am Dargesh. Until recently, I was lead researcher for the DARk MAtter II Deep Space Receiver and Autonomous Laboratory Infrastructure. Darma Disraeli, we call her. Don’t let the round, metal frame fool you; she’s sexy as all get out. Of course, the Gov calls her DM2-DSRALI, but Darma is a much sweeter name. It suits her. She’s a kick-ass bit of machinery, if I say so myself. I designed her. Proud poppa, and all that. Well, not so much poppa as … well, Darma is my girl. For most of the last six years, she’s been all the female companionship I’ve had. I guess that’s what led to my problem in the first place.
Anyway, Darma’s job is to locate, analyze, and transmit information that will enhance our knowledge about dark matter. She is self-sufficient, deployed with the basic laboratory structure needed to analyze data, mass, or energy signatures without needing help from us back home. She is gifted with deep AI and can initiate experiments on her own. She’s a piece of work, my Darma. The most optimistic of us hoped to find the first tangible proof of dark energy and matter at the center of a massive galaxy cluster. Sure, we’ve pretty much proved it exists via the Lord thy Math, but this mission was about funding. There’s no way you’re going to convince a politician to pony up a healthy grant based on Math. So, we point Darma to the nearest star cluster and say, “Fetch.” Six months later, bam: proof (or, Math forbid, disproof) of dark matter.
What she found, however, was something else entirely. On more of a lark than anything else, I reconfigured her to pick up not just the narrow energy signatures and subatomics that she was designed for, but a broader band of wavelengths that would include microwaves and what we here on Earth call radio waves. After all, Darma was the first extra-solar-system craft to remain fully in contact with the home planet. I didn’t want to miss out on the unlikely opportunity of picking up sounds from out past Pluto. The Gov liked the idea too, even though the perceived science benefits would be nil. NASA has long had to pimp itself out to private investors, and playing the “meet the aliens from space” angle brings in a lot of press, not to mention celebrity money.
Sounds pretty cool, huh? In truth, the gig was boring as hell, for the most part. Most of my days and nights consisted of sitting in an empty lab, chugging Cokes, munching chips, and listening to static from deep space. Hurray for eight years of college.
Sure, the team made some amazing discoveries, like confirming the presence of an Earth-like planet less than 500 light-years away that is orbiting a star we thought too small and dim to sustain a planetary system. Still, most of the static was just that – noise. No dark matter, no Nobel Prize. The only other thing I found was … singing.
Okay, I know how that sounds, but it was there. Shit. Let me just tell you the whole story.
(end of part 1)