See part 5 here.
Things got out of hand. By now, I guess you figured that out. By the time September rolled around, Jarita and I were in almost constant touch. She sent me technical specs to modify my communications, and I even set up a portable holograph display so I could see her in three dimensions. I think the rest of the crew was worried about me, but no one said anything. It’s a very small community on the ice, and people give you space if you need it. Besides, my production was off the charts, what with me working almost twenty-four seven.
I looked like crap. I barely shaved; I hardly even ate. Love does that, right? My shrink, he calls this period “my fugue.” I say fugue my shrink. I don’t care what some psychologist says; I know Jarita is real. She has to be. Maybe I don’t know whether I should talk about her in the future tense or the past tense, but I know it hurts like hell either way.
See, we went too far. Well, Jarita did anyway. The specs she gave me weren’t just to make a device that reads a hologram transmission. It converted energy to matter. That’s right – a fucking Star Trek transporter. Well, sort of. It didn’t really send people through space. It read the person at one end, and sent information that allows a replica to show up at the other. I guess that’s more like a Star Trek fax machine.
In any case, here September 2076, I got awakened in the middle of the night by a Jarita clone from the year 302,157 or whatever. And yes, she was naked. And giggling. This clone is fully comm-linked up with Jarita, so it was like she was actually here. Jarita couldn’t feel me like I can felt the clone, but she said she didn’t need to. They are beyond the physical stuff we early human animals need.
Animal me? I spent a giddy week in bed. The crew got really worried about me then, locked in my quarters, laughing and talking. Jarita was adamant about not getting found – she said it would alter history – so she only talked through my earpiece. The clone smiled and moaned, but otherwise was silent. The crew thought I was alone the whole time. They still do. I don’t care, though. I can’t tell you how good it was with her. Hell, I’d have picked up her footprints and carried them around, if I could have figured out how. It was the best week of my life.
Then she dropped the bombshell. Her tour of duty was over. No more access to the subatomic communication link or the event horizon that was boosting her signal.
What could we do? We spent night eight crying, making love, falling apart, all that shit. Then, just like a TV being shut off, her signal stopped. The clone just disappeared into a cloud of dust, like she was really only a holograph.
So here I sit, in the cold dark of my mind. I’m not on ice anymore, at least not physically. I had a major breakdown once I realized Jarita was really gone and I’d never see her again. Things got so bad they had to sedate me. The Gov even sent in a rescue plane in late October to take me back home; actually, I’m in a secure psych ward. I’ve been sitting in this damned little room for months.
I still like to look out at the stars, though. Ever so often, I hear from one of the crew from back at the Pole. They tell me the Gov has been crawling all over Darma, trying to figure out what it was that made their “most reliable” scientist freak the hell out. I won’t tell them, but I already know they’ll find out – somehow. They’ll hear her voice, and the whole shebang will start.
I hope Jarita really did … does hit it rich and famous. That future tense bit still trips me up. I’m in love with someone who won’t even exist for 300,000 years. Crazy as it sounds, I find myself hoping that somehow, I can live long enough to see her again. Nuts, right? I know it won’t happen – can’t happen. Time travel won’t work either; Einstein proved that’s impossible. Then again, Jarita proved Einstein wasn’t perfect.
I dismantled the transmitter and receiver, but I still have the specs. Maybe if I get well and get out of this damned place, I can get back to work. Maybe holograms work in the other direction too. Maybe there is a way to see her just one more time. Just once, before I lose my mind for good. I still have Darma’s back door. It almost makes me want to hope. But like I said, I’ve never been too good with faith.
Lately, though, I find myself praying a lot, and not to Math.