Stars sing in hyperspace. It sounds like highly polished metal rubbed against highly polished metal. It’s both lyrical and teeth clenching all at once. Jarring even, like the galaxy wants to communicate, but only if an understanding got reached. It feels as if every star wants to make its presence known all at once by screaming for attention.
So when Jack Kelly returns to normal space, just inside the orbit of Pluto, he is a bit sad this constant orchestra disappears.
This, the first tachyon fueled space ride to another solar system, was not easy.
He feels the trip to Alpha Centauri in his cells. Like he is made of broken elastic. He wants to close his eyes and sleep but knows he has to run tests on his little experimental galactic ship. He notes his speed holds steady at just below tachyonic, but for some reason, his comm system is no longer connected.
He types the command for it to reboot and once it does he is still not connected to Earth’s comm network, but now a message blinks saying, “No credit, contact service.”
He enters the command for the system to recalibrate and while waiting types, “mission successful,” and hits send confidant the system will send the missive when it is able.
Now all he has left to do is sit back and relax, three days till home.
An hour later his system beeps, waking him up. The alert was announcing the recalibration’s end. He opens the message program and finds 5474 unread messages received.
Then a billboard explodes out of the horizon.
He feels shock like a giant fist suddenly expanding in his gut.
The glowing advertisement promises, “GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS, after toll!”
A neon-like mock-up of what has been promised animates and begins dances voluptuously on a pole with animated sparks flying from where one would assume sparks fly on a stripper.
Kelly blinks in disbelief. Rubs his eyes, but no it remains a reality.
Maybe hyperspace sickness. He is the first to ever go into hyperspace and a theoretical symptom of having entered said space could be echoes of other realities.
He tries to decide that’s it, but before he can, another alarm blares. This alarm is connected to the proximity sensor announcing he has just time to scream, “shit.” and desperately look for a way to avoid the collision he is moments away from having with a steel structure surrounded by spacecraft trundling through the horrible traffic of their daily commute.
He twists his yoke and somehow physics bend to his will. He avoids the bulk of the traffic but clips the spaceport and careens off into the vacuum.
He hears the hiss of air escaping the cabin and a fraction of a second later…
Jack Kelly wakes up and shoots to a sitting position resting bare feet on cold naked steel and in more pain than he ever thought possible.
“Awake are ya?”
Jack jerks his face to the owner of the voice, a giant man in a silver jumpsuit. He has a shiny pate and yellow teeth and squinty pig-like eyes.
Jack assumes immediately he is in a brig because the giant man stands beyond a blue glowing force field of some kind and he has been dressed in orange colored plastic scrubs.
“My ship?” he asks in a sort of a half moan.
“Dangerous bucket of bolts was destroyed. You design it with a caveman?”
No the best minds ever born, he wants to argue, but instead asks, “Where am I?”
“Earth, tomorrow you see a judge.” the guard says and the air seems to chill with intended foreboding.
He turns with a sneer and leaves Jack free to look at Earth through the giant window beyond his cell.
Earth, where even the moon is covered in the ugliest urban blight imaginable.