Kill Nothing But Time
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I went through my checklist three times before hitting the button meant to send me across the cosmos. Everything seemed perfect.

The SCPF Athens was the pinnacle of Foundation engineering: a ceramic steel composite frame with built-in magnetic field generators to protect the occupants from errant debris and cosmic rays. A prototype cold-fusion power plant capable of generating 2,000 megawatts of power. Three sub-light engines that could produce up to 1G of accelerative force until you turned them off or the universe dies.

Then came the crown jewel of human achievement: The Elastic Jump Drive. A mixture of magic and technology that could, with a modest investment of power, weave a temporary way through spacetime and allow travel to anywhere in the observable universe.

After a period of time that depended on how much power you supplied the drive, it would pull you back to your original jump point. It allowed nothing to travel with you that you didn't bring in the first place and it left nothing behind.

Take nothing but pictures.

Leave nothing but footprints.

Kill nothing but time.

We'd done this test a dozen times already. With insects. Dogs. Finally a chimpanzee. They'd acted a bit odd when they came back but who wouldn't?

This was our first time sending a human across the void. And I alone would tell them what wonders I saw there.

I pressed the button and the control boards lit up like a Christmas tree. A power spike. A big one.

You know, I've had some time to think about what brought me to this place in my life. The long nights. The short relationships. That year with Diana.

I was always so busy. Paperwork. Funding requests. Grants. Crossing the t's, dotting the i's. This was supposed to make up for all of that. My crowning achievement for a life unlived.

Back to the power spike. My eyes, my hands, even my beating heart jumped a thousand-thousand lightyears in an instant. But I remained.

And now I can't feel.

No sensory input. No pain. Nothing but the void. Still, the ship carrying my skin should come back.

It must come back.

I don't have the luxury of looking out into the universe while I wait. I sing to myself, but I hear nothing. I try to remember how she smelled and it's almost beyond my reach.

I've been waiting quite a while. And now I'm thinking about the thing I've been dreading. The power spike. What if my body didn't survive the trip?

I'll stay here.


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