‘Shut up, mom’, Isaac Moore shouted, his fast steps echoing through the halls of the house. The kind voice of a lady answered from the walls.
‘You know I worry about you’, she said. Her voice jumped from one speaker to another, following the young man across the rooms. ‘That place is dangerous. You could die, or… Worse.’
He rushed through the house, barely glancing at each area as he moved past. He aimed for the living room. His mother’s voice spoke again from the walls.
‘What if nothing’s there, anyway? What if you go all the way to Lakota 8 for no reason?’
‘Then you have no reason to worry.’ Isaac stepped into the living room, a luxurious space with a wide window on the back wall. The sun was shining outside, illuminating the room with warm morning light. ‘I’ll be fine, mom’, he said, as he sat down on a comfortable armchair looking at the window. ‘Sometimes I wonder why I still allow you to call at any time of day.’
‘Because you’d miss me otherwise’, the voice replied. Isaac could not see her through the speakers, but he knew she was smiling. The young man chuckled and pressed a button on his armchair. The sun disappeared, leaving room to the pitch-black depths of space.
‘Gotta go, mom. Say hi to dad for me. Love you.’
Elizabeth Moore sighed, knowing that any further attempt of dissuading her son would prove pointless.
‘Love you too, Isaac. Check the ship’s Life Support before leaving.’
The young man nodded and cut the call. He clutched a handle and pushed the spacecraft’s thrusters at top speed. His small, floating house followed his commands, and started cruising towards an unknown destination.
A few hours earlier, Isaac’s rocket-house floated gently among other, less human spacecrafts in Saturnia.
On the outside, a new millennium’s human spaceship would look like the average American house. Whoever designed the first rocket-house certainly suffered from some kind of Earth-nostalgia; luckily, the final product was able to deliver more than a simple nostalgic effect. After the defenceless houses were targeted by pirates all around the universe in test-missions, every layer was reinforced with several metal and carbonium alloys, to protect explorers from the dangers of outer space.
On the outside, however, a new millennium’s human spacecraft would still look like the average American house.
Saturnia, on the other hand, was unlike the average space-town: few were the locals, and most of them would run a business to attract tourists from around the galaxy. Saturnia was a garden of colours, and the most attractive of the entire Solar System, with aggressive, yet delicate neon signs blinking like fireflies in the distance.
Isaac left his house to a trusted mechanic for maintenance, and went to a nearby Spacebar to relax.
Just as he was about to order a beer from the bartender, he spotted a fight not too far from his seat.
‘I swear, Fretlan, I had no choice! Those things got me right before the Lakota System. If I stayed
‘C’mon, old man, don’t you make this difficult for us. You owe us, and now you gonna pay. This whole “jellyfish” thing stinks like my grandma’s ol’ boots, anyway.”
‘Hey!’, Isaac shouted, just as the group closed around the old man. He lifted a picture for a split second. ‘Lieutenant Moore, International Space Corps. Have we got a problem, here?’
The rough and vulgar men exchanged glimpses with each other. Then, the one who seemed their boss spoke up.
‘Oh no, Lieutenant, we were just lettin’ the ol’ man know how we care ‘bout his health. I’m sure he got our concern.’
‘Concern my ass’, Isaac replied. His heart raced in his throat, so loud he feared they could hear it.
‘If I spot you scum around this poor man once again, I’ll make sure you’ll only see the deep intensity of space behind bars for the rest of your days.’
The men looked at each other. Their leader nodded, and the whole flock started to migrate out of the bar. The old man waited for them to disappear, then thanked Isaac profusely.
‘I don’t know what they’d do to me, if you didn’t show up. Thank you, lieutenant!’
‘Please, old man’, Isaac replied. ‘I’m not a lieutenant. That was my space licence. I just don’t like bullies.’
The old man opened his eyes wide.
‘Now’, Isaac resumed, grabbing a chair nearby. ‘Please, tell me about that “Lakota System” of yours…’
A wailing alarm distracted him from his memories. Isaac started scanning his navigation console, looking for any visual warnings. All seemed fine. But the ship’s thrusters were not responding.
Isaac pressed a button on the console to call Elizabeth.
‘Isaac!’, she shouted. ‘Is everything alright?’
‘I don’t know, mom. I think we… I think I hit a gravitational force. I can’t control the ship!’
The rocket-house was slowly shifting to Isaac’s left. Something was pulling it in that direction, and the thrusters did not seem strong enough to escape its clutch.
‘Relax, my son. Breathe. Shut the thrusters off, check the sensors. What do you see?’
Isaac breathed in, and out. He let go of the handle: it was pointless to keep pushing forward. The alarm kept spitting noises into his eardrum. He switched it off, and all was silent; the whole living room dominated by a deep red light.
‘I see something on my radar. I don’t know what it is, but… It’s huge.’ Isaac moved his eyes on the wide windshield. ‘I can see the Omega Belt at the horizon.’
‘You have no choice, Isaac. You must use the FTL Drive.’
Isaac considered the option, but it was too risky. Only pirates and the worst scum dared venture after the Omega Belt. He could end up in a hole with no way out.
‘I know what you’re thinking’, Elizabeth said, from the speakers. ‘But you must enter the hyperspace. It’s the only way to save your life.’
Isaac’s ship was being pulled with bigger strength each instant. He did not know what could possess such power, but it sure was nothing friendly. He inhaled, then turned the hyperspace drive on. The ship charged the engines slowly, the noise of the hyper-speed drive louder by the second.
Then, Isaac entered the hyperspace, and his house vanished into thin air.
The monster let go of the house just as Isaac jumped away. It emitted a call inaudible to human ears, to alert its kind of the incoming threat; then, it started floating peacefully towards Lakota.
Isaac switched the ship’s FTL Drive off. He had never been that far from the Solar System before, ever since he started scouting space for secrets, and knowledge. But now, as he observed the liquid colours surrounding Lakota 8, the farthest star in the known universe, his heart filled with joy and
curiosity. He was about to go where no human being had ever been before. Shades of green and deep blue surrounded the ship as far as the eye could see.
‘Mom?’, he called. Elizabeth answered straight away.
‘Isaac. Is everything alright?’
‘It’s more than alright. It’s… gorgeous.’
‘What do you see?’
‘I wish you guys could see it too. Colours. A lot of colours, more than I’ve ever seen in my whole life. More than you and dad ever showed me on Earth. And a star, the brightest in the whole universe. And a lot of tiny asteroids, and…’
Isaac stopped. ‘Wait. There’s something else.’
‘I don’t know. I’ll call you back.’
Isaac cut the call off. Something escaped his gaze, lurking from the darkness. He looked carefully around the ship; that is when he realised that the ‘asteroids’ all around him were shipwrecks, or fragments of ships, once belonging to other space explorers. And yet, none of those ships looked
human: spacecrafts from around the universe had gathered in that mysterious graveyard, a legacy to those explorers who dared challenge the dreadful Lakota System. Explorers like Isaac, and all the ones before him.
Silence. A young man, closed in his house of metal, in the middle of nowhere. But he was not alone.
He saw it again. A gigantic shape on the radar at first, then in front of his eyes, this time floating and bobbling its head like a huge jellyfish. It moved up and down, smooth, not a single care in the universe. But then, Isaac saw another one; and another one again. A big shoal of jellyfish, floating and swimming in deep space all around his ship. Their body an ocean of colours, a night sky thriving with pigments of stars.
Some moved peacefully, others were entirely wrapped around the planets in the System. They did not seem bothered by his presence; yet, there was something about them that unsettled Isaac. He was petrified, afraid they would attack, if threatened.
Far on the horizon, Isaac saw something even bigger than all those jellyfish together: a majestic creature, similar to a huge octopus, barely visible around Lakota 8, and sucking energy from the star’s core. And all the jellyfish seemed to move according to that big creature’s rhythms.
It was then that Isaac made an unforgivable mistake. He turned on the thrusters, fearing for his life, and started to manoeuvre his ship to go back to Saturnia. But, as soon as he turned around, one of those creatures attached to the front window, wrapping its tentacles around the whole house.
Isaac screamed and kept pushing forward, but it was pointless: the jellyfish clutched the thrusters and started pulling them away, then began tearing the ship into pieces. Isaac tried to reach for a nearby trigger, in an attempt to fire the ship’s weapons at the monster. But, then, Isaac made another unforgivable mistake: he lifted his eyes to meet the ones of the jellyfish, right above his windshield.
The mystical creature scraped into his brain, studying him and his memories, communicating with his mind, and, at the same time, sharing all that information with the shoal and the huge octopus, their mother brain. Isaac saw his whole life flash before him.
He saw the day his father left Earth for the first time, inspiring him to become a space explorer himself.
He saw the day Earth was devastated by climate change, and humanity was forced to find alternative ways to survive in space.
He saw the day his fragile mother died, unable to endure the harsh conditions of space. A little later, he saw the day his father, heartbroken, lost his life too.
He saw the day he learned to develop an Artificial Intelligence to keep his ship’s conditions always under control. He then gave the AI the voice of his mother, sampled from a few old recordings on their home-ship.
He saw the day he traveled to the edge of the universe, to fulfill his parents’ biggest wish. And he saw the day of his death, as he looked into the eyes of an ancestral creature.
The young man fell on the floor, his energies sucked away by the shoal of jellyfish around his ship. That same instant, the huge octopus detached from Lakota 8 and stopped draining from the star’s core. There was a new source of power, somewhere around the galaxies; and it was bigger than anything they had ever stolen by killing any other star.
And the creatures started moving inwards from the edge of the universe, guided by their mother brain, looking for a new home; one where more Isaacs could be drained of their unconscious, lingering power, to feed the hunger of a new, frightening race of parasites.
Isaac saw Elizabeth waiting on the other side, holding hands with his father. Their smile was worth a thousand words: there was a place there for him.
‘Mom… Dad…’ he whispered, as he closed his eyes. The jellyfish would soon tear the house to pieces, but he did not care. At last, Isaac was in peace.