Chapter Nine (of Ten)
There was no way to look outside other than the windows of the living quarters. All of the viewers had been smashed by the rioting while he slept in the motor room. He hadn’t noticed a shift back to level at first, but the floors now seemed perfectly flat. He guessed that if the machine was running, everyone inside of it would assimilate, feeling the same sense of level as the ship determined it to be. No matter what angle it was to Earth’s now collapsed crust, the sun, or to the galaxy, it would look and feel correctly leveled. He had never studied whether it would assimilate the gravity of the planetary system, or the galaxy, it never occurred to him to go beyond that of Earth. But the problem of the creature was still unresolved.
There was absolutely no motion detectable by him. For a fleeting second he thought that maybe the process had ended, that the creature had died a stillbirth and Earth had been spared, and that he still remained on the land he had bought for little money. It was a desperate thought that quickly disappeared.
He vaulted up the stairs to the telescope. He looked into it and realized that nothing had gone wrong. The creature had been released. He looked into the reflecting mirror as the viewing screen had been smashed like all the others, but the mob hadn’t bothered to climb the metal stairs to the bottom of the telescope. It didn’t give him much of a look, but he could see waves of green floating like a kaleidoscope at the end of the telescopes lens. He watched for a while, but it told him nothing.
Finally, he ran down to the living quarters and looked out once more, picking the side that had been facing the far end of the planets, away from the sun. He moved to a second room when the first one was too heavily obscured by blood. He travelled nearly to the end of The Planet’s living quarters before finally finding the one not in need of cleaning. He watched as a thin film of green waved all around the ship. It was sort of like a heat wave, you could see the waves visually bending everything, but it was itself translucent and misty.
As it moved away, towards Pluto, he could make out that a wing had passed all around him. He also noticed that there was a flaw in the area of the wing that had swept past him. A single round hole had been punctured through it. It shrank with distance until it disappeared with the increase and his eyes could no longer see it. It was far too tiny to interfere with the function of the wing and the creature itself became invisible before very long. As it did he recognized the wings as they were expanding and moving away from his stationary ship. He could make out the thick leading edge of them, and the smaller thickened bones that trailed from it, separating the different parts of the wing.
Wanting to return to the telescope to watch its departure, or a chance to see Mars follow in the course of events, he instead suddenly collapsed in the still intact but torn mattress of the bed near the window. It had been picked up on one side and still rested against the wall, but he had pulled it down and let it flop and bounce back onto the springs where it had begun. He followed it onto the springs before it had finished bouncing.
His mind had started swirling as he stood suddenly, wondering how long he had lain there. He questioned what would happen, what had happened to the rest of the planet, all those millions of people. Faces blinded him as they flashed before him, even including the face in the mirror of his car just after he had been rear-ended. Some relatives concerned him for instants, but passed along with the mire of visual images that seemed to twist his brain and threw him down on the bed once more, this time unconscious.
This time he awoke with difficulty. He seemed to float close to the surface of awareness, then would fall out of consciousness as he considered the end of the world that he had been a part of. Depression was heavy within his thoughts. He hadn’t even brought any kind of weapon in case life became too unbearable. Jumping from a higher location was a possibility, but he doubted if he could give up, and that’s what suicide would be to him.
He had no escape from his fate, but hadn’t considered this while he swung the jack handle in the engine room. It would have been simpler to have used it on himself. He didn’t think he could take many years of living alone. Brad was a little comfort, but not as much as female companionship would have been. He hadn’t had much of it during his lifetime, but it was his own fault. He had the money for endless invention and discovery, and that’s what he did. It was not too pleasing to him that no women had passed through the recent flight through his memory, aside from those of relatives.