Monday, September 28, 2009

Into Infinity

Clark futurefic angst
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Screencap from Dynamic Duo.
Sequel to
Unto Eternity

Even he couldn't live forever.

His Fortress was shutting down, system by system. It had lost its capacity to create holograms, leaving him starkly, bitterly alone. True, he'd been alone on the planet for a thousand years. But he'd been able to take refuge in fantasy, in the memories of a better life. He'd been able to pretend that his wife and children were still alive for months at a time.

But now that the Fortress could no longer create holograms, he no longer had that refuge.

He no longer had anything.

He stood outside the crystalline walls of the Fortress, gazing up into the bleak charcoal sky.

Up there, he thought. There was peace.

There was oblivion.

He'd known for a thousand years that one day it would come to this. That one day he would abandon this empty, pointless half-life. That one day he would choose to leave the world he'd loved, and die out there among the stars.

He would leave Earth as he'd come to it, a wanderer in space.

He glanced back over his shoulder, seeing that the Fortress's blue-white walls were slowly fading to a sickly gray color. He didn't have to ask Kelex if it was dying. He knew it was. Perhaps not today, perhaps not next week... but before long, its systems would suffer irreparable damage, and it would die.

And when it died, so would he.

But he knew the Fortress would struggle to keep him alive, because it was programmed to do so. And so he would suffer a slow, lingering death. A death all alone on this empty planet of ice and soot... a planet that had once been his home, a truer home than ever his birthplace had been, but that now was only a soiled snowball hanging in space.

For the first time, he admitted to himself that he didn't want to die here.

He wanted to die out there, beyond the haze of obscuring clouds. He wanted the last thing he gazed upon to be the glories of the heavens, the incredible beauty of this enormous galaxy. He wanted to remember that somewhere out there were other worlds, green and bright and beautiful, circling other suns.

Even if he could never reach them, out there he would feel closer to them, and less painfully alone.

His mind made up, he bent his knees and jumped.

His red cape-- one of a never-ending series of capes fabricated for him by the Fortress-- rippled behind him as he rose into the sky. He shot through the thick, dense cloud layer like a rocket.

A moment later, he found himself beyond the clouds, in space.

He slowed for a moment, marveling at the beauty and vastness of it. Earth had been everything to him. His career, his family, his friends-- almost his entire life had played out on this planet. And yet from this vantage point he was suddenly able to remember that Earth was only one tiny, insignificant planet, all but lost in the enormous gulfs of space.

He gazed at the unending vista of stars, spellbound. Somewhere out there, far, far away, there were other people. Other worlds. Other lives.

He wasn't alone after all. He wasn't the only soul in creation, as he'd felt himself to be on Earth. He was one of billions or trillions or more.

The thought comforted him.

He turned back for one more look at the planet where he'd lived for so long. It hung there, as gray and empty as the moon that circled it. Into his mind flashed the memory of a younger Earth, a beautiful world teeming with life, a world of happiness and joy and sorrow, a world of laughter and tears, of love and hate, of vibrant life and tragic death.

But that emerald and sapphire Earth was gone. It had been gone for a very long time.

He gazed at the empty, dead globe a moment longer, then turned away. He knew that despite his inhuman top velocity-- close to the speed of light-- there was no possible way he could make it to a habitable planet before he died from lack of oxygen, and probably from lack of sunlight, too. It was the yellow sun that powered him, after all. Once he left the solar system, he expected he'd die rapidly in the cold vacuum of space.

But that didn't matter. After a thousand years, he didn't fear death. He welcomed it.

All he had really feared was dying alone. And out here, with the galaxy spread out before him in a vast panorama, he no longer felt alone. The endless sweep of stars spread out before him, calling to him.

He obeyed their call.

He left Earth behind him, and flew into infinity.

-The End-


Tonya said...

Ouch. So beautifully painful. Fantastic work.

Mariko said...

That had a vague, futuristic Bradbury feel to it, if I do say so myself.

Chris said...

Very poignant. You always have prose that makes me cry. Thank you! Chris

Tracey L said...

I like Clark's decision to finally abandon the planet, very cool.

I hope he finds another earth-like planet out there somewhere.

Anonymous said...

He would leave Earth as he'd come to it, a wanderer in space.

My favorite line.

Amazing story, as usual. Thank you again for sharing your talent.


Anonymous said...

gorgeous - breath-takeningly gorgeous - 'nuff said

- Mel

DeeDee said...

Why are you making me cry, Elly? *wails*

So tragic and sad. Poor Supes.

Well done, babes.