4-8 Jupiter Dusk

Jupiter Dusk

 

For four years the Alcubierre flashed

in warp bubble over 186,200 miles a second

to the Alpha Centauri star system,

 

orbited Centauri Terra, a NASA-named planet.

Seven astronauts shuttled down to a barren region.

39°. O2 thinner than Mars. Redwood-sized plants

resembling sea anemones grew in Alpha Centauri’s

orange light. Carroty tint coated bald mountains and sand dunes.

 

The seven trekked toward a gargantuan object

visible from orbit at night, towering 300 feet

and stretching 100 feet square at its base.

A colossal crystal chair or throne?

 

radiating pale purple light. Touching it,

it gave way like jelly, but impenetrable.

 

At once three floating, purplish spheres—

Walking-water ball size—burst from the throne,

hovered several feet away and as high. They beamed

lavender light shafts back and forth to each other.

The crew, stunned, nearly wet their suits.

 

Suddenly they shot beams at the astronauts’ faces

momentarily blinding them. One sphere

beamed at Emma’s forehead,

penetrated her brain—

A 500 MPH whirlwind soon

storm leave now planet.

 

The beam stopped. The three spheres darted

into the titanic throne. Wind howled,

sandblasted their suits as they jogged back.

 

Boarding, cyclonic winds shook the shuttle violently.

It rose like a spark up a chute and

quickly docked inside the Alcubierre.

They accelerated, re-entered warp bubble, then

raced at photon speed towards our solar system.

 

Four years later,

approaching rendezvous at Jupiter,

they decelerated and red warning lights

pulsated, glowing aneurysms on all

computer screens. O2 WILL DEPLET

Millions of miles and months

before entering earth’s atmosphere.

Irreparable.

 

On their last day passing Titan,

they readied the ship, autopilot toward earth,

sent farewell transmissions to NASA,

signed letters and finished videotaping.

 

Breathing labored as CO2 increased, faces tinting bluish.

 

Either we take a painless lethal pill or die miserably by suffocation.

 

Emma prayed. One wept. Another smiled. Others embraced.

 

Swallowing their pills, they settled in chairs,

facing the flight deck window, and stared

at the distant sun, growing larger,

 

fading into darkness.

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