"Too Close For Comfort" - Story
"TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT"
(one-person "cozy cataclysm" study)
short story by Avi Abrams
@ April, 2005
There is a loneliness you can not dispel, there is a belonging you cannot quench, there is a wonder you cannot blot out, even by a gray monotony of days spent in a battered ship between planetfalls and hyperspace jumps. You can dull your mind and blanket your senses, but the heart knows when it is in space, it has to burn harder.
For days Nehemiah's thoughts resembled ruins, at once dark and alluring - as he sought to find comfort in their' apocalyptic content:
"When she spoke to me last, I did not answer"
( the bombed-out building is screaming at the sky )
"Maybe the echo of unspoken words lasts longer than spoken..."
( a violin is teetering precariously on a ruined balcony's brink )
"A heart plays the music of loss best in the chamber of muted emotions..."
( he wanders alone there, not wanting, or rather afraid, to find another being )
"a cozy cataclysm is what humans may ultimately yearn for in the end."
He remembers Catherine. Her calm face ( notice vast shadows of desire and despair haunting her eyes, so tightly controlled ). Her taut whisper:
"You will leave, you will want to forget everything - but this is not the battle you can win. These walls you build around yourself are awfully good, but once in space you will not stand being in them. You love freedom more than a peace of mind. The moment you step out, it will all come to you, all of it at once - and then - I will find a way to follow you"
Not knowing exactly what she meant, he took his ship off the planet, trailing the shreds of their romance behind, not really concerned. After all, it was a spacer's custom to escape romantic commitments just as their ships are meant to escape gravitational pulls... No, he was not indifferent, you may say he was comfortably depressed.
He sits by a fireplace on the observation deck now, awfully quiet, devastated by a single thought - that this time "the love" he evaded was perhaps something he lost.
"A boy stomps over an ant-hill, and ant-queen's last days prophecy come to life in a most horrible way - can he be blamed for it, and does he know what he's doing?"
( wailing sirens are resonating over the city, bombs floating down slowly, as in a dance, measuring their exquisite explosions according to some baroque fugue parts )
... a peculiar clicking sound draws his attention, tiny like a hiccup of a mouse - it is nothing of course, since he is alone on this ship.
The servo robot brings him another drink, retreats into a niche close-by, and starts snoring (believe it or not) in his form of a "sleep" mode.
Nehemiah nods to himself (that's where the mysterious sound comes from !), and lifts his glass of irish cream to the old fella...All must be well in the world. The fireplace' glow reflects on servo-robots' copper curves like some madly demented smile.
"I am a romantic cast adrift, a perfect vessel of selfish excess. Well, she must've known it, she must've been content to let me be, as if she had a choice?"
( when the leaf is falling from a tree, driven by a relentless force, does it have a choice in the matter? Nobody notices it, but the tree actually reaches after every leaf it loses, branches quivering and striving to catch a multi-colored treasure, borne in the wind, but it flies away, and the tree trembles in the loss )
...the strange sound grows louder, the starlight seems softer...he is mildly intrigued now.
"What did she say about coming after me? Even if it was possible (you can do a lot with matter transmitters nowadays), why would she think I'd want this? Why would SHE want this?"
The robot suddenly rumbles back to life and offers helpfully : "Because she wants to have a choice?"
"Choice in what?"
"Departing...being left behind...feeling sorry for herself. That's what you've been doing all this time, feeling sorry for yourself, haven't you?"
...he's hoping he did not lose his love, maybe just H-bombed his selfishness.
But if he is in love, what can he do now?
"The closest way between two objects is a total annihilation of both"
(ship copy of "The Matter-transmitter Manual")
Wait, here it is again: what IS that knocking sound, after all? The machinery is quiet, space must be empty for light years around. Nehemiah puts down his drink, takes a look around.
He sees an angelic glow spreading against the observation dome' diamond-hard glass...
becomes a winged shape of a woman he knows so well... He welcomes her -
maybe too close for comfort, but still in perfect time.
SHE SMILES AT HIM GENTLY, FLUTTERING OUTSIDE THE DOME, AND KNOCKS.
The glass dissolves.
CHECK OUT THE OTHER SCIENCE FICTION STORY:
"Subliminal Distances of the West" - Click Here
@ 2005, Avi Abrams - IAN MEDIA - all rights reserved.