Tyrannis: Old Man Star

– by DonSailieri

I had always wanted to see the stars. I never had. Not once in my life, until now, had I seen that promising glow of eternity; what I believed to be out of anyone’s reach.

When I was born, almost a century ago, the sky had already turned “blind”; or so I was told. The old folks used to tell us kids stories about the stars. Adventurous stories of the chosen few that were given the privilege to embrace eternity. Some of the elder claimed to remember the stars. My mother said they were lying, no one had seen the stars in a millennium. She found it hard to believe stars existed at all.

When she died, they took her up into the sky. Beyond the barrier. I was told she would be among the stars, completely free. I envied her so much. Not that I wished to die right there – I just wanted to see the stars.

They took all the dead beyond the barrier, that dreadful veil that separated us from “radiation and space debris”. There was no hunger, war or disease on our world and we were told this was only due to the barrier. I didn’t believe them.

There were others that didn’t believe, either. And there were those, like my mother, that believed everything they were told, everything they should believe. Those who openly refused to believe were swiftly taken care of. They vanished from their houses, overnight, and were never seen again. Even talking about those that vanished could get you into serious troubles.

So, I kept my mouth shut. For all these years. I am not going to tell anyone about what I am seeing right now either, because they would not believe me anyway. Besides… I will not live to tell the tale. That was part of the promise.

Keeping my mouth shut and being the devoted fool I am got me far. I worked diligently all my life, never complaining about the grimmest of all injustices. Keeping my mouth shut. At least that’s what I thought made all the difference.

They say you must live life forwards, but that you can only understand it looking at it in reverse. Like looking in a mirror. Looking in the mirror of my life, now that it is over, I can finally comprehend how the strings were pulled, how everything fell into place. I don’t believe in it but it’s hard to find another explanation than fate for it.

Fade, coincidentally, was the name of the man that made all the difference in the world. Before he closed the door to the airlock he confessed to me what promise he had given to my mother on her deathbed. He had given a lover’s promise, one that can’t be broken, no matter how hard you try.

“Make him… see… the stars…”, he said, were her last words. Thinking of her, even decades after her death, pushed a tear down my cheek.

“This solar system was once called Old Man Star” he explained to me in the elevator.

“How many planets like ours are there, in this system?”

“None. They have long since vanished”

“Where did they go?”

“They were destroyed. Dismantled to the core, refined, they became part of something else. Something bigger and more powerful.”

Our world had, long before my time already, become artificial: a gigantic superstructure that sphered the sun of Old Man Star.

There was no barrier and there had never been one. But there has never, in my lifetime, been a planet either.

When we arrived at the airlock, none was said. Everything was understood.

He opened the door, and I stepped in.

When the airlock opened, I was blown out into space. Into the stars.

And in that moment, albeit only a second or two, that seemed like an eternity, I saw the stars.

Then, there was darkness – the stars were gone. Again.

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