Cold future - Dissipation

in #story5 days ago



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There were others aboard the ship, of course. Security, cleaning, cooking and cleaning services, scientists…even a few civilians. All of them served the station as a whole, not the engine as Gaster did. It was as if he was second in command because of the engine. Gaster was second in command because he had been revived second.

Without another thought on the matter, Dr. Gaster sat down on the floor, cross legged. He reached out slowly with both hands, bringing the delicate, humming crystals in contact with his arms. At first, it was a gentle cradle, one that Gaster had often found himself in after the incident with the three volunteers. As months passed, Gaster's affections changed from the delicate cradle for the engine's soothing hum and had changed into a passionate embrace. His flesh pressed hard against the engine in its circular stream, creating a deep burn mark from the concentrated energies of the crystal.

The pain didn't matter. It was as if he should have known it would be excruciating.

Gaster had come to know the engine well. He knew the time, in sync with a barely perceptible change of the engine's vibrations. A minute had passed in its world, while a minute had passed in his. It was all the same reality, but he couldn't tell. One minute that could be measured by a heartbeat could be measured by a cycle through the engine's rotation. Gaster became used to the age of the engines without ever taking notice of it.

He closed his eyes and dropped back to the floor as he spoke with the engine, purring softly to him.

"Can you feel more as we sing?"

Gaster listened eagerly for a response, any response at all. After a moment, he let out a sigh and his shoulders sank as he spoke again to the engine.

"No, of course not…"

The minutes ticked by silently as they sat in the chamber. Seconds passed the same as hours. There was no sense of time, not directly, at least.

Gaster felt alive. He felt like he was alive again, for the first time. Yes, he had been recovered from stasis only weeks ago, but this was the first time he had discovered the station. The first time he had heard the harmony of the engine. The first time he had spoken to the engine.

Gaster closed his eyes as he listened to the engine. He became one with the life of the engine, just as it was with him.

"No…"

Gaster lifted his head abruptly and looked around. He looked down and noticed what had caught his attention. There was only the engine and the clock that was telling him how long he had listened to the engine. Gaster looked down at the engine. The engine was still pulsing, and vibrating, but Gaster could hear it.

"What is it?"

The engine did not answer him. It couldn't answer him. Gaster knew that even if the engine had answered, he would not have been able to hear it speaking to him.

"What is it?"

Gaster felt his eyes widen as he continued to listen to the engine. It was no longer the one talking to him, but he was the one. It was as if the engine had been talking to Gaster, or rather, Gaster through the engine. The voice had spoken, not Gaster.

"No…"

Gaster's voice was soft and distant, almost hypnotic in its melody. It wasn't the right voice. Gaster couldn't quite place the voice. Only the engine could say what it was, but Gaster could not. He could only listen to the engine and let its voice speak through him like a song.

"No, this is not…this is not…no."

And with that, Gaster's eyes fluttered closed and he drifted off to the sounds of the engine and its melody.

He tuned out everything else as others entered the command center. He could feel the vibrations buzzing against his soft, furred hands. With the vibrations of the engine, Gaster began to create his own melody. A song, a tune.

A memory of a tune that he had never made before crept into his mind. The tune, the lyrics, he couldn't tell how old it was. It was foreign in a way that he couldn't place exactly. But it carried the same feeling that Gaster was trying to imitate through the engine's vibration. Gaster would reach for the tune with his hand, but he couldn't quite touch it. He tried, but his fingers would somehow twist away instead.

"Gaster."

He opened his eyes from his trance. The voice was louder now. He hadn't realized he'd fallen asleep.

"At ease," the voice had said.

Gaster's limbs felt stiff from his long and extended position on the floor. Gaster stretched his body and sat up. He looked down at his hands; the engine had stopped vibrating. He looked up at the others beside him.

"Well, well, Dr. Gaster. You must have been quite comfortable down there."

Gaster looked at the group of three men and ignored their comments. With a pointed finger, Dr. Gaster turned his attention to the engine. "Is something wrong?"

"We heard a vibration that we thought might be a warning from the engine. We came to investigate, but it seems to be fine."

"I do not know the nature of the vibration, but I assure you there is nothing wrong with the engine."

The other men spoke simultaneously.

"Is that so?"

"What makes you so sure?"

"D'you feel a vibration?"

Gaster waved away the words from his colleagues. He rose to his feet and brushed lint from his crisp, clean lab coat. "Of course not. As I said, everything is working perfectly. I have already completed a full round of inspection of the engine and found nothing out of the ordinary. If you would like, I can personally check for you."

Gaster walked heedlessly past the trio of researchers. He approached the vast surface of the engine and gently placed his hand on the crystal. At first, Gaster was tempted to speak to the engine, but he held his tongue and waited for the engine to speak first.

"Can you feel what we are saying?"

Gaster looked at the engine, confused. "I am sorry."

"We think you should come with us," said one of the researchers.

Gaster didn't understand.

"What do you mean? I do not plan to go anywhere. I have just returned from my first excursion through the station, and I decided to sit and rest for a moment. You are welcome to sit with me if you like."

Gaster couldn't tell if the engine was displeased or happy with him. Dr. Gaster seemed much happier than he had when he had awoken.

"No, it's fine. I will be along in just a moment."

He waited for the other researchers to step out before he spoke to the engine again. He turned his attention to the engine and waited for it to speak. What he was about to say would be similar to their conversation with him up until now.

"What is your name?"

"What?"

"Do not play games with me. I asked if you have a name."

"Of course."

"Then what is it."

The voice in his head spoke again. "I am only two…that is my name. That is all that I have ever been."

"What is your origin?"

He looked at the engine and narrowed his eyes. "I do not know."

"Are you real?"

"I am real enough."

The voice spoke above Gaster's head. His body hovered a foot above the floor. Gaster looked up. "What's happening? Are you malfunctioning? I thought you said this is not an emergency."

"I do not know." The engine appeared agitated. "What could be wrong?"

Gaster could not answer his own question. He himself was frightened.

"The truth is not always what is wrong. I have been searching for the truth, and it does not exist."

"What truth? Who are you?"

"What is your name? Who are you?"

"What do you mean my name?"

"What is your name?"

"If you know my name, why do you ask me?"

"What is your name?"

"Look, I am not playing your games anymore."

"What is your name?"

"I am speaking to you, only to you. Can you hear me?"

"What is your name?"

Dr. Gaster felt his arms tense up. He was losing feeling in them. He sprang back from the engine and looked it over dubiously.

"I do not know what has happened, but I believe it is over. That is all there is to it."

As Dr. Gaster turned to leave, he heard the engine say one last time.

"What is your name?"

The engine's voice was nearly lost beneath the noise of the lab, but instinctively, he knew it was a one-word question disguised as many.

"You."

He left the lab as quickly as he had entered. As he stepped into the hallway, Dr. Gaster was puzzled; he had gotten caught up in an internal debate.

The voices in his head hissed at each other like a thousand tiny voices arguing. As he wandered to his office, Dr. Gaster chanted one more time into the void inside of him.

"You."

He was hoping he could stop thinking about it.

In the lab, the engine's voice stopped speaking. It was silent for the remaining minutes of the day before the first cycle of the engine's rotation.

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