The day was both warm and cool, a July afternoon with clouds, no clouds and then clouds once more.  A soft breeze feathered over my head from which I had shaved all the hair, once a more brilliant red than yours.

We faced off that day around a small, green table on the patio of the Boulder Cafe—green, like the very soul of the earth.  The occasional distraction of firecrackers, like bursts of ancient gunfire, unsettled me:  How gay and loose people had become, I mused, yet still so distant the point of perfect joy.

Strange the clarity with which these words, so long asleep, now sing within me, and this desire to return there now in the physical with the head from the ale still clinging to my lips, the youthful tempers of two sisters swelling like storm clouds.

“One day, Lenis,” I said with such cockiness, “Omega Point will arrive, as sure as the scent of choke cherry in the spring.  And, like a hound of spring, I’ll be there to break open the buds with my fingers, to inhale, indeed to become the fragrance itself.

“Vera,” you pleaded, “there’s nothing wrong with venturing off into dreams, so long as they’re round trips.  Are you listening to me?”  You paused, piercing my eyes with yours.  “Your life is here with me—your family.”

“I’ll not back down,” I said.  “I’ve come too far.  I’ll have my Omega Point!”

Your hair was the red of Irish anger.  You had tied it back with the engraved silver clasp—my gift for your thirtieth birthday.  So beautiful you were that day, so hesitant.

“It’s unproven,” you argued, “pure theory, speculation originating from a French priest hunting the phony bones of Piltdown man in the deserts of China.  Not even that,” you continued.  “It’s folly to doggedly pursue this insane, supposedly mathematical theory that if life began with a Big Bang—an Alpha Point—then, it will also end at a single point.”

“This Omega Point;” you said, “this single, omniscient cell—playing God is what you’re talking about, becoming capable of re-creating life elsewhere in the universe after the earth crumbles apart from instability.  You’re a cosmologist trained in the pure sciences, Vera, for God’s sake!  For most people of above-average intelligence, this twentieth century theory was never more than a source of amusement.  Your acceptance of it, quite honestly, is not near amusing.

You pounded away.  “Even if there were an Omega Point, it’s simply unnatural for you to cheat death and leapfrog ahead!  Is our world so inhospitable that you want to just pass it by like some mere road sign on a celestial highway?  Won’t you stop to smell the roses?”

“The technology exists,” I countered.  “Unlike before, we can now be preserved indefinitely.  We, Lenis.  You can come with me.  The inner chamber is basic cryogenics, time and again proven successful.  The outer skin is synthetic spider silk, soft as cotton, strong as steel and proven capable of enduring broad swings in temperature change.  The skin is enriched with a rare kind of bacteria from lake bottoms—ninety-five percent efficient in capturing light.  Perfect for enhancing the solar cells that fuel the cryogenics for years and years . . . and years.”

“At Omega Point,” I concluded, “when humanity merges with the divine, then I’ll awaken from my chrysalis.  The years I spend asleep will pass like mere seconds.  Technology will bear me over the sea of time as on the back of the golden, winged ram—Chrysomallus.

“Vera,” you said passionately, your ale turning warm and flat.  “You’re my little sister.  We’re blood.  Blood, Vera!  Doesn’t that mean a damn to you?  You’re already asleep and dreaming with all of this mythological Chrysomallus nonsense.  This is 2023!  A time for joy, and peace and family.  Our time!  Please?  Our parents are gone.  Too young they were gone.  You’re all I have!”

I stood firm.  “Lenis, I’ll not back down.”

“Do you realize what you’re asking?” you shouted, drawing glares.  “You want me to bury you alive!  To seal you away in some cryogenic chamber, away from my eyes for the rest of my life.  What could you possibly be thinking?”

Glimpsing my reflection in her moistening eyes, I paused.  “I’ll not back down,” I repeated, softly.  “I have friends,” I said.  “They’ll set me up at the location I’ve chosen in the mountains.  Come with me to Omega Point.  There’s still time.  I’ll take care of all the arrangements.  Lenis, please?”

“You’re on your own,” you said, your words like thunderclaps at my heels.  “You’re on your own.”

~

It was the eugenics-crazed Irishman George Bernard Shaw who once said:  “When you are asked, ‘Where is God?  Who is God?’ stand up and say, ‘I am God and here is God, not as yet completed, but still advancing toward completion, just in so much as I am working for the purpose of the universe, working for the good of the whole of society and whole world, instead of merely looking after my personal ends.’”

I was after completion all right, but too zealously after my personal ends.  I confess this to you now, Lenis, although far too late in this mad game, for you’ve been long dead.  I carved away too much of your life and too much of my own . . . as if I were God himself.  And for what?  For some non-existent seed of hope lying somewhere beyond the seal of this self-imposed, cryogenic tomb; this merciless darkness; this stinging chill; those rumblings outside; these tortuous, razor-sharp memories that I would now happily direct to my burning wrists if only it were—

Those rumblings outside?  So stupid.  So completely stupid.  The time was to pass like mere seconds with no tortuous memories, no awareness of the darkness, no stinging sensation of chill and no outside rumblings.  The cryogenics are failing!  They must be failing, and I must be awakening.  But, to what?  My death?  In my mother’s name, what’ve I done?  Is someone out there who will free me?  What are those rumblings . . . growing louder?  Those cracking sounds . . . at this, my tomb—

~

And I felt . . . as if gentle hands lifted me forward by my tiny feet.  Suddenly, Lenis, you were in me, and I was in you.  Our parents were in us, and we were in them.

~

And the small, green table along with every grave ever dug into this so-wounded earth had burst into tiny dust particles, hurtling outwards into the boundless universe.  In the beginning, at Omega Point, the one so impatient to be among the first . . . was the last.

~

by S.A. Bort / 29 July 2013 (originally 19 February 1997)

Photo Credits:

“Spider Silk” Top:  http://whyfiles.org/2010/spider-silk-material-of-the-future/  Bottom:  http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/2097773/source_of_spider_silks_extreme_strength_unveiled/

NOTE:

Lately, I’ve been enjoying publishing some of my older work.  Since this is still July, and much of this story takes place in July, I thought I would rework it some and present it again.  I wrote it at a time, early 1997, when Vance Aandahl [http://www.jeremysilman.com/shop/pc/Vance-Aandahl-p3649.htm] was a writing mentor of mine.  On an early draft of this story, he wrote, “your writing style is wonderfully romantic and literary. . . . Hound of Spring is a fine story, professional in quality.”

My writing has always been rooted more in romanticism than realism, and I’m not ashamed of that in the least bit.

I have always thought the world of Vance, and I treasure his insights into my humble attempts at fantasy and science fiction.

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