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.
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.