Waking the Clockmakers

I had that fever dream again.

I’m walking around the habitat. My feet make hard clicking sounds against the floor, but I can’t look down to see why. I’m too busy looking at all the corpses. It’s the rest of the team: Wilkens, Kang, Singh, Tenderman, and Din. They’re all going about their jobs, cleaning, eating. But they’re dead. Tenderman is the one eating. He stuffs his mouth his raisons and some fall out of the holes in his cheeks as he chews. I watch the rest slither down his esophagus in lumpy clumps and spill out the bottom. I run to the bathroom. I need to get to a mirror—I have to see myself.

But the dream ends. Every night I get a little closer to that mirror, but I’m not there yet.

I get out of bed early and go straight to work. No one questions it; we all keep our own schedules here. And, I know, they’re having the same dreams.

Nishakara is the largest moon of Gomeisa V. It’s 166 lightyears from Earth. And we are not the first ones here.

It’s widely believed to be a serendipitous discovery. Wilkens aimed her instruments at just the right patch of sky at just the right moment. But she told us the truth. It came to her in a dream.

The moon’s surface is as natural and untouched as any other: rock and regolith, craters and ice. But the core, well…it doesn’t have one. It’s been completely hollowed out and replaced with…something. Something that rotates and hums and calls. It generates gravity, it emits heat, it reaches out with tendrils of magnetic flux. But those are side effects. What’s its purpose? What’s it doing?

It’s affecting our dreams. We’re sure now of that, and only that.

I rub my eyes and slam black coffee as quick as I can; the burns on my tongue and the roof of my mouth are becoming permanent. I have to wake up. I have to work. I have to take apart the springs and gears and dials and wake the clockmakers.

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