Big Dipper

The tether was made of exotic matter and wrapped in an energy sheath she couldn’t begin to describe, and perhaps it was that modicum of incomprehension that made the dip so exhilarating. Of course, the crisp black edge of the supermassive black hole dominating her vision gave her a rush too. Sagittarius A* sat at the heart of the Milky Way, and Xiomara was all but hugging its horizon.

It took a certain amount of gall to be a dipper. It also took a dauntless certainty that the survival pressures of human evolution generally conspired to eliminate. All that meant to Xiomara was that she was just as splendidly unique as everyone else who’d ever lived, and she didn’t put much other thought into the matter. She’d been born to dip, and it was her indomitable right to enjoy it if she wanted to.

The half of the sky that wasn’t nothing-black was brilliant silver-purple. And to think all those streaks were stars…

The concept was simple enough: with a strong tether, jump toward a black hole, spend some time at the edge of the horizon, and reel yourself back out. The theories of relativity were worked out a thousand years ago and proved this was a one-way ticket to the far future. The longer you stayed in the well, the further forward you’d go. And the more massive the black hole, the greater the effect. In the Milky Way,  they didn’t come any bigger than Sagittarius A*. But if the concept was simple, the execution was beyond difficult. With the timespans necessarily involved, every dipper jumped on blind faith—no one had ever completed a dip. Yet. Wouldn’t, not for tens of thousands of years at a minimum.

Xiomara was no minimalist. She’d been at the full extent of her tether for a long time no matter how you measured it. But she wasn’t done yet. Not by a long shot. There was so much more to see.

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