Saoirse was floating through a giant spherical kaleidoscope, or at least that’s how it felt. The feeling was due in large part to the Lighthouse’s location in the galactic core, surrounded by the bloated furnaces and black fissures that comprised this lonely carousel. However, some of the feeling undoubtedly came from the pills.
She was running out of pills.
Her own ingenuity, in the end, had beaten her desire to get clean. She’d requested the transfer to the Lighthouse Network in an unusual moment of clarity. To most, an assignment to a Lighthouse—which was confusingly an observatory, not a beacon—was a punishment. It was solitary confinement. Though there were thousands of Lighthouses within the cubic parsec that defined the core, you wouldn’t know it from looking out a viewport.
It only took one person to work a Lighthouse, so that’s as many people as each one housed. The swirling black holes were so numerous and so dense that from within the core they always formed one alignment or another. The net effect of all the layered gravitational lensing was that the Lighthouse Network was a precision omnidirectional telescope of a scale that would be impossible to achieve otherwise. It was an important tool for keeping the Galactic Empire in power.
But Saoirse didn’t really care about any of that. She’d thought if she could fully isolate herself she could kick her habit. And maybe that was true, but she’d failed to fully isolate herself; a resupply ship came around on the reg. And when she started hurting for a more unnatural brand of weightlessness she’d persuaded the supply pilot to score for her.
Now her stash was running low, and the next resupply was a ways out. But for the moment she was flying high.