Into the Black

Deloza followed behind Metsker, bouncing lightly across the Tirawa basin on Rhea. After a generation of studying from afar, using orbiters and rovers and all variety of instruments they were finally here in the flesh. Humanity had reached the anomaly.

Radiance Base was 15 klicks away. They’d taken a buggy most of the way and then parked it to walk the last two kilometers, not wanting to create too much of a disturbance. They should be close, but Deloza didn’t see anything but bright gray rocks against stark black shadows. He opened the comms channel to check in with Metsker, but she stopped dead in her tracks.

“My God. Are you seeing this?” Metsker asked. She waved one arm in front of her, swooping her hand over her head like she was polishing the north pole on a six-foot globe.

Deloza almost said no, but he was still mid bounce. By the time his boots hit the regolith, he saw it too. “What is it?” he asked.

The flat stretch of moon suddenly curved and warped before them. Not even five meters away the ground seemed to fall off into an infinite pit, while bands of gray arched overhead like monochrome rainbows.

“Radiance Base, we’ve reached the anomaly. You copy?” There was no response.

“Some sort of gravitational effect?” Deloza speculated. “I’ve never seen anything so black.” Indeed, it looked like a black hole was rising out of the ground. He knelt down, picked up a rock that hadn’t been moved for billions of years, and chucked it into the abyss.

“You have the instincts of my six-year-old,” said Metsker.

But something rippled across the black, and the whole thing resolved into a spherical mirror. “What’s it doing?” she asked.

Deloza felt his heart quicken, and a sinking feeling in his gut became overpowering. “I’m more worried about what it’s not doing. Why aren’t we in the reflection?” He started backing away. As he did, the anomaly folded back in on itself, twisting and shrinking until it was gone.

Metsker was gone too.

Deloza turned and moon-hopped away as fast as he could. His helmet wouldn’t allow him to look back over his shoulder, but he had the awful feeling he was being pursued.

Notes: I used an image as a writing prompt for this piece. You may be able to find the image on the artist’s ArtStation page. Image by Chun Wang, used with permission.

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