Fiction — “Vacay in The Vart”

Passengers puked. Passengers turned purple and took tranq pills. Passengers lined up for soma shakes (somalts the posters boasted) and stomach transplants. Nothing worked.

Many had just arrived by drop pod or iPort (if they had the digi juice) or materialization (if they preferred comfort over the continuity of consciousness and disturbing schools of philosophy). No matter the method, the silent slip of space had not acclimated them to the icy sea world called The Vart – an eternal snowcean where the hoarfrost could split open a cutter, where rolling waves whirred like bonesaws.

And so they emptied their temporary bits and even some more permanent ones and they stumbled about the cabins like cats chasing roombas. But no matter how fraught they became, the passengers did not forget their purpose. They were here to see the kraken – the first and soon to be last alien species in all six galaxies. They’d come to see its milky skein, its eight eyes like terran teeth always falling out and regrowing. To see the outline of its beak, not fully present in the visible dimensions. To survey its coat, said to reek of vinegar, and to touch its pastel flesh when the bluesuits weren’t looking.

The passengers had been brought by that vestige of humanity that still remained in their cyboreal demi-plastic casings (organic epidermises were so 2060). They were brought by that little part in all of us that wants to experience an experience so as to brag about it later – that part that sends a picture of a rabbit by the roadside to a friend, seeing the thing through lens and screens and photo editors.

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