‘byss Gazer by Michael W. Clark

‘byss Gazer
Michael W. Clark

They stood on the observation deck of the space platform gazing out into the Universe. It is not dark. There is light all over the Universe, it is just uneven. That point a star. That point a galaxy. That point a reflective moon. Even out the light. The quest was to even out the light. How to do it? What does even even mean? That was without answer. They just gazed into the Universe.

#

Fitzpatrick was mostly nauseous in space. The elastic exercise bike helped keep his mind off it. It, supposedly, also kept his bones hard. How could he tell? No one fell down in low G. No chance to break them, fragile or not. They told him the space environment was just like the taste of coffee, as you got older you got used to it, maybe even like it? Fitzpatrick never had. He had gotten older but never liked the taste of coffee or the taste of space. Both made him feel ill. One from the acidity, the other simple fear. Open space was immediate death. Unfortunately, Fitzpatrick could only find work out on the platforms. On Earth, being independent had long since disappeared. There was only the state. Not even independent contractors existed. On Earth, everyone worked for the state. There was no head of Earth either. Every department reported to another department. There was no head department, either. It was a confusing political maze. Only in space could you work for yourself. Fitzpatrick worked for himself when he wasn’t exercising or vomiting. Gazer Sustainable was his business. Oxygen converters. Carbon dioxide was broken down to oxygen gas and carbon powder. Compressed foods. They generated such efficiency in digestion there was next to no waste. Recycled urine water. It was a wearable device. The carbon powder was an important ingredient for the device. The ‘byss gazer, most of them, didn’t move from their observation spot. There was only limited space on any space platform. “In space there is limited space.” The phrase was part of his marketing plan. “Keep your space secure. We come to you.”

#

‘byss Gazers did die. They were expected to die. Since they were usually anchored to the deck because of the low to no gravity, they would sometimes stay standing for days dead. “Days Dead” thus had a special meaning for the ‘byss Gazers. It was an achievable. The higher the number, the more devout. Life / death monitors were thus a necessity. The record of the exact time of dying had to be preserved down to the millisecond. Nanosecond devices were even more expensive. AI run time databases were part of the service for the device.

#

Fitzpatrick couldn’t get into that market. It was low overhead because the devices were automated but easily detached and resold. A ‘byss gazer’s life wasn’t a very long life at all. The conglomerates had a solid hold on the Life / Death monitor market. Conglom verses Inde. It was the battle eternal. Fitzpatrick had had confrontations with the Conglams. The high-priced conglomerates liked to dress in a flashy manner. The flash seemed to reflect their aggressiveness. Fitzpatrick wore nanocarbon fiber body protection. Such a suit could take hard vacuum for up to ten minutes. The collar could expand up around the wearer’s head. Catastrophic decompression seldom happened on the platforms but it was possible. Fitzpatrick just felt a little more secure and less nauseous with its extra protective abilities. Prophylactic fashion. The total body condom. Good for most odd encounters.

#

“The Abyss calls.” Ninety percent of the Gazers reply when asked why do you look out there? But sound does not travel in a vacuum. Was that why they stare? The Call was visual. “To even out the lights.” Answered a high percent. Their response supported the visuality of the Call. Abyss Gazers came from all denominations. No specific God or Gods were calling, signaling maybe a better term. The numbers grew though. Various government agencies investigated. No action yet had been discussed. Study data only, no compiling, yet. Non-sectarian space platforms had few Gazers, less than two percent. The denomination related platforms were bearing the burden. For how long? A capacity issue only?

#

The Congloms, of course, had the resources to build more platforms. They were contracting with the various large Earth based churches to construct Abyss Gazer only facilities. They were designed for maximum square meter standing room. All other platform activities were minimized. Fitzpatrick felt minimal too. Inadequate for such self-centered expansion. He just moved stuff. High finance or mega-construction were a no. Small deals were all he ever made. He did approach the Universal Atheists Union. They already had a UAU meditation sanctuary at L5. It was more a time share endeavor than a church. Few Gazers would come and go. Gazer was forever, but forever just wasn’t very long. Fitzpatrick didn’t see a fit there. The Gazer Sustainable business was more upfront, a one-time purchase plus warranty and weekly refills. If the Congloms controlled the platform, he would be locked out.

#

Transport to the platforms was a bottleneck. Getting out of Earth’s gravity well was expensive. Few companies had the desire to build more lifting vehicles for passenger use only. Also, it was a one-way trip, no returns. Too much overhead was the death knell of space transport companies. If they weren’t flying, they’re dying. ‘byss Gazers seemed to come in waves. Never a trickle, but a burst. An unpredictable flux. Whatever the Call was, when it came, a flood occurred. Then nothing for an unknown period. Just enough ships for standard commerce with the space-based economy plus ten percent capacity. The less risk, the less lost. Gazer transport was a one-way trip, almost all economy class. It was just too risky of an investment.

#

Outside of maintenance fees, most Gazers had little cash. Fitzpatrick did have a modest Abyss Gazer annuity business. He would take all assets and the house. He would find the cheapest transport and platform placement. It paid the bill’s but not much else. His Gazer Sustainable was profitable for now. “For Now!” Rang in his head. The Indes were dwindling while the Congloms did the opposite. He saw dwindling to be his only future. He could only find small quantities of funds to free up. Not any amount close to what was needed for construction of, even, a small platform. There was a kid’s toy for zero G environments called, Launchables. It was minimal too. It was just a brightly colored giant elastic band. With no gravity to change its trajectory, the Launchable would travel far. The child of a pair of Gazers in transit hit him in the face with one. Fitzpatrick obtained enlightenment at that painful moment. There was already a personal recreational space vehicle which had a transparent hull. Fitzpatrick could remove the engine and its power cell. Replace it with new and improved Sustainable devices designed to last for years. He could use bungee cable to transform Abyss Gazers into Abyss Launchables. “Why Gaze when you can Find?” It was a reasonable marketing slogan and strategy. “You will always be standing.” Was his follow up. The vehicle was so small, there was only the standing position. Every Gazer knew it was a one-way trip, just act on it. Fitzpatrick had tables and histograms to show the fiscal efficiency of Finding over Gazing. Fitzpatrick just had enough freed cash to make the Abyss Launchable facilities. He was able to secure some funding from the toy company for part of the business. He was using their name and bungee cables. With no gravity and no resistance, the Abyss Launchable could achieve escape velocity from the Sun because the mass of the vehicle was so low. Life / Death monitoring was no longer necessary because you would be standing for infinity. Infinite days dead. So, everyone won with Infinity. Fitzpatrick’s innovation did take off. Pun intended. He was thus able to build denomination specific Abyss Launchable facilities. As a further compromise to the sectarian, he launched specific denominations to different galactic coordinates. There were denominational specific paths to the Abyss. Paths would never cross until you reached the edge of the Universe. Then you were in the Abyss which was your destination. No one ever asked for an inter-denominational path, so none was provided. Less overhead for Fitzpatrick.

The End

‘byss Gazer by Michael W. Clark 1

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