Why did I open that porthole? Even though I knew it was likely to do no good? I’m still not sure. Could be I was still feeling a bit nervous about breaking my primal directive. Perhaps I was concerned about the worries of finding myself in warped space. Not sure. But I reached up, turned the lever, and opened myself up to the universe that was out there with expectant eyes.
Of course, I was disappointed. What could I have expected?
Beyond the clear transparency, space was black, utterly black, completely black, black on black. This I knew, there was nothing more to see in the black space of the Dark Cluster, but after a preliminary session of running the filtering of the first batch of tubules, I realized I would quickly become agitated with something akin to boredom, perhaps even dread of it unless I had something to focus on, something different than what I was accustomed to, something different from what I’d be working on.
So I left it open and as expected it unvaryingly displayed the black expanse, with apparently nothing to alter the visual metaphor of conceptual nothingness. Oh, there were other stations out there, I knew, but they were millions of kilometers away, even upon the closest perigee, and any lights they emitted would be lost in the black dust long before they’d reach this station. I was staring into a literal void.
My people have a saying: “Be careful as you gaze into the void. Someone can then sneak up and poke you in the eyes. Then where will you be?”
With no eyes, you’ll be looking pretty much into the void all the time. My people have a strange sense of humor. They rarely produce comic, let alone even humorists.
Still, there was an unexpected aspect to the darkness I caught onto pretty quickly. You see, I expected the darkness to be dimensionless. After all, black is black is black, isn’t it? But, no, there was a degree of dimension to this blackness, there was, somehow perceptually, texture and complexity to it. There was some sort of depth.
How? I didn’t know. Maybe I thought it was imagination, my mind creating something out of nothing. Looking for patterns, you know, like all consentients do. And what did it matter anyway? It was something to keep my mind off my work, the repetition, the drudgery. Drudgery? Why was I thinking about that? No, it was better to look into the distant dark. Drudgery only happens when your unpleasant activities were unplanned. Mine were strictly mapped out and internally authorized.
If I had known better, I would have shut the thing and demanded it be welded shut. But I didn’t, so I didn’t, and it wasn’t.
Of course, the blackness wasn’t my only source of distraction. Blueneck didn’t let up, headless though he was, he had plenty to say, and plenty to radiate through the telempathic translators we were all using, For a guy with no mouth, nor even working tongue or throat, as far as I knew, his runneth over.
“What the *blank**blank*’s up,” he would greet me at the beginning of every shift. That’s where it would start. And it would go pretty much the same place every shift. But I had my porthole. So… I didn’t get bored. And crazy, well, that’s another thing entirely.
<<Galactic News Flash: investigators are now certain a psychological plague of ennui has swept through the well known Vezhengi population of the Trigon Group of inhabited worldlets. As the cause of the death by boredom has been yet to be determines, all similarly adapted species are requested to avoid the remaining cultural artifacts of the species so no other civilization suffers the exact same fatal ennui that befell the Vezhengi. This warning, in the interest of alien culture sensitivity, is not intended to suggest that other civilizations stop exploring their own potential end time boredom, they merely are not advised to pirate another civilization’s apocalypse, as such an at would be considered as being in bad taste.>>