Delirium by Bill Amberson
Delirium by Bill Amberson
A blue whale can weigh in at 150 tons. The creature is larger than a school bus and has been known to nearly capsize ships if it breaches the water to close to one. Also, and many people may not know this, blue whales have a pelvic bone. Why? Some may think this counter intuitive, because a blue whale doesn’t have legs. It doesn’t walk, but instead rules over the sea with its massive size.
Hundreds of thousands of years ago, perhaps millions of years ago, a long-time ascendant of the blue whale walked on land. These creatures could both swim and walk. I believe these amphibious animals, to draw a modern-day comparison, would have been something of a Hippopotamus in their time. However, as the environment changed around them, these proto blue whales spent more and more time in the water. Eventually, they didn’t leave the water at all, becoming more like a giant fish than a land roaming creature. The use for their legs eventually disappeared, and these limbs became genetically inferior. This switch from an oversized land roaming animal, to a strictly sea bearing creature opened the door for something magical: limitless growth. Virtually limitless growth anyways, bound only by the food available, which was plentiful. These beautiful creatures fed from the sea, unchallenged due to their size, and limitless in their physical potential. You see, swimming is different from walking. They were essentially unhindered by gravity. A land creature can only become so large before its joints break down and its mass turns infeasible. The whale conquered this dilemma by taking to the sea. But even after all these years, the blue whale still has a pelvic bone; a snapshot of the past. A trinket of what was.
I find this small anecdote about blue whales to be both relevant, and horrifying in its context. I must, to your inconvenience, start over to a degree. If what I am writing is ever read, and I sincerely hope that it is, then you will understand. I inserted a series of pages from my personal journal into this document. I hope that you will find this compelling, assuming you are still here to read it. I could be I suppose, but I choose not to, for reasons that will be explained within the following pages.
December 2, 2017
I have always found the winter sky to be the most beautiful. While still early in the season, we had our first snow the other night. As a child, I was given my first telescope Christmas day. It was a white Christmas that year. The telescope wasn’t much better than some of our modern-day binoculars, but I remember going outside after the sun set, and gazing into the night sky for hours. My mom and dad had to come outside and physically pull me back in the house, or risk me getting frostbite. That day, to sound as cliché as possible, was the first day of the rest of my life.
Forty years later, as I sit in this observatory considering the night sky, I can’t help but feel some nostalgia. This isn’t the same as standing in my front yard with a telescope that was more toy than tool, but the snow and cold always have this effect on me.
Found something unusual in the sky. I was focusing in on Messier 64, or M64, when I saw a spec move between it and I. I could first see it at the edge of the spiral galaxy, and it moved rapidly across. I could only see it as a silhouette, and it moved across the galaxy fast enough that I didn’t have time to determine its size. I have two hypotheses: either something is wrong with the observatory’s telescope, perhaps dirt between the lenses, or I had just seen a meteor pass parallel to earth by luck of the draw. This anomaly moved across M64 in approximately twenty seconds or so. That was too fast to be at a great distance for two reasons. Even a spec, as this was, would have to be astronomically big to be visible against the light of M64. Also, given the velocity it crossed M64 with, the spec would have to be moving much faster than the speed of light. Given this information, I can determine that the spec was close to Earth, surely within our solar system. Our solar system is filled with asteroids of course, so this isn’t exactly news to me. Still, it’s an interesting coincidence that it passed through my field of view.
I had the thought of this spec stuck in my head, so I returned to M64 again. I didn’t expect to see anything, but you know, I just had to return to the scene of the crime. That sort of thing. To my surprise, the spec returned. Only this time it stayed, perched on what I observed to be the right side of M64. It no longer moved from side to side, but just sat stationary. Interesting.
NOTE TO SELF: CHECK M64. LOOK FOR BLACK SPEC
December 3, 2017
Weather is shit. I’m always game for some early snow, because I like how it feels to view the stars surrounded by white, even if I am indoors now days. But still, why can’t it snow during the day and be clear at night?
December 4, 2017
I’ve just gotten off the phone with some colleagues at NASA. I had almost forgotten to look at M64, but when I opened my journal to record my thoughts I saw my reminder written in all capital letters. I’ve been writing in journals for so long that if I hadn’t written “CHECK M64” in large print, I might have overlooked my pervious entry all together.
When I turned the telescope to M64, I was initially confused. The right side of the galaxy had a chunk missing, eaten by blackness. I thought that maybe there was something wrong with the telescope, but that was nonsensical. I had just been viewing for the last five hours off and on. If something was wrong with the telescope, I would have noticed it long before turning to M64. I didn’t even think about the black spec until I realized that the missing side of M64 looked like a perfectly round bite had been taken out of it. It was as if a giant had bitten into M64 like it was one big galactic cookie. There were no teeth marks of course, the edge was perfectly smooth as if drawn with a compass.
I called my colleagues at NASA immediately. I’ve been working in astronomy for a long time, and while my concerns are only a little more than suspicions for now, I fear that this could be a potentially dangerous meteor. The speed of its approach and the apparent size of the object concerns me. While the Colorado Space Observatory has one of the best telescopes in the country, I cannot magically adjust resolution to focus in on this object. That is why we can have high definition pictures of distant galaxies, but nobody really knew what Pluto looked like until Voyager 1 passed by. It’s a resolution and magnification issue. This meteor approaching could be harmless, doing nothing more than burning up in our atmosphere, and I’m seeing it magnified and unfocused. I tell myself that this is the truth, but I fear the worst because scientists always do. NASA is better equipped to look into this, and I hope that they do.
My colleagues called me back, stating that they couldn’t find any anomalies around M64. I asked them how that was possible. The sky was now becoming too bright to do any real observations, but until only an hour ago, I had watched that former spec grow larger. I could see it happening right before my eyes. It moved from the right side of M64 to the center. Its darkness was like looking at a blackhole approach. The light from M64 surrounded the growing spec as it sat perched in the center of the galaxy, hiding M64’s brightest spot. The area where its super massive blackhole was. I know that this is a trick of resolution and magnification, but looking at that darkness approach puts terror into my heart. Part of me fears that it isn’t just a meteor, but a dormant blackhole. That was ridiculous though, because NASA was equipped to handle this. Not to handle a blackhole per say, but to spot it at least.
December 5, 2017
The weather, the fucking weather! I’ve never been so angry at the overcast, never in my life.
December 6, 2017
I turned to M64 immediately, but the galaxy was gone. Impossible, I know. Just some trick of the magnification, of the resolution. But the more I thought about that the more it became ridiculous. A small meteor that would burn up in our atmosphere would have to literally be on a direct path with the lens of my telescope in order to black out M64. The trajectory would have to be absolutely perfect. The odds that such an event would happen: astronomically low, lower than winning the lottery a dozen times, every year for six years.
I called NASA and reported, as odd as it sounded, that M64 was gone. I couldn’t see it. They laughed at me, saying that they’d “take a look.” If I were some backyard asshole they might have just hung up on me all together, but I’m not god damn it. I work at one of the most advanced observatories on the planet. I have twenty years of experience. The only logical conclusion I can draw is that they are trying to hide something. That or I have completely lost my mind.
Still no M64. No movement. Nothing to report. I have an idea though.
I returned home and grabbed my own personal telescope. This wasn’t anything special, just the sort you could use to see Jupiter or spy on the International Space Station. I had a resolution issue, so I changed telescopes. I am mad at myself for not thinking to do this sooner. I stood outside in the snow, as I had when I was a child, and pointed the telescope to the night sky. I focused the telescope on the spot I knew M64 to be, and again, no M64. I played with the resolution, adjusting the nobs back and forth until something came into focus.
At first, I thought it was a meteor. It was a blackish purple and with chunks of rocks clinging to its gravitation pull. My heart did more than stop. I’m pretty sure it settled in my stomach. I pulled my head back from the telescope and then looked again. Still there, still terrifying. The mass of this object, immense. The odds of surviving impact with something this large, zero. Its trajectory, Earth.
I called my colleagues at NASA, once again, but they laughed at me. I was furious. I told them exactly where it was in the sky. I told them exactly what I was seeing. They told me that I might want to get some sleep, that I was delirious! Can you even believe that?
I kept looking at the mass, and I began to realize that the mass looked wet. This thing in space looked like it was sweating, sweating in the vacuum of space? I continued to observe it, focusing in on its features. I could see it quiver and shake, as though it were meeting resistance from air. The way a person’s face will shake and ripple if they stand in front of a powerful fan. That was, again, impossible. Maybe I am delirious. But I don’t think so. I don’t think.
December 7, 2017
I’ve been awake all day thinking about this thing, whatever it was. It plagued my mind, it terrified me. I had stopped at the grocery store nearest my house to grab a few energy drinks, you know, to keep me going, when I looked up. I screamed. I could see it. I can see it if I just look out the window now, in plain daylight! The black spec was about half the size of the sun, and hovered overhead. A man in a white shirt came out of the store. He wore a name tag, “Steve” it read. A manager I guess, but that didn’t matter to me at the time.
“Are you okay buddy?” he asked me. I pointed at the sky.
“Do you see that?” I almost screamed. “Do you see that, in the sky?” He looked up, but didn’t seem to see it, or didn’t comprehend what he was seeing.
“See what?” he asked.
“That fucking black thing in the sky! Do you not see it? Are you fucking blind!” I was screaming at him so loudly now that it hurt my throat. Steve recoiled, as if I were a rabid dog.
“Why don’t you just wait here for a second,” he said. He was looking at me like I was crazy, like I was fucking nuts. He’s the one who’s fucking nuts! Nuts or blind, or both. “I’m going to call you some help,” he said. I didn’t wait for his help.
I can see the cracks and crevasses in the thing. They come from all directions of its mass, leading into a wet center. The phrase “all roads lead to Rome” came to mind, but these weren’t roads, and whatever that wet center was, it wasn’t Rome. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, like the way stars seem to shimmer if you look at them long enough with your naked eye, but I swear I could see this thing pulsate. I could see its valleys and massive cannons relax and contract the way an overworked muscle does before cramping. It might be a trick of the light, a trick played by my delirious eyes, but I don’t think so. I don’t think so.
If you read my journal entries, then this next part will make sense. As I sit here, looking up into the midafternoon winter sky on December 8, 2017, with my loaded hunting rifle on my lap and bottle of scotch on in my hand, I will kill myself. I can see the thing in the sky. It moves towards me, towards us, towards Earth. It’s centered in the sky, and only towards the horizon can I see the blue of the winter day.
I checked the news, nothing. Just more political firestorm bullshit. I called my brother in California. I told him that today was a special day, that the moon was fully visible all-day long, and not that translucent moon you can sometimes see in the sky. That it hung up there like someone spilled a drop of milk on the blue, an astronomical anomaly that only happened once a century, I said. I told him to go look while I spoke to him on the phone. He couldn’t see the moon of course, that was a lie, but he couldn’t see the black thing inbound for our planet either. Maybe I am delirious. Maybe I lost my mind.
I’ll leave this document and my journal entries folded up in an envelope, sitting on my desk in the observatory. Whoever finds this will know why I shot myself, assuming there is anyone left to read this at all. I understand that this thing coming for us, for me, it is alive. Unbound by gravity, its size only limited by what it can eat, and food is plentiful. Its mass takes the sky, and it is so close now that I can see the fractures and fissures with my naked eye. I can see the wet spot in the center, and like a flower opening its peddles to the sun, I see these fissures part. The fleshy rock like mass opens its mouth to me soundlessly. Giant triangular shaped flaps of skin expand in a dozen directions, each equal in size and each blotting out massive parts of the formerly blue day. They overtake the afternoon sky and grow across it like a black infection running through clean veins. The sky, now nearly completely blackened by its encompassing mouth, has become nothing more than a few blue windows near the horizon. Billions of razor sharp teeth glitter in the living night sky. They look like stars, like stars shimmering. My terror is unimaginable, and I won’t let it get me.
** * * THE END * * * *
Copyright Bill Amberson 2019