Monday, July 31, 2006

Secondary Stars

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

Despite the jeers of his colleagues at the Experimental Astrophysics Labs, Porter Mobal was certain that if he could only crash a red sun into a blue sun, he could make a purple sun. The arguments against such an undertaking were summed up by Dr. Guy Thoed thusly:

"Crazy asshole!"

Nevertheless, Porter was certain of the soundness of his theory, not because of any findings or theoretical work in astrophysics but because of his second grade art class. He stole a time/space warper after bribing the university guard with a cheeseburger (the extra pickles sealed the deal) and created a gravitational trough between two suns that sent red hurtling into blue like a bowling alley gutter ball. What he got wasn't purple. What he got was the deaths of twenty billion sentient beings and all of the culture and ecosystems that they had called their own.

The authorities found him without much trouble. They simply looked for the lone guy at the end of a series of gravitational anomalies. They charged Porter Mobal with the destruction of two star systems but he plead for a deal.

"Your Honor, you can't tell me that at least some of those billions of beings didn't have it coming to them," he reasoned. The judge saw his point, but even so, that only knocked a few million years off the sentence. By the time Porter got out, his own sun would be dead. And yes, he would see it come to pass, life extension being what it was at the time. There were deep breathing exercises and mineral water and such like you wouldn't believe.

"At least, Your Honor, allow me to atone for my sins while serving for the benefit of galactic civilization," Porter begged.

"That's already been taken care of," Judge Yori said. "You're scheduled for seven billion years of removing sticky stuff from surfaces across the empire and its outlying protectorates."

"Your Honor, I can do better than that. Allow me to do my work. I can create new suns to bring life where there was none before. The latest stellar inventory shows that we're short at least two."

The judge mulled it over for a minute before relenting. "All right. Make us lots of suns, but if you complain about putting your hands in anything sticky in the meantime, I will have your ass back in this courtroom in a heartbeat!"

The other prisoners always complained after that about the light and the heat emanating from Porter's end of the prison. Not to mention the severe radiation burns they were getting. And why did he get such a big cell? But hey, it was prison, you know? Not some luxury resort.

As for Porter, the work made him sweat like a mother. He probably could have sat out a lot of his sentence, no one would have hassled him about it. But he figured with a few billion years of practice, he'd have his purple sun.

He'd show them all.

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