January 21st, 2020
"Hey, you OK, mate?" The question attacked my mind, probing the depths of my brain for a valid answer. Was I OK?
"Y-yeah, I guess," I replied, but the terror and panic must have shown on my face, because my friend and partner, Jonas, patted me on the back and attempted to comfort me with his words. Sometimes he could be a real fool. How could he possibly think that an inexperience yet skilled astronaut like me could be calm just before entering the darkest place in the Universe? How could he be calm himself, however experienced he was? He had never gone beyond the Moon.
No one had ever gone beyond Mars, not until now. A journey through space for three years! If I had a wife, she would have killed me before the black hole did. They told me it was a great risk, but I knew that it was a suicide mission. It wasn't a great risk, but it definitely was a dramatic way to die.
"How 'bout you? Still sane?" I asked him. 'Still sane?' had become our own kind of greeting, though we never really cared to check what the time on Earth was. I knew from experience not to dwell on the past. In deep space, memories of the life you used to have are never soothing or happy, for that matter; they're sad.
Before we took off, I promised all my friends that I would return. For a year or so I still had hope, but whenever I looked out and stared off into the distance, looking at the stars, I knew that returning to Earth would be an impossibility. Yeah, they tell us not to lose hope, but it's easier said than done, especially out in outer space. This place wasn't for humans; I knew that since the moment we left Earth's atmosphere.
"Yeah, somewhat," Jonas replied.
"Good enough," I muttered. "I'm not doing very well over here. Still can't believe we're about to enter a... a..."
"Just say it. It's gonna happen anyway," Jonas said sadly.
"A black hole. Did we volunteer for this? I kind of forgot."
"I forgot too. If we actually did volunteer for it, then let's just say that we're saner than we were when we were down on Earth," he chuckled.
My eyes watered and I let out a sad laugh. "Time flies, doesn't it? Back on Earth we were probably jumping up and down, all excited about being the first to enter a black hole. Now we're talking about it like it's a tourist attraction," I told Jonas.
They had a reason for sending only two astronauts but I didn't know what it was. It was probably just because they didn't want to be responsible for the deaths of more than two middle-aged people. As we orbited around Jupiter, the biggest planet in our solar system, I stared out at the black vacuum. It looked so harmless, yet the moment you step out into outer space without protection, you'd be killed by maybe an asteroid. Even before the asteroid hit you, you would be frozen and killed. There's nothing out in space that doesn't want to kill you.
The further we travelled around Jupiter, more of the black hole came into view. Black holes can't really be seen, but it had such a great gravitational pull that even light could not escape its pull, so we could see the distorted images of the galaxy around the black hole. Gravitational lensing. To think that a collapsed star could be so deadly was absurd, yet it was true.
Loneliness overwhelmed me. I was hours before my possible death. If I had a job, I was going to finish it. I wouldn't go down without a fight.
"Are the mics working?" I asked Jonas determinedly. He nodded, then clapped me on the back. "Let's do this and get back to Earth so we can slap those humans in the face."
I grinned crazily. Perhaps we really had gone insane out in space.
The black hole wasn't huge and didn't affect Jupiter much, but it had swallowed up one of Jupiter's moons like it was a post-lunch snack. If swallowing a moon made that black hole "not bad enough", then I didn't know what was.
"Prepare to get sucked in, bro. Just an hour to the hole," Jonas said, then laughed at the absurdity of it all.
The black hole was in full view, and I was sure that there was nothing which looked more menacing in the entire universe. The black hole was so empty, so dark, so dark --
The lights started flickering, then went out.
"This is the part where we just wait like turkeys waiting to be taken to dinner table on Thanksgiving," Jonas murmured. I closed my eyes and swiveled around in my chair, fingering the button which would eject my seat. We were planning to enter the black hole without the space ship.
"You ready?" Jonas asked, taking a deep breath.
"I'll never be."
The spaceship began to rattle. I shut my eyes tightly. I did not want to witness the end. There I sat, just waiting.
"We're close enough. We have to leave this ship now. Now!"
I pressed the button, but with my eyes closed, I saw nothing and tried not to feel anything. I moved towards the black hole at breakneck speed. Suddenly I felt really tired, like how I would feel before going to bed after a long day. It was time to take a long nap.
Time was fluid. Where was I? Hell? Heaven? How long had it been since I entered the black hole?
Slowly, I opened my eyes. I was in a plain black space. There were... objects before me. White circles and billions of twinkling lights. These images looked two-dimensional, like they were being shown on some kind of screen. Why was I still not dead? I was in the heart of a black hole. Was it possible that I had survived the black hole?
"Are you seeing this, Jonas?" I spoke into the mic half-heartedly. Was he alive, like me?
"Yeah, I see it. Just woke up, eh?"
"Me too. What are these things?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing. They're two-dimensional images."
"Yeah, no shit. I mean, what the hell are they doing here?"
"You know," I tapped my chin thoughtfully, "I have no idea."
"That helps. Is this... touchscreen?"
I snorted and replied snidely, "Yeah, right, Samsung's already entered the black hole before us and made this thing."
But his question bothered me. I reached out tentatively, touching one of the twinkling things. Warmth spread through my body. I tried moving it by dragging it and it actually worked!
"Dude, I think these are stars. One of them just moved, though..." Jonas reported.
"Dude! I just touched one of those star things and moved them! You saw that?"
"Yeah, I did! Weird... I'll try and do it."
Seconds later, another star moved to its left.
"I saw that too!. Then... these circles... there's a circle with some ring around it. I think the circles without fills are actually planets. Dude, this is the entire universe mapped out!" I yelled excitedly.
"Seriously? What's happening to the universe?" he replied fearfully.
"What do you mean?"
Then I saw what he was talking about. Slowly, the stars seemed to be burning out and the planets were fading away. This was happening rapidly. The universe was disappearing, replaced by nothingness. What was this? What was going on?
I floated over to another part of the universe map. Everything was disappearing. Seconds later, everything was gone.
"The universe just ended?" Jonas asked in a shrill voice.
"No," I whispered. "It just began."
Realization slammed into me like a truck at full speed.
"Dude, if the universe ended, it means everything is gone. But that would make no sense, seeing as we're still here. Which means that if this map is for real, then it's currently showing us the past, back when there was no universe. If we attempt to exit this place, we will find an empty universe and we'd die. We have to trigger the creation of the universe so that we can actually leave this place and go back home."
"Look at your hand!" Jonas yelled back.
I looked down at my palms. Right there, hovering over the palm of my right hand, was a big ball of light, about as big as a soccer ball. When I looked closely, I could see the galaxies in detail, stars and planets and everything. It was slowly expanding, like how they theorized the universe was expanding.
"I think we literally have the universe in our hands," I breathed, staring in awe at the ball which was slowly increasing in size.
"The big bang. How are we supposed to do it?" Jonas inquired.
The big bang. The big bang...
"Only one way," I said softly.
"What is it? What do we do?"
"On the count of three, we slam this ball straight into... into whatever screen is in front of you. That's the only thing that comes to my mind when I think of 'bang'," I replied.
"Are you sure we don't have to fart?"
"Alright then. On three."
"Three," I muttered. "Two. One. Zero."
The moment I said zero, I mustered up all my strength and slammed the ball of galaxies into the "screen" in front of me. The stars and planets sprang into view again, all at once. Around me, the empty, black space seemed to be... disappearing. It felt like I was flying through a tunnel, then I was catapulted into outer space, only to be greeted by the looming face of Earth. I laughed maniacally. Nothing was more beautiful than my home.
Behind me, the wormhole faded out of view, like the stars and planets had before we had brought the universe back into existence.
"We're back," I whispered. "WE'RE BACK, DAMMIT! SCREAM FOR ME JONAS, WE'RE BACK!"
"Are you stupid? We're in Earth's atmosphere. We're falling!" he screamed.
I cursed. He was right. We were slowly floating into Earth's atmosphere.
"Listen, bro, gods don't die right? I'm right here, look up," Jonas spoke through the mic.
I looked up and saw him floating just about ten feet above me.
"You see, that's the thing. Sometimes, gods do have to die."
When I came to, I was lying on a comfy bed with real sheets.
I must have blacked out when falling through the air.
"This time I woke up before you. It looks like we're in a hospital, but I wouldn't take chances. Are we in another damn dimension? What do we have to create now?" Jonas's muffled voice came from next to me. Just then, the door opened and a nurse walked in.
"No, brother, this is the Earth. No creating shit. We're back home," I smiled.
The nurse grinned at me.
"You guys are real lucky that you're alive. Luck is funny, isn't it? I guess you were in the right place at the right time."
"We definitely were," I said, giving Jonas an inside-joke wink.
"It makes no sense that we survived the fall, but I'm not gonna complain," Jonas shrugged.
"We just wanted to give you a chance to save the world and redeem yourself before you got sent to where you truly belong," the nurse said. I frowned in confusion.
"What?" Jonas asked with an air of suspicion.
"Well, you definitely didn't hope to survive a black hole, did you?" the nurse smiled and bared her fangs.
Hope you enjoyed the story :) I did put in a fair amount of effort in this story, so I hope you can appreciate my effort. Don't say that I copied Interstellar's plot. Interstellar was about the dying Earth and a team of astronauts sent out into space to find another life sustaining planet. Yes, the movie did involve a black hole and "time-travelling". I simply borrowed those concepts and used them in this story. In the end, none of the astronauts in Interstellar went to Hell. There was nothing about the creation of the universe in Interstellar. Of course, I did not write Interstellar's story. Interstellar was directed by Christopher Nolan. Thank you for reading this story.