Aphelion Issue 291, Volume 28
February 2024
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
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by Will H. Blackwell Jr.

I am, at last, going near
the speed of light, yet time is
slowing, almost
to a standstill.
The past ages rapidly
behind me, but does not
so readily detach
as I might wish. Items
and occurrences — blue-shifted
before — red-shifted
after — have not truly vanished
but are merely
pushed off
to one side — or the other — crowded
in odd distortions
of what they were, rimmed
with bizarre aberrations
of color.
My vision continues
to tunnel forward. And
as I finally reach
light-speed, I become
suddenly thinner, seeming
to dematerialize
through a now
persistent pattern
of particle decay.
The once too-bright
window ahead
grows ever dimmer,
warping — as time
further dilates — into
a limited, if cosmic,
whirlpool, with only linear
blackness, appearing to stretch
on to infinity
from there.
I fear
my atoms may soon
disappear. But I nonetheless
hold closely
to the slender assurance
of a cherished
question, wishing tortuously
for belief!
On a former day
you preceded me
along this singular,
unsettling, yet
strangely hopeful
way — this obscure
but somehow more
distinctly sidereal
path. Thus I ask this
only question left:
Are you
still waiting for me,
patient as always, of course,
somewhere beyond
the seemingly indifferent
circling plasma — the
event-horizon — of this
most surely irrevocable,
darkest door?

2017 Will H. Blackwell Jr.

Will H. Blackwell Jr. is an emeritus professor of botany at Miami University, Ohio, presently living in Tuscaloosa, AL, where he is adjunct in Biological Sciences at The University of Alabama. His poems have appeared in Aoife's Kiss, Aphelion, Blue Unicorn, Illumen, Scifaikuest, Star*Line, and Trysts of Fate, among other journals.