Aphelion Issue 234, Volume 22
November 2018
 
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See You On The Other Side

by Gregory Cioffi




Eleanor Foster sat bedside beside her husband. She gazed upwards towards the marvels of modern medicine and then back down towards her bandaged beloved. As the heart monitor beeped in succession, Tyler slowly opened his eyes. The first sight he saw was that of Foster and an immeasurable smile crossed his face.

“Hey there,” she whispered.

He nodded, unable to speak.

If she was being completely honest with herself, Foster did not know what to say. She didn’t want him to think she was speaking in pleasantries; he would hate that. Nor did she want to talk about his prognosis. So instead, she was candid.

“You know what I was just thinking about? Remember when I was going through advanced training and it was parabolic flight time?” Foster couldn’t help but smirk at the memory. “I tried so hard the entire time to hold it in despite the insane constant motion sickness. It was my first time in a microgravity environment that wasn’t a virtual reality exercise. And I did hold it all in. Until I got home.” She let out an audible chuckle. “Your face was priceless. It was like you there thinking, how could so much come up from one person?”

Foster could see Tyler smiling too.

Foster shook her head. “I know it’s a stupid thing to think about, but I’ll just never forget that look on your face.”

She instantly realized the foreboding nature of her comment but before she could say anything, the nurse walked in.

“Good afternoon Mrs. Foster,” the nurse remarked as he checked the readings. In a warm and understanding tone he remarked, “Would you like me to turn on the communication aid? That way you could talk to Tyler for a bit.”

“That would be great, thank you.”

The nurse activated the speech-generating device that takes one’s thoughts and synthesizes them into speech, and subsequently exited the room.

“Hey there,” Foster bubbly initiated.

A crisp but unfamiliar voice answered, “You look so pretty.”

“No I don’t you liar,” she responded with a grin.

“I see they have this thing on the classic Stephen Hawking voice mode.”

“I think it fits you.”

“It’s better than glasses. I feel smarter already.”

“I haven’t seen a pair of glasses in a decade.”

“You were wearing a pair when I met you.”

“That’s right. I was.”

“Eleanor?”

“You know I hate it when you call me that.”

“You know that’s why I do it.”

“Ridiculous. What is it?”

“Do I have memory loss?”

She hesitated before answering, “Yes. Mostly short term.”

He hesitated before responding, “That makes sense. I don’t remember how I got here.”

“Well-“

“-No. I don’t want to know.”

“Okay.”

“Tell me what’s going on in the world. Anything exciting?”

“What’s the last thing you remember?”

“Well I recall we just invented the wheel…”

“I’m glad your sense of humor hasn’t gone.”

“By the looks of it, it’s one of the few things that hasn’t.”

An air of silence reverberated the truth of the statement.

Tyler broke the tension. “I remember we punched a hole in space-time.”

“We did! We created an artificial wormhole.”

“What’s going on with that?”

“Well, actually, a lot. We sent a manned shipped through it.”

Tyler awaited her to tell him she was kidding but when she didn’t, he confirmed, “You’re serious.”

“I am. It’s an amazing time.”

An overwhelming feeling of reverence engulfed the room, as both Foster and Tyler never felt so much in tune with the present as in that moment. The wonderment was broken as the nurse re-entered the room.

“I hope you guys had a good chat! You can continue the conversation soon but right now Tyler does need his rest.”

Foster smiled and nodded while peering back at her suffering spouse.

“Talk soon, my love,” she said. “I’m going to get a sandwich or something.”

In the synthetic voice, Tyler responded, “Well then, it must be launch time. Ha. Ha. Ha. Get it?”

Foster rolled her eyes while laughing; a rare combination Tyler was somehow always able to accomplish.


*****



Foster dropped her newly poured coffee onto the floor, spilling it everywhere.”

“Dammit!” she muttered.

She looked around for a handful of napkins when she noticed the news was on in the waiting room. She turned to it as it caught her ear.

“The world is still awaiting a response from the manned spacecraft Tunnel I which entered the Einstein-Rosen Bridge a little under a week ago. Meanwhile, the wormhole itself has become increasingly unstable and is shrinking in size to the bafflement of the scientific community. It is believed that, at this time, it is impossible for the ship to re-emerge on our side of the opening. We, of course, do not have any idea where the spacecraft actually ended up and so we continue to wait. The expected method of communication is said to be that of light pulses. For the layman like myself, I sat down with astronaut Eleanor Foster last month to explain what this means. Let us replay that footage.”
Foster detested looking at herself on television but had completely forgotten about this interview. She watched herself next to the news anchor.

“Yes, we can communicate through light pulses and what we really mean by that is radio waves. Radio waves are just light with a range of low frequencies, which makes them easier to pass through solid objects, like for instance planets that are in the way, than higher frequency light and don’t require a direct line of sight between transmitter and receiver. SETI does this all the time while searching for intelligent life in the universe – you would simply have to be searching the sky with a radiotelescope.”

“And, if you don’t mind me asking, what does that exactly entail for those of us who might not know?”

“Of course. So information is transmitted via patterns of varying intensity of the wave. There’s amplitude modulated which we commonly refer to as AM, right, like when we listen to talk radio. Or there’s varying frequency, which we call FM, if you’re in the mood to listen to music. If you recognized the patterns to be similar to music or talk radio signals, you could run it through a speaker and listen. That’s the basic concept.”

“So you’re saying we will be able to receive actual messages from your fellow astronauts?”

“That’s correct.”

“And how sure are you that this will work?”

“Well, it works in theory. The problem is, of course, that we have never attempted to communicate with ourselves in such a way.”

“But you did attempt to communicate this way when the wormhole was first opened, is that correct?”

“Yes, we did.”

“And you didn’t hear anything back, correct?”

“Correct. That, of course, doesn’t mean the communication itself didn’t work; it’s very possible that there was no one there to hear the messages. And even if there were, they might not understand our messages nor know how to properly respond.”

“Well, there you have it. Pilot and Commander Eleanor Foster.”


“Let me take care of that, ma’am.”

Foster turned to realize she was standing in a puddle of her own spilt coffee and a janitor was now beside her.

“I’m so sorry, it was-”

“-No apologies. Honest. Allow me.”

She felt alleviated by the janitor’s understanding and nodded. As she took a step back, her phone started ringing. Foster unwrapped her mobile device from her wrist, placed it to her ear, and answered it.

“Yea?”

“Foster? It’s Kennedy. We need you to come down.”

“You know that’s not possible right now,” she responded sullenly.

“I don’t think you understand. We just got something.”

“What do you mean something?” There was silence over the phone. “You’re talking about a message.”

“That’s right. That’s all I can say over the phone.”

Eleanor Foster peered through her husband’s hospital room window. He was sleeping soundly. She was fully aware his days were numbered and she believed he knew it too despite his refusal to discuss it. The last thing she ever wanted to do was not be there for him as he had made it his lifework to be there for her. As much as she didn’t like to readily admit it, the lives of her close friends and colleagues on that spacecraft just didn’t seem as important as Tyler’s.

Foster’s head slowly descended as she closed her eyes. She found herself rubbing her temples when she heard it.

“Go.”

She darted up and checked her surroundings. No one was around. She looked at Tyler in the bed. Could it have been him? No. Impossible. More likely sleep deprivation had taken hold; she probably heard her own sub-conscious.

With an exhausted exhale, Foster knew only one thing for certain: she was completely unsure of what to do.


*****



Mission control center was abuzz when Foster arrived. Her presence was felt immediately as all the staffers turned to look at the treasured astronaut. She could feel them slightly eased by her appearance although she wished they had no idea who she was.

White Team Flight Director Thomas Kennedy barreled his way towards Foster.

“Thank you for coming,” he said with an admixture of warmth and concern.

“Let me hear it,” she sternly responded.

“Of course. Conference room.”

They entered the conference room, which was occupied by about a dozen people. Some were familiar faces to Foster; some were not. She recognized the scientists but not the four-starred military general.

“Please sir,” insisted Kennedy.

Foster did so with a wave of apprehension. The faces around the table were bewildered. She suddenly realized they were all looking towards her for guidance in whatever she was about to hear.

“Firstly, let me just speak for everyone when I say how truly sorry we all are about Tyler and the accident. We wouldn’t have dragged you down here if we didn’t think it vital.”

“Give it to me,” Foster countered with a stone-cold strength.

“As you obviously know, last week we sent a manned spacecraft through the wormhole. Our readings suggested that the trip was successful in that we do not detect the ship in the wormhole nor do we detect any signs of wreckage. The ship made it through. Since then we have been in the dark, so to speak, in terms of communication.”

“Until now,” Foster added.

“This morning our radio telescope picked something up.”

“A message,” Foster urged.

“A very garbled one,” the general intervened.

Foster looked around the room and anxiously remarked, “Well. What does it say?”

“We were only able to decipher one word,” Kennedy continued. “Heaven.”

Foster’s instinctual reaction was to chuckle, quite loudly. At first she concluded this was all a ruse, an attempt to make her crack a smile. Very quickly, however, she realized this was not at all a joke.

“You’re serious,” she reaffirmed.

“Play the message,” Kennedy instructed.

A young, scrawny NASA employee did as he was told.

Static began broadcasting.

“The message is 18 seconds long,” Kennedy said. “At 9 seconds, you’ll hear it.”

Foster listened intently. For the first few moments, linguistic remnants were lost behind ungraspable interference. And then the 9th secomd hit and she heard it. Heaven. As clear as day. There were no emotional connotations behind the word either, it was not said happily or amazedly. It was completely neutral, matter of fact. The garble afterwards continued to play out until the recording finished.

Foster leaned back in her chair, entrenched in her own thoughts. When she looked up, in that tension fueled air, she saw everyone, one again, looking at her.

“Was that Elliot?” Foster asked. “It sounded like him.”

“Vocal recognition confirms that it is definitely Elliot,” Kennedy answered.

“Okay,” Foster exclaimed while taking a deep breath. “What are we really talking about here? Surely you guys aren’t postulating that we ripped a hole is space-time, went through it, and ended up in the holy kingdom of God?”

“No,” Kennedy quickly answered.

“Why not?” the general rebutted.

“Because that’s insane,” insisted Foster.

“That doesn’t mean it can’t be true” another scientist chimed in. “Improbable yes. Unbelievable yes. Impossible no. We, as scientists, don’t discuss the notion of a supreme being because there’s absolutely no evidence for it. This could change that.”

“Are we really having this conversation?” Foster snapped.

“Why not? What is not scientifically tractable today may be so tomorrow. That is literally what makes the voyage of discovery so intriguing.”

“Stop,” bolstered Foster. “I agree with what you are saying and I acknowledge that perhaps science alone cannot yield a complete picture of reality. However, this is not evidence. This is a word in a sentence that we don’t understand. Let’s not take it out of context when we don’t even know what the context is. I know Elliot better than anyone here. He’s a jokester and a prankster. This could simply be part of his sense of humor.”

“I agree,” Kennedy assured. “But when this gets out to the public-“

“-Why would this get out to the public?” Foster demanded.

“My thoughts are with the commander,” the general added.

“It seems to me inevitable,” Kennedy answered.

“Think of what that would do,” Foster urged. “You’d have every major religion attempting to claim this heaven as their heaven and the god that dwells there within as their god. We would make extremists and fundamentalists so paranoid that they would convince themselves that this whole event is some sort of trickery conjured up by the devil, or worse, by us! We would probably be attacked and shut down.”

“You’re probably right,” stated the general. “That’s why we’re not telling them until after your launch.”

Foster went numb.

“Excuse me?”

“You are in charge of the Tunnel II team, are you not?” the general asked.

Kennedy intervened, “This isn’t how we wanted to tell you.”

Foster, flabbergasted, asked, “You’re sending me through?”

“Your mission will be both search and rescue and reconnaissance in nature,” the general answered.

Foster looked around at the worrisome faces. “You’re sending me on a fool’s errand.”

“That’s what you signed up for,” the general remarked.

Foster turned to the general with a certain level of disdain. “With all due respect general, allow me to be perfectly frank. When the wormhole was constructed, I proposed unmanned missions in the name of science using the most up-to-date rovers and robotics. What happened? China announced manned missions. Then someone like you showed up and out of a geo-political decision it was pronounced that we too would send people through. NASA suddenly saw a budget again and off we went on the second great space race. And what happened? The space stations were declared neutral. People became interested in our endeavors once more. And we beat China. We sent a ship through. They cancelled their human spaceflight program as a result and our mission shifted ever so slightly from being one of science to one of exploration. And now we have a ship out there without having any inkling of where there truly is!”

“This is all true,” responded the general in a calmness that only further aggravated Foster. “And now the question is: what are we going to do about it? We’re certainly not going to leave them behind – that would seem extremely improper and cowardice.”

Kennedy added, “We don’t know what condition our colleagues or their equipment are in. We’re, of course, going to try to decipher this message further but there exists a strong possibility that we wont be able to.”

The general continued, “The contingency plan is clear and has been laid out by you fine people. We succeeded in our mission. Now go through and get everyone back safe and sound. And just so you know, I’m not disagreeing with you, commander. You’re right, about everything. And if this heaven tidbit gets out I think it safe to say that you might never get a chance to go through. Out of compromise, the next mission will be comprised of scientists and theologians alike.”

“If there is a next mission,” Kennedy countered. “It might be determined that we are unnaturally playing God; messing with the universe in a way that we were never meant to do. They might label science blasphemy. Funding would be the first thing to go. Everything would be shut down. Our astronauts would be lost.”

“This is all so ridiculous,” Foster blurted out. “The wormhole isn’t even stable. It’s shrinking.”

“It’s fluctuating,” corrected Kennedy. “Our calculations predict it will expand again and we’re working on stabilizing it for a longer duration of time. Eleanor-“

“-Don’t call me that.”

Kennedy appeared flustered. “You have ran the wormhole simulations more than anyone else and with great success. You’re the most qualified commander we have. We wont send you in if the journey isn’t safe.”

Foster threw her hands up is a confused disbelief while very well understanding the gravity of the situation.


*****



Tyler gazed at his wife, who was blatantly distracted within the confines of her own mind. His instinct was to nudge forward but his body disallowed him to do so. He was ecstatic, however, that for the time being he could speak without the communication aid.

“Penny for your thoughts?”

“I don’t know what to do.”

“How soon would you leave?”

“Soon. Too soon. Tell me you don’t want me to go and I wont.”

“You know I can’t do that. But I just want to point out that a mission like this is the one you’ve been waiting for your entire life. It’s life-changing on a historic scale.”

“Things are different now.”

“Why? Because of this?” Tyler asked as he pointed to the medical technologies surrounding him. “Listen; let us be perfectly honest here. We all know the outcome of what will happen in this room. No one knows what is going to happen out there and you have an opportunity to save lives.”

“Somehow that just doesn’t seem to make it better. I don’t want you to be alone.”

“I wont be,” he assured. And who knows, maybe I’ll still be here when you get back. Ready to do what I do best: annoy you the very second I see you.”

“You don’t annoy me,” Foster exclaimed.

“I’ll try harder then.”

She chuckled. “The opposite choice, of you not being here, doesn’t seem to be worth the risk.”

“Well then let us hope I am right and you are wrong.”

“In regards to?”

“An afterlife.”

Foster chose her words carefully. “I never stated one didn’t exist. I have just said I see no evidence for it. Let’s not talk about this.”

“It’s okay. I want to. Because at the end of it, there will either be one, or there wont be. Maybe it is, as you say, just comforting to believe in it. I guess this morphine is also just a comfort at the end of the day. But I’m still glad it’s here. I confess that just because I believe heaven is there, doesn’t make it true. I just hope it is.”

Foster looked deep into Tyler’s eyes’ as the notion of comfort never seemed so relieving. Eventually she turned away in her attempt to keep her composure. She looked up, staring at the ceiling for no particular reason.

“Go,” said a voice.

Foster darted downwards, unsure if what she just heard came from her husband.

“Speak your mind,” Tyler begged. “ And tell the truth!” he added in a light tone.

Foster did not want to say it but Tyler’s countenance adjured it.

“I can only be honest with you.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“I don’t believe heaven exists. But for the first time in my life, I hope I’m very wrong.”

Foster found her lacrimal gland, which rested in-between her eyelids and eyeballs, suddenly activated. She instinctively blinked and could feel that upcoming symptom of sadness, one of the human body’s more confounding mysteries. Vulnerability triggered as a tear peeked out from her lid and inexplicably rolled down her check.

She surrendered into his amiable arms as Tyler viewed this misty loving signal, an extraordinarily uncommon event, as proof of the uncontrollable and marvelous love she had for him. They stayed locked in this position for what, at the time, seemed as long as humanly possible. Tyler had always imagined the afterlife as a state of pure joy and in that perceived lifelong moment, he understood the concept of Heaven on Earth. Part of him even suspected that if he was indeed wrong in his belief, this brief period in time might just prove to be enough. Still, he kept thinking, if only they had just a little while longer.


15 Days Later



Eleanor Foster walked into the Launch Control Center in Hawthorne, California. Behind her was her trusted team and crew, ahead of her a plethora of NASA doctors, scientists, and employees. She raised her right hand and saluted.

“Commander Foster reporting for duty.”


*****



Tyler watched the television intently from his hospital bed. His eyes wandered towards the small table beside him where he had a framed picture of Foster, a single rose, and an unopened gift-box. The newscaster reported the happenings.

“We are just moments away from the launch that will send Commander Eleanor Foster and a small crew into space and through the artificial wormhole. Their mission, a simple one: find the USS Tunnel and its crew, retrieve them, and report back to our solar system. As reported, we have not heard from the spacecraft since its entrance into and through the wormhole. NASA has repeatedly said that they have every reason to believe that the ship survived its journey despite the loss of communications. Oh, and it looks as if we’re ready to launch! Here we go! T-30 seconds!”


*****



Tyler’s heart was practically beating out of his chest. He attempted to take deep breaths and was frustrated by his inability to control his body as he once did. He watched painstakingly as the ten-second count commenced. If his fingers could move they would be clenched in a fist. He closed his eyes and exhaled with exuberance until he heard:

“Liftoff!”


*****



“Here we go!” yelled Foster from the cockpit.

She and her team thrust upwards as the ship speedily exited the atmosphere. They all marveled at the blurred borderline between our sky and space. This was to be Foster’s first time in space beyond Earth’s orbit.


*****



Tyler’s breathing slowly returned to normal as he placed his head back on his pillow.

His nurse entered and immediately boasted, “How about that!?”

He nodded towards the nurse as best he could as he could feel perspiration dripping down his body. The nurse walked over to check Tyler’s readings amidst the steady beeping of his heart rate monitor.

“All seems good,” the nurse remarked in a cheery tone.

The medical assistant noticed the gift, still wrapped, on Tyler’s bedside table.

“Would you like me to open that for you, sir?”

Tyler nodded.


*****



Foster removed her gloves and helmet as she found herself floating in zero g-force. She couldn’t help but childishly simper at the realization that her life-long dreams were coming true. She propelled herself to a rear window and faithfully watched the Earth grow ever so smaller as they ventured away from it. Foster suddenly felt a pit in her weightless stomach. She knew it wasn’t from space adaptation syndrome; she experienced that plenty of times in training. This was different. This was a discomfort of discovery, a spasm to epiphany. This was a culmination of every invocation she had made late at night while laying restlessly in bed. Petitions and pleads to the universe, asserting that if she just achieved her dream of reaching the heavens and traveling beyond low earth orbit, she would be ready to die in a state of pure wonder and elation. The concept always seemed preposterously far off, like the unfeasibility of reaching perfection. Yet here she was, about to traverse the most exciting and remarkable scientific breakthrough of all time. Where would it lead? What knowledge would be found on the other side? Foster found herself suddenly reassessing her assertion: was he actually ready to die?


*****



The nurse carefully tore the gift-wrap as Tyler waited patiently. He could only tell that it was a wooden gift-box of some sort. The nurse opened the box and pulled out a resin figurine of a girl extending her clasped hands; within her hands sat a white dove.

“Very beautiful,” the nurse remarked. “There’s an enclosure card too.” He read it, “A time to reflect. A time to soar.”

The nurse placed the figurine on the table and Tyler eyed it fixedly all the way to its placement. The figure was indeed beautiful. It embodied the simplicity of all things, as it stood no more than six inches, yet it was able to compound the complexities of inspiration, hope, healing, and protection all in one. He gazed keenly at the dove in particular and noticed its readiness to take off and soar to wherever, perhaps the cosmos. Tyler felt the gift deeply as to him this was a recognition to let go, an admission of acceptance, and his consent to surrender.

These inner stirrings were broken when the nurse turned on the news.

“We have some breaking news here in the form of a written statement from NASA. It was just released, no doubt strategically and intentionally, as the Tunnel II is now fully beyond the grasp of humanity. In the statement, Flight Director Thomas Kennedy reveals that the United States has received a single message from the USS Tunnel. The message was badly garbled and almost inaudible. They were able to make out just one word: heaven.”

Tyler’s head darted upwards despite his bodily failings.

“We still do not know when NASA received this message but I think it safe to say there are going to be certain implications due to a message with such intrigue and perhaps significance.”


*****



The astronauts all saw it: the glistening sphere that was their destination.

“My God,” Foster remarked without thought.

They could literally see distorted images of all the galaxies lying beyond the wormhole and the size of the rounded body appeared to be fluctuating ever so slightly, even to the naked eye. Nearby were numerous structures and the robotics used to create and maintain the stellar bridge.

Foster cleared her throat and ordered, “Okay. Let’s get in positions.”

The crew got into their respective posts and settled in.

“Mission Control, we have the wormhole in sight,” reported Foster.

“Copy that, Tunnel II," responded the capsule communicator.

The spacecraft inched closer to the spatial marvel as Foster took the deepest breath she probably ever took.

“Tunnel II, this is CAPCOM again. Before we do this thing, Tom wants to know if you want us send any last minute messages.”

Foster listened to the other members scrambling to say something. She had hoped this question would not be asked.

“And Foster? What about you? Over.”

“Copy that, Mission Control. Tell him,” she hesitated. “Tell him: see you on the other side.”

“Copy that. We’re coming up on the coordinates now, Tunnel II. On your go, you can activate boosters. Once you reach the Event Horizon of the wormhole, we will lose communications with you.”

“Copy that, Mission Control. We here in Tunnel II would just like to say,” Foster realized she wasn’t sure what to say. Memories of Tyler disrupted her train of thought. She reminded herself to breathe. “We’re very much looking forward to seeing our pals. We’ll get everyone back safely and we’ll be in contact with you shortly.”

”Looking forward to it, Tunnel II. From everyone here at mission control: Good luck and God Speed.”

Foster looked over to her crew and stated, “Prepare for boosters on my go.”

They all appeared to tense up a bit but prepped accordingly.

“Let’s find out what’s on the other side of the universe, shall we?”

She could make out their smiles through their glass helmets, causing her to smirk too.

“Three. Two One-”

The pilot was touching the booster button.

“-Go!” ordered Foster.

The button was pushed and the spacecraft darted forwards, barreling towards the awe-inspiring orb ahead of them.

“We are approaching the point of no return!” remarked Foster.

The wormhole fluctuated, like it had a cosmic heartbeat of its own. As they trekked, the images within the wormhole became clearer and clearer. Foster swore she saw not just representations, but moving, changing images; glimpses of time into each galaxy.

“We have reached the event horizon!”

The USS Tunnel II proceeded quickly towards the gravitational singularity.


*****



Tyler watched the distorted broadcast of the spacecraft taken from the nearest International Space Station while clasping onto his figurine.

“Here we go!” yelled Foster. “We are entering the wormhole!”

The Tunnel II was inescapably pulled into the wide astral mouth of the wormhole. Upon infiltrating the celestial invention, the ship and its crew were inhaled into a narrow passageway. Each astronaut closed their eyes and looked away as the intensity of white light took them by surprise and blinded their vision. They felt themselves going faster than they perceived imaginable and their sense of direction was non-existent as they surreally sailed through.

Suddenly, a flashing red Master Alarm went off in the cockpit. It’s succinct and successional beeps, at least, let them know they were still alive and in some sort of reality.


*****



The succinct and successional beeps of Tyler’s heart monitor machine became slower and slower. He heard it and perhaps more intimately, felt it. He did not, however, squirm or struggle. He did panic. He lied still on the bed with a beaming expression of tenderness and gently listened to the calming callings of the weakening signal until he heard no more.


*****



“We’re here! We’re approaching the other side of the wormhole!” Foster boasted as she looked at her instrumentation through the omnipresent white light.


*****



The hospital room was void of sound as Tyler peacefully lied on the bed, the figurine no longer in his hands as it had slid down and now found itself on the precipice of the bed.

The nurse abruptly opened the door to see his patient in aberrant harmony. He heard a sudden crash and was taken aback. The nurse walked to the other side of the bed where he saw Tyler’s figurine on the floor. He knelt down, astonished at the fracture. Tyler’s gift had split in two but the break was miraculously clean. The girl was intact as were her hands. Lying next to her, but also perfectly intact, was the dove. The two faced each other in a spectacular and stunning gaze. The nurse instinctively went to clean up the accident but, with a quick second-thought, decided maybe it wasn’t such an accident after all. Perhaps he would leave them there, with one another, for just a little while longer.



THE END


2018 Gregory Cioffi

Bio: As a writer, Greg's short stories The Catacombs of Truth, Sleeper, Plot, A Peep at London Life, and Cuisine Aquatic have all been published by Feral Press and subsequently archived at Yale Univeristy’s Beinecke Collection (Rare Books and Manuscript Library), while Faceless and Dark Circles have been published by Blood Moon Rising Literary Magazine. His Science Fiction short stories Lineage and Legacy, Sacrificial Lambs, Positronic Programs; OR The Joys of Parenthood, and A Message From the Last Generation of Man have all been featured in Aphelion. Two of his poems ("Love Verboten", and "The Interlocking") were published as a part of a poetry anthology entitled Paumanok Interwoven. His original play The Letter was chosen and produced as part of the 2010 Long Island Fringe Festival and his next play, The Interim was selected to the 2011 New York City International Fringe Festival, the largest theatre festival in North America.

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