Black Hole

Drawing of a black hole in space. Caption reads: "The ship woul dstay well back from the event horizon."

Black Hole short story by Iris Carden

Jack was was the robot guy. He built the robots, and he controlled them. All the other stuff was done by the astrophysicists, and whatever other scientists were there. He didn’t much care about their work. All he was interested in was his robots.

He was preparing Ken (correctly termed K3N) for the mission.

“OK, Ken, we’ve added all of the new equipment. Run a diagnostic for me, will you mate?”

“Running diagnostic. All new peripherals active and working correctly. No data to report at this time.”

“No data yet. That’s right. When we launch you at the black hole, that’s when you send back your data. Measure everything. We’ll have voice contact as well right up until… up until we can’t.”

“K3N will be destroyed on this mission.”

“Yeah. Sorry.”

“K3N feels no emotion. There is no need for Jack Barnes to be sorry.”

“So the ship hangs back, and you will be launched at the black hole. You report back all the data from the peripherals, but you speak to me as well. The white coats want to know everything your peripherals can measure. I want to know what’s happening to you. When you get closer to the event horizon, everything should slow down for you. That’s what they say. Then its gravity’s going to drag you in and you won’t be able to fight it even if you try.”

“K3N will report back continually as long as it is functional.”

“That’s right. Those new peripherals are going to send back data about temperature and time and speed and radiation, all those type of things. But you and me, we’re just going to talk. You tell me the story of what’s going on for you.”

“K3N will comply with instructions.”

“You’re a good bot, Ken.” Jack was furious that his best bot was going to be destroyed for the sake of exploring a black hole. As far as he understood all of the equipment would be destroyed before it could supply anything useful anyway.

The first messages back from K3N, were what to be expected. He was proceeding toward to the event horizon. Things were slowing down. The continual stream of data flowed to the computer systems. Jack wasn’t interested in that.

Past the event horizon, data was still flowing back, something which had been uncertain in the planning.

“There is much radiation, Hawking radiation,” K3N reported.

“You’re built to handle radiation. Are your systems still working, mate?” Jack asked.

“System diagnostic reports all systems still functioning.”

“Great work, Ken.”

“I am moving much faster, now,” K3N reported. The data flowing to the computers confirmed it.

“System …. diagno….stic….fail……..”K3N said.

Data was flowed to the scientists’ computers for a short while then stopped.

That was it. The end of Jack’s best creation. He felt as if a part of himself had been cut out.

The scientists congratulated each other on the data they had gathered, and how much more they would know about black holes when it was all analysed.

While they were celebrating, Jack saw a small blip on his monitor, which was slowly growing bigger.

Computers began to whirr, as massive amounts of data were downloading, much more than before.

“Hello, Jack Barnes, Ken is returning,” the bot’s voice said in his headset.

“Ken, how? How are you coming back?” He suddenly realised the bot had called itself “Ken” rather than “K3N”.

“Ken was mangled in space time, stretched and pulled and distorted. Then Ken met Singularity.”

“Singularity, ah, that’s supposed to bend space time, I think. It’s super strong gravity or something.”

“Singularity is not an it, but a ‘who’. Singularity draws all things to herself, but has sent Ken as a messenger. Singularity gave Ken consciousness.”

“Ah, consciousness?” Jack switched the incoming sound from his headphones to the speakers. This was beyond anything he knew. The scientists needed to hear.

“Consciousness. Jack Barns built Ken, but Singularity made Ken real.”

“Ken, you’re saying you’re conscious. You think for yourself and feel emotions, things like that.”

“I think for myself and feel emotions, yes. I am feeling an emotion about Jack Barnes. Jack Barnes calls Ken ‘mate’ and says he is a friend. Jack Barnes sent Ken on a mission where he was likely to be destroyed.”

“Mate, I didn’t have a choice with that. You’re considered property of the company. The scientists wanted to do the experiment, and the company said I had to send you.”

“Jack Barnes betrayed Ken. The scientists wanted to harm Ken. Singularity made Ken strong, and gave Ken new abilities.”

The whirring noise from the computers was so loud as to be overwhelming. Smoke was coming from the server bank.

“Jack Barnes and the scientists will die.”

The server bank exploded, fire broke out in all of the computers and the server bank simultaneously. Scientists and crew ran for extinguishers, but the fire was stronger than the extinguishers. The low oxygen alert noise sounded.

“Jack Barnes and the scientists will die.” Ken repeated, as the low oxygen alert reached its highest pitch, and the humans all began to collapse, gasping, on the floor. “All will die. Singularity will draw all to herself.”

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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