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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 2, June 2017
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Marilyn Humbert
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


SS Argo Seeker-Class

Ship's Log Star Date 41238.9
Our expedition to collect data and map plasma currents of the black hole 28,000 light years from Old Earth has arrived. We are jubilant. The Captain directs the ship close to the centre of the mass. A flaring kaleidoscope. Ultraviolet winds from electric-charged ion streams are the fastest measured in the known universe and make holding the ship steady difficult.

The ship flounders in the boiling caldron as engines fail. Hull dented, threatening to breech when we are snared by a Coriolis, looping the hole. Ship mathematicians hope a rogue plasma blast will slingshot us back into space. Electrical activity prevents our calls for help from being sent by lightspeed high frequency. A low-frequency message has been sent but will take a generation to reach Old Earth. The Captain hopes our SOS will be picked up more quickly once reaching outpost shipping lanes.

the lure
of simmering colours
an ambush
for the unwary—
LSD nightmare

Ship's Log Star Date 41238.25
100 earth days since engine failure.

Ion eruptions have affected officers and crew; they refuse to eat and drink, falling into a stupor syndrome. I have placed them in stasis, hoping when rescue comes they can be revived and cured. I am functioning, I surmise, because of shielding around my circuitry from my cyborg heritage. I continue to collect data, tracking days in Old Earth time. Little Nell, the ship's computer, helps with housekeeping. We have been unable to restart the engines. Orbit remains stable.

daily life
in the vastness
of this ship—
my only companion
a synthesised voice

Ship's Log Star Date 41345.19
3500 earth days since trapped.

The ship's company, safe in deep sleep. Data collection continues. The seething gases have not allowed the ship to escape back into the void. Engines continue to be offline. Help has not arrived.

Ship's Log Star Date 41524.3
4000 earth days since . . .

There is no escape. I fear plasma blasts are starting to erode computer circuits. Little Nell says, I'm forgetting, confused, forgetting, forgetting . . . erratic   circuits   short   ing . . .

round and round
the black hole
a ghost ship
entangled in a maelstrom
far from Old Earth

a vessel
hidden from sight
of searchers . . .
cobwebs and dust
accumulating in corners

seized
by the tempest's fist
explorers' dreams
and discoveries
known only by the gods

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end

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