Reading Nothing

Observation Post AE-23 had been home to Wight Moxcomb for three years.  Ever since she had graduated from the Science Academy three years into a five-year term, she had craved a deep space assignment just like this one.  Black hole Cygnus X-1 had been essentially dormant since its discovery, though in the generations since that had changed dramatically.

"Wight?" called Jonas.  Jonas was her senior science officer, and seriously in her way in terms of advancement.

"In here, taking readings."

Jonas descended the foot-holes in the wall of the control room from the galley above and peered over her shoulder.  Seriously in the way.

"How's our friend this morning?" he intoned.

Wight was tapping her pen on the console as she read the readings aloud, more to herself than for Jonas's benefit. 

"13 solar masses, x-rays are almost on a different frequency altogether and... and the event horizon doesn't even register."  She stared at the data readouts, hoping to divine an explanation.

Jonas, munching synthetic rose fruit, furrowed his brow.  "Are the sensors receiving correctly?" he wondered.

"Of course," Wight mumbled.  "I ran diagnostics three times."

Both of them stared at the data readouts.  Cygnus had experienced increased activity in recent decades in terms of emissions and its surrounding system, but none of that was reflected in what the computer now told them.  If the data were correct, the black hole Cygnus wasn't exactly a black hole any more.

Jonas finally shrugged.  "Maybe we should open a window."

Wight, finally acknowledging his presence, whirled to face him.  "Seriously? You don't open windows!  We're a science - I mean, you don't open windows!  Not out here!" 

Jonas, in complete disregard of her protestation, calmly reached over to a different console and keyed in a sequence.  Wight reflexively braced herself in her chair - no scientist worth their salt used the observation windows for anything on an observation post.  The risk of exposure at this range to radiation was too great, and competence in analyzing the data was all the information one really needed to know what was going on outside.

Nevertheless, the inner and outer shielding slowly lowered themselves.

Wight and Jonas were too busy anticipating what they would see to actually see what was outside for a few moments. 

Jonas, the first to begin processing what they saw, let his half-eaten fruit slip from his hand.  Wight didn't even have the chance to fully process what she saw, as the blood drained from her head quickly enough as to render her unconscious.

Outside, there was nothing.  A colorful, dynamic nothing.  And it was horrific.

The End

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