This is the eighth section of the first chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here
The world fell, he knew what to expect, he had experienced free fall and low gravity before but it was so very very long ago. But the feeling of the entire world underneath you shifting, everything you knew falling was hard to cope with when all your reference points remained the same, falling without moving.
Strange how the human body both adapted to this new environment yet was still perpetually unnerved by it as well. Everything familiar, everything wrong.
“I can see why they were trying to warn us.”
“Yeah,” agreed Martin, “doesn’t help though does it?”
They sat in silence for a short while.
“Do you ever wonder why the Habitat does all this”
“All what?” Martin asked turning towards her
“This” she waved her hands around vaguely “made all of this for us”
“I've wondered that ever since we first found it. The how it does it is enough of a mystery, but the why is the true puzzle I can’t get my head around.”
“Hell of a mystery, why build a habitat big enough for six billion people, then expand it even further. What do they want?”
“You might as well ask, who are they, we’re none the wiser to finding that out either.”
“Ask the conspiracy theorists, they’ll have it as a breeding habitat for food”
“Or for soldiers for a war”
“Says a lot about what humanity would do this type of thing for if you ask me and that doesn’t reflect well on us.”
“Maybe they’re a machine intelligence and view human life like we see robots or cattle”
“Will you stop?” he punched her gently on her arm
She scowled at him and carried on, “Maybe they’re short of entertainment and like watching our lives.”
“You’re not that interesting”
“Maybe this is an advanced party and they just want our trust”
“Yeah, and maybe Klaatu is going to show up any moment.”
Her eyes closed for a moment while she looked up the reference, “We’re not that lucky.”
“Look do you know any more about why they’re doing this?”
“Don’t know, I never met them.”
“You’ve spoken to the Habitat though?”
“Yeah" agreed Martin "and was it a machine intelligence, the voice of one of a million hidden operators or something else, I just don’t know. All I know was it was factual and to the point.”
“You didn’t ask it out for a date then to try and interrogate it”
“You think that’s it? We’ve just not made the right moves to get it to open up? I suppose it could just be very desperate for a date and is therefore taking four billion people out to dinner every night.”
“Look you were here at the beginning.”
“No” said Martin firmly “I was here when humanity discovered it. We don’t know how long it took to build, but we do know that you can’t build a space station over one thousand kilometres long in a rush. We know that it grew in the five years it took to get here in the first place, and we know that it only just got itself habitable in time for us to visit.”
“It was waiting for you.”
“For all of us. I sit here and I see this and all I can think is that it wants us to be here. Now does it want us off Earth to save the planet? Does it want us off a single planet and spread around the solar system? I don’t know and that scares me.”
“But you’re here” she picked up a pebble from the ground and threw it against the stars to watch it ricochet off the transparent wall.
“Yes I’m here. Half the time I’m not sure if I’m here to keep an eye on it, or here to watch the end or maybe I’m here to watch the beginning, or here because I feel I started it; here because I have a destiny to figure out what is going on; maybe I’m here because I’ve nowhere else to go; maybe here is better than Earth; maybe here is just where I’ve been offered a chance like no other. I don’t know and strangely enough I think I’m happy with that.”
“Take life one day at a time.”
“Never was someone to do that, instead let’s say I am willing to sacrifice confusion and unease now for a better view of tomorrow.”
“This been on your mind a lot.”
“Well we’ve been waiting for this expansion, I know there’s more planned, but here we are.”