OUTER SPACE EDEN

***UPDATE – a slightly more polished and beautifully type-set version is part of the LOVE ETC book.

(made available to read online for free once-in-a-while or generally with a donation based password.)


[ a short story ]

 

I

THE LAUNCH

The man and the woman in silver space-suits kiss goodbye to their families in front of live-television cameras. Adam attends to his wife and his lovely two daughters while Lilith consoles her husband with whom she hasn’t got any children. They’re brother and sister, space-bound cosmo-biologists, and it’s been put on their shoulders, on behalf of mankind, to head for this truly bold mission. Tears are being shed in close-up around the steel-clad visitor’s cubicle although everyone’s had plenty of time during the past couple of months to prepare for this precocious moment in time. For Adam and Lilith, due to their arduous psychological training, the whole process has now become only a mere formality. Sternly they glance towards what to cameras would seem like the horizon, with professionally limpid faces, at the right moment, at the right angle. Lilith kisses her husband’s cheeks tenderly. Then an embrace. Adam has slung his arm around one daughter’s waist whilst on his knee keeps sobbing the other. Occasionally he peeks up between them, with a futile sense of compassion, to pay tribute to his photogenically grieving wife crouching in front of him.

Then the customary signal sallies forth. The time has come for take-off. Leaving perhaps everything forever behind, Adam and Lilith slide across a network of vacuous steel corridors, every now and again trespassing fibre-glass slots where more cameras and crew have lined-up to watch. The longer they journey, the smoother their movements progress. Until they stand face-to-face with the very last bridge – arching across nervously fuming jet-propulsion engines and the vain, tremblingly lurking launch-pad abyss. Up in the sky, fluffy clouds hover across a pristinely ultra-violet sky, maybe they’re a bit too swift, too cheerful or daunting …

 

Adam and Lilith inhale a last mouthful of ozone-rich air before crawling into the dimly-lit core of their vessel. The push of a button closes the gate. They chain themselves to their seats, seal tight their helmets – and for a good while their gloved hands gracefully dance among numerous fluorescent sensors neatly laid-out around them. They’ve done all of this several thousand times. The countdown is now only an alpha-wave peaking during their mental ability to relax and stay sharp at the very same time.
The take-off is smooth. By the time they’re being sprawled into their seats from the rocketing gravitational force, they already know – it’s a guts feeling – that everything went well during the most crucial part of the sequence. They’re on their way now. They’re rising.
And the sudden hormonal surges of bliss draw a sly grin on their wantonly contorting faces, as for the first time today they’ve got a proper chance to look at each other.


II

OUTER SPACE

“Hahaha” – Lilith stepped on one of the sensors around the main lab-entrance of Outer Space Eden Project and found the extremely responsive auto-attunements of the climate generators really amusing. Adam could see her point but was also aware that by now, as they were beginning to get into their day-to-day routines on the station, new gates inside their heads had cracked open, inviting what could only be described as Euphoria. They felt both extraordinarily cheerful and started to better get to know each other. Much better than they had ever had a chance during their years of growing-up together. Somehow up here, with mighty Saturn and Jupiter imposing themselves through the giant glass-dome of the lab, their relationship seemed to transpire a magic they had both never felt before. Every now and again, for brief and still moments, they looked at each other and smiled.
Continuous low-frequency buzz from omnipresent machinery permeated the station twenty-four hours. Yet there was also a strange, ghastly silence around – much more than they would’ve expected during their countless simulation sessions. They had been given the option to air some of their music but for now they had decided to not to. In the lab itself, the whirring of climate generators joined the general base-line of unobtrusively humming background noises. At the other end of the hall, from the animal section, faint sounds of erratic squeaking and squirming could also be heard. Each cage, monkeys, rats, even termites and squid, as well as the area itself, had actually been sealed with sound-proof isolation equipment. But particularly the rhesuses turned out to be keenly excited space-cadets and expressed this with all-sorts-of weird shrieks and rumbles which somehow managed to penetrate through.

Lilith, still fooling around, shovelled more leaves on the sensors to cheat them.
“So you think it’s time to start improvising a bit, huh?”, Adam asked her casually, watching her incredibly sweet movements. She was prancing around the scene-of-crime on her long, silver-clad legs.
“Yeah, I think it’s time. I think the plants will love it if we give them a bit more tropical flavour tonight. Doesn’t matter scientifially, it’s just again random change patterns and anyway, all recorded in the log-file. One way or the other, we’ll always churn out more data, haha “, Lilith said, glancing at him over her shoulder.
“Sure. Fine with me Lilith, haha.” He leaned on the damp trunk of a rubber-tree and jotted some infos into the pod they did pretty much everything with. It was so strange. He had never felt more light-hearted and safe before. Yes, they loved their job and yes, they were both considering themselves to be really good at it. But there was more to it. The roots of the pounding excitement laid actually deeper, he found. Somehow being here, working as a scientific team up in space, rendered everything else in the world uncannily unreal. They were nothing. And yet they were everything also. Every single moment up here was unquestioningly lovely and sweet.


III

NIGHT TIME

For the nights, they were supposed to share a sleeping cabin, supposedly for them to not feel too alone during the supposedly loneliest times of their journey. Or perhaps it was meant as a peculiar security precaution. Either way, it suited them. They did feel less alone and experiencing the other person awaking and falling asleep on the other side was indeed very comforting. Although it was not a particularly large cabin, it was all-the-more cosy and neat. Minimalist and yet broadmindedly engineered. Every other day Lilith would cut some fresh flowers from the lab, different ones each time, to put them into the stainless-steel vases firmly stuck on their bedside tables. Their beds were about five metres away from each other, invisibly mounted to each opposite wall of the room. Down to their feet were a couple of wheeled wall-panels for them to get changed and-so-on in relative privacy should they decide to not do all of this in the bathroom already.
Adam was already lying in bed when Lilith stepped out from behind one of the panels. His head was turned against the wall so that she could only see his hair sprouting from underneath the crumpled tinfoil-style bed-cover. Her brother. What a beautiful guy. They had also used to share the same bedroom when they were little but now she could hardly remember. By the time she was five, everyone had already had their own, and one could safely say that they’d lost touch with each other ever since. Funny Life.
She slid underneath the crackling blanket, easing herself into her favourite position – on the side, with her knees bent and her hands comfortingly clenched between her warm thighs – to surrender herself to the vacuous world of a good night’s sleep.

IV

MONKEYS

Adam was observing the mating process of two rhesuses while Lilith was logging new data by the Ylang-Ylangs. All their research tasks were pretty straightforward procedures as their pods recorded footage, comments and environmental parameters to convert them into academically accurate digits stored on the server.
After a while, Lilith joined Adam. Two of the monkeys were in the gist of copulating in the most discomforting frenzy. Adam looked at her vainly. Somehow, the instinctual responses the monkeys displayed in their mating were not as they usually were on Earth. They seemed to be magnified, imbued with an eerily elevated intensity. Both Adam and Lilith stared at the monkeys with uneasy bafflement. The lewd sensation of shame kept crawling up between them, so strong that their knees bent, trembling.
For Adam, the fascinating phenomenon of space-altered copulatory behaviour had meanwhile established itself to be the core-topic of his zoological observations. Although normally he had the professional verve to stare at two mammals’ humping with the same detachedness as watching two particles colliding – with Lilith next to him, a completely different scene – or ‘reality’ even – presented itself in front of him. Everything he had thus far perceived was miraculously wiped-off a slate. He had to try hard, in fact, to keep reality altogether from fading.
“Interesting stuff you’re working on there”, Lilith finally said, long after the monkeys had finished their thing, intoning it with a well-nurtured but nonetheless heartfelt and sweet laughter. She looked far away, to her flowers, in order to eloquently avoid eye-contact with her brother.
“Haha, thanks, I know. Something very strange is happening here. Can’t tell you any more yet. It’s not just the outer space, it’s probably also got to do with the whole environment, the garden, the ship, me and you, everything …”
“Hm, would make sense, I guess.” She paused. “Listen, I’m going to grab some food – wanna join?”
“You go ahead. I still need to finish this. Perhaps you’re still there …”

Not necessarily wanting to look into her eyes for probably the rest of the week, he took his time in note-taking. And only after he felt pretty sure that she wouldn’t be there anymore did he eventually go for a brake himself.


V

DINNER

At dinner, they turned on the news-feed. Footage of piling-up tensions between Jewish and Muslim factions on Earth imposingly flickered across the kitchen-wall. As they always did, they turned-off the sound to better cherish their shared pleasure of eating. Today, Adam went for something vegetarian which he level-headedly selected from what increasingly seemed their ‘god-sent’ titanium food-dispenser. Lilith treated herself to a lean, juicy steak. They had been given only a few of them and they were therefore quite precious. Fried in her own, funky style there was still blood spurting out, basically soaking the baby-potatoes whenever she stuck her fork in. She was in a very cheerful mood.
As Lilith, chewing, kept taking-in images of awfully concerned officials and panicky gesticulating crowds, she suddenly spat-out the mad cough of uncontrollable laughter. Adam did not look anywhere except on the bean-sprouts in front of him, but despite every effort he finally couldn’t help himself but to join. Her outburst was clearly addictive and the full gist of it soon swept them away. It was a hysterical, unarticulated symphony – punctuated by gruelling, incubating patches of silence – which they spastically conducted between them and which they shamelessly elaborated into countless musical variations. It finally presented the much-needed cathartic relief that they had both longed for all day – freeing them from all unspoken-of, pent-up tensions and awkwardness. It was essentially Nature at work and its power of utter unburdening clearly beyond words.

VI

DREAMS

That night, in their shared cabin, they both had at various times fiercely intense dreams about each other. They were clearly what was commonly referred to as of erotic nature.
When Lilith woke up, she found herself silently touching herself, her skin, her breasts, her belly, her thighs. In the darkness, the person who slept over on the other side did not necessarily seem to be her brother. It could’ve been anybody in fact. A warm, male, beautiful body asleep. Her insurgent feelings out-spaced the confines of this cell, of the spaceship, of the entire universe perhaps – to the point that it frightened her at the same time as it made her passionately shiver.

On the other side, Adam woke up just as Lilith fell again soundly asleep. With his eyes wide open, staring into the looming infinity of darkness above, he remembered the staggering beauty of his bare-naked sister as she was walking towards him, with her usual confident smile, in his dream, on a beach, waves ticklingly licking-away on their soft, sand-powdered feet. She began to touch him. Warm, eager tenderness …
He sat up and looked over on the other side. Another person was sleeping there, the colleague he worked with on the ship. As much as he tried, while leaving the room, he couldn’t help himself but to furtively glimpse at the immaculate chisel of cheekbones, carved-out through traces of distant sunlight, peacefully resting on a white, box-shaped pillow. This person looked like his sister.
He was brimming inside as he fluctuated between various corridors on the station. Somehow, he felt compelled to go into the garden, sit down somewhere, maybe on a stone, and think.


VII

THE SNAKE

The climate was synced to their chosen daily routine, so it was kind-of-dark in the lab when he approached it. Something quite strange was going on, he had an almost crystal-clear sense about it. Also the animals in the back behaved pretty agitated. There was enough light coming through the dome from the far-away sun to roughly discern most of the contours. The Asteroid Belt scattered its fractured pieces in a sharp angle to the ship’s horizon.
Adam awkwardly stepped into the forest following the main path they had strewn out of pebbles right from the beginning. For a brief, frightening moment, the animals had turned completely silent. It was then that he heard the rustling noise in front of him.
A snake.
It sullenly slithered across his way, from right to the left, only to disappear in the bushes again, leaving behind the devastating afterglow of ominous emptiness. But this quickly dissolved, as though his pupils were hooked onto something, into the vivid imagery of surface refraction, sparkling through leaves and bushes, as the snake-skin skittered further away from him.
There was no snake on the ship.
A hand touched his shoulder and the renewed hit of Adrenaline made him cough bullets of air. He cringed.
It was Lilith and she looked like a mask.
She had also seen it.
Refocusing his mind to properly face his sister, he could pick-up a smile trembling around her mouth. This right on the spot brought him back to himself. Back to Reality. The animals had meanwhile also gone silent.

Lilith stepped forth to give him a hug. Then stepped back and looked at him straight from her heart. Let’s just forget about it, Adam. It didn’t matter. They began walking towards the animals where turmoil had yet picked-up again.
There they stood then, Lilith facing her brother and smiling. She put a hand on his shoulder and looked at him. Yes, there seemed to be a snake on board and no, it didn’t matter. Just ignore it. Have no fear. No afterthought. No agenda. Stay true to yourself and your mission – their mission. And yes, I’m Lilith, your sister, but I’m also a woman and I love you. Ooops, here it is. But it’s true. No big deal. These things can happen. Take earthly matters lightly, my dear, adorable brother.
He wavered there, frailly. But gathered. And at the same time as his mind chose irrevocable obliviousness regarding to what he might had seen just a few moments ago, the animals miraculously calmed-down as well. As if connected. Funny, he thought, and drowsily let himself drop into his warm sister’s embrace like a relaxed but tired little boy after a long, long day out.

VIII

BREAKFAST

He decided to prepare something really nice for their breakfast, definitely something special. The ventilators had to work extra in order to dispel the smells his frying eggs, sausages, tomatoes and mushrooms were causing.
“Oh wow, that’s so amazing”, said Lilith from behind, sitting at the table with a plate in front of her. She clasped her hands in awe while she serenely watched him fiddling and stirring. She had draped a few cute braids into her hair and also with her more poignant gestures and fairy demeanour completely looked like a girl.
“I love the smell of the tomatoes”, he casually threw back. A bit too serious, he thought, while the words had already come out. He also wouldn’t mind going into some sort-of child mode. By losing the need to ostensibly agree on their anyway obvious excitement, he could relax instead and just carry-on cooking. There was no need of being self-conscious and therefore no place for any form of embarrassment.

Whilst they were eating and rejoicingly stroking each other’s souls with bountiful exchanges of tenderness, the muted backdrop of news-feeds indicated the situation on Earth to have worsened. The footage of warheads this time captured them flying high-up in the sky, sometimes crashing into what looked like densely populated criss-crossings of infrastructure. It then cut to mutilated bodies, crying, bloodstained children and women – some with, some without veil – covering their from shame and pain forever displaced faces.

Both Adam and Lilith had increasingly lost touch with much of what was happening back home. The world they had up here was too entirely different from the world they and everyone else had had down on Earth. Sure, they’ve initially been doing their job for people back there and their loved ones might at some point very well be in danger. It was just that after many, many weeks, both their comfortably absorbing research tasks as well as the sheer incredible atmosphere between them, had eventually uplifted them into a maybe-a-bit-scary but nonetheless noble Elatedness. One could say, and Lilith would’ve been the first one to do so, that this experience was ultimately Spritual. It was, in many, many ways, the profound sensation of Awakening.
Therefore did it occur only after Adam had long left for his monkeys, and only after she’d finally managed to disintegrate the merciless screen with her all-in-one pod, that Lilith suddenly felt the subterranean urge for a cheese-cake – which the nearby titanium dispenser at the push of a button cheerfully provided.

IX

A KISS

They bumped into each other again at the bamboo-site. The fragrances of humidity, roots and orchids hung like an intoxicating, seductive cloud around them. Lilith kneeled next to one of the ponds, one hand logging infos into her pod, the other investigating a fragile fern-weed sticking its tiny feathers out of the water. Her fingers combed through the plant ever-so-softly.
“That’s so amazing, Adam”, she almost whispered, bending her head up to him. He felt pulled to kneel-down next to her.
“You remember, we took those spores from GH 355? That’s the plant”, she said. “Isn’t it amazing? It’s alive again. A species from another world …” Lilith was shaking from the thrills of impellent reality.
“That is so absolutely beautiful. So intricate and yet confident. And with colours refracting an invisible rainbow”, Adam said. He had also to touch it. They both crouched, their hands caressing the plant. Waves of shiver showered pulsatingly through them, forever binding them into this sacred experience together.
“I think I’ll call it Feathery Star. What do you think?”
“Sounds deserving”, Adam hoarsely whispered.
As they both kept touching the Feathery Star, they noticed that at least some of these madwaves of bliss seemed to be emanating from the plant, actually. It was like touching an immeasurably frail miracle, contrived of countless invisible veins. As if their hands were being bathed in an electrocuting foam, brandishing ripples of delight in their fizzying, unabashedly welcoming nervous systems. Every now and again, they looked up at each other with the helpless expression of excruciating ecstasy. They shared this. They laughed. They laughed out loud and incessantly and their bodies bumped loosely together. And then Lilith moved in on him, kissed him, just a bit at first, but then with more determination. Both her hands were firmly clutching on to his neck.
Adam gave in without any resistance, letting his body eagerly slide into a passionate embrace at the same pace as their lips were boldly entwining. In fact, he could see now, whatever had happened so far on their journey, for him carried the perfectly clear tenure of fate and inevitability. As the arm, which still carried the itching aftermath of the Feathery Star, drew the woman in his arms closer towards him – her heat innocently bursting into his body – he had nothing to fear and nowhere to go. He was already where he was supposed to be.
The actual kiss must’ve been only a moment (two or three seconds?) – and as sudden as the embrace came about they had already split again. They knelt beside each other, their heads bent, both quietly smiling. And then they were touching the plant again. Play some more. Reality at work.
Later, Adam stood up and – whistling – strolled back to his monkeys.
Lilith stayed a bit more, carried entirely away in a world of no worries and pain. A world of complete perfection.


X

TOUCHING DOWN

Adam was almost asleep, but not quite, when Lilith came to enter their chamber. His head was still spinning while she crawled under her rustling bed-sheets, moving quietly like a mouse. A lurid sexual tension with the stench of lurking embarrassment stretched-out between them, all-encumbering, immutable. Lilith tried to turn away from it, face the wall, only to find herself excessively biting her knuckles. She decided to let it happen as it helped her to keep a lid on new waves of inarticulate and totally inappropriate laughter. Although some giggles burst eventually through, she managed to more-or-less constrain them into what could’ve been distant whispers of machinery, fairies or ants, perhaps.
Adam, despite having heard her, pretended to be asleep. He did this, although he knew that she knew that he was not and that she even knew that he knew all of this also. He maintained this stance throughout what seemed like ages, for among all the options it just seemed to him the most reasonable, really. He also honestly didn’t mind too much feeling a bit awkward. And it worked, as he eventually faded into his sleep, departing into the unfathomable mysteries of Darkness.

Only to be awakened by Lilith’s warm body as she was unobtrusively harking onto him. It was then that he understood that the time has finally come to become real to the fullest extent. Was this Manhood?
“Hey”, she smiled, touching his cheek, her fingers garlanding through his hair gently. He smiled back. Only awe could describe what they saw in each other’s eyes. So they better closed them. Drawn-in by the same force, they allowed themselves to glide towards where they would have anyway naturally fallen. Everything else was gone now, only this moment in time existed. The sudden cessation of sadness and solitude. The compulsive merging of two into one.
Adam and Lilith disappeared into the nurturing hole that the other benevolently provided and their heated bodies were anointed with tears as the most resourceful expression of their love that night.


london, march 2009
© 2009, all rights reserved

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