4. The Empty Nodes

At precisely three o’clock, fifty-seven minutes and eight seconds in the morning I
hear a whisper in my ear, I sense the warmth of his breath on my cheek and feel the
hardness of his dick poking against my hip. “Time to wake up, lovely. Yoo hoo! Wake
up! Come on…” But I have no intent to wake up. “Leave me to sleep more. I don’t want
sex. Please.” If it would only be about sex… Don asks me gently, “I don’t want to fuck
you now. Just tell me that you don’t know what time it is.” Well, what? Sure I know, I
just wrote that it is exactly three o’clock, fifty-seven minutes and eight seconds in the
morning, read above, at the beginning of this paragraph. “It was 03:57:08 AM when you
woke me up, Don. Why do you ask, can’t you check for yourself?” He then murmurs
like for himself but into my ear, “Wondering what a woman would have such an exact
clock in her head while sleeping. Funny, eh?” I jump out of the bed, right on my two
feet.
“What are you doing to me, Don?”
“Nothing, honey. Telling you to wake up because it’s time we move out to the
garage. The modules are calibrated to trace the spots for a touchdown inside Saturn.”
“Wait, wait. Please answer me first how on earth do I know what time is it while
sleeping?”
“Normally you don’t, but since I’ve calibrated the modules, they act like a resonance
box for your mind.”
“I know that. You did this calibration before, many times. But I never had a clock in
my head.”
“Because we only traveled to locations on this planet. Now things are different.”
“Hey! Remember when you took me out to the Moon? It was last Valentine’s. I felt
no clock counting milliseconds in my head then, the way I do now.”
“Oh, to the Moon… Yes, that was romantic for you. Watching our blue planet from
the Moon. Holding hands with your lover. On Valentine’s Day. Totally fabulous! But let
me tell you, once more, that it was a real challenge for me to get us there alive and to
bring us back to our garage in one piece each. Had to buy those second-hand pressurized
space suits and to teach our minds so that we can extent our corporality concept over
them, to include those suits as extensions or prosthetic parts of our own. You often forget
that in your distractions. Remember?”
“I do. Mostly that moment when I saw you more desperate than I ever was in my
entire life. But Don, there was no clock to count milliseconds in my head then. And now
there is one. I can feel it as part of my senses, although it’s not ticking. Can’t hear it. Just
that the self conscious of mine acquired the newly added property of a timer.”
“You’d better get accustomed to this new property of your senses. If my calculations
are right, then it seems that you’ll have to live with it for your entire existence. It is not a
bug but a feature.”
“Would you please enlighten me?”
“I don’t know what the concept of time is, other than that is an abstract concept. I
don’t know if time is relative or absolute. I don’t know if there’s a time dimension or not
– actually I believe there’s no such thing at all. But what I know is that Kronos may be
aware of our intention to visit his den.”
Until now I was standing near the bed, ready to follow him in the garage. But this
statement took me by surprise. So I wrap myself with the nightgown and take a sit on
my boudoir chair. “I’m all ears, Don.”
“As you know, I need to enter the destination coordinates in the computer that
controls the triad of modules. This makes us swap the reality from the departing point A
– our garage – with the one at the arriving point B – which today has to be somewhere
inside Saturn. Well, Saturn has a volume equivalent with that of 763 Earths. A couple of
French scientists have estimated that the core must be 9–22 times the mass of the Earth,
which corresponds to a diameter of about 25,000 km. This is surrounded by a thick
liquid layer of metallic hydrogen, followed by a liquid layer of helium-saturated
molecular hydrogen that gradually transitions into gas with increasing altitude. The
outermost layer spans 1,000 km and consists of a gaseous atmosphere.”
“Where did you take all these data from?”
“The Wikipedia. You may have a look as well, see if they changed anything in the
while. But what I’m saying here is that I can’t program a decent reality swap on such
rough estimations. I need an error margin in centimeters not in tens of thousands of
kilometers. This makes the public scientific knowledge about Saturn as good to work
with as finding the pot of gold that the leprechauns hid at the end of the rainbow. I need
much more precision than I can find here, on earth.”
“And I need a hot tea.” Lazily taking my butt to the kitchen. “Do you?”
“Yes, please. Green!” He jumps out of the bed and follows me, naked, as always.
“Go on with your landing plans. Oh, just a minute, wait until I fill the kettle with
water so I can hear you.”
“Yesterday after lunch, and after I had you sleeping in my arms, I took my laptop to
dig for the best options of having our position translate to the location where Kronos
lives.”
“What can you do with your laptop on this purpose?”
“General research, like reading the Wikipedia or staring at the Cassini photo feeds.
Not much indeed, just common stuff to stir my imagination with. Later on, I left you
sleeping and moved to the garage where the server helped me determine the current
position of the gas giant in the skies. No big deal again. Still in the error margin of
120,000 kilometers.”
“Let me see…” I return near the bed with two steaming mugs of green tea, the
Gunpowder blend. “Your computers didn’t ad much value to your research, did they?”
“Not much, indeed. Just the little things that get my mind nervous. But hey! I have
the modules, and I found a couple of dusted stacks with many old CD’s on a shelve in
the garage.”
“Splendid. Did you clean them well?” I reoccupy my place on the boudoir chair and
he jumps on the bed, smiling at my sarcastic replies. I know from prior experience that it
helps him with good solutions. My sarcasm, I mean.”
“I see what you are doing, honey. Love you for this. But I’ve already found a good
purpose for those few thousand dusted CD’s.”
“Which is?”
“I crammed them all to the center of the triad of modules and calculated a point B
destination to translate them over a forty-five degrees inclined trajectory inside the rock
core of Saturn…”
“Why inside? If that’s a solid body, what did you wish to achieve with this?”
“Like inside Earth and other planets, there has to be an inner void trapped under
thick layers of rock. Simple logic: how do you think that a giant like Kronos can live
properly inside a rock? He’s not an insect trapped in amber, dear, but a living being
moving around. Hence he needs an atmosphere…”
“And a source of light? Where could he take that from if he lives under a rock for
eons?”
“Maybe from a hot iron dynamo spinning at the very center of the core. The core of
Saturn rotates with a period of ten hours, thirty-nine minutes and twenty-four seconds
which is the same as its radio emissions. This has to be the length of a day inside the
planet. There’s then a symmetrical magnetosphere, like a simple dipole, of a strength at
the equator which is comparable to that of Earth’s magnetic field. I don’t know if the
layer of metallic hydrogen pressing the rock core is the only factor responsible for the
magnetic field. It may be. But it may very well be that deep under the rocks, there’s a
mini-world…”
“Are you sure that this mini-world ain’t bigger than the entire Earth?”
“Might be, honey, might be quite a big mini-world under that rock.”
“But then, if you consider a hot white inner core of iron, rotating with a period of
about eleven hours…”
“Hey, hey! The entire planet rotates with that period. As observed on the North Pole
hexagonal cloud pattern. Probably the outer core of solid rock has the same period of
rotation. But I won’t bet on the inner core, the molten iron dynamo. Could run faster,
dunno.”
“Good, let it be. Then here’s my question to you: where this Kronos guy hides his
servers? In some underground network of tunnels?, or hanging them above the abyss
separating his territory from the inner core? Guess that no daemon would be happy to
live at a temperature of thousands and thousands of degrees, bathing in turbulent streams
of melted iron.”
“What a prodigious landscape of hell. If I’d only be a painter…”
Don daydreams and I want him focused. It’s already nineteen minutes past four and
we’re chatting with empty mugs in our hands. Oh yes. “More tea?”
“Sure.”
“And move along from your dreams. Please focus on the essentials.”
“Well, Doris. I wonder if it’s a good idea taking you there after all.”
“You should have had your doubts before starting your garage experiments. Now it’s
too late. I want to go there. So please tell me.”
“I assume the following: Kronos cannot live on the bottom of a huge ocean made of
liquid hydrogen and helium, under immense pressures at an estimated temperature of
11,700 Celsius degrees. If that bottom is the surface of the rocky core of Saturn’s, and if
Kronos is not a fantasy but a guy with a body, then this guy has to live beneath the
surface.”
“According to your guessing…”
“Right. Could be otherwise but this is the premise that I give you.”
“So you are planning to take me to visit a bunker…”
“If that’s a bunker then it’s big enough for one to park the Moon inside it. What I was
up to, this night in the garage, was finding a method that would announce Kronos about
our intention. So I translated thousands of old CD’s to an assumed point B where I
expected them to spread like glow-worms in an attempt to capture his attention.”
“Or to make his cameras record a move…”
“Something like that, Doris, and…”
“…And you’ve got some kind of feedback or else you’d still be spewing used CD’s
out of your garage. Am I right?”
“As always, Doris. Few minutes after sending away the stacks of junk CD’s, I see
one appearing back on the concrete floor, right in the middle of the area marked by the
triad of modules. I take it and immediately insert it in the laptop’s removable bay.”
“And?” I sip my tea in all suspense. Or so I wish to look.
“And nothing. I rapidly move it into the server’s bay. Nothing again. The CD
contained the same useless data that it had before I sent it out. It made no sense.
Disappointed, I have to eject and study the material.”
“See? If I were you, that’s what I would have done in the first place. Thoroughly
study the plastic. Why consider that the aliens are so fond of our computers and
operating systems. This is just egocentric rubbish.”
“Seems that I failed this test once again. Silly me…” And he turns silent, sipping his
tea. “Oh, not so hot, the tea.” Is he mocking me?
“Do you wish that I bring you more from the thermos?”
“If you don’t mind.” Looks like he’s kidding me. But I must obey, what else.
A minute later, with a meek face, I bring him the hot mug of tea. Thanking, he takes
it and begins to sip cautiously. Saying nothing to me.
“Don… Oh, Don!”
“Yes?”
“Go on!”
“You mean?”
“I mean that’s enough playing with my patience. Tell me if you noticed something on
the plastic.”
“Of course I did. It’s a graph comprising three vertices and only one edge. See for
yourself.” Raising the steamy mug in his right hand, with the left he throws the disc
from underneath at me. I catch it with both my hands before fixing him with an angry
stare.
“You cretin! You bring the disk in our bedroom, put it on the nightstand, use it as a
mug pad, even drop some tea on it because I feel that it’s wet, and you tell me that this,
this… this… mug pad… (!) is… is… an object that you presumably received from an
alien?”
“Well, received back! It’s not of alien origin. Just a damn CD with an inscription on
it. Aren’t you interested to look at the graph?”
“Sure I am.” He’s hopelessly lost in frivolity. Maybe this is good for his mind. The
moral thoughts nag me as I watch the active and shiny side of the CD. Someone, not the
maker, engraved a small round spot, like a bold dot, inside the inner circle line of the
CD, actually on its transparent (non writable), area used for traction. From this dot I
notice, not without difficulty, a thin straight line to the center hole of the disc. Besides
these two engravings, the dot and the radius line, there’s a little circle, not wider than the
hole in the center, drawn towards the extremity of the disc. Nothing more. “You said
there are three vertices and one line. I can see only two vertices and one line.”
“Honey, think! The middle hole of the CD is to be taken as a vertex. Why trace a line
from the dot into it if not a vertex?”
“Aha. Good. Did you interpret this message further? Can you elaborate a bit? And
stop playing this game with me. I admit that you are the most clever in house, even with
your little laptop ego.”
“Okay, dear. I say that Kronos had this message engraved for us. The small dot
represents the Earth (our place, point A, the departure), the little circle should be a sign
for Saturn (his place, point C, the arrival, please notice that the angle between point A
and C coincides with the present angle between Earth and Saturn on the ecliptic plane)
and the hole in the CD must be the Sun (point B, our stopover). There you go: three
vertices and one edge. The CD represents the ecliptic.”
“The edge tells us that we should translate ourselves only to the stopover and wait to
be taken farther, or else there should have been two edges, a second one from the Sun to
Saturn. Wait, wait, now I realize, we gotta go in the middle of the… Sun? Oh my God!” I
really wish to think at something but my mind stopped. I can stare at Don, like a cow,
saying nothing, thinking nothing, just dumb gazing. I can’t even wonder at what I said.
Did I mean it?
“Yes, you did!” Answers Don with a serious voice. “No, no. Don’t make an effort to
ask me if I can read your thoughts. I can’t. But I can read your lips and you just muted in
front of me: ‘Did I mean it?’ So I obliged to answer you. Honey, I was perplexed when I
grasped the meaning of this graph. At first, to a certain degree, because I have a theory
about the center of the Sun.”
“You do?”
“Why do you think the Sun spots are dark? Because the interior of the Sun is cooler
than the exterior.”
“Current knowledge states that the core of the Sun has a temperature of millions of
degrees while its surface goes at about 5,700 Celsius degrees.”
“Which is half the surface temperature estimated for Saturn. Well, I’d rather believe
in measurements than in fashionable theories.”
“I don’t understand…”
“They didn’t measure the Sun’s core, did they? It’s just a deduction out of the
premise that the Sun takes its energy from the nuclear fusion of hydrogen. Not excluding
that source but placing it in the category of side effects, it makes more sense to me when
seeing the Sun’s core as a huge ball of iron. A void iron ball, that is.”
“On what experiments do you base a theory in contradiction with the one sanctioned
by the scientific community?”
“On this CD in your hand, for one, and on our newly acquired mental features.”
“That clock in my head?”
“Not just in yours, it’s in mine as well. Yes, I began feeling the astronomic time the
very instant when I have sent a used tire right in the center of the Sun’s core.”
“You did what?”
“Needed a way to test the graph from Kronos. It made sense to me and wanted to
tinker some more. I looked around in the garage. Everything, well most of everything,
seeming important to me, but the used tire. It was just occupying the corner that I
cleared out of the stacks of old CD’s. I said to myself that today is the right time to get
rid of the junk and the tire proved to be the obvious candidate. I dragged it inside the
module-triad area, then I established the precise coordinates of the Sun’s center (with a
tolerance in meters) and off it vanished from our garage.”
“Nice, and what’s the point of proving that there’s a void in the core of the Sun?”
“Twenty-one seconds later, the used tire appeared back in our garage. When
touching it, I noticed how cold it was, almost frail. It must be very cold in there,
darling.”
“I still don’t understand…”
“I don’t know what happens in the middle of the Sun, but I can tell you that there’s
no twenty million something Celsius degrees of that burning nuclear fusion folklore hell
inside our local star. Where are you going?”
“To get us some winter clothes. Looks like you wish to take me for a stroll inside the
freezing core of the Sun!” I make jokes and try to look cool and funny, but my hand is
trembling on the knob of the closet. Am I scared, actually? Don’t think so, guess that I’m
rather curious how, and where, shall I die embracing this crazy man of mine, together
with him. The best part of this thought of mine is that instant death relieves the subject
from all suffering. Only if unsuspecting the instant. “Don, shall I wear a skirt or some
trousers?”
“Where?”
“Under my polar suit! For our trip to the center of the Sun.”
“Wear nothing, dear. They’re soft enough on the inside. Your pussy won’t get too
many scratches, I guess…”
“You naughty man. Are you sure?”
“Definitely.” Sitting on the edge of the bed, he takes his last sips of green tea, eyes
the bottom of the mug to make sure that it is empty, then jumps on his feet, stops by the
bathroom and walks in the green polar suit that I have just tossed his way. I enter in my
orange suit and study myself in the mirror a bit, trying to zip it up. “Don’t!” He says. “Or
you’re gonna sweat like a sour cabbage. Wait for us to enter the garage.” We shortly do
that and, taking our place inside the module triad, we embrace, after we have zipped up
and hooded our heads preparing for the frost… inside the Sun. Oh my, oh my.
I hug him tight and the garage is no more. The next half of instant, I feel no ground
under my feet, and no gravity pulling me down to earth. We gently move adrift like two
imponderable bodies. “Good that the lights are on!” Whispers Don to my ear. Indeed, a
bright light, whiter than the snow on the Alps, is washing us from all sides. “Dammit,
keep your eyes closed tightly, I forgot the sunglasses. How could I?” I wish to answer
him but after the second half of the very same instant, we find ourselves standing on a
solid rock platform. Looks like granite but I’m not sure. Don’s hands comfort my back.
“Are you fine, my bunny?” I nod in response. Yes, I am alright. Not sure if dead or
alive… But won’t open a debate on this topic with him. Not the moment and clearly not
the place. We detach from each other and look around. Quite chilly the atmosphere. Oh,
and terribly high in oxygen. Forty-nine percent oxygen, fifty nitrogen and the one left
percent comprises a list of trace gases and water vapor, according to the analyzers that
we found in the pockets of our polar suits. The temperature is a mild fifteen Celsius
degrees. “Spring, autumn or high altitude? Make your pick, Doris?” He smiles at me,
trying to move my mind as far as possible from the stupefaction.
“Neither spring, nor autumn and even less high altitude, my tiny friends. Welcome to
Saturn!”