The Kraken Coast- sci-fi oneshot

These days, reality is for the rich.

I could have just simulated this journey, and I would have missed very little. By now, the augmented experience is only different from the real thing by your own awareness.

But I felt like splurging, and that’s the thing. It’s that I could afford this trip. Let others show off their metadreams from crystal spires that would never exist in our space, I can enjoy a few days on Titan.

It feels a bit like a family tradition. My grandfather used to be on the very first commercial flight to the Moon. And while Titan is more than one billion kilometers away from that marble of grey rock and mining stations, it sure feels like it’s worth the wait.

They set up the travel time as this grand adventure, sort of like going on a cruise. Days of endless darkness around the ship, punctuated only by the occasional grand attraction as we speed past Vesta in the resource belt, red Mars with its molten caps, and then towards the high-speed mass belts of Jupiter.

It feels nostalgic, to think we used to be so lost because we stepped past our atmosphere.

And then finally Saturn, with its endless rows of rings, both natural and those of Lagrange-anchored tourism stations for rich andd bored people like me, for whom the simulated reality is growing a tad too tiresome and old Earth is old news.

Titan is relatively untouched, as far as tourism goes. Our ship has lost more and more passengers, especially after Jupiter. As the shuttle flies me towards the thick orange atmosphere, surrounded by its sheen of clear blue, I can stand and walk about in the cabin, as there is nobody here save for me and the automatic pilot, which is not enabled with a conversation module, as it seems.

But it is alright. I did not want to leave for a crowded place.

The shuttle passes through the clouds and beyond the glass the orange particles turn blanket-thick. There’s a thick haze all around, it feels like dripping into a dream, one that’s made out of billions years-old methane and ammonia though.

My heart picks up pace. I slip into the protective suit while the shuttle reaches for its destination. I have chosen a secluded space in the northern hemisphere. It’s summer here and temperatures should be a springy minus one hundred and seventy Celsius.

I grin as the skinsuit adheres to my skin and it turns a pleasant frosted shade, hiding most of my features while also alllowing me to breathe and survive in more or less any kind of pressure and temperature.

It would not last long if thrown into the Sun, but for a pleasant stroll on Titan? Perfect.

The shuttle touches the dusty ground with a groan and I come out of the metal shell that has carried me to my destination.

I see that the people at the tourism office did not slack around.

The Kraken Mare is the largest body of liquid in the entire solar system. It is larger than the Caspian Sea used to be and it extends in all directions, cleaving the horizon in two with as much precision as a particle beam.

The horizon curves pleasantly. With each step I bounce on the dusty terrain and a childish giggle leaves my mouth. Ah, that’s something simulations are having trouble getting right, but here, now – that’s the real thing.

Up above, barely-visible through the layers of orange clouds,the curved mass of Saturn looms, its rings glistening with ochre light. They look like arches or blades, uphended by the sapience of the Heavens, and which could fallt any moment, cutting through air and rock.

This trip is already worth the expense.

I walk until I reach the shore.

It’s so surreal, I can see myself and the surrounding shores, the cliffs rising in frozen serenity. It is utterly silent, save for my breath and the thunder of my excited heart.

This mirror-sea of mercurial methane shows no wave, no ripple, not even a crease. Pieces of sky fallen right to the ground, their vision intact.

It is for this vision that I came here – exactly standing here on the shores of the Kraken Mare, where the argentt liquid touches the shore. There is no ripple, only a faint layer of mist, but the liquid methane cuts right through the surface of the rock.

There has been no eye to ponder this mystery for the longest time and now… now I am standing here, taking it all in. This sightless sea.

With another chuckle, I walk on the shore for a little while, knowing that if I were to slip and fall, there is a concrete chance I would die. So close to the shore the Kraken Mare is really shallow, in certain points no more than one meter, but swimming in water is one thing; swimming in liquid methane is… something my human body would be completely unable to.

And the protective suit does not have infinite power.

It’s such a thrill! To know there is an actual real chance of sudden disaster. This is the kind of experience you can only have in reality.

I spot the pier from afar – it’s a metal tongue extending onto the mirror surface. At its end, I reach a small round boat and as soon as I set foot in it it starts to move towards a semi-artificial island, the one I booked for this soujourn.

It resembles as islet sprouting in the middle of one of old Earth’s lakes, shaped to resemble one, with an Italian-styled villa waiting for me.

The boat rocks the surface gently and it finally creates a veil of creases. They spiral behind me like a flock of invisible birds.

I smile, turning to regard the shore as it grows hazy in the thick atmosphere.

I am going to spend a few days here, regarding lazy Saturn and its rings, surrounded by freezing temperatures and a mirror-mere.

I hope I get to see the rain.

Author’s Notes: welcome to the New Year! I hope your goes splendidly! In related news, there’s only 31 days left in the challenge. Which means I did write and publish at least 1000 words every day… for eleven months.

It feels just as surreal as this trip to Titan. Which I would pay whatever sum for, let’s be clear.

I hope you are going to enjoy this last month of daily publication with me.

And after that… we will see.

Thanks for reading!


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