The Comet Scout

The stars are always visible and they shine like fire.

Photo by Hao Wen on Unsplash

I would not have known there were so many different species, at least two million per cent of them, in the world now inhabited by mankind. It’s like the other animals. Only much smaller. It doesn’t eat the sun sets or the stars.

The stars are always visible and they shine like fire.

You have to be so small that nothing burns you at night, but I can see the stars now. What is the star for me? What is it for me?

They all said things to me about the comet. And now, just when things are going really well, one of them gets up to tell me it’s useless. It can’t find me out. It can’t learn me and I don’t care to tell this person. But even then the person has to let the others know. Otherwise there’d be all these stories. Now they don’t have the chance.

It’s a bad job for an interstellar scout to have to be on the spot every day. I could take off every day and it’d be all of them I wouldn’t have to find and look for, with my brain gone. But I had to be ready to take on. “You can do it,” I said to them.

“Why, what do you mean?” the people around me said.

I’d been there before, of course, but they’d ask me why the comet was coming. I explained: It would be coming in the summer of a thousand years.

“What summer?”

I told them.

“That doesn’t give much of a story,” I said.

“No, but they’d believe in me anyway,” I said. “There’s a lot of life and death around here, and it doesn’t mean that it comes all the time. So the more I’m out of range, the better.”

“Then why not?”

“It just seems a good time to talk about it. Now they’ve sent my body to Neptune, and the next stars. And now they’re sending me.”

It got louder. No reason to be afraid of it. I wasn’t scared of the comet, either. We were the only ones who were sure the planet was habitable. But the people there were afraid it was, so they called and told us it was all of the same thing. They were all either very sad or very glad about its coming.

It’s a good thing I didn’t realize at the time that the world had such fear. Maybe I should have said it was the planet because people get so tired of looking into stars, but as a kid I’d remembered a story about that ship that came from New England and didn’t reach so very far. In the story, though, it said, New England got very tired of looking at stars. They got tired of looking at all the stars, because the ship that went there was the most famous star the world had ever known in the universe. No, the greatest star that ever was known was the Earth in its sky. A star would have killed a star. The people of Earth were going to be so proud of that fact.

“There aren’t any stars in the sky anymore.”

“Well, I don’t. I remember a story about going out to the world and finding a star and naming it after you. A man named Jones named Jones. He lived in the mountains near the place, and he said every star it was missing from the Earth had a little bit of the face. “Stars are missing that way,” he said, but I was always too tired and stupid to remember anything. Now I remembered very clearly what he said. “If there are stars in the sky, then maybe we can see them, and maybe we can find others.”

I remembered it clearly now.

“But the stars are still seen, aren’t they? They’re still in the sky, but the ships are still going. Only farther away they’ll go. The ones to the east won’t be coming for hundreds of years yet, but now they’re coming. We’ve seen no stars so far out as one planet, but now we really haven’t seen them, and now we’ve seen several, and they’re really coming.”

I’d remembered the night when they called him Jones. Now I remembered the memory and the voice. Jones had known the story about this star.

“About what?” he asked.

“The star is in the sky, as well as all of the stars in the universe.”

“No,” said Jones. “There is nothing in the sun that compares to your star.”


Editor’s Notes

The text here came out of a regular sample when I was fine-tuning another fiction model, based on the GPT-2-774M model. It had the default generation settings for training samples in gpt-2-simple.

I’ve added capitalization, quotation, formatting and emphasis.