The Edge of the Universe. Short Story.

Jane stared out the window, it really wasn’t that impressive and it was nothing like she imagined. Really, the edge of the universe just looked like any other part of it. It was such a lie! How could there be an edge when she could see all those stars in the distance. Hell, you wouldn’t know it was the edge of the universe without the sign. There was no wall of darkness, no barricade, just the large observation deck and the ridiculously large gift shop and restaurant. Jane sighed, she didn’t want to be here on this stupid trip, she wanted to be at home. Her dad turned to her and smiled, “See, it didn’t take long at all, did it?”
Jane shrugged, “I guess not. I still think it’s a dumb place to go. I mean there’s so much more to see in the universe.”

“Yeah, but this is the edge of the universe! The actual edge! Man, there was some hubbub happening when this was discovered, I’ll tell ya that much, completely changed the game.”
“Well, how do they know it’s the actual edge and not just like some kind of force field?”
“Well, I don’t know exactly how they did it, I’m sure they’ll explain on the tour.”
“Oh god there’s a tour too? What the hell is there to say about this place? And here we have the edge of the universe, don’t get too close, please enjoy the gift shop on the way out.”
“C’mon don’t be like that. It’ll be great!”
Her mother turned around in her seat, “How about we stop off on that botany planet on the way home? They’ve some really nice looking plants, and a rainbow waterfall. Besides I hear that all of the food is amazing, you can get these things that look kind of like apples, but they’ve the taste and texture of chocolate!”
Jane shrugged, “Sure, why not.”

Jane reached out, her heart thudding heavily, her fingers hit something, though there was nothing visible. It felt kind of spongy, with a little give, she had expected something more solid, like glass. She cupped her hands around her eyes and placed them against the barrier, trying to see if she could see through it, but the stars were still there.

“Excuse me? If it’s the edge of the universe, how come there are stars on the other side?”
The tour guide smiled at her, “Well, they’re not actually on the other side, they’re a reflection of another part of the universe, though we have yet to discover it, the universe is a big place after all.”
“How are you so sure it’s a reflection?”
“Well, top scientists have been working on it for years, and they’ve done a lot of very complicated and expensive tests.”
Jane looked back out at the stars, “if they’re a reflection, how come nothing is blocking any of it?” she took a step back from the barrier.
“They’re sure that what ever that thing is, it isn’t going to collapse, right?”
“Oh, more than sure, don’t you worry, there hasn’t been a death here since that first ship crashed into the edge. You can learn more about that at the memorial, it’s on deck thirty six.”
“So if it’s an edge, what’s on the other side?”
“Well, we don’t know yet, but top scientists are busy trying to figure it out!”
The tour guide wandered off and a moment later Jane’s mother joined her, “Pretty cool, right?”
“Not really, they don’t seem to know anything about this.”
Her mother shrugged, “It screwed with a lot of scientific theories. A lot of people are content to just ignore all this. Then there are the fringe theories.”
“Ugh, not that again. If dad hears you he’ll go off on his stories again. What was his favourite one? That we’re in what amounts to a giant fish tank and this is the glass holding us in?”
“Yeah, that’s the one. I’m partial to the “It’s all a simulation and the computers aren’t powerful enough to expand it further.” Theory myself.”
“I have to say though, seeing it here, in real life, it’s very underwhelming.”
“Yeah, a lot of people say that. It should really be their tag line, “Edge of the universe! Prepare to be disappointed.”
Jane laughed, “don’t let dad hear you, he’s been talking about this place for weeks.”
“Ah it’s fine, he cornered one of the tour guides and will not stop asking them questions, he’s having a blast. It’s been his dream to come out and see this since it was first discovered.”
“Well, it is kinda cool, in a boring way. You just expect something more impressive when you hear edge of the universe. Like there’d be something on the other side, or even nothing. Like a vast emptiness stretching as far as you can see.”
Her mother shook her head, “There are places like that in the universe, it really screws with your head when you see it. Drives some people mad.”
“Have you seen it?”
“Once, when I was younger. It was an accident though, your granddad got us a bit lost. We all got back in the end, though it’s not something I’d like to see ever again. Just pure blackness wherever you looked, it felt like you were the only person in the entire universe and that everything else had just vanished.”
Her mother shuddered, she turned from the view, “C’mon, lets go see if the restaurant has any ice cream, I’m in the mood for a Sunday while we wait for your dad.”
Jane turned and looked out, “did you see that?”
“See what?”
She shook her head, “nothing, must have just been my mind playing tricks.”
“What did you think you saw?”
“I dunno, it was like a giant shadow, blocking out the stars, it was only for a second.”
“I think I read about that happening to a lot of people, something to do with the barrier I think. Least there was a bit of excitement, even if it was only for a second. C’mon, lets go get that ice cream and after we’ll can go rescue that poor tour guide from all your dads questions.”


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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