Andrew Rickey has been Earth-bound for four years now.
According to him, his last secret mission for NASA was an attempt to harness the gravitational power of Jupiter.
They wanted to find some way to replicate the gravity…it’s two-point-four times that of ours…they were talking about using it to help buildings. Something about making them more structurally sound…good for places with tornadoes and hurricanes.
He seemed very sure of himself, explaining the supposed practicalities of increased gravity in regards to safety and architecture. I’m a writer, not a scientist, so I just let him talk.
It had a lot to do with the anticyclonic storm of the Great Red Spot. You know, that big swirling mass of red clouds that you always see pictures of? Yeah, lots of power there. Lots of heat generated. I got closer than anyone, or anything ever has.
I breathed it in.
He regaled me with a story of piloting into the Red Spot, a crack in the breaching, patching it up, but some of the gasses, got into his ship, and into his lungs.
It’s hard to believe him. But, strange things happen around him.
Time moves differently. Sometimes faster, sometimes much slower.
He gave me coffee and it was ice-cold and the milk had curdled within two minutes.
I don’t know if it was all the space travel, or the gases, maybe some kind of cosmic radiation…but around me time happens at different speeds. Last year I woke up and I looked like I was ten years old again.
His walls are covered in what is either advanced mathematics or scribbles.
He coughs violently, red gas seeping from between his lips.
His eyes are glazed yellow.
I’m not healthy enough for the trips anymore. Radiation poisoning, they say. I don’t know. Ever since the Jupiter mission I’ve just felt different. But, man, do I miss being up there…
I leave Andrew Rickey’s apartment. He’s looking out of a telescope towards the sky, coughing and scratching a beard that wasn’t there when I first arrived.