The wormhole spat out the spaceship fifteen minutes later yet 13.7 billion light-years further. In the white cryostasis pod lay Marlena, still groggy from the farewell drinks. It was her ship, her mission and so it was fitting that she was the first to wake up.
Marlena had dreamt of this moment ever since she was a little girl staring at the static on her family’s analogue TV, a faint remnant of the place she now soon would set eyes on: the beginning of the universe.
The journey had taken a meticulous preparation. Marlena was still a child prodigy when she had proposed the project. Interstellar travel hadn’t even been invented. The Scientific Institute therefore declared her mad at first but as they worked through the formulas they realised her mission was on solid mathematical ground.
From conception to realisation would take another sixty years however. Scraping together the funds. Recovering from prototype setbacks. Swaying the public opinion. Marlena was approaching 70 when the rocket finally took off from the Cape.
She opened the pod door, a bit lightheaded but in good health overall. The rest of the crew – a hotchpotch of scientists, adventurers and the odd billionaire – were still asleep. They had promised not to look through the giant panoramic window until everyone was on their feet, but Marlena couldn’t keep that promise. The subtle shaking of the ship beckoned her.
As she stepped onto the observation deck her heart skipped a beat. The beauty of creation was even more magnificent than she had imagined. Violent and unusual. But stunning. Her heart skipped another beat, and then some, until there were no more beats to skip.
Paradoxically Marlena died before the atoms that had formed her were even in existence.
But she had seen it all.
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