Beyond the Black Hole – By Adeline, Athena, Darcey, Janasi, Pranav, Sumedha and ZakiIn On The Page
The Diamond 2000 was a massive white flying saucer that constantly spun as it moved, though on the inside gravity was defied and advanced engineering provided complete stasis for the passengers within. What’s more, the external structure may have appeared simple, but the interior of the space station itself was a marvellous intricate labyrinth of passages, linked by doors that swished smoothly open for the astronauts to pass through. It was not at all claustrophobic. On the contrary, the Diamond 2000 was most spacious and everywhere there were windows.
In the bright glare of the whitest of rooms the scientists worked on identifying the many strange rocks that they had discovered in the tether zone of the station. These rocks pulsated in the dark and came in shades of yellow and green; they were rough, chunky and somewhat crumbly, like pumice, except that they didn’t float on water. The substance was so unusual, they were sure to have come from an unknown planet.
As the Diamond 2000 sailed across the galaxy, the scientists constantly encountered storms of this unusual debris; storms which were increasingly frequent and intense.
Commander Jackson shook her head, “These storms are becoming most unpredictable. We must be extra vigilant with the course of this craft – if any rocks get into the system they could well cause it to malfunction.”
Gummy nodded intently. “I’ll station myself at the observation deck and keep account of things, Commander,” he offered.
“Good idea,” approved Commander Jackson, “and be sure to report anything unusual, however slight it may seem.”
Soon after positioning himself at his station, Gummy did indeed have something to report – and there was absolutely nothing slight about it whatsoever. A massive swirling cavern of darkness lined with purple specks. It was huge. It was deep. It was a black hole. And the Diamond 2000 was heading straight for it.
“Look out of the control room window, to the right.”
There was a brief silence, before Jackson’s static voice could be heard again.
“Do you see it?” asked Gummy.
“Yes,” answered Jackson.
Teddy, sensing the air of panic, joined Jackson at her side.
“We must change course, immediately,” Teddy insisted.
“I’m on it right now,” replied Commander Jackson, keeping her head.
Commander Jackson slammed on the controls as hard as she could but it was no use. The power of the black hole was too strong. Nothing could escape the force of it. Zap! And they were sent hurtling towards the whirlpool of darkness.
“What’s going on?” cried Gummy.
“We’re being sucked in!” exclaimed Teddy.
Whoosh! They were engulfed by a shrill whistling wind.
“What’s happening?” shrieked Gummy.
“I can’t see a thing!” yelled Teddy.
Zoom! They plunged deeper and further into the tunnel of darkness. Faster than the speed of sound, perhaps even the speed of light, they spun through the vacuum. Lines of white and streaks of purple flashed by. They were surrounded by millions of the unusual rocks they had studied earlier, all spinning around in a kaleidoscope of yellow and green.
And almost as suddenly as it had all began, the Diamond 2000 shot out of the other end of the tunnel. The crew dashed to the observation deck at the rear of the craft.
“Quickly! Turn this ship around. We need to get back!” cried Gummy.
“It’s no use. I still have no control over this thing,” despaired Commander Jackson.
Anyway, it was too late. The black hole, which was surrounded by stars, was closing in on itself, like a jacket being zipped.
They watched on helplessly as it shrunk to nothing until it disappeared completely.
“How will we ever get back?” Teddy stood gaping in astonishment.
“We’re trapped,” gulped Gummy.
But worse was to come. An almighty clutter and clamour rattled around the engine room.
“The engines are down. It’s those rocks. They’ve disabled the entire system!” exclaimed Teddy.
There was a BANG! Followed by a sickening crunch.
“We’re done for!” Gummy wailed.
The dazzling lights shut off, all power of the Diamond 2000 flickered away until only the emergency lights functioned.
“There’s nothing more we can do,” pronounced Commander Jackson dejectedly.
“Brace yourselves, we’re crash-landing!” exclaimed Teddy, hammering at the controls in vain.
“No! No!” screamed Gummy, aghast.
Sirens blared from every speaker in the walls. Alarms sounded in all directions. BEEEP! BEEEP! BEEEEEEEP!
BOOM! The station plummeted into the rocky surface of a planet that could only belong to an entire other universe. Shaken, yet thankfully still alive, the astronauts tumbled out of the craft and gazed around in awe and wonder.
Pink skies loomed above and blue grass swished with the wind. They were surrounded by magenta bushes and turquoise trees, and the land they stood on did indeed consist of the same yellow and green rock that the scientists had so closely encountered along their exploration. Yet there was something even more extraordinary about these particular rocks, now that they were rooted to their native planet. They glowed with dazzling diamonds.
Teddy was the first to pick one up. The rock was completely weightless but he felt a rush of energy surge through his body when he held it. “What’s this?” he wondered.
Commander Jackson and Gummy each grabbed one too, but as soon as they had hold of the rocks, they sensed a rustling coming from the bushes.
A large furry alien, shaped like a ball, rolled out to confront the shell-shocked astronauts. It was soon followed by a number of the same strange spherical creatures; how peculiar they were, so short and plump, with wide eyes suspended on antennae, long feet, spindly arms and bright red claws. The most unusual ones of all waddled about at the back, little brown blobs, carrying handbags and wearing lipstick on their incredibly long lips.
Commander Jackson held out her hands, “We come in peace,” she said. “We’re humans… from the planet Earth.”
“Yoop! Yooop!” replied the chief fur-ball, the one who had appeared to them first.
“This is no good,” sighed Commander Jackson. “Of course they’re not going to speak the same language as us.”
But then, the chief alien whipped out a kind of radio contraption and said something into it which came out as, “We are the Spottlings and we welcome you to the Planet Quillian.”
The scientists felt most humbled.
“I see you are in need of some assistance,” spoke the chief Spottling, gesturing towards the wreckage of the Galaxy 2000.
“The special, weightless, energy-giving rocks which you hold in your hands have the power of teleportation. They can transport you from Quillian to wherever you wish.”
“That’s the power of the diamond, isn’t it?” observed Teddy.
“Indeed. All you have to do is rub the gemstone and state the name of your destination,” the chief Spottling explained.
“Remarkable,” marvelled Gummy.
“They are the pride of our planet. With our permission, you may use them to return to Earth. But you must understand that their energies are irreversible. Once you have departed from Quillian, the life of the diamond will cease.”
“It seems a shame to have come all this way, and to have been through all we have, to leave with nothing,” sighed Gummy.
Commander Jackson glared at him in disapproval. The Spottlings too seemed to buzz with annoyance.
“You shall leave safe in the knowledge that you will return home. You shall leave with your lives. Surely this is not nothing,” the chief Spottling reproached Gummy.
“Of course, of course,” Commander Jackson interjected. “We are indeed most grateful to you.”
“May we at least have your permission to take some photographs, to show everyone back at the ESA?” ventured Teddy.
“Be our guest,” replied the chief Spottling.
Before taking her turn, Commander Jackson issued a final goodbye and took one last glimpse of the aliens. She rubbed the diamond and closed her eyes. “Earth, please,” she said.
Seconds later, she was back at the science base, in green leafy Surrey, holding her souvenirs: a data-board containing a range of photographic evidence of the foreign planet and a lump of greenish, yellow rock, crumbling and lacking its energetic glow. Jackson knew that the universe remained the stronger force and that humans couldn’t always conquer everything. And whenever she looked up at the stars, she would remember this and be thankful.