Ellis was never a conventional man.
This was the most apparent when he died.
His beloved common-law wife, in the midst of her grief, found his will amongst his various possessions. Reading it with trembling hands, her eyes skimming the words until a passage caught her attention. Shaking her head in disbelief, she began to laugh, tears of laughter mingling with her tears of grief.
His last wish, his final wish, was scribbled in on the very bottom of the last page, in his typical, barely human version of the written word. “Dearest beloved”, he began, “what I am about to ask won’t be easy. It may well be impossible. But, I know that you have the strength, the determination, and the smarts to pull off the impossible.”
“Babe,” he rarely used that word, “I want to be out there, among the stars. I need you to send my brain into outer space.”
She sat for a time, pondering the implications of his last request. Wheels began to turn in her mind. Then the plan came into focus.
The immediate needs came first. She had his brain carefully removed and stored, preserved in inert fluids and sealed in a clear, see-through jar. She refused to look at it, being far too unnerved by the sight.
She cremated his remains. He was indifferent in his will as to what should be done with his body, he considered his brain as the center of himself, his soul as it were. She never agreed with that, considering his heart to be his greatest strength. After an emotional three day trip, she scattered his remains under the tree that she planted as a child on her family`s plot of land. The tree, grown now to a majestic size, solemly accepted the new company.
She took some time afterwards for herself. The next step would require all of her focus. She knew it would not be simple.
She sent several querying emails to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. She was looking for general information about booking passage and estimated costs. She received no response. She was not surprised.
She looked at SpaceX, a private industry that dabbles in space work. Their response was swift: a return email with the question, “Are you serious?”, with several laughing emoji. She calmly responded with the details of Ellis’ will and simply asked for an estimated cost. They responded with a number. She was not surprised at that either.
With limited funds at her disposal, she turned to social media. A crowdfunding campaign swept throughout the internet. She had considerable experience in managing her social prescence; she knew how to get results.
The novelty of Ellis`s last request under her management caught the internet`s attention.
A first, local celebrities, some she knew personally, lent their support. This caught the attention of local media. Before she knew it, she was managing interview offers from around the world.
The world, then, so full of fear and uncertainty, was entranced with her work. The notion of once again reaching out into the stars was a welcome diversion. The crowdfunding campaign far exceeded anyone’s expectations. Soon, she acquired had the funds to professionally pursue SpaceX to fulfill their initial agreement.
They were happy to take her money.
The plan was simple. The container holding the brain was to be shipped into Earth orbit during one of SpaceX’ routine supply runs to the International Space Station and launched onboard a rocket. Their only request was that they broadcast it live for publicity purposes.
The rocket was a basic yet sturdy design, with a limited chemical propellant. A fire and forget model. With the excess funding, she was able to modify Ellis’ container with plastic googly eyes. She knew he would have wanted that. She also wanted him to not be alone for his final voyage, so she sent with him the ashes of his beloved cat, Wesley. The pair were inseperable in life, so it seemed fitting for them to be together again for this trip.
The rocket was launched with much fanfare. The world watched and wished it a safe voyage. The destination was the center of the Milky Way galaxy, a supermassive black hole known as Sagittarius A. The estimated time of the journey would take 450 million years, at a rough guess. The world moved on, and soon forgot about Ellis and Wesley.
Attempting to hit a target at that distance, some 28 000 light years away, even a target as large as a super massive black hole, was not going to be a simple task. This was compounded by the fact that the navigators working for SpaceX did not take the task very seriously. They mostly just eye-balled a flight plan. No one would be alive to find out that they erred.
So, in the fullness of time, Ellis missed his final destination.
The little rocket and it’s two occupants bore silent witness to the life of a galaxy. Stars were born, other stars died. Life flourished on some worlds as it also died on others. Various gravitational forces made the googly eyes fastened to Ellis’ container jostle, just a little, as though they were actively watching the passing of eternity.
The aged and decaying rocket, after a significantly longer period of travel then anticipated, was finally captured in orbit around a small blue-green world. Mostly ocean, with a few large land masses, life had found a foothold here. The ancient Milky Way galaxy was crumbling, collapsing really, but life, beautiful, wonderful, life, had once again reached out and up on a small and insignificant planet.
Trapped in an inexorable death spiral around the planet, the rocket began to heat up as it entered the upper atmosphere. The aged rocket swiftly disintegrated under the immense pressure. The container holding the brain of Ellis and his beloved cat evaporated and spread out along kilometers over the surface of this new world. The googly eyes frosted as it encountered atmosphere but soon it too was destroyed, the frost appearing as tears on the plastic eyes.
A pair of life forms witnessed the fiery demise in silent awe. Lovers, they each made a wish upon the fallen celestial object. One reached down and picked up a small domesticated felinoid creature that it loved as well, though in different measure. The felinoid nuzzled affectionately against it’s owner’s chest.
Home, they all felt. They were home.