A Cosmic Matchmaker
by Bertil Falk
Billie Occasion felt the strain. It was the past that was pulling. Her trail from then to now was stretched like a rubber band to the bursting point, and the longer she stayed in a future far away from Earth, the more there was a danger that the elastic umbilical cord would snap and leave her stranded in this distant part of existence.
But she wanted to stay on for a short while, for she wished to talk to that handsome young man standing 1.2 light-seconds tall. He needs someone who can listen to him, she thought, someone holding his hand — let it be in a transferred sense — breathing hope into his resigned mind.
He told his story, how he had been coming of age somewhere in the vicinity of the Large Magellanic Cloud some 163,000 light-years away. And like all young men of his species, he had left the solar system of his birth galaxy some incredible amounts of eons before in order to find a girl.
It turned out to be a very difficult task. His species was spread all over the universe. There were virtual abysses between the individuals, and the vast distances made it next to impossible to establish contact with a girl of proper age and size.
He told Billie that he had met an old man who told him that after covering a million light-years without finding a woman, he now was on the verge of dying, only having some ten thousand years of life left.
“Our species is doomed,” the young man said to her.
Billie Occasion recognized the problem as similar to that of whale mating in the oceans of Earth. Since there are too few whales, they have problems in finding a mate.
Zcåötrüx, as the cosmic teen titan called himself, said that there was no lack of individuals; they were just terribly spread out in a way corresponding to the expansion of the universe, and their habitats had become more and more estranged and the individuals, terribly alienated. The process had been very slow and had not been discovered until it was too late.
“Don’t say that you and your species are doomed,” Billie told him. “There must be a way for you to get in touch with others of your kind. You have contact with me and the generation ship from Earth, so why not with your own race? And you met that old man, so why not a bride? Don’t give up.”
“We never developed a method that could bridge the increasingly wide rifts,” Zcåötrüx gasped. “We were able to communicate only at shorter distances. We never adapted to the widening ginnunga-gaps of space. You are very kind, Billie Occasion. I wish you were of my species.”
Oh, the boy has developed a crush, Billie Occasion thought. For a fraction of a second she contemplated the impossible idea of having a cosmic affair but decided instead to pursue a quest to satisfy the gloomy young man. She had an idea, but she had a strong feeling that it could not be carried out until she was back at 503 Fifth Avenue. She told Zcåötrüx what she had in mind.
He blessed her idea, and she did not even have to close her eyes and cover her tear glands by putting the thumb and the forefinger of her left hand over the root of her nose. She just let go. She was instantaneously sucked back through four light-years and fell down in a room among a couple of manuscripts and books and a towering mess on a table. A white-haired man was talking on an old-fashioned telephone. He looked at her, shook his head and chuckled.
“Where is this, and when is it?” she asked.
The white-haired man finished his call with cartoonist Virgil Finlay and said: “When it is? 1959. You are at 503 Fifth Avenue, on the corner of 42nd Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. I am Hans Stefan Santesson and I edit The Saint Mystery Magazine and Fantastic Universe Science Fiction from this room. But who are you? Where did you come from? And what is that big yellow thing on your chin?”
“I am afraid that I’ve bilocated too far back into the past. I was not in the driver’s seat, so to speak.” She paused and added, “This building will be replaced in the future.”
“It looks like a big safety pin.”
“That’s what it is.”
“Hm, you sound and look a little shaken, if I may say so. So you are a bilocator?”
“You know about bilocation?”
“I deal with it every day, on a speculative level, so to speak. It’s a kind of teleportation in time and space. Have you ever heard of the Philadelphia experiment? My friend Jessup—”
Billie Occasion closed her eyes and covered her tear glands by putting the thumb and the forefinger of her left hand over the root of her nose.
“I am afraid I have to go,” she murmured and disappeared. She re-emerged where she belonged.
“What are you doing here?” Billie Occasion asked Lars Parker.
“We were afraid you’d gotten stuck in limbo or were sick or even dead. We had to contact the landlord to get in, and we found you in that hibernative state of bilocation and heard the sound of that Berwald symphony repeated over and over again.”
Billie Occasion nodded. “I see. I am very tired, actually exhausted. But I can report to your friend in New Jersey that a few hundred starships are rushing in all directions and that the one that was launched first was approaching its goal when I arrived on the scene. It has only a few hundred years left until it reaches its destination.
“But that is not the most important thing. I had a tryst with a young alien individual, but I’ll tell you about that later. Now I have to relax and take it easy for some time in order to regain my strength.”
A week later, Billie Occasion had regained her stamina. Her thoughts had revolved around the problem of cosmic mating in an expanding macrocosm. When relaxing, she had sometimes thought of carefully combing existence like the fishermen of her childhood port of Lewes, Delaware, as they did when throwing their fishing nets.
Once upon a bilocation she had inadvertently multilocated. Now, she considered throwing her own fishing nets in a multilocational way in order to scan the universe for ladies of Zcåötrüx’s species. She planned an experiment, a once in a lifetime attempt to test the limits of her ability to extend her personality in a split way.
Her instantaneous travel of four light-years had been difficult. Now she faced the prospect of hundreds of thousands of light-years — but with a couple of twists. She would stay at her apartment of 503 Fifth Avenue, trying to resist the pull that resulted from long-distance bi- or multilocation. And she had to control her steps.
In order to prepare herself for her difficult mission, she decided to see Karl Indranil Riley. Lars Parker drove her to Boston, where Karl Indranil Riley lived in a boxy suburban home. He listened to Billie, and his big smile slowly turned into concerned seriousness.
“Think twice before you set out on such a foray,” Karl Indranil Riley said.
“Calling on you actually is my second thought,” Billie Occasion replied. “I want to hear your verdict.”
His index fingers opposed, Riley assumed a slanted smile. “Very funny,” he said.
“No, I want you to tell me. You’re not the foremost scientist on teleport-simulating bilocation just for fun, are you? No! I want to know if there’s anything I can do to prevent a disaster. I felt the strain, the pull, and I know that the cord could have snapped.”
“There’s nothing you can do. Not at our present position. Actually...” He paused.
“Yes, what is it?”
“We have given up the research. They said that this is the kind of basic research that won’t be of any commercial value for the time being and that more important research must take precedence. Not only have I been removed from the project, the project itself is dead.”
Billie Occasion got up from her chair. “I’m sorry for you,” she said. “You were so dedicated.”
“And I’m sorry for you. Billie. Don’t do it. At least stay put. Don’t leave totally.”
“I’m glad you said that, for this is exactly what I had thought of doing. I wanted your confirmation. But, Karl Indranil, please don’t give up.”
She returned to her abode and spent the following weeks meditating, exercising and bilocating here and there, trying out her ability in different ways. At last, she felt prepared. She performed the necessary procedure and let her inner eyes scan the cosmos.
What she saw and felt, as she went into a soundless scream of flaming nebulae sprinkled with blazing points of suns, were clusters of clouds and streaming stars; giants of glowing depths and a wilderness of darkness and deception. A grandeur of revolving firmaments; wuthering heights of shining eternities blending a blinding mix of thundering births in cataclysmic delivery rooms and stellar morgues for dying giants orbited by luminous global forms, while gluttonous black holes and green ones and yellow and red sucked galaxies, and white holes and lilac ones and brown and golden alike vomited universes.
It was all on a cosmic scale, and she did not hesitate, but as macrocosmic as she was in this glorious context, she threw her mentally cast nets into that incredibly unbelievable aquarium. And she aimed her throws into the monotonous emptiness between milky ways and blistering, colliding galaxies.
She hauled in her catches, an abundance of asteroids and comets, moons and small planets, throwing them back into the void, and with every cast, her skill grew. But it was mentally exhausting, and after a while she hauled home her nets. But this first round of fishing had been an experience beyond human experience. She now knew it could be done.
And she did it. Days added up to weeks and months. She now had adjusted to a convenient and comfortable routine; riding the waves of that universal ocean 43 minutes every day. She explored her limits and she got to know the cosmic wilderness.
But even though there was an abundance of haul, it was only after 243 days that she caught a specimen of Zcåötrüx’s species. It turned out to be another wandering young man. Krxäzpluck was very excited when Billie contacted him. He was of about the same size as Zcåötrüx and he had the same problem: lost in space in search of a mistress.
It turned out that Krxäzpluck was not too far away — less than nine light-years — from his companion in misfortune. Bille could easily arrange a meeting between the two. The two young space aliens discussed the situation and concluded that they would stick together. If Billie could find more individuals of their kind, they could build a spatial society and not spread out as they had done in the past.
During this period Billie spent leisure time with Lars Parker between some minor assignments. Through an oversight, she got pregnant. This was an unexpected obstacle, but after some considerations she decided against an abortion. She told her cosmic friends that she had to take a break in her matchmaking efforts.
Billie gave birth to a girl and a boy, and on sunny days a proud father could be seen walking with a baby stroller down Fifth Avenue, sometimes as far as to Greenwich Village, where he had a cup of coffee before returning up the avenue.
After a while, Billie bilocated into the void again. She found that the situation had changed considerably. Krxäzpluck and Zcåötrüx were not as desperate as they had been. They did not seem to take much interest in their project anymore.
It took a while for Billie to grasp what was going on. During her absence the tall boys had found their true destination, but it was not until they came out of the closet that it dawned on her that her matchmaking efforts had succeeded. Mission accomplished! But she noticed that she had not exactly saved Zcåötrüx’s and Krxäzpluck’s species.
Copyright © 2014 by Bertil Falk