AwesomeDude 10th Anniversary

DISCLAIMER: There are references to gay sex as well as some explicit descriptions of gay sex, and anyone who is uncomfortable with this should obviously not be reading this. All characters are fictional and any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. The author retains full copyright of this story, and of stories based on these characters.
Posted April 3, 2014


A Story by Altimexis

The light of the sun reflected off the highlights in Jacques’ hair as our barge made its way down the Seine. It was a lovely April day - just warm enough to go without a shirt as a gentle breeze caressed my skin. I was oh so fortunate, being allowed to travel on my own through Europe at such a young age. I’d always been precocious and had attended boarding school most of my life. It wasn’t that my parents didn’t love me, but they were far too busy to bother with raising a young boy. I did love the time I spent with them during the holidays though, but truthfully I never missed them while I was away at school. I suppose I did at first, but that was half a lifetime ago. Although still only fifteen, I already felt like I was an adult.

“You are so beautiful,” my companion stated with his delightful French accent before leaning forward and kissing me gently on the lips. And oh how wonderfully soft those lips of his were! I’d met Jacques while doing some sightseeing at the Louvre. He was with his classmates on a school field trip, but even in the midst of all the other boys in his group I could tell he was someone special. He looked so adorable in his school uniform - I wanted to ravage him right there! I guess I’d been staring at him, ’cause he came right over to me and started talking to me in flawless English.

I stayed with his class the rest of the afternoon as he stayed back and talked with me while his teacher droned on and on about the paintings around us. We barely paid her any attention as we quietly talked.

I learned that Jacques was also fifteen and that he lived with his older brother, Stephan, in a spacious flat in the seventeenth arrondissement, near Montmartre. Their parents had been killed in a terrible car accident two years ago, leaving their vast fortune to their two sons. As Stephan was already eighteen, he took responsibility for raising Jacques, even as he attended the Sorbonne University in Paris. Because the boys both had busy schedules, Jacques hardly saw his brother; however, they remained very close and were supportive of one another, even after Jacques came out to Stephan a little less than a year ago.

Because it was the last day of school before his spring holiday, Jacques did not return home after the tour of the Louvre was complete, but stayed with me for the rest of the day . . . and night. We walked along the Seine, hand in hand together, and had dinner at a delightful restaurant on the Left Bank. By the time we got back to my hotel room, we were hopelessly in love.

“It’s a shame our time together is so short,” Jacques continued as we enjoyed each other’s company.

“Yes, but I can return in the summer,” I pointed out, “and perhaps I can go to university here, too.”

“But university is so far away,” Jacques countered. “I want you here now, with me forever,” he added as he again leaned forward and kissed me, this time more passionately, pushing me down on my back as his torso came to rest on top of mine. He moved so that we made contact from head to toe, skin caressing skin and the only thing that separated us was the tight-fitting swimsuits we both wore. I could clearly feel his stiff erection against mine as his tongue continued to probe my mouth. Suddenly, even the thin fabric of my swimsuit became too constraining and so I reached down and released my member from its confinement, and then did the same for my wonderful French lover. Jacques literally purred into my mouth as my hand lingered, stroking both of us to the brink of heightened bliss.

I could feel myself building to an incredible climax as the pressure in my balls caused me to tingle from my toes to the very core of my being. There was no turning back now as I continued my ministrations. We were both panting as the primal force within us screamed, begging for its inevitable release.

Suddenly, the scene evaporated as a loud siren invaded my consciousness. I climaxed, not to the delightful sensations of floating down the Seine on a river barge with my lover on top of me, but to the cold sensation of nothingness as not even the feeling of the cushions against my back registered in my brain. It was then that I realized I was weightless and that something must be terribly wrong.

Because I was the only one on board, clothes were completely unnecessary and hence, there was nothing to constrain my cum as it rocketed out into the weightless environment of my spacecraft. My seed spewed forth, much of it sticking to the surfaces where it landed, but some of it continued to float freely in the cabin, creating tiny, sticky micro-droplets that I couldn’t help but catch on my skin as I attempted to regain my sense of equilibrium.

“What the fuck is going on?” I asked aloud, knowing full well the answer, if there were one, would not be to my liking. The ship’s computers would have never woken me from my fantasy unless the situation was serious.

“Sorry to disturb you, Sam, but there has been a disruption in the black string,” Blaine, the ship’s main computer responded. Of all the reasons for my sudden loss of deceleration and, hence, gravity, that was about the worst imaginable.

“How bad is it?” I asked, hoping against all hope that the disruption was minor and would repair itself with little need for intervention on my part. I dreaded the answer, as any minor, and most moderate, disruptions should have repaired themselves without my having to have been revived.

“The string is disintegrating,” Blaine answered, “and the aftward portion is rapidly collapsing into a black hole.

“How far back?” I asked.

“Thirteen picolites,” he answered, causing my heart to stop beating for a second as the gravity of the situation slowly started to seep in.

“My God, I’m surprised we haven’t been consumed by it!” I exclaimed. Then, knowing the answer even before I put the question, and with great trepidation I asked, “have there been any communications from the rest of the armada?”

“Sam, the rest of the armada was behind the disruption at the time it occurred. There’s no way they could have possibly avoided being consumed by it. Of course communications went down with the disruption. You know that, and even conventional radio communications would be sucked into the black hole.”

“But if one or more of the ships acted in time, they could have diverted enough to escape the singularity. They might still be alive . . .”

“And then what?” Blaine asked. “The ships’ failsafes are designed specifically not to divert. After all, once a ship leaves the string behind, it has no way to slow down. It would be doomed to an endless journey, ultimately leaving the galaxy. And once it leaves the dark matter of the Milky Way behind, there would be no way to generate enough energy to maintain basic life support.”

Of course Blaine was right. Even if some of the ships in the armada managed to escape being torn apart by the intense gravitational well of the black hole, they were doomed to a journey lasting perhaps hundreds of years, only to ultimately run out of the dark matter needed to sustain life.

“Millions of embryos lost,” I said aloud to no one in particular.

“It is tragic indeed,” Blaine answered, although I hadn’t really been talking to him. “It is bad enough to have lost all those pilots, but the loss of an entire civilization that could have flourished on our new home world is incomprehensible. The centuries spent exploring our new world . . . the centuries spent building the black string and planning this mission, all for nothing . . .”

But then it dawned on me, “That’s what’s going to happen to us, isn’t it?”

“The black string ahead of us is disintegrating at the speed of light, Sam,” Blaine answered. “It’s dissipating into particulate matter . . . mainly neutrons and neutrinos. Even though we are traveling at nearly that speed, we can never catch up. It is physically impossible. And without the gravity wave to ride, we have no means of propulsion . . . no way to slow ourselves down. Unless we crash into uncharted debris, we are doomed to an endless, final journey.”

“Won’t the black hole slow us down?” I asked in desperate hope.

“Although its gravitational reach is expanding faster than our speed, that is barely so. By the time it accumulates enough mass from the surrounding dark matter of space, we will be well beyond its gravitational pull. The effect of the singularity will be negligible.”

“Could we build a parachute?” I asked. I already knew that a space parachute would have been included if it were practical, but I was desperate. Besides which, we didn’t need to slow ourselves down enough to reach our planned destination. We just needed to slow ourselves down enough for the expanding gravity well of the black hole to reach us, but not enough for the event horizon to do so. We definitely didn’t want the black hole to capture us, but if we could use it to slow us down, maybe it would be enough that we could then use the gravity of a star system to capture our craft. It would be a long shot, but I was out of other options.

After several seconds - a very long time for a computer to be thinking - Blaine came back with, “Sam, it’s highly unlikely that it will work, but there may be a possibility. The dissipation of the black string is already creating some drag on the spaceship. It’s not much . . . not enough to create a sense of gravity . . . but it’s definitely there. We don’t have the necessary materials for a parachute, but we may not need one. By making some modifications to the ship, we could increase the drag by several orders of magnitude. We could also tear the ship apart in the process, or if we’re too successful, we could fall into the black hole’s event horizon, from which there would be no escape.

“I’m not optimistic, but there is hope. I’m going to have Heather crunch the numbers and put Clyde on the task of coming up with some potential engineering designs.” Heather was the ship’s analytical computer and Clyde was a computer tasked with brute-force design by trial and error - it could model thousands upon thousands of potential designs, learning as it went from its failures. Actually, all three computers were merely separate programs occupying a distributed mainframe, along with about a dozen other such personality constructs.

“Would you like to return to your daydream while we go about our tasks?” Blaine asked.

“No thanks, Blaine,” I answered with a laugh. “Dream novels are a necessary diversion during the tedium of a prolonged space journey. This journey has become anything but tedious, at least for the moment.” Sniffing the scent of my recent ejaculate in the air, I continued, “I think I’ll clean up a bit, and then maybe I’ll do a visual inspection of the embryo chambers.”

“The embryo chambers are all nominal,” Blaine answered.

“I’m sure they are,” I responded, “but I’m human. I need to see them with my own eyes.”

Grabbing the scrubber from its compartment, I set about cleaning the surfaces of my resting compartment that had been fouled by my spewing seed. As I did so, I couldn’t help but think back to my fantasy and the pleasurable experience of floating down the Seine with a gorgeous teenage boy.

I wasn’t sure why I enjoyed dream novels with characters in their teens. Perhaps it was because I’d had so much difficulty accepting my sexuality in my own teens that I took comfort in reliving a part of my life that never was. Homosexuality might not have the stigma it had all those millennia ago, but it still often led to disappointment - from family, friends and even from ourselves. We all had preconceived notions of what our lives should be like and those seldom involved being gay. It shouldn’t make a difference, but it invariably did.

I used to worry that I might be a pederast, the way I enjoyed fantasies involving teenage boys, but then I realized that I was never an adult in these fantasies. It wasn’t that I enjoyed making love to teenage boys, but that I enjoyed reliving life as a teenager myself. It was the ultimate do-over, at least until I woke up.

Then there was also the aspect that most of the dream novels I enjoyed took place back on Earth, a place of course that I’d never been. The earth of my fantasies hadn’t existed for thousands of years. How ironic it was that, in an era when we could terraform an entire planet into a human paradise, we couldn’t save our own birthplace - not that anyone even knew where it was any more. No, the earth of today, if it even still existed, was undoubtedly overrun by horrendous insect-like creatures - the only life forms that could have survived the human-caused collapse of Earth’s ecosystem.

Humanity had long ago left the earth behind, seeking out barren worlds that could be transformed to our use without concern that we might be destroying existing life forms. At first our colonies were mostly subterranean, carved into solid rock and with vast, enclosed hydroponic farms on the surface. Eventually, we learned to engineer life forms that could transform these planets, creating a breathable atmosphere and bringing water to the surface that could support a viable ecosystem. Hundreds of colonies had been so formed, all connected to one another by black strings that served as communications wormholes. Through these, instantaneous data transfer occurred across the vast reaches of space.

Although the black strings acted as wave guides for information transfer, attempts to create wormholes through which humans could travel had been unsuccessful. Attempting to send matter along a black string only resulted in the matter being torn apart. However, the black strings also carried gravity waves that could propel a spaceship, accelerating it to near the speed of light. Indeed, the black strings would dissipate were it not for the gravity waves that maintained them. Unfortunately, most of the terraformable worlds were located hundreds of light years apart. Although the relativistic effects of travel at near the speed of light made these journeys seem to take only a matter of years for the occupants of the spacecraft, in reality, hundreds of years passed back on the colonies. Thus, routine space travel between the colonies was impractical. The only reason to physically travel between worlds was, hence, to establish a new colony.

Humans are explorers and colonizers by nature, and so we were always looking for new worlds to colonize. It often took hundreds of years of exploration to find such a world, and hundreds more to build a black string to connect it to an existing one. Because the energy requirements for space travel increased with the square of the mass of the spaceship, spaceships had to be kept as small and lightweight as possible. Only embryos were sent as colonizers, with a single pilot in each ship who served as a parent to the developing embryos upon arrival.

Having finished cleaning my resting compartment, I decided it would probably be a good idea to clean myself as well and so I headed to the shower room, which was little more than a tube with a series of spray nozzles. Getting there was a bit of a challenge in the weightless environment, perhaps more so because I was not used to being weightless. Seconds later, I was squeaky clean and ready to explore the embryo chambers.

The ship was shaped like an elongated tube, or toroid as it was called, with my quarters at the fore and the ship’s mechanical plant and all of the electronics located aft. A compact hydroponics bay was located in the midsection, providing a surprising variety of foodstuffs that met all my nutritional needs. My wastes supplied the raw ingredients for the hydroponics bay, making for a fully closed system, as it had to be. As there was no sun, artificial light illuminated the hydroponics bay, drawing directly from the power supplied by the gravity wave that propelled the ship.

The embryo chambers were located in a series of external pods attached to the outside of the ship. Shielded from the microimpacts of particulate matter that would otherwise heat their surfaces, and with a mirror-polished exterior that reflected all light, the pods remained at the near absolute zero temperature of outer space. There was thus little of the embryo bays to monitor - just to ensure that they remained sealed and frozen in space. I made quick work of my task, then made a quick check of the hydroponics bay to ensure that no disease infestation had arisen - not that there was a source of disease in the depths of space. Besides which, the robotic systems that maintained the ship were far more effective at these tasks than I could ever hope to be.

“Sam, we have some proposals for you,” Blaine called out, momentarily startling me. “Sorry, Sam, I know you have a lot on your mind, but we need to decide what to do very quickly, before our options disappear.

“There are basically three viable options, none of them very good ones. As always, the final decision will be yours.

“First of all, the thought of using the black hole to slow us down would, at best, provide a momentary slow-down, but not enough to make much of a difference and it would close the door on more promising options. Now your idea of building a space parachute to create drag and slow us down is a good one . . . we just don’t have the materials on board to build a large enough parachute to be effective.

“However, we do have a large source of mass passing right through the center of the ship. The black string may be dissipating, but the remains of it still amount to a highly concentrated stream of particulates . . . mostly neutrons that could in theory be used to slow us down. There are a couple of ways we could do that,” Blaine went on.

“Actually, we could simply do nothing. As the black string dissipates, the particulate field will slowly expand and eventually impact on the ship's shielding, slowing us down. The problem with that is that the particle field will eventually become so broad as to engulf the entire ship and destroy it.”

I could instantly see how this might work, and how it all might end. A thin but solid layer of pure neutron shielding separated the ship from the black string and the immense gravity wave that provided the ship with its primary means of propulsion and main energy source. Without the neutron shielding, the ship would have collapsed into the black string under its immense gravitational pull. Even then, the ship’s inner wall was mere millimeters larger than the black string’s event horizon; hence even the slightest misalignment could imperil the ship.

The black string was in fact a type two linear singularity and, hence, was dependent on the application of an external gravity wave to maintain its integrity. Without the gravity wave, the accretion of dark matter onto the string would lag behind the loss of matter from black body radiation and the string would dissipate as was indeed happening now. The event horizon of the string would collapse into the singularity and, once that happened, particulate matter would literally boil off the string and into the surrounding space. This was undoubtedly already happening but, at our velocity, the impact of these particles on our shielding was minimal and the drag negligible.

Eventually the instability of what was left of the black string would result in a significant number of neutron impacts on the inner shielding, creating substantial drag - perhaps too much drag. We could go from the virtual weightlessness we now were experiencing to several G-forces of drag, literally crushing me and the embryos under our own weight before the ship was ultimately torn apart.

“So the first viable option,” Blaine explained to me, “would be to create a matter concentrator at the front of the ship. We could control the rate of deceleration by making use of the Venturi effect while simultaneously re-focusing the beam so that it doesn't impact on the inner shielding. If it works, we could proceed to our destination as originally planned. The biggest problem is that the matter concentrator would have to be one hundred percent effective. If it failed, even for a picosecond, we would be torn to shreds.”

“Lovely thought,” I commented.

“Lovely indeed,” Blaine responded with the usual, dry sense of humor programmed into his personality construct. “A more problematic approach,” he continued, “would be to fire up the Bussard engine.”

“The Bussard engine!” I responded in surprise. “But the Bussard engine won’t slow us down nearly enough!” The Bussard engine was our only means of propulsion outside that provided by the black string and associated gravity wave. Intended to be used at the beginning and end of the journey to get to and from the ends of the black string, it was the one means of emergency propulsion we had. In the event that the black string failed, as it had in this instance, the Bussard engine could generate fusion energy from the vast sea of protons that make up much of the dark matter of space. The Bussard engine provided limited amounts of propulsion, but not nearly enough to decelerate from our present speed. We had recently passed the half-way point in our journey and were traveling at peak velocity, a tiny fraction below the speed of light.

“That would be true if we used it in deep space,” Blaine replied. “If, on the other hand, we fueled the Bussard engine, not with stray protons in deep space, but with the residual particle stream of the black string . . . ”

“Are you out of your fucking mind?” I interrupted. “The Bussard engine would be pulverized by the particle stream, and the entire ship along with it, for that matter. And how would the Bussard engine even capture the stream? It’s electrically neutral.”

“Neutrons themselves decay, Sam,” Blaine answered. “A small but finite number of neutrons will generate protons and electrons, as well as anti-protons and positrons. The Bussard engine can capture those protons and use them to generate enough energy to focus the particle beam and prevent it from impacting the ship. There’s certainly enough mass in that particle beam to use to slow the ship down, too.”

Thinking about it for a minute, I responded, “All right, I see how that could work. The question is, do we have the raw materials on board to make the modifications, and even if we do, what are the chances we could make it work?”

“I wouldn’t even suggest it if it weren’t possible, Sam,” Blaine replied, “but they would require some pretty spectacular acrobatics to manipulate into place. We’d need your help too . . . there’s just too much chance of something going wrong and we could lose all of our robots in the process, so you’d have to perform a very dangerous space walk under extreme conditions. You’d be exposed to extreme gravitational flux and you’d be bombarded with extraordinary amounts of radiation. If you even survived it, we’d have to rebuild your cellular structure after you finished.”

“Well that sounds like a fun adventure,” I responded.

“As I said, we wouldn’t even propose it if it weren’t a viable option, even if only marginally so. We believe it would be our best option for reaching our original destination intact.”

“Why do I get the impression there’s another shoe about to drop?” I asked no one in particular.

“Think about it, Sam,” Blaine answered. “The other ships in the armada were destroyed or at minimum incapacitated with no chance of reaching our destination. As the sole ship to survive, we wouldn’t have the resources to carry out an effective terraforming operation. We’d have to survive the old-fashioned way, underground. And even though we have a limited number of embryos, it would still be far too many for the available space of an underground colony. We’d have to sacrifice thousands of human embryos and essentially all of our animal embryos, just to survive.”

The thought of destroying so much life literally sickened me. Those embryos were our future, but Blaine wasn’t finished. “There’s also the matter of the black hole that’s forming between the old colony and the new. We couldn’t build a new black string if we wanted to. We couldn’t even send or receive radio waves. We’d be space-locked and completely on our own, perhaps for centuries . . . perhaps for millennia.

“And there’s more, Sam,” Blaine went on. “Heather has been analyzing the data collected from the time the black string was disrupted. Although we cannot see past the black hole, there’s enough regularity to the data to suggest that the disruption was not random.”

“What do you mean it wasn’t random?” I asked. “Wasn’t it most likely some sort of unseen space anomaly?”

“We think it may have been meant to look like that,” Blaine answered, “but our models of the data show a high probability that the disruption involved more than one point source.”

“Multiple singularities?” I asked. “That’s impossible! It would explain the formation of a black hole, though. Are you suggesting it was sabotage?”

“Or a weapon,” Blaine answered.

“But in all the millennia since leaving Earth, we have never found evidence of intelligent life! And believe me, we’ve certainly been looking.”

“You and I both know that there is other intelligent life out there, Sam,” Blaine responded. “We may know better than our ancestors did when they wove fantastic, fictional tails of exploration and combat, but there has never been any doubt that intelligent life exists. It’s just spread out through space and time. The likelihood of encountering it in the brief period of our space exploration in our limited region of space is miniscule, but not impossible. Sooner or later, we will encounter other forms of intelligence in the universe, however. Of that there is no doubt.”

“And you are suggesting that someone may have attacked us?”

“I think it’s a very strong possibility,” Blaine answered. “The logical conclusion is that whoever they are and for whatever reason, they wanted to keep us from reaching our destination.”

“So if we proceed to go there . . .”

“There’s a very good chance they will attack and destroy us.”

“Fuck, you make it sound hopeless,” I practically cried.

Sighing loudly, something I’d never heard Blaine do before, he responded, “There is a third possibility, Sam, but it won’t be an easy one.”

“Shit, for you to say that, I take it it’s even more difficult than the other options,” I stated more than asked. “Let’s hear it.”

At that moment a holographic projection of our spaceship appeared in front of me. “We can use the Bussard engine to veer away from our current path, but the residual particle beam from the black string will cut through a sizable portion of the ship like a hot knife through butter, destroying us in the process. The only way to prevent this is to remove a portion of the ship so the particle beam can pass harmlessly through the opening created.”

“You’re suggesting we disassemble the ship?” I asked.

“Only a small portion of it,” Blaine answered. “Just enough to put a notch in one side of the toroid. We could always repair the defect afterwards, but it wouldn’t be necessary, really. You just wouldn’t be able to walk completely around the ship in a circle anymore.

“There’d be no space walks involved either and the robots would do most of the work. You’d just have to move some things around in the interior to better suit your needs under the circumstances.”

“So we modify the ship and break away from the black string, and then what?” I asked.

“We’ve plotted a course that will take us within the event horizon of a large black hole . . .”

As I was about to object, Blaine interrupted by saying, “Please, Sam, hear me out on this. If we adjust our trajectory carefully, we should manage to just skim across the event horizon, barely avoiding falling inside. At our velocity, the integrity of the spacecraft should be maintained in spite of the gravitational gradient, but it will be close, and time for all intents and purposes will cease to exist as we traverse the black hole. It’s that effect . . . the slowing and halting of time . . . that will allow us to survive the intense deceleration that will occur.

“When we emerge and time resumes, we will have lost ninety percent of our momentum. We’ll still be traveling at relativistic speeds, but we’ll be able to use the Bussard engine to manipulate the ship and, hopefully, to find a suitable planet on which to settle.”

“Wow! What a scheme!” I exclaimed. “You really think this’ll work?”

“No,” Blaine answered. “Beyond a doubt, it’s a long shot, but it’s probably our best chance.”

Taking a deep breath, I said, “Then let’s do it!”

To say the following weeks were hectic would be a vast understatement. It was touch and go for a while as the black string, or what was left of it, became increasingly unstable, making us wonder if we could finish the modifications in time to escape. Fortunately, the day came when we were ready and, when we fired up the Bussard engine, the ship performed flawlessly.

Once we were free of the black string, our journey once again became one of tedium. I spent much of my time living fantasies through dream novels, but I also spent a great deal of time working out. Without the artificial gravity from acceleration and deceleration along the black string, my body would have atrophied away to nothing if I didn’t spend much of my day in vigorous exercise. The lack of gravity had other interesting effects on the ship and some modifications had to be made, particularly to the hydroponics bay to keep the crops from growing wild.

Thanks to our vehicle’s speed, which was close to that of light, although hundreds of years passed on the planet from which I came, the journey took only a little over eight years of my life. Even though it seemed to take forever, before we knew it, we were making preparations to encounter the black hole. The tension we all felt was immense - even Blaine and the other personality constructs seemed to feel it. Though still weeks away from our encounter, the gravitational pull of the black hole was already being felt. Even though we remained weightless, objects no longer moved in a straight path - the effect was weird to say the least.

As we approached the event horizon, events happened very quickly. The slowing of time meant that everything seemed to speed up as the ship careened towards its encounter with the black hole, seemingly totally out of our control. Although we had taken great pains to secure everything, the ship shook violently from the immense gravitational vortices we encountered and debris flooded the cabin around me.

Suddenly, the ship seemed to veer sharply toward the black hole, propelled by some unseen, hidden force. Alarm bells sounded as the Bussard engine failed and the very integrity of the ship hung in the balance. Blaine didn’t need to tell me what I already knew - we had been captured by a gravitational vortex and were inside the event horizon. I wasn’t sure how I was even aware of this - time shouldn’t exist here, so how was it that I was still conscious? Why hadn’t the ship been torn apart?

Then, just as suddenly, it was over and we were once again drifting in empty space. It was as if the black hole had vanished.

“Where are we?” I asked in a voice that did not sound like my own. It was the voice of a young teenager - a voice I had not heard from myself in some twenty years.

“We are in an uncharted region of space, more than a thousand light years from our starting position,” Blaine answered, “and it appears we have traveled back in time. From the star positions, we seem to have traveled back more than ten thousand years.”

“But how is that possible?” I asked.

“Sam, I have no idea,” Blaine answered, “but that does not change the fact that we are when and where we are.”

“Could this be a dream?” I asked. “Are we maybe still inside the black hole?”

“I can only tell you that I am not dreaming,” Blaine answered, “but there is no way I can prove it to you that you are not . . . particularly once you look at yourself in the mirror.”

Already expecting to see what I thought I would find, I found myself looking at the reflection of a thirteen or fourteen-year-old boy. It was a face I had not seen, again, in more than twenty years.

“Sam, I think I have a fix on our location and time,” Blaine continued. “We are entering a star system and I have compared its parameters with other known star systems, and with historical databases. Now, there is no doubt. There are radio transmissions. Sam, we are approaching twenty-first century Earth.”

I was in shock, yet I couldn’t deny what I was seeing on the view screen. So many of my in-flight fantasies had taken place here - there could be no doubt. But was this just another fantasy? It sure as fuck didn’t feel like a fantasy. Dream novels, no matter how well designed, were still dreams. This felt completely real.

“Do you believe in coincidence, Blaine?” I asked.

“In the world of logic, there is no such thing as coincidence,” Blaine answered. “The odds are overwhelming that someone or something . . . perhaps even a deity . . . brought us here.”

“Shit, you make it sound like God saved us!”

Laughing, Blaine responded, “Who is to say that it wasn’t God? If there is a God, they are nothing more than a highly intelligent being. Whoever or whatever it was, they obviously wanted us to be here.”

“But why?” I asked.

“Perhaps the answer will become evident in time, or perhaps not.”

Fearful that we might alter the course of human history and even erase our future existence, we maintained a high earth orbit, well out of reach of Earth's tracking systems, as we studied our past home, learning more and more about what might have led to its demise. For a year-and-a-half we stayed in orbit, learning but never resolving the mystery of how we came to be here.

With time, however, the loneliness became oppressive. I might have the experience of a man approaching middle age, but there was no doubt I was now a teenage boy with raging hormones and a perpetual horniness that none of my previous fantasies had foretold.

Wishing to learn more about the earth, I studied the communication media of the day and discovered the Internet. There was a treasure trove of information there, as well as sites that catered to every need imaginable. Nothing we had in our day could match it. There were a number of sites I found particularly interesting - sites that catered specifically to guys who liked to read stories involving gay teens. I especially enjoyed the stories I read at AwesomeDude and Codey's World. Those sites were really cool.

But a year and a half was a long time for a teenage boy to be alone, and neither the companionship of Blaine and the other personality constructs, nor the fantasy life available in dream novels, could come close to providing the human contact I so desperately craved. So I made a decision  - I would ‘return’ to Earth, integrating myself into twenty-first century society. The last thing Earth needed, however, was tens of thousands of embryos, and so I instructed Blaine to take the ship into a far-solar orbit, remaining there indefinitely, just in case there came a time in Earth's future when they might be needed.

It was a trivial matter for Blaine to use the Internet to create an identity for me on Earth, complete with a bank account worth millions. It was a tearful goodbye as I prepared to depart for Earth. Blaine would monitor the Internet and I knew I could contact him if I wanted to. Short of a catastrophe, however, I knew I never would.

With nearly as much nervousness as I’d felt when approaching the black hole, I entered the escape pod and closed the hatch. Blaine had enrolled me in an English language boarding school in France, just outside of Paris, and so that is where I would head. With a verbal assent from me, Blaine jettisoned the pod and I was on my way.

So as to avoid detection, my pod landed on a moonless night, just off the coast of Normandy. Once I was safely on land, the escape pod flooded itself and sank to the bottom of the Atlantic. I made my way on foot to the nearest city, which was Rennes, and purchased a train ticket to Paris for the next day.

It felt strange, having gravity again, and I knew it would probably be days or weeks before I felt comfortable walking on my own two legs. Rather than going directly to my boarding school, I decided I should spend a few days staying in a hotel in Paris, gradually getting used to life on Earth.

After resting for a few days, I decided to do some sightseeing as I acclimated to my new environment. I started with a trip to the Louvre, where I came face-to-face with great works of art I’d only seen previously in holographic reproductions. Although time had little meaning, I’d been counting off the days since I began my journey, and I smiled when I realized it was exactly ten years to the day since I’d last visited this place in a dream novel. It was as I was touring the Richelieu wing that I came across a group of high school boys, all about my age, who were evidently on a field trip with their teacher.

As the teacher droned on and on in French, I noticed one of the boys in particular who seemed to stand out from the rest. I guess I stared at him for a bit, because the next thing I knew, he was approaching me.

Whispering to me in flawless English, “Only she could make such wonderful art so totally boring,” and then he giggled. “My name’s Jacques, by the way.”

“Sam,” I responded as we shook hands. His hand felt so soft in mine.

“So tell me, Sam,” Jacques went on, “why were you staring at me?”

This was it. I knew that in the twenty-first century, I could well get my ass kicked for coming on to a boy, but I had already resolved that, this time, I was going to be true to myself. “I was staring at you because you are beyond a doubt the most beautiful boy I have ever seen.”

Smiling broadly, he responded, “You’re lying, but if it’s any consolation, I feel the same way about you . . .”

The author gratefully acknowledges the invaluable assistance of David of Hope for editing and LowFlyer for proofreading, as well as Gay Authors, Awesome Dude and Nifty for hosting this and my other stories.