From the time we were young, we'd had SiR's transmission tapes played for us daily. A neat, thorough dissection of his journey and his destination, the tapes were a simple reminder of hope. We knew there was somewhere to escape to, and we knew that soon enough, we’d finally be arriving.
November, as the tapes came to be referred to was actually the namesake of SiR's mission and destination planet. In the early days of the Scare, long before I was born, November was a long shot. There were twelve missions in total, each named for one of the months and ordered for their strength in probability of success. But as the Scare became the Death, as the Months set sail for hope and future, and eventually, as the other missions failed to retain contact with us or were confirmed to have failed, our people grew weak and tired of hope and feared a future didn’t exist.
“Why should we keep faith alive when the only mission still flying is categorized eleventh out of twelve?”
It was sound logic, really. Many people died in waiting to see of SiR would survive his journey to November. It was scheduled as a five-and-a-half-year journey at light speed, but man had only developed technology to travel half that. When all the other Months failed within five years of launch, six long years and 31 trillion kilometers lie between SiR and November. And during that time is when I was born – a time that became known as the Wait.
Every year, in every stage of SiR’s journey, and most anxiously during the Wait, he would send his annual transmission back to us – ironically enough, in December. They say it was cold during the Wait, and so the transmission was the only thing that kept people’s spirits up during the wintertime.
They started out simple – the transmissions. It’s never been SiR’s style to complicate things. The first we received, titled Gone was a simple data interaction between SiR and his automated intelligence system, Kate. From there, things became more interesting and less expected. His on-board thoughts, revelations, self-discussion, sometimes hopeful, sometimes not, but always truthful, and always still alive and on course.
They became our gospel and our meditation. And when all others failed and at that five-year mark, and SiR and November were left alone in their quest, he blessed us with a transmission titled Something New. Like a lullaby for the remaining population, Something New told us a story of change, love, possibility, and most of all, hope. Its message spread through the masses like a welcomed infection – quickly moving from person to person and warming everyone’s minds and hearts.
But from there, things came in waves. SiR’s following transmissions were dark, confusing, angry, and resentful, and again, it had its effect on the people. Then the transmissions became sad, regretful, and eventually, happy, excited, and romantic, love once again driving SiR’s voice as it filled rooms full of anxious, tired people. Of course, I don’t remember any of this.
In fact, my first memory is celebrating the reception of SiR’s final transmission, Summer in November. He had made it to his destination, and in his new planet – in our new planet – wherever he found himself in November – it was a warm, beautiful summer day.
A year later, our people had organized a new mission – for all of us to follow SiR’s lead into the unknown, and with only his guidance and the November transmission tapes, find our way to the new planet, leaving the Scare, the Death, and the Wait, behind us on Earth.
The majority of my life, starting from the age of seven, and stretching to present day, have all been spent on-board our ship – a massive complex hosting all the facilities we could ever need and tumbling through space at half the speed of light.
But somehow, 52 trillion kilometers and series of close encounters with monstrous gravitational pulls that had their effects on our time sequences, have given way to 17 years, and we are now approaching November. An announcement came over the intercom earlier today telling us that we were arriving, we’d be landing later tonight, and that SiR himself would be welcoming us.
With an added touch of speed and enthusiasm, I make for my loft. It’s in quadrant C – not the wealthiest part of the ship, but I find it has more character. I scan may keycard, push open the door, and head straight for the closet. I tie on a pair of fine leather boots to sit below my standard protocol black, Teflon-coated pants, and pull a vintage, black hoody that had been my father’s, overtop my uniform top-shirt. I wanted to make sure that I went the minimalist route that we had seen sported by SiR in old photos.
Lastly, I go to the corner of my room, lift the cover of my trunk, and shuffle around all of its contents until I see what I’m looking for. My father had given to me a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label that he had saved since the days before the Scare, and that he had brought on board with us and planned to drink upon arrival. It would seem a shame to waste the bottle and the occasion.
“Quadrant C, prepare for break away and entry,” a voice commanded over the intercom.
The time was finally here. I ran from my room, found my way to the conference hall, took my seat next to my closest friends, and buckled in. We all looked at each other with disbelief, excitement, and an unavoidable silence in the face of such culmination.
Once everyone was accounted for, the process began. It would only be a few minutes before we were to land, but they were sure to be excruciatingly long. A few more directions from the intercom, the feeling of a buckle being released, and a sudden jolt took away all our collective breath. For the first time in almost two decades, we were moving towards something that we could see. A loud minute, a bumpy minute, and a minute of explosive cheer towed us into the landing zone.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to November,” an unmistakable voice came over the intercom. It was him. He existed as more than just a myth, more than just a collection of peaceful, beautiful tapes, but instead purely as an artist. The man who brought us all here.
The following moments disappeared from memory. Suddenly, I, surrounded by all of us survivors, were standing in a massive corridor. A light shone at the end of it and the orderly process of emptying the entire ship was nauseatingly slow. But my queasiness and uneasiness were quickly blanketed by the warm touch of summer sun and the breath of fresh, natural air.
My first steps on November were in a lush green field, towards which all of us were being directed. At the far end of the field was a massive stage setup for our orientation. My friends and I made it to the front of the crowd. I gripped the bottle of Johnny Walker Blue from my back pocket, broke the seal, and took a sip of the smooth, smoky liquor. Then I passed it along. It, like this moment, was for sharing.
All of a sudden, the lights surrounding the field and the crowd dimmed their way to emptiness, while lights on the empty stage went in the opposite direction. A roar from the energetic crowd put goosebumps on all of our skin, and then we heard the classic chimes and keystrokes that we knew so well flowing their way through the speakers on stage.
“Good, morning SiR,” said the voice of his intelligence system.
“Good morning, Kate,” SiR’s voice replied, while his figure made its way onto the stage from its light-flooded backdrop.
An even more recognizable and welcoming sound of soft, muted guitar notes being strum flooded the air, and SiR began.
I found another life in London. It’s true.
I fell in love with the summer. I fell in love with you.
You shine your light in the winter, I’ll miss the darkest view.
Now it’s the perfect season to swim the deepest blue.
And if everything else falls apart, I still have you.
If I can’t find my way back home, we’ll make something new.