The Black Planet


Luisa Banda and Karla Martinez

The Year: 2040

The Place: Kennedy Headquarters, Miami, Florida

"What does it look like?" asked John Levine, an astronaut, looking through a telescope. John carried himself well for his tall, lanky figure. His prominent chin and cheekbones blended inwith his large hands. He sat next to a woman, her frame bent over the lense of the laboratory's telescope.

"You must take a good look at it. This is something you don't see every day. It's a black hole!" said Ivette Stanley, the resident astronomer, "but I've never seen one in real life before, not in my whole life." Ivette turned the telescope towards John who peered through the glass lense.

"Is that what it is?"

"Yes!" exclaimed Ivette. Did you know that when a star collapses, it creates a forbidden sphere in space, a black hole? The black hole is the entrance to a tunnel between two areas in space, a sort of wormhole. Theories have suggested before that you can travel through time in one of these babies." Ivette brought out her note pad, and began jotting down some figures.

"Has anybody ever experimented with this theory?" asked John.

"No, I don't think so. Why do you ask?"

"Well, maybe it's time for someone to try it," answered John. "And why not us?" Ivette looked at John very suspiciously. "You're kidding me right.? I think that's impossible."

"But it doesn't hurt to try out for ourselves. Maybe we can make it possible."

John and Ivette had been working together for five years. They had been on several rocket missions for the Department of Space Exploration, and had received honors for their research in natural phenomena. Both were single, adventurous, and dedicated to their profession. Ivette stood silence for a while and then she finally spoke.

"Well what are we waiting for. We better start preparing as soon as possible, because it's going to take a year or even two before we can launche our mission."

They prepared quickly, it took them less than two and only a handful of necessary ground crew were recruited for the mission. Ivette and John were going to travel through time. They were both very excited, but Ivette knew something John didn't. She knew that to travel through a black hole you must reach the speed of light, and when this happens objects transform into energy. In spite of this knowledge, Ivette's sense of curiosity and adventure told her to take the chance.

On July 4, 2042 they successfully launched Apollo 1K at 16:00. John had no doubts in his mind. He was confident that he would go down in history as the first astronaut to travel through time. He envisioned their return, their press conference, their awards. Ivette, however, had lingering doubts that they would ever reach the wormhole. These doubts kept her from thinking about what would happen the both of them if they did succeed in reaching the black hole. They had been traveling for about two days, and it wasn't long before they could see a circle that was spinning like a hurricane. It was the black hole and they approached it. They felt a form of energy that pulled them forward. They both knew that they needed to change the ship's course.

"Do you feel the pull, John? Can we get around it?" asked Ivette.

"I think so," said John nervously.

They glanced at each other very anxiously. Ivette's theory was that before they even got across the wormhole, they would become energy and be destroyed. Frozen with silent fear, Ivette stared straight ahead. John, on the other hand, was still optimistic. He considered himself the most important man on earth.

As the rocket ship got closer, the pull became stronger, but John and Ivette maneuvered the ship away from the fatal course they were on by firing the emergency rocket missiles they kept for return landing. After the missiles were fired there was nothing else they could do but wait, so they turned off the engine, and allowed the thrust to pull them forward, away from the black hole.

Suddenly the rocket ship spinned round and round, and landed on a red, rocky surface. Ivette and John had landed on the surface of another world. They were stunned, and remained in their launch positions for what seemed like hours.

"John," said Ivette quietly, "I think it's time to check our data."

"You're right. I'll unstrap and get the box," said John, who was surprised to see that he was not weightless in the cabin. John left the cockpit and returned in five minutes, all smiles.

"Ivette, you're going to like what you see here," John said.

"What is it?"

"The pictures and the surface data, Ivette. This planet is rocky, very lumpy, and cold, but there's enough oxygen out there for us to breathe comfortably."

"That's great," sighed Ivette. "Let's go and take a better look at the place." For a moment, Ivette thought they were on earth.

"We've failed!" said Ivette desperately.

"Why would you say that?" asked George.

"Look around you, are you blind? Can't you see that we've landed right back on earth? We haven't traveled through time-we're, we're right back where we started, only halfway around the earth in Siberia! We..." Ivette paused.

She watched as John surveyed her face, her hair, her hands. She stepped away from him.

"What's wrong with you?" Ivette asked, "Why are you looking at me like that?"

"It's your face," replied John in disbelief.

"What about my face? What is it? Is something wrong?"

"Your face is wrinkled. Your eyes. You. You're older!".

"Oh, my god!" yelled Ivette, "You! You are getting older right before my very eyes!"

Two minutes had passed from the time they stepped out of the rocket, but what was just 120 earth seconds equaled 63,962,000 seconds on this planet. Both were twenty years older in a matter of two minutes. Another thirty seconds passed and they gazed at each other again, realizing that they were still rapidly aging. Soon Ivette weakened. Her eyes wrinkled up and her skin sagged. The same thing was happening to John. Horrified, Ivette ran towards the ship as fast as her aged body could.

"Where are you going, Ivette?" shouted John, "What's happening?!"

"Get to the ship! Hurry! Get to the ship!" was all that Ivette could mutter. John hobbled behind Ivette, trying to catch up with her. Once they got to the rocket, they entered and secured the openings. Searchingly, they glanced at each other with the same thought in mind. They knew that leaving was their only chance of surviving. In just ten minutes they set up the rocket and prepared to go home.

"Mission 1K, ready to depart," announced John.

"Ready for blastoff," mumbled Ivette.

The rocket launched and they could see their course was set to home. They got closer and closer to the black hole that they had avoided earlier, but they weren't afraid of going across it because they had done it the once.

As they drew nearer the black hole, they knew that the missile firings was not enough. Inside the cabin, it felt like a hotbox of pure oxygen, and it smelled like sulfur. The smell was disturbing and it made them dizzy. The energy of the black hole was too strong for them and the ship began to travel close to the speed of light. Then it happened. What Ivette feared all along. Their bodies, the ship and everything inside it began to compress.

John turned to Ivette, "Ivette, it's happening, isn't it?"

"I don't know......I don't know" answered Ivette in unbearable pain. But this was the last of them as everything around them, including themselves, became a long thin line of energy as they got sucked into the caverns of the black hole, never to be seen or heard of again.

About the Authors


Luisa Banda is in Mrs. Zarro's American Lit. class at Manual Arts High School. She enjoys listening to music, read romance and mystery novels, and play volleyball. Her favorite subject is History. In the future she plans to become a pediatric doctor.



Karla Martinez is in the 11th grade in Mrs. Zarro's American Lit. class at Manual Arts High School. Her hobbies include swimming and running. She enjoys economics, math, and biology. She plans to attend a university where she will major in economics or microbiology. Karla plans to travel around the world in future.


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