The smell of eggs, hollandaise sauce, and ham momentarily transported Rebekah to a Parisian café, away from the staid, chrome cell she called home. Away from the dreary, underground life she led as a tech researcher on Luna. But only for a moment, and she fell back down to reality.
After a short exhale, she took the food to the table, where her husband Jeremiah sat still as death.
Jeremiah did not move, the steam wafting from the eggs and slowly reducing.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
Still silence. Jeremiah sat quietly at the breakfast table, his eyes glazed over as he read the news through his BOSy implant—the translucent words projected over his vision.
“Jeremy,” she said again.
“What?” he groused.
Rebekah was taken aback. She crossed her arms, saying, “Food is getting cold.”
“Right, right,” he said. “Thanks.”
He still did not move to take a bite.
“What is going on? What are you doing over there?”
“The CORE,” he said at last. “Have you heard what’s going on over there?”
“No,” she said, taking a bite of food. “I have not.”
“It’s insane. It’s insane!”
He had been still so long that when he finally moved to pick up his fork Rebekah started slightly, as though a statue had suddenly sprang into motion.
“Can you believe it?”
“Believe what? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Jeremiah finally emerged from his mystical engagement with news and started to wolf down his cold breakfast.
“Care to elaborate?” she asked.
“They call it ‘the Eclipse’,” he said at last. “It was just announced.”
“What is it?”
“It’s…like nothing I’ve ever heard. It sounds impossible.”
“But what is it?”
Jeremiah had already sunk back in the BOSy world, his eyes wandering into a sort of foggy transfixion on the article he had called up to read.
“Fine!” said Rebekah, standing up. She stormed towards their cell exit. She lingered for a moment at the doorframe, giving Jeremiah just a moment to snap out of his reverie and apologize, but he had apparently hardened into concrete. He continued to stare absently at the wall as his eyes twitched and scanned whatever he was reading. With a sigh, Rebekah opened the door and stepped outside.
The labyrinthine network of tunnels beneath the Foaming Sea stretched out before her. She took to wandering through one without purpose, her head down in thought, until she eventually emerged near the lift. A few youths were lingering at the doors, but they paid her no mind and she paid them none either. The lift started with a squeal and launched them all towards the surface like they were pulled up by a bungee cord.
The lift sucked into the station and the doors opened before the scenic vista of the Foaming Sea—a desolately beautiful and glaucous meadow, spread out over the moon’s surface like a tablecloth. Above the blue sphere of earth hung like a clock atop a medieval tower. All around was the meager spaceport, slotted with sleek passenger ships in serried rows and gargantuan, solar-powered transport rigs.
Rebekah looked up at the earth. She could just barely make out the hemisphere. Emerging from behind some clouds was western Europe and, noticeably, France.
Around the spaceport were myriad screens, each affixed to a corner of the dockyard. They were all flickering with the same image: a middle-aged man with a graying beard, sitting at a table in front of a crowd, a wry smile on his face, his eyes gleaming with a sort of childlike excitement.
Rebekah caught only the last few seconds of audio, where the man concluded his speech with, “…I want to tell you about the Eclipse!”
A ticker ran across the bottom of the screen, announcing boldly that “FAMED DOCTOR ANNOUNCES NEW ‘ECLIPSE’ PROJECT.”
The smattering of travelers in the dockyard were all watching. One of them drooped his head, sighed, and came back towards the lift, passing next to Rebekah.
Desiring answers, she stopped. “What is this?” she asked. “What is everyone talking about?”
He just shook his head, not even meeting her eyes. “It’s just a dream,” he said. “No way anyone can afford that!”
She kept quiet.
“It doesn’t really matter. I’ll bet the CORE is just after money, or attention. Or something.”
He went through the lift and left her alone.
Rebekah waited a few minutes, observing the crowd, unsure if she should stay or go. At length, the lift came back up. She stepped back in and took it to her cell level. Through the networked halls, she went back home and found Jeremiah still at the table.
When she came in, he leapt up with excitement. “Bekah! You’re back! Great. We have a lot to do.”
She put out her hands and tried to calm him, asking slowly, “What about?”
“We have to figure out a way to get to the CORE. We’ll need to empty our savings account, maybe contact someone who might know of a job opportunity there. Does you sister know anyone who lives there? Could you ask?”
Rebekah put her hand to her forehead, said, “I don’t know.”
“Well,” said Jeremiah, “find out. This is big. We’ve wasted our lives on Luna long enough. This—this is different. We have to get to the CORE.”
Rebekah was silent.
“Did you hear me?” said Jeremiah.
Rebekah’s mind slipped out of the conversation and into fantasy—she thought of country roads, warm coffee, and the smell of buttered bread; of oceans, mountains, and grass. Green grass. For reasons she could not quite understand, her mind settled on an image of Mont Saint-Michel.
“Hey—are you listening?” said Jeremiah.
“Yes,” she said, snapping back into consciousness
“Withdraw everything you have. We’re going to the CORE.”
“Okay,” she said.
Rebekah exited the cell, took a deep breath and rubbed her eyes. She embarked back down the hallway, up the lift, and to the dockyards. She opened up her BOSy and withdrew all of her savings, and then approached the ticketing office.
“Destination?” asked the old Isaak robot that stood motionless behind the glass.
“Earth,” she said, “Europe.”
“Number of tickets?”