It wasn’t a normal evening for Selby, out in the black of night. She had painted the last of her stars, just as usual, taking great pride in how they shone and glittered against the dark curtain of space behind. The night was deadly silent, as it always was, but Selby felt a shifting in the space around her.
She checked that her work was finished and prepared to walk home to sleep until her shift began again the following evening.
Packing away her pots of paint and brushes, she noticed an odd twinkling light a little further along the path home. She paused for a moment, staring into the darkness to see if she could spot it again but nothing was out of place.
She muttered to herself and picked up her tools, ready for the long walk home along the rim of the galaxy.
As she got closer to the spot where she had seen the twinkling light she heard a strange crackling sound. There was something there! She stopped and listened for a moment. The sound had stopped. She took one step forwards and heard another crackle, then a sparkle and then oof! Something fell from above and bumped right into her!
Selby tottered on her feet for a moment, dangerously close to the edge of the rim, found her balance for a moment then lost it again. She cried out as she fell off the edge of the rim of the galaxy and slid down the vast celestial bowl and into its dark centre. Her cries were swallowed up by the vast space around her but there was no-one around to hear them in any case.
Down, down, down she fell through silvery gas clouds, bouncing off stars.
I’m sure I’ll end up in that black hole, she thought as she looked down.
The large, gaping hole looked alive, pulsating in and out as if it were breathing in the vast space around it, growing more with each deep breath.
Selby reached the edge of the black hole and tried desperately to grasp something solid. She managed to dig her fingers into the very bottom of the galaxy’s edge, where the last piece of solid matter met with blackness.
She hung there, her paintbrushes dangling from her belt, looking down into the emptiness below. As she looked down, she spotted a large blob of paint hanging from the bottom of her last used brush. She watched it grow into a smooth, large blob on the end of the brush before finally dropping down through the black hole, sparkling and winking as it fell.
She felt her grip weaken and grasped desperately as tightly as she could, her fingernails tearing into a star as she did so. It popped and crackled as she tried to grip it.
Her fingers started to slip as her grip loosened and the star crackled again and then tumbled into the black hole below.
The black hole sighed and took a deep breath. Selby lost her grip completely, unable to stop herself from falling into the darkness. She tried to yell but it was a futile exercise. There was no longer anything to try to grab so, defeated, she had to give in to the fall.
She could see something below her, getting closer by the second.
It looked like…
Could it be?
Too late, she thought.
She could do nothing but lie flat on her face and watch as another version of herself teetered off the edge of the rim of the galaxy and into the large bowl of glittering, sparkling light beneath her.
Lucky she had landed again on the rim, she thought, dusting herself off as she heard a crackle. She was just about to set off again on her journey home when she heard another strange crackle, spotted a falling sparkle and looked up.
Uh oh, she thought.