Bjorn Was Here

Bjorn stood at the helm of his decades-old ship, Icarus, ignoring the console’s flashing lights. Glued together by his own blood and spit, the single-manned vessel had seen better days, but none so great as this. Today, he would reach his triumph—Ultima Thule—winning glorious accolades and monies wagered.

He checked the cartograph for the umpteenth time, then gave it a solid whack. Another alert lit up, but otherwise, nothing changed. His stiff hands gripped the wheel to keep a steady course. Visions of the Vikings of old crossed his mind. Catching a glimpse of himself in the dulled gleam of the He resembled a sturdy Norseman, with wind streaming through his unbound hair and a braided beard beating at his chest, commanding his longboat against nature’s unruly tempests to unplundered lands. A man whose name and claim were lost for eternity. Bjorn would lose nothing in his quest: not his ship, not his life. Not even his grandfather’s good name would vanish in the annals of time, thanks to this endeavor.

No one believed he could do it. Wagers had been placed; monies were exchanged. Most predicted his ship would fall to its namesake’s fate. He ignored the lesser mortals who ridiculed his goal and doubted his fortitude. No one supported his success.

The unwelcoming Belt of Kuiper aimed to freeze the innards of the Icarus, while Ultima Thule sat alone in space—fused together by an ancient force—its gray stone bland and barren.

He drew the ship close to the smaller of the merged planetesimals and released the anchor. The chain rattled through the chamber until a resounding thunk told him the ship was secure. A yellow warning light blinked red. Bjorn gave it the same attention he gave the others.

The chunk of floating rock awaited his purpose. He could take pictures and return in triumph, but that wouldn’t be proof enough. No. Like the astronauts of old, Bjorn would leave his mark.

Masked and determined, Bjorn approached the portal. A small window opened, and sub-zero atmosphere filled the chamber. With the mechanics glaciating, he worked quickly. Once finished, he secured the portal and returned to the warm helm to thaw. From his cockpit, he admired his handiwork.

Bjornsson was here.

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