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When the Maaheseum wore off, Onteia knew she was close to death. Her hair had gone white, her eyes were sunken and glassy, her flesh had receded. Those in her pod were the same: decrepit old men and women, none of them older than twenty-five. Outside, the blueshift had pushed every black hole, every brown dwarf, every burst of cosmic radiation from every pulsar in the Galactic Center into visibility. In hyperspace, even someone who never saw the shining beauty brought out by Maaheseum could see what lay beyond the cursory glance that was their lifelong perspective.

The pod was nearing its final destination--the spectacular, unmatched glory of a collapsing star. This was what all Travelers longed to see before their inevitable early death from the drug. Onteia reached into the small container at the center of their pod, where there were enough green-tinted black shards to last a hundred Travelers a decade. She took a piece just over an inch long, and set it on her decaying molars, and bit down just as the pod left hyperspace.

First, there was the taste of blood and dishwater. Then the bones of her body all seemed to be rubbing against one another, scraping away--only the sensation, without pain. As that ebbed away, her eyes filled with cascading waves of electric colors, and she could see the life-force of her fellow Travelers, their aura that radiated, now further than ever. And then, the event filled the pod. A million holographic projectors the size of pinheads replaced cold steel and sterile white paint with stars, nebulae, nova, and the event.

She could see radio, infrared, ultraviolet, microwave, and cosmic radiation. All at once, hundreds of thousands of color shades that had never existed, that had been incomprehensible to her before biting the shard, they all radiated off the superdense core of a star in its final seconds of self-destruction. She could see the event horizon of a newborn black hole as it shredded the supernova from inside-out.

She wasn't aware, but her brain had begun to hemorrhage--as had those of all her fellow Travelers. She wasn't aware, but their bodies were finally overloaded, and they had only minutes to live. She wasn't aware, but she didn't care either way. The universe was so beautiful. So much more than what she had seen before that first shard, years ago.

And with this glimpse into what lay just beyond soaked into her psyche, she passed into death.
This is a small aspect of an entirely different sort of science fiction story I'm writing: Maaheseum is a drug that allows the user to see into the infrared, ultraviolet, and so on, along with some hallucinogenic properties, at the expense of their life within a short period of time--people who use it regularly rarely survive longer than a couple of years. The small aspect that actually ties into the story is that there are these people who call themselves Travelers (better name pending) who go around the galaxy taking this stuff and observing celestial events with their remaining time. It might tie into assisted suicide, where charitable societies fund people to do this if they are near death or would simply prefer a pleasant way to go rather than living on. 

Anyway, I wrote this mostly to keep the idea in my mind, and thought ya'll might like it. Lemme know what you think!
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Daily Deviation

Given 2014-07-20
Maahe by SgtPossum is a rich, intriguing glimpse into a new world. ( Suggested by Vaahlkult and Featured by neurotype )

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:iconjjgestapo:
JJGestapo Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014
This is really cool, it seems like a very unique concept. :)
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:iconsgtpossum:
SgtPossum Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2014
Thanks! I thought so, too.
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:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014  Student Writer
Congrats on the Daily Deviation!
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:icongladius212:
gladius212 Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2014
This is a really interesting idea. Good job.
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:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014  Student Writer
Congratulations on the Daily Deviation!
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:iconsparrowwrightheart:
SparrowWrightheart Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Very sad, but I love how descriptive it is. :D So much to be seen in so few words. Great job.
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:iconsgtpossum:
SgtPossum Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014
Thank you!
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:iconc-a-harland:
C-A-Harland Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014  Student Writer
Great piece. Really evocative, I can picture everything they're seeing. It's a great concept as well, that the drug lets them see these amazing things, but they die afterwards.
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:iconsgtpossum:
SgtPossum Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014
Thank you, I'm glad to see it hit the spot. :)
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:iconjade-pandora:
jade-pandora Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014
:clap: Congratulations on your Daily Deviation, Jake.
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:iconsgtpossum:
SgtPossum Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014
Thanks!
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:iconsmith4891:
smith4891 Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Such a macabre piece. Congratulations on your DD! :)
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:iconsgtpossum:
SgtPossum Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014
Thank you very much!
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:iconleftunfinished:
LeftUnfinished Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Very unique and interesting. I want to read more! :)
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:iconsgtpossum:
SgtPossum Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014
Thanks! I hope to write more from this storyline. :)
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:iconthegalleryofeve:
TheGalleryOfEve Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on your well-deserved DD!!! :iconflyingheartsplz::iconlainloveplz::iconflyingheartsplz: :clap::clap::clap:
I’m very happy for you!!! :iconloveloveplz: :tighthug:
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:iconlaurotica:
laurotica Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2014   Writer
I like how in such a short piece you've kind of taken us on a bit of a trip, and it's almost some kind of vibrant psychedelic sci-fi.  Hopefully we'll be seeing some more of this idea in the future ;)
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:iconsgtpossum:
SgtPossum Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2014
Thanks! I like that psychedelia sort of thing. 
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:iconkagekabuki:
kagekabuki Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Beautiful.
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:iconjanikacheetah:
JanikaCheetah Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
Your description is incredible and compelling, making me insanely jealous of how beautifully you were able to write a believable scenario in so small a space. Every paragraph appears to be written with the underlying assumption that this place has a history and these people a fair share of problems that led them to this end. The adjectives and adverbs you chose throughout are nearly poetic, taking simple concepts then giving them a depth and brilliancy I never expected.

Personally I'm against assisted suicide, so the way I see this story play out is more the way a person looks at someone trapped in a cage they don't know they're in and unable to help them escape. It always bothers me that people call themselves "charitable" by saying, "Oh, you poor thing. Why don't we just help you die." The ultimate hypocrisy.

A more interesting twist on this to me would be someone unable to get any more Maaheseum, but far advanced into the accelerated aging, then going through a period of detoxification and realization that lead them to understand the natural beauty of the world--but especially the preciousness of human life. Call me crazy, but Onteia 's story is ultimately one of fatalism and mortification, and I wonder how it might have been with hope.
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:iconsgtpossum:
SgtPossum Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
Thank you, that means a lot to me.

I'm not particularly pro-assisted suicide either, but I do see it having a place in future societies. As it is, I agree fully with you.

The longer story will be far less fatalistic, with these Travelers playing a smaller part. Maybe I should explore that more hopeful avenue. Thanks again!
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:iconjanikacheetah:
JanikaCheetah Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014
My personal motto is "If you're going to review, make it helpful." I'm currently trying to get better at descriptions so I'd like to know what method you use for a short story like this. Do you ask yourself questions about what's happening in each paragraph or keep a thesaurus handy, et cetera?
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:iconsgtpossum:
SgtPossum Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014
That's a handy motto, indeed.

Neither, to be honest. I wrote this story having a pretty firm idea of how it would end, as it started to form in my head a few days before I sat down and fired it away. It only took about ten minutes to complete because I knew how it ended. As for thesauri, I've never used them except in an act of desperation, when I realize I have the same phrase three times on one page. My problem with thesauri is that using synonyms obfuscates meaning just as often as it clarifies. That's my personal experience, at least.

When I want to improve my diction, I've got a couple options. The first is that I go to a dictionary and read a few pages out of it. Random pages, regardless of what I might find on them. This works best with an Oxford English Dictionary, preferably an older one. I find Webster's patently useless. The second option, which is more just a phenomenon that happens whether I'm trying to improve or not, is reading a variety of different authors. In particular, I've found that Harlan Ellison, Cormac McCarthy, Neil Gaiman, Philip K. Dick, and Kurt Vonnegut are all great teachers of new vocabulary and how just a few common words can carry enormous power.

But, like I said, that's all my own personal experience. It really is different for each writer. 
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:iconlewismichael:
LewisMichael Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Good prose. Existencialism stuff. Large than life cenery. I like it.Short story maybe?
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:iconsgtpossum:
SgtPossum Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
Thanks! Yeah, it's an aspect of a larger story according to my current plans.
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:iconspartanamethyst:
SpartanAmethyst Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
It's beautifully depressing, in a way, but it's gorgeously written and I would definitely be interested in reading more from you.
Stunning work!
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:iconsgtpossum:
SgtPossum Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
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:iconyynxs:
YYNXS Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
Sigh.  I started writing the below before I read your description of the story. 

A suitable extension of a new book called "The Children of Rijn" (Trader to the Stars, Poul Anderson) part of the 10 Novels of the Polysotechnic League archives.  Hints of the past.  Achieved goals.  Extensions of Lazarus_Long (Heinlein, Methuselah's Children).  So well done.  So well done. 

This is written in the styie of the greats of my generation.  Should you finish and publish before my death (from old age, natch), I will take 10 signed copies of the leather hardbound editions for the grandnieces and nephews, so they will know what SF is meant to be.  I hope I see this. 


Because I'm on my last legs I prefer stories of extending life so I've disappointed myself.  This does not take from the excellence of your work.  It is written in the short story style of the legendaries.  I look forward (well a little bit forward) to the publication date and hope you expand it, possibly into a novella on the life before the death of a star. 

Best of luck
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:iconsgtpossum:
SgtPossum Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
Thank you very much, that really means a lot to me. The full story will certainly be far less fatalistic. 
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:iconyb0t:
yb0t Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
nice idea, keep writing mate.
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:iconsgtpossum:
SgtPossum Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
Thank you, I certainly plan to. :)
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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
That's a cool idea.
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:iconsgtpossum:
SgtPossum Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
Thanks, I thought so too.
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