Star Jumpers

Remy Serbinenko

 Professor Steinhurst twisted around in his seat to face his colleague.

“You are familiar with the concept of a wormhole, Dr. Cropper?”

“Yes. If I remember correctly, to quote the words of famous astrophysicist Nataniel Storr, ‘When one attains the necessary speed, one travels almost instantaneously through the tear in the fabric.’ Why?”

The professor observed the man carefully. Dr. Cropper had short grey hair, bald in the middle with bushy brows. Professor Steinhurst himself was a scientist at the Wyder Science Institute and possessed quite a large handlebar moustache. Otherwise, he was clean shaven.

“Well, picture this. If I was to say, travel through a wormhole; such things have been planned, you know; I would present myself at where the wormhole deems me presentable. Do you follow?”

“One point. Wormhole travelling is located at a speed unattainable as of yet by human engineers. If that’s the case, then what’s all the excitement?”

Professor Steinhurst nodded, rubbed his palms together, took a breath, and began. “The wormhole appears to be a tear, a hole, a malformation in the fabric of space. Your words strike true, Dr. Cropper. Humanity currently lacks the necessary technology to accelerate to such speeds. However, methods have been discovered. Now, if one were to enter an already created wormhole, the hole, for lack of a better term, will essentially piggyback the traveller through to the other side, at the exact speed unattainable to mankind.” Dr. Cropper nodded his head. Professor Steinhurst continued. “However, I have stumbled through my travels of the scientific world upon an obscure theory. Do I have your ears?” He turned to look at his colleague.

Dr. Cropper raised a questioning hand from his place on the bench. “One moment. Presuming that your theories are correct, which I have no doubt that they are, if one were to enter a wormhole, wouldn’t the immense gravitational pull disintegrate their craft of transport before they can be instantaneously relocated to their destination?” Professor Steinhurst considered the point.

“Yes,” he replied. “that would happen. But what if, for example, the wormhole lasted for only as long as the trip was taken?”

“And you’re getting at?”

“If you’ll proceed to let me explain, I might be able to tell you. What I’m saying is that if the black hole lasts for simply the duration of the trip, it shall become totally harmless! Come, Dr. Cropper. A demonstration seems in order.” Dr. Cropper hesitated. Noticing that, Professor Steinhurst continued. “No worries, I guarantee complete safety during the experiment!” He looped his arm through Dr. Cropper’s and led him out of the room and down to the launch-pad.

The ship was a rather elegant piece of steel, streamlined for the pressures of space travel, with plenty of room on the inside. Two straight-backed chairs filled the cockpit. Professor Steinhurst and Dr. Cropper entered and seated themselves within them, and the seat belts wasted no time in zipping across their middles, strapping them down tightly. Professor Steinhurst flicked the throttle. A low hum filled the craft, and the seats began to slowly vibrate in place as the ship began to rise from the hard pavement of the pad. The dashboard lit up. The instruments flicked to their proper readings. The overhead light switched on, illuminating the cabin with a low yellow glow. The hum gradually grew into a dull roar as the craft accelerated upwards through the atmosphere. Abruptly, the motion stopped. Dr. Cropper looked inquisitively at Professor Steinhurst.

“Lucifer,” He spoke tentatively and softly, calculating his words carefully. “Now that we are, or at least are supposed to be, in orbit, what was it that you wanted to demonstrate?” Professor Steinhurst’s brow glistened with sweat; he mopped it away with his left hand. His right was tightly clutching the yoke of the craft. He shook his head woozily.

“Huh? Oh, yes.” His demeanour changed at once, altering from fatigued to bright in the space of an instant. “As I was saying, if a black hole, if you please, lasts for no more than the time it takes for the ship to be transported, then the ship will be utterly untouched.” He gestured around himself. “Observe how we are now in planetary orbit. Now a little further, a little further, and there. We are now in solar orbit. What does that mean? It means that the force of gravity is still upon us.”

“And your point is?”

“My point is this. As you said previously, one simply cannot achieve by himself the speed necessary for travelling through a wormhole. But that is by himself. In this situation, we are currently acted upon by the force of gravity. And it is this gravity that will ultimately help us travel. Let’s begin.” His hands, meanwhile, had been tweaking the various levers and buttons that were scattered across the dashboard. At this moment he touched a particular lever marked out in a bright variety of colours. There came a rather peculiar sensation of being stretched around as the craft accelerated through the fabric of space. There was a brief flash of light, and then all was still. Several long moments passed. Dr. Cropper took a tentative breath and peeked through the window. His jaw dropped.

“What do you see?”

“Utterly incredible! Fantastic! I’d never have thought…”

“If you care to observe the surroundings, you will notice several key points. First of all, we are no longer orbiting the Sun. Secondly, you will notice that we are in orbit around a different star; in fact, over one hundred light years from home. And finally, you will no doubt notice in a few minutes that we are in the exact place in orbit as we were when we left.”

Dr. Cropper whistled. “How is this achieved?”

“It’s very simple. When we ‘warped’ through space, we did not do it alone. In fact, we were unable to do it alone.”

“Then how?”

“You noticed the peculiar ‘stretching’ sensation during the duration of the trip?” The other nodded. “Well, that sensation was produced by us ‘stretching’ around the centre of gravity. To put in plain English, we simply sped around the Sun until the build-up of speed equaled the force of gravity and sent us catapulting across the galaxy into the exact place in orbit as we started, except around another star.”

“Sensational. Well, I suppose we study the star?”

The professor consented to the proposition and smiled. “In that case, you are lucky that I remembered to bring space-suits.” Several hours were spent studying the star, photographing it, and documenting it. Before long, the trunk was full. Dr. Cropper looked longingly back at the star. 

“If only we could’ve stayed here a tad longer.” The other nodded. The seagull-wing door hissed open, and the duo floated inside. Professor Steinhurst pressed a button on the wrist of his suit-cuff and the opening was sealed once more. Oxygen began to fill into the cabin. The spacesuits were removed, and the two men deposited themselves once more into their appropriate seats.

“Time to leave. Now is the time and none other.”


“I forgot to mention; the traveling can only occur during several phases of the gravitational field.”


“Put simply, the gravitational field goes through phases. They signify when it is stronger or weaker.”

“Ah, I see.”

“Good.” Professor Steinhurst flicked on the overhead light as the air began to hum once more. The necessary parameters were set, proper dials turned, and the craft was ready. “Our doorway will be here in another oh, thirty seconds.”

“I can wait.” The timer on the dashboard blipped twice. Dr. Cropper looked at Professor Steinhurst. The professor grinned and pulled the multicoloured lever one more time. Again came the peculiar ‘stretching’ sensation, again came the flash of light, and again came those few moments of silence. Professor Steinhurst looked at Dr. Cropper. Dr. Cropper’s eyes were wide and excited. “Are we there?” There came a tremendous roar from the engines as the craft began to decelerate. Professor Steinhurst clapped his hands.

“Well, Dr. Cropper, that draws my experiment to a close–” The craft emerged exactly ten light years away from the Sun, orbiting around another star, and plunged directly into the fiery plasma of the star’s outer shell. Men and craft were incinerated instantaneously.