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Text: I scuttle in the dark down barely-lit galleys, a sliver of life amongst hulks of discarded craft. Image: A black-robed figure with a helmet approaches an enormous half-buried turbine across a night-dark field tinged pink. Text: Salvage, they call it, but no one comes for it. We are alone, floating in space…the wreckage of old spaceships… Image: The robed figure's large bulk is hunched and weary. Beneath its hood, instead of a face, there is a fist-sized circle of red light. A second image, larger and less shadowed, reveals an angular armored face with a single glowing red eye. Thin metal tentacles curl past the chin like dreadlocks. Text: …and myself. Title card: "The Stars My Destination," written by John Philip Johnson. Art and lettering by Adam Martin.

Text: The creak of old hulls is the void trying to break in, the relentless crush of nothing. Image: The black robe drags across the ground. Text: We resemble the end of all things; the apocalypse does not recycle. The end of light, its dull terminus, the passing of the stelliferous era— Image: An air tank on the robed figure's back resembles an insectoid sea lion. Text: It does not kindle new light, Image: Light streams from the figure's face. Text: Yet there is no end to endings.

Text: For now, we are the only place free from any nature, even our own. Image: An empty red circle. Beneath it, an identical red circle contains a small, indistinct, green gleaming oblong. Text: Garbage exists out of time, beyond history, unencumbered in the near-perfect dark. Image: A third identical red circle magnifies the mysterious object. It is a test tube which contains a seedling.

Text: I am an egg. I am the egg of eggs, formless and empty. Image: The robed figure holds the test tube in metal fingers. Soft red-gold light from the figure's face refracts through the glass around the seedling. Text: Able to take any shape I want, or none at all, I am the only thing without inertia.

Text: I want nothing. If I am born, it will be without meaning… Final Image: A single-leafed seedling planted in rough ground, in darkness, firmly rooted. Final Text: Like a star.

John Philip Johnson has work in Rattle, Asimov’s, F&SF, Apex, Mythic Delirium, The Pedestal, Phantom Drift, Ted Kooser’s newspaper column, “American Life in Poetry,” and the Poetry Foundation, with Pushcart, Best-of-Web, and Rhysling noms. He would love to live on Mars. His comics are from his new comic book, The Book of Fly, which is graphic poetry in Twilight Zone-like episodes. Available at
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24 Jun 2024

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By: Ana Hurtado
Art by: delila
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