Welcome! This pre-reading contains the first chapter of Yedinci Mum (The Seventh Candle). This book is part of the series Seven Candles, the rights to which Nar Ağacı Publishing House has acquired. This book is not available in English yet, but work is underway.
As in every twenty-four-hour cycle, that morning, too, a light-yellow light lit the dining room. Daylight imitation. Running on the circadian rhythm, the body needed it to be vigorously ready for the new day. In the annular armchair surrounding the round table in the middle of the room, whose walls had adapted to the sunrise theme, were two bodies: a human and a humanoid robot.
The human was only sixteen years old, female, had short straight bob-cut dark hair and large hazel eyes. Her elbow was on the table, her hand clutching her cheek. At the same time, the young girl was playing with her nutritionally balanced breakfast. She didn’t want to get one more bite down her throat because she didn’t feel hungry. She wanted to return to that absorbing book, which she read yesterday by moving her finger on a transparent screen until it was her bedtime, but she knew it was not possible.
She had a stable daily schedule. She would wake up at the same hour every morning, have breakfast and a shower, and then attend classes until noon. Astronomy, mathematics, biology, language… The afternoon would be time for free research, and she would spend the evening with games and recreation. She would go to bed at the same hour of each such cycle and wait for yet another day to begin. She had spent all sixteen years since her first breath following similar patterns, depending on her age.
She could hardly see the body next to her through the strands of hair which had fallen on her forehead. Suyla, this was her name. She was a robot. A blond, tall, humanoid robot that looked like a young girl. She knew she wouldn’t be permitted if she said, “I want to go,” because if she were to finish her breakfast early, it would hinder the daily routine. Even if it looked like a human being, there was no way she could convince the robot, who was in charge of maintaining order at the station.
The human would not object to this because Suyla would always come up with an alternative. It happened as she guessed. “I can read the book for you,” said the energetic sound of the device, “you can listen to me while eating.” Continuing to stir the plate, the human nodded slightly. White shaded letters roamed like flies in the air and distracted her attention, which had already become as light as smoke.
“Do cats eat bats? Do cats eat bats?” said the robot, changing her tone in a theatrical way. “… and sometimes, ‘Do bats eat cats?’ for, you see, as she couldn’t answer either question, it didn’t much matter which way she put it.”
The fork stood on the plate and the human person fixed her eyes and listened. “True,” she whispered.
“She felt that she was dozing off, and had just begun to dream that she was walking hand in hand with Dinah, and was saying to her very earnestly, ‘Now, Dinah, tell me the truth: did you ever eat a bat?’ when suddenly, thump! thump!”
The last sentence of the book overlapped with the destructive noise filling the station where she lived. The human tried to calm down, placing her palm on the left side of her chest. She lifted her head and opened her eyes wide. Just as she was about to raise her voice to call the robot’s name, she choked. Suyla, whose head had fallen backwards, was no longer that light orangish color unique to humans but grey; she was dead white around where brown pupils should have been.
The quake was blowing everything down. The lights inside the station were going off one by one. The book she read, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, was once again unfinished. Just like her life… As the fork fell from her nervous hand to the ground, she felt as though her knees flattened independently of her will. Her eardrums only transmitted a ringing to her brain, the external sounds disappearing into the vortex.
“You’re here,” she thought. “Where stardust forms your cells.”
The station was raided. The military squad that had set off from the Milky Way towards the Dwarf Serpent Galaxy five years ago, which only had two humans among them, entered this station, which orbited the black hole called Bilye. The human superior in rank was tracking automatic devices while the other one was looking at the place where the girl was being held, at the corner deliberately left in the shadow.
“Where the building block cells attached to each other. Where the zygote falls into a mechanical apparatus and divides.”
“Captain Miler, is she the target?” asked the subordinate, not changing the direction of his eyeballs. He had difficulty swallowing because of his narrowed throat. “Her very self.” said the other without a moment of hesitation. When the subordinate got the answer, he searched for a way to separate his personal feelings from his military assignment. Conscience and command conflicted for the first time.
“Alone at a black hole station, where you were born, with tubes in your throat.”
The captain examined the data sourced from the station’s brain. He raised his eyebrows and made his mind up.
Where a yoctoprocessor is a mother. Yocto meant ten to the power of minus twenty-four. Divide one by a million, then divide it by a million, then divide it by a million, and then divide it by a million once again. Where a repetition unit teaches you to speak and artificial arms teach you to walk.
They made the young girl leave the dinner table and walk and then kneel in a dim corner. Her head was tilted, and her hands were fixed behind her–not through the use of a physical means such a ligature or handcuffs but only through the blocking of the nerve cells involved. Even though her auditory capacity was shut down, she could tell that the invading machines were going in and out everywhere. Still able to move her eyes, she was scanning around, searching for an image other than the black cloth on her knee and the light-colored background. The locks of hair on her forehead made her face sweat, and her wide glasses kept making a red triangle with a yellow exclamation mark in it gleam in the white of her eyes.
“Emergency! Emergency! Emergency!”
The only settler in the station orbiting the celestial body called Bilye was not aware for how long she had been cringing like that. She didn’t know how many times Cesium isotopes had vibrated since a big noise broke out above.
The human, a member of a species which could name time, was trying to find out what was going on using all her senses but was still unable to name the burning and piercing sensation extending from her belly down to her legs. Fear? No. Excitement? Maybe but not exactly. The young woman was only able to name the emotion as the shadow of an approaching soldier fell toward where she stood.
She had spent her whole life in a sheltered case. She could go into any movie she wanted, touch any book she liked, watch the outer space dotted with little moving lights through the small glass window, or play fun games on smart computers. Only one thing was impossible for her: reality, to live reality.
The soldier took off the glasses and put them aside. Then, when he grabbed her bob-cut hair and lifted her head, the pain in her hair roots made her forget everything she ever knew. She watched the gray silhouettes transforming on the bright black wall in front of her for a while. As her knees flattened against her will once again, she tried to read her future off the figures she saw. She could not.
The soldier led her into a corridor. The walls she had seen for a long time were no longer familiar. The screens which used to smile at her and the colorful lights which used to illuminate her way were turned off now. No sound reached her inactive ears, but the crowd of gray-uniformed and black-helmeted soldiers was invading her vision.
The rough hand in her hair continued to drive her body in one direction. When she saw where they were heading, she felt fear for the first time and tried to go back, opposing orders from her brain.
“Please …” she said, her free vocal cords tense with a begging tone. “Please, we can work out a deal, please don’t take me there.”
She knew what would happen if they entered the technical zone at this station, which spun at a tenth of the speed of light. As she tried to fight him off, an oxygen mask rested on her nose, shutting her up. The red door, which would normally be locked, opened. A sudden decrease in pressure almost vacuumed her lungs.
Taking deep breaths, she continued to moan under the mask.
The tears she shed out of a human reflex would evaporate into the air without touching her eyelashes. The captive girl couldn’t see the technical zone because she had to close her eyes so that they would not go dry. As she was forced downhill, her steps became harder and slower because the force weighing down her feet was growing. Just as she could not take it anymore, the soldier finally released her hair, and the girl threw herself on her hands and knees.
When she began hearing some howling, she realized that her ears had been reactivated. They had restored her hearing. When she opened her eyes slightly, she found herself besides a manhole in the middle of the funnel-shaped room. A single number and five words engraved around the round lid were repeated one after the other.
“… far away – Event Horizon 73000 km far away – Event Horizon…”
She closed her eyes as if she could escape the reality awaiting her. She was no longer “tied,” but as she was barely able to move a finger, she could not fight and escape them. How, at the point in the station closest to the black hole, where the gravitational force maximized, could the soldier be standing?
Event horizon, she thought. The final point where light and matter can escape the gravitation a black hole. The ultimate limit where the known laws of physics apply. If things would go as she anticipated, the gravity would shatter her body before she could reach this horizon.
“I am sixteen years old,” she said to herself. “I am waiting for death in the orbit of Bilye.”
She had lived here for as long as she could remember. In a kind of spacecraft orbiting a black hole and taking its energy from it. She was shown a map of space in the astronomy class. What had remained with her the most from that class was the size of the universe, which defied any boundaries. A lot of lights in blackness, reminding fireflies in a dark night; it was a representation of the observable universe. Each of those lights was a supercluster. When approached, it became apparent that a single supercluster consisted of dozens of galaxy clusters. Each cluster of galaxies contained dozens of galaxies. Galaxies contained billions of stars.
She knew where she lived. She knew where Bilye was. The station where she was during all stages of her existence was located in the Dwarf Serpent galaxy in the outer reaches of the Local Group cluster in the Virgo Supercluster.
“The vast majority of humans live in the Milky Way Galaxy.” her teacher had told her. “A population of almost the same size is spread across Andromeda and the Triangle, which are the other largest galaxies in the Local Group. Other nearby galaxies have no widespread settlement yet, but work is ongoing. Bilye Station, on the other hand, made history as the furthest base because no travel has been made to another galaxy located as far in the external zone as the Dwarf Serpent yet.”
She was always proud to have this piece of knowledge. She had been told she would live here until she was twenty and then would travel to the Triangle Galaxy and settle in a double star system called Miranda-Balay there. She would receive a training on the special traditions and way of life of that star system. For now, however, she did not know much and could only speak their language. While she still had four years before she transitioned to a new phase of her life, it was already all happening.
When the lid opened, she let out a scream. Since the air in the technical area blew out through the hole, the wind was dragging her toward the black hole. She desperately caught the soldier’s leg, her vocal cords sore from crying. Although the soldier staggered a little, he managed to keep standing.
A shout was heard from afar.
“Do your duty!”
She climbed up, holding on the soldier’s uniform. She tightened herself around his waist like a belt. There was no trace of the original color of her face; she was all red and white. Her wheezy screams were clearly audible even from under the oxygen mask.
The captain repeated the command, more loudly this time. Feeling she was being held under the armpits, the poor human began to flutter, in a clear contrast to her behavior a moment ago, but she did not untie her arms from around the soldier’s waist. As the soldier, supported with a rope behind him, approached the lid, her cries became louder.
The wind was intensifying. All air in the technical compartment would run out before long.
The soldier moved a little closer to the void. Just as she was about to fall, a part of her brain shut itself down. She suddenly felt tired. She stopped screaming and struggling. She took a deep breath and took off her oxygen mask with one hand and threw it down. She watched it fall, this was her preparation for death. She held her breath, looked up, and opened her eyes. She looked at the black helmet of the soldier holding her. The sight facing her while she heard the commander scold the soldier to get him to rush was the reflection on the helmet.
She wanted to leave a legacy in his eyes and smiled. The pain in her eyes forced her to close them immediately and so she did. One of her hands was empty, and she released the other one, too. She knew that her shoulders would remain out in the void, that the sensation of falling would encompass her everywhere, and that she would then split into her atoms.
That she would then disappear.
That at least her body would.
But when her feet were cut off the ground and she quickly got driven into the black hole, the hand holding her did not let go of her shoulders. On the contrary, it held her even tighter.
Before the air flew away from around her, she opened and closed her eyes once more and saw the soldier jump with her.
Her lung muscles relaxed, her last breath mixed into space.
She couldn’t take it back now. The last thing she perceived before she lost consciousness was his arms gradually loosening and leaving her into the void.
I will later add addresses where you can purchase the book. Thanks for reading!