فصل 41

مجموعه: کتاب های متوسط / کتاب: 2001 - اودیسه فضایی / فصل 41

کتاب های متوسط

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فصل 41

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 4 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی ساده

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PART SIX

THROUGH THE STAR GATE

CHAPTER FORTY ONE

Grand Central

David Bowman seemed to be dropping down a hole several thousand meters deep. He was moving faster and faster - but the far end never changed its size, and remained always at the same distance from him.

Time was also behaving strangely, as he realized when he looked at the vehicles small clock. Normally, the tenth-of-a-second window moved past so quickly that it was almost impossible for him to read the numbers. Now the numbers seemed to be slowing down. At last, the counter stopped between five and six.

But he could still think, and watch, as the black walls moved past him at a speed he could not even begin to guess. He was not at all surprised, or afraid. He had travelled those millions of kilometers in search of a mystery, and now it seemed that the mystery was coming to him.

The end of the passage, which had stood still for so long, began to move towards him. For a moment he wondered if he had fallen right through Japetus. But when the vehicle came out into the light, he knew this place was unlike any known world.

It was big, perhaps much bigger than Earth, but all the surface that Bowman could see was covered with large artificial shapes, some kilometers long on each side. And at the center of many of those were large black holes - like the one that he had come out from.

The sky above, at first, looked soft and milky-white. But as he looked closer, he realized that it was covered with many small black spots. They reminded Bowman of something so familiar, but so crazy that for a time he refused to accept the idea. Those black holes in the white sky were stars. It was like looking at a photographic negative of the Milky Way.

Where am I? Bowman asked himself. But even as he asked the question, he knew that he could never know the answer. It seemed that Space had been turned inside out: this was not a place for Man. Although the vehicle was comfortably warm, he felt suddenly cold and started to shake.

Something was coming over the horizon. At first it looked like a circle, but that was because it was moving directly towards him. As it approached and passed beneath him, he saw that it was tube-shaped, and several hundred meters long. It was pointed at each end, but there was no sign of a jet engine.

He moved his eyes to another screen to watch the thing drop behind him. It had ignored him completely, and now it was falling out of the sky, down towards one of those thousands of great holes. A few seconds later it dived into the planet, and Bowman was alone again.

Then he saw that he was sinking down towards the surface. One of the holes grew larger beneath him, and then the empty sky closed above him. The clock slowed and stopped. Once again his vehicle was falling between black walls towards another distant group of stars. But now he was sure he was not returning to the Solar System, and suddenly he realized what this place must be.

It was like some kind of enormous crossroads, allowing the traffic of the stars to move into different areas of space and time. He was passing through a Grand Central Station of the Galaxy.

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