In the corner of a galaxy floating about in the universe lived a king, who sat on a planet inhabited entirely by him. There was fauna and flora, though none of it could willingly create fire or build a shelter or commit tax fraud, so for the sake of census and politics we will deem this sole intelligent inhabitant ‘King’. King believed that he once had a name, perhaps even several that would determine the chivalry of his lineage, but those were long since forgotten, since there was never anyone to call him by it. He had become, simply, ‘King’.
King loved his planet. He had surveyed every last parcel of land, from the green mountains of the southern plains to the red trees of the snowy tundra and the vast, unbounded oceans of liquid carbon dioxide, and he had only ever come across land and sea creatures, but not another single mind equal to his own. Sometimes he wished he could find another, but the desire only came when he viewed something beautiful such as a double-sunset, or a complete lunar alignment, or the refraction of light from the ocean onto the closest moon, which he name Lamita. He knew not from where the name originated, but he liked it.
Where did his ship come from? That, like his name, he had forgotten- all the controls came naturally to him, and sometimes he had the desire and knew that if he rerouted power from his maneuvering thrusters to the dormant singularity drive that he could easily break free of the planet’s gravity and travel the stars in whatever direction he so desired. But, the desire, much like the waves of the eastern ocean in the quiet days, ebbed. How he loved watching the waves pull back, retreating to reveal the glassy, shimmering ocean floor.
At first, when King arrived on this planet through no desire to stay, he remained quiet and worked and grunted and spoke to nothing; but, over time, the more he worked to repair the damage to his ship, the more he spoke to the environment, and the more it spoke to him. They weren’t words, per se, but intuitions, drawn in from every action he made, and it was the gentle hand of the environment that guided him to survey the planet once his repairs were complete rather than leave altogether. And he realized that perhaps the planet wouldn’t be a terrible place to remain, at least for a little while longer.
That little while became, to his species’ perception of time, 193 hyra (80 human years, give or take five and a half months). That perception of time had long since faded, replaced only by the understanding of life and existence: that any metric of time as an understanding of life is flawed, and that there is but a perfect confluence of the past and desires to guide one into a future. That future is illusory, King knew, but he was able to manipulate it perfectly, given his solitude on this strange, beautiful planet he discovered.
Every day, he drank its liquids, consumed its fruits, climbed its peaks and submerged into its oceans, much in the way he did in the days previously, and much as he would do in the future until he could no longer climb the peaks or swim the waters. There was no certainty but the plans he made: view the herds of wild beasts chasing each other, document their movements and their mating rituals; fly around the poles to observe the planet’s magnetic field clashing with solar winds; take his ship deep into the oceans to discover what strange life lives in the most inhospitable environment on the planet; chart out the volcanic activity on the planet and see how the tectonic plates shift; observe the moons when they are within distance of each other to perturb the other. There was much to do.
And King did much over the next 504 hyra, until he was an old man and had completed every single thing he had ever set out to do. He could no longer climb peaks or swim oceans, and cultivating his food hurt his body. So, on one brilliant day, when he knew the sky would blaze in a double solar eclipse, he activated the singularity drive in his ship and set it to autopilot on a return course to the planet that manufactured his ship. In that ship’s library was every single detailed scan he made, every log he recorded, every spoken conversation he ever had with himself. And on that day, he laid down to watch the most brilliant sight he had ever seen.
The ship returned to its home 4.6 hyra later to a group of curious engineers and scientists, who then pored through all the ship’s library and logs in what was a ship centuries out of date. The library held a vast collection of pictures, scans, and data invaluable to scientists, but the logs yielded something different: they began simply, with descriptions of survival and repair efforts, but evolved into something unrecognizable. There were mentions of the planet as a person, introductions to trees as if they could speak, and screaming. King screamed, rattled around in his ship, bounced off the walls, tore his skin, and then moments later he’d be fine, bleeding from his ruptures, speaking to his imaginary family and friends, telling them all he missed them, that he longed to see them but there were things he still had to do.