‘CONFIRMATION. BLACK HOLE TWICE AS HEAVY AS THE SUN. MOVING AT THE SPEED OF THE SHIP. BLACK HOLE EVENT HORIZON 5 KILOMETRES AWAY.’ “BLACK HOLE?” Maya and Reyhaan ask together.
“W…w…we need to move away NOW,” Ava stammers. “If we reach the black hole, we will be sucked in forever!”
“Why?” demands Reyhaan.
“First let’s get away!” Ava says, almost in tears. Maya is shaking with fear.
She yells commands at the computer. “Full power, double power. Accelerate away from the black hole. Put everything you have!”
‘FIRING EMERGENCY BOOSTERS.’ But the pull is too strong. ‘APPROACHING BLACK HOLE. 4 KILOMETRES TO EVENT HORIZON. 3 KILOMETRES. 2 KILOMETRES.’ “We’re being pulled towards it,” Maya says. Suddenly, the computer announces, ‘HOLDING AT 1 KILOMETRE. 500 METRES AWAY FROM EVENT HORIZON. MAXIMUM POWER. HOLDING. HOLDING. HOLDING. HOLDING…’ The rocket remains motionless. A silent tug-of-war is taking place. On one side is the terrible gravitational pull of the black hole. On the other side is the power of the super new-generation rocket. The computer announces, ‘PULLING AWAY. 1 KILOMETRE, 1.5 KILOMETRES, 2 KILOMETRES AWAY FROM EVENT HORIZON. MOVING AWAY FROM BLACK HOLE.’ The three friends, who have been clinging to each other all this while, let go and drop to their seats. All they want is to return home. To Earth.
Maya makes sure the spaceship is on the right course and then asks, “Ava, what happened just now? What exactly is a black hole?” Ava takes a deep breath and explains that when a star larger than the sun dies, it collapses into itself. It squeezes into nothing and becomes like a hole in space. “Even time behaves funnily inside and near a black hole. It runs at a different rate near the black hole from anywhere else,” she says.