Chapter 1: Voyage
Cadmus preferred flying this old fashioned solar sail ship, to one of the more modern hyper-drive ships, from his native moon’s orbit to Draco.763.3a, the only habitable moon orbiting Draco.763.3. He was well aware he could have made the trip in a couple hours instead of the two hundred and seventy days, give or take, that this trip would take him, but he didn’t like flying faster than the speed of light, thank you. It made his stomach queasy. He liked seeing the stars as points instead of lines. Besides that, Cadmus didn’t think punching a hole in the space-time fabric was good for the environment.
Cadmus’ co-pilot was his trusty dagu, “Lonesome”. Lonesome couldn’t really pilot the ship. He wasn’t able to do much of anything besides pant with his tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth and look generally friendly. Lonesome’s fur covered his entire body except his belly. He had a long scruffy tail, pointy ears, a medium-size proboscis, and foul breath.
Cadmus operated the ship’s artificial gravity for Lonesome’s sake since he didn’t do so well with zero gravity. He’d throw up big globules of gruesome looking stuff. So Cadmus set the outer shell of the ship to spinning to create a 1-g ring around the ship so that Lonesome could feel normal; well, also so that Cadmus could exercise and take a shower.
Cadmus liked staring out the big picture window and pointing his telescope at the interesting objects he passed by. He had another hundred days or so to go before he reached 3a. He calculated he should be able to see 3, the huge uninhabitable planet around which 3a revolved, in eighty-five or six days. He gazed at the familiar Old Woman constellation, tracing the line of her crooked back until he got to her finger pointing to the Southern Star by which the ship navigated.
Cadmus was not in any hurry. He had no one waiting for him on either side of the trip.
Chapter 2: Ay Kaly
Cadmus had fifteen more days to go before arriving at 3a. When you came down to it, he wasn’t even sure why he wanted to go to this particular moon; maybe just because it was there, he guessed, and because he could.
Cadmus pulled up his rocker next to the folding table beside the big picture window. He plumped the pillows the way he liked and gazed at the paucity of the solar system. There didn’t seem to be much happening. The constellations and unassociated stars hardly moved. It was like they were holding their breaths. Suddenly he had a memory of when he was a child playing hide-and-seek with the other children and he had held his breath when they passed near him.
There was a calendar fixed to the wall by the window. The days of his trip were crossed off one by one. Cadmus would draw a circle around the date when he woke up and then an X through the date before going to sleep. Dozing off in the middle didn’t count.
Cadmus kept himself fairly busy. He made a checklist of things he should do while awake:
Exercise, eliminate, shower, and dress
Draw a circle around today’s date
Check what’s going on outside
Check the instruments
Sit by the window and think
Write something, anything, in the diary
Eat something else
Walk Lonesome again
Draw an X through today’s date
Go to sleep
Lonesome didn’t need a checklist. He was content to follow around whatever Cadmus was doing. Maybe he was following Cadmus’ checklist.
There was a small picture frame on the ledge of the window. In it was a photograph of a young woman next to a younger version of Cadmus. She had thick long black hair, dark brown eyes, pronounced cheekbones, and inviting lips puckered up in a kiss. Every time he looked at her he sighed, “Ay Kaly”.
“Ay Kaly, would that you were with me. You’d love it. You could scarcely contain your happiness as soon as you’d enter a shuttle terminal, any terminal. It never mattered where or where we were going. Just to be going,” he said to himself.
Kalyra was his wife.
Cadmus opened up his diary, pulled a pencil out of one of his pockets, and wrote the following:
The Warrior’s Other Side
Gone already into the night
Halfway across the void.
So far from you
The Warrior wears his scabbard
On the other hip.
Cadmus closed the diary on the ribbon. The Warrior was the name of the constellation he was gazing at.
Chapter 3: From Out of Nowhere
According to the calendar, Cadmus should reach 3a in another two days. Draco.763.3 was starting to loom large on his screen. It was a lovely planet with swirling yellows, browns, reds, and greens created by hurricane-force storms of noxious elements that appeared suddenly and then disappeared just as suddenly. Nobody had ever set foot on 3. They say the gravity would crush a shuttle and everyone inside it like a flimsy tin can.
Lonesome was lying at his feet while Cadmus sat in his command chair at the instrument console. Lonesome was too busy gnawing his right front paw to look up at the screen.
Cadmus noticed a small black dot creeping ever so slowly across 3’s face. He figured that was 3b. When he was a child he had been taught that 3b had been inhabited by humans who had destroyed their moon, turning it into a cinder in the sad eye of 3. That was a long time ago, Cadmus reflected, and there are no records or artifacts to provide any evidence of their existence.
Cadmus fed Lonesome and then pulled up the rocking chair next to the window. He picked up his diary and sat down to gaze out. There were more and more white lines zipping silently across his field of vision as hyper-drive ships dropped out of hyperspace into what they deprecatingly called sub-space. The ships were all sorts of shapes and sizes. He liked looking at them as long as he didn’t have to ride in one.
Suddenly a loud and urgent sounding male voice interrupted the reveries of Cadmus:
“HEY, YOU! WATCH WHERE THE HELL YOU’RE FLYING!! DO YOU REALLY WANT TO BE PLOWED INTO? SPEED IT UP BUDDY OR STAY THE HELL OUT OF MY LANE!”
Cadmus saw a huge white splotch open up in the space-time fabric near his window and a thick white beam of light plunged through it, solidifying into a gigantic space ship hundreds of times the size of his small solar sail ship rushing toward his picture window. He dropped his diary and lunged for the steering controls, knowing he could not possibly change course in time.
“EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY!! IMMINENT LIFE-THREATENING DANGER!!!” the loudspeaker blared repeatedly while the instruments flashed in synch.
A moment before impact, the bow of the huge ship started to rise, exposing its vast hull which filled the picture window.
The loudspeaker went silent and the instruments stopped flashing, returning to their normal displays.
Cadmus broke out in a cold sweat. Lonesome was whimpering. He looked around him and listened for hissing or other tell-tale signs that something was wrong. He heard nothing. He slowly scanned each instrument to see whether all systems were nominal. They seemed to be. He checked his course plot. This was definitely the course he had been given by the flight authorities. He’d copy the logs and send them to the flight authority to find out what or who went wrong.
Lonesome nudged his leg. Cadmus looked down and saw a small yellow puddle near his foot. Cadmus took a paper towel and soaked up the mess. He tossed the wet towel into the disposal and took Lonesome for a walk to calm him down.
After Lonesome returned to his normal care-free self, Cadmus sat back down in his rocker and picked up his diary, opening it to the pages squeezing the ribbon. He wrote:
Day 268: Today Lonesome and I had a pretty close call.
Chapter 4: Draco.763.3 Terminal
The Draco.763.3 Terminal slid smoothly into view on the screen in front of Cadmus. Soon he could see all the docked and docking ships. Some of the logos and colors he could identify but there were many that he couldn’t. He wondered where they’d dock his ship.
Cadmus saw the command feed start to display on his running log and the delayed auto-responses of his ship displayed, not that he understood anything because it was all encoded in Base-64.
The ship altered course and maneuvered widely around the orbiting terminal until an extended spoke came into view. The ship slowly approached an empty portal lock next to a very large hyper-drive passenger ship with many long rows of windows, each the size of his picture window. Cadmus could see people filing out of the large ship into the mostly transparent extension spoke toward the terminal hub. That couldn’t be the bully ship that almost ran him over a couple days ago, he said out loud to Lonesome who was gazing out the picture window. They’d probably docked and disembarked already a couple days ago. It still made him mad to think about it. Cadmus decided he’d have that pilot’s license on a platter.
Cadmus could feel a slight shiver as his massive solar sails folded themselves into the side pockets of the ship. The ship glided ever so slowly, turning clockwise to synch with the portal lock, and he felt a small jolt as the ship’s forward motion came to a complete stop. There was a slight relaxation of mechanical joints.
Cadmus took Lonesome for one more walk before disembarking. He went to his hammock to retrieve his backpack, set the controls to power off after he left the ship, and walked out into the passageway with Lonesome at his side and the pack on his back.
In a little while, a tug would come by and release the ship from the portal lock. Then the tug would guide the powered-off ship to an orbiting long-term parking area. A tug would bring it back to a portal lock when it was time for Cadmus to leave 3.
Lonesome didn’t seem to know where to sniff first. There was so much new for him to discover. He tensed up when he saw other animals his size or bigger. People were pretty much friendly to him and he reciprocated in his own way, while others were afraid of him or disgusted. Some of the people were probably robots. Cadmus couldn’t tell the difference, not that it mattered, as long as they behaved themselves, but Lonesome could certainly tell the difference.
The passage tread moved at a decent clip toward the central hub. Cadmus could read and hear the signs with avatars speaking via directed sound waves to each passenger in his own language as he or she passed. This one told him the entry control was straight ahead, Sapiens to the left, Rationals to the right, and robots straight ahead. He saw tall blue humanoids veering to the right, normal looking people and abnormal looking objects moving straight ahead. Cadmus veered left. He hoped the terminal officials wouldn’t give him any trouble over Lonesome.
Cadmus arrived at an available screen. A pleasant looking female Rational avatar greeted him from a screen. “Welcome to the 3 system,” the avatar said.
“Thanks for letting me visit,” Cadmus answered.
“Do you have any baggage,” the avatar asked.
“Just my backpack,” Cadmus said pulling it off his back.
“Please hold it up for object and spectral analysis,” the avatar requested politely. There was a flash. “You may return the pack to your back,” which he did.
“I assume you will be shuttling down to 3a,” the avatar asked.
“Yes,” Cadmus confirmed, “my dagu and I will need shuttle space going down to 3a.” He thought it funny that the Rational avatars and screens speaking a Sapien dialect were programmed by robots.
“You may want to get a change of clothes and boots and a new backpack,” the avatar suggested.
“Why?” he asked wondering what was wrong with the clothes he had on. “I have a change of clothes in my backpack.”
The avatar explained to him that Sapien-made objects would not be accessible to him in the higher order spaces.
He had no clue what she was talking about. “Can you explain that to me in words that a Sapien might understand?” he asked.
“If you would prefer not to walk around in the hotel lobby naked and without your backpack you’d better purchase some higher order dimensional clothes and backpack,” the avatar suggested. “There are a few stores near the shuttle gates.”
“Please prepare yourself for the DNA spectral analysis flash,” the avatar warned gently. After the flash, the avatar asked Cadmus to make sure his dagu remained calm while it was flashed. Cadmus kneeled down and held Lonesome’s head near his heart to calm him with his heartbeat. There was a brief flash. A second or two later Lonesome barked indignantly.
“Your dagu’s protest has been duly noted,” the avatar said joking pleasantly. The avatar’s image was replaced by a message on the screen saying that Lonesome and Cadmus could now proceed to the shuttle area.
Cadmus entered the first clothing store he encountered. He picked out a couple pairs of pants, shirts, socks, and boots that appeared to be his size. He went into a dressing room to change clothes while Lonesome’s proboscis pushed through the curtain. He found a backpack big enough to put his old backpack inside it. At the register, he asked the salesman whether all his purchases were high order dimension accessible. The salesman looked down at Cadmus and at the clothes, shoes, and backpack he was wearing and answered disdainfully, or so it seemed to him, “Certainly.”
When he left the store he read the Destinations screen carefully, looking for Draco.763.3a Sector 225.60, and saw that it would depart in another 20 minutes from portal 72X. They walked into the open area and looked around for Gate 72X.
Cadmus and Lonesome walked through the portal and found two empty seats. Cadmus strapped himself in and then strapped Lonesome in.
Lonesome looked around the shuttle cabin and sniffed the passenger’s face next to him. The passenger unstrapped himself, got up, and found another seat. Cadmus felt embarrassed.
A few moments later a voice over the loudspeaker told the passengers and crew to prepare for departure. The shuttle shoved away from the portal lock gently and the planet below slid out of the window frame as the shuttle maneuvered into position for the short trip to the terraformed moon 3a.
After twenty minutes the blue and green moon came into view. You could see thin wisps of white clouds floating over parts of the moon. Cadmus had read that there was little evidence of industrialization on this moon. The inhabitants, mostly Rationals, left a very small footprint on their natural environment. When the Sapiens asked to build resort hotels and shops to encourage tourism, the native Rationals insisted in no uncertain terms that Sapiens follow Rational guidelines. Sapien businessmen felt that stubborn insistence would discourage investment and tourism, but the opposite turned out to be true. 3a was one of the most popular tourist spots in Draco.763. It was a lovely moon in spite of its popularity, inspiring poets and artists from all over the solar system.
Cadmus felt a slight bumpiness as the shuttle entered the first layers of atmosphere. When they came through the clouds they saw verdant rolling meadows, gentle hills, and valleys with sparkling streams meandering.
The shuttle came down in an open field near a stand of trees whose leaves shimmered in the gentle breeze.
The passengers disembarked. Lonesome relieved himself beside one of the metal ground supports and Cadmus looked around, turning 360 degrees very slowly.
“Where are we?” Cadmus asked one of the flight attendants who happened to be quite a bit taller than him and blue. “Where are the hotels?”
The attendant turned to him and said “you’ll see” smiling.
Chapter 5: Check-in
A gentle breeze blew over the meadow and rustled the leaves on the trees in the stand nearby. It was good to breathe air that hadn’t been endlessly recycled, to plant one’s feet firmly on solid ground, and to gaze out to the horizon as far as the eye could see. Cadmus thought Lonesome probably felt the same way he did about it all. The dagu was sniffing the grasses in a lazy eight pattern.
He looked at the attendant. She was rather attractive in an exotic sort of way. She was tall, a good head taller than him, and thin but not too thin. She looked like she could handle herself in a fray if she had to. And then there was the fact that she was blue, cobalt blue, from head to toe, he supposed. She wore a one-piece flight suit, also blue, that didn’t leave much to the imagination.
He glanced at the others. There were a hundred Sapiens and five Rationals milling around the shuttle.
The attendant spoke without moving her lips. She said, “please follow me to that stand of trees over there” where she was pointing. They walked over and entered the small woods where they stood in a clearing of dappled shade. They saw a row of ten chairs locked together. Each chair had a body harness.
The attendant asked the Sapiens how many had visited them before. Twenty-five raised their hands.
Then she asked how many knew how to go perpendicular without the chairs. Five raised their hands. “OK,” she said, “you can go on ahead of the rest of us. The first step is that flat white rock by that tree over there.” She pointed at an inconspicuous flat white rock next to an inconspicuous tree.
The attendant turned to the rest of the passengers and said, “OK, we can take ten at a time.”
Cadmus was watching the first of the five step onto the rock, flip over, and disappear. The second did the same and disappeared! He stopped the attendant and asked her, “what’s happening?”
She said, “please be patient. Everything is OK and I’ll explain it all to you.”
It was disconcerting to him that she spoke without moving her lips.
The attendant asked one of the remaining twenty passengers who had visited before to show Mister “what is your name?” she asked him.
“My name is Cadmus,” he answered.
“To show Cadmus,” she continued again, “how it’s done, but please come back to us as soon as you arrive to prove that no harm came to you; otherwise, he won’t trust us or our chairs.”
After the fifth of the first group of passengers stepped on the rock, flipped over, and disappeared, one of the second group sat down on one of the chairs and strapped himself in while the last group of first-timers watched with heightened interest.
The attendant addressed the third group of passengers, “we usually host an orientation session after everyone checks in, finds their rooms, and has an opportunity to look around, but Cadmus would like to understand what he’s getting into before he takes the plunge.”
All the Sapiens laughed politely.
“Simply put,” she began, “it’s like the hyper-drive ships in which you came.”
“I didn’t come here in a hyper-drive ship,” Cadmus said feeling a bit contrarian. “I came in a solar sail ship.”
Everyone turned to look at him. Even Lonesome looked up at his strange companion.
“I understand,” she said softly. “These are hyper-chairs. You strap yourself in and they reorient you so that you are perpendicular to the three dimensional volume to which you are accustomed into another three-dimensional volume to which you are unaccustomed.”
“I don’t understand,” he said.
“We live in this world on which you are standing,” she explained, “but in more dimensions than you can fathom. Our buildings and environment exist in higher dimensions.”
“Is there something bothering you Cadmus?” the attendant asked sympathetically.
“It’s just that I saved up for this trip,” he said sadly, “and it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to see or do anything, since you all live in this higher dimension.”
“That’s not exactly what I said,” she smiled. “We live in every dimension that exists, at least the ones about which we are aware. Of course there may be others. We can transport you into higher dimensions but you will only be aware of three at a time, what may be called your local volume.
“You will see one of your fellow passengers sit down in the chair, strap himself to it, and when he is ready the chair will twist forward with the passenger.
“You will perceive him to disappear but he will only disappear from your local volume. The procedure is perfectly safe. In a moment you will see him come back to your volume.”
The Sapien strapped himself into the chair and looked up at the attendant.
“Is everyone ready for the demonstration?” she asked.
“I am,” the strapped-in Sapien said. Cadmus and everyone else had their eyes on him.
“You can go,” she said, “but please come right back.”
He pressed a button on the arm of the chair, his chair flipped forward, and he and the chair were nowhere to be seen.
“When is he supposed to …” Cadmus asked.
Suddenly the chair reappeared with the grinning passenger strapped in.
“… come back?” Cadmus stuttered and then said “oh.”
“Do you feel a little more comfortable now?” the attendant smiled at him.
“What about my dagu, Lonesome,” he asked.
“Not a problem,” she said brightly. “He can sit next to you or on your lap. You should cover his eyes before going perpendicular. You should probably close your own eyes too.”
“I’ll let everyone go before us,” Cadmus said generously. “I wouldn’t want to slow anyone down or spoil anything.”
The second group sat down and flipped out ten at a time. Then the third group sat down ten at a time. The only ones left were Cadmus, Lonesome, and the Rationals. They all sat down. Lonesome jumped onto his companion’s lap facing him. He held the dagu’s head to his chest and put his hand over his open eye. The attendant checked their straps and smiled at him. Cadmus closed his eyes.
When he opened his eyes he saw a beautiful hotel lobby made of glass and light.
The attendant unstrapped them and pointed at a glass counter a few meters away from the chairs. “Do you see the female behind the counter over there?” she asked Cadmus.
“She will help you both check in to your rooms.”
Chapter 6: People Who Live in Glass Hotels
Cadmus watched the attendant walk away from him until she blended in with the crowd of noisy Sapiens and quiet Rationals and robots. Some of the robots looked like Sapiens and a few others looked like Rationals, but they acted differently than either of them. He couldn’t put his finger on it. Some of the robots didn’t look like anything he’d ever seen before.
He looked around at the huge glass walls of the hotel lobby. He saw several glass elevator shafts on each wall with glass cabins containing people moving up or down or other directions altogether. Some of the glass walls were transparent, creating the illusion that people on the other side were walking or sitting on air. Some of the glass walls were mirrored, reflecting the opposite mirrored walls to infinity. Some of the walls were enormous glass screens covered with all sorts of information, graphic art, and images.
One wall displayed an image of the female behind the counter whom the attendant had pointed out to him. The female image spoke to him in coherent audio waves saying, “Hello Cadmus. Are you feeling well? Whenever you are ready, you may come to the counter in front of you and I will help you check into your rooms.”
He smiled with embarrassment at the woman behind the counter who was staring at him. “OK, Lonesome, it’s time we got ourselves checked in,” he said to the dagu still sitting on his lap. Lonesome turned around and jumped off. They walked over to the glass counter.
“Hello Cadmus,” the hotel clerk said. “I trust you have had a pleasant trip so far.”
“It was OK,” he answered, “but a little long. We took the scenic route.”
“Do you have any special informational, social, sanitary, dietary, wake-up or sleeping requirements?” she asked pleasantly.
“I suppose your hotel is connected to the infosphere like everyone else?” he asked.
“Yes of course,” she said. “Everywhere you go in the city you will be connected automatically.”
“My dagu likes synthetic meat and will need to relieve himself at night,” Cadmus looked down at Lonesome and scratched the scruff of his neck just behind his ears the way he liked it. The dagu leaned into his hand and his right hind leg began to thump the glass floor.
“Certainly,” the clerk responded. “We’ll have your dagu’s food sent up to your room. There’s a flushable space in your room that will remind him of your back yard in which he can roam around and relieve himself. As soon as he leaves it, it will flush away everything including the smells.
Your room number is 142857. You may take the hyper-vator over there to the 142nd floor. When you get out, just follow the arrows.”
“Do I get a card or something to open the door?” he asked.
“No,” the clerk laughed prettily, “the door has been programmed just for your hand and your dagu’s paw.”
Cadmus turned to look for the hyper-vator she had indicated and turned back to thank her.
“Do you need any help with that backpack,” she asked.
“No thanks,” he said and then to Lonesome, “come on boy.”
“Oh and one more thing,” she called to his back. He stopped and turned around to face her. “Pay attention to the signs. Don’t go anywhere by yourselves that says ‘Rationals only’. You might never find your way back. Make sure you have a Rational to guide you.”
He wondered about her warning. He wasn’t blind, you know. He guessed it was because he couldn’t see beyond his three dimensional volume. In their world he must be considered partially blind. He said, “OK, thanks” and turned back toward the hyper-vator.
Cadmus and Lonesome walked over to the hyper-vator. He entered “142” on the keyboard. In a few moments the glass door opened and they entered the glass cabin. He saw the glass lobby and the female clerk quickly fall away and the glass floors rush past them. Although he knew the cabin was going up, the inertial vector felt like they were moving diagonally or sideways. He didn’t know whether or not he could trust the sensations of his body anymore.
The cabin slowed and stopped. The glass doors opened and they stepped outside into a glass hallway. The walls displayed flashing arrows pointing down the hall to the left. They walked to the end of the hall. The arrows turned the corner to the right. Halfway down the hallway a door was flashing. The door was numbered 142.
Cadmus saw no handle to twist so he put the palm of his hand on the door and it slid open. They entered tentatively. Lonesome sniffed around while his companion explored the rooms.
The walls had running information and data flowing down them, information about everything he could imagine: how to adjust the lighting, translucence of the walls, heating, coolness, wallpaper, softness or hardness of the beds and chairs, the time and alarms, music, news, programs, meals and snacks, events, and guided tours, to name a few. There were avatars of a concierge and hotel clerk among others.
Cadmus explored the rooms of his suite. He threw his backpack onto one of the glass chairs. He half expected something to break but it didn’t. He pushed his hand into the glass chair cushion and it felt unexpectedly soft. He walked over to the glass bed and sat down on it and it was soft too. He’d heard of smart glass before but this was genius glass.
He looked around for Lonesome but couldn’t see him. Then he saw him coming out of a glass box and heard a soft flushing sound. The dagu seemed relieved. Cadmus bent down and looked into the glass box. There was a large garden with grasses and stepping stones, flowers and tall leafy trees, and a lovely gazebo, all this in a glass box not much bigger than the dagu.
He found his own bathing and elimination room. There was a glass shower stall with water spray and dry air nozzles, and soap and shampoo dispensers.
There was a large mirror wall in the bathing room. He looked at himself in the mirror. The image staring back at him was pretty much what he expected to see, but there was something not quite right there.
He decided not to waste time thinking about it.
Cadmus took off his clothes, entered the shower, and turned on the water. The nozzles sprayed pulsing thin streams of water at him from several directions. He shampooed his hair and soaped his body. Then he rinsed himself. He dried himself with the warm air nozzles directing dry air at his body from several directions.
He stepped out of the shower stall, walked out to the chair to retrieve his back pack, and pulled out a clean set of clothes to wear. As he was dressing he looked out the external glass wall at the tall hotels, also glass, the clouds flowing around and between them, and the ghostly pale planet taking up a quarter of the pale blue sky.
Feeling somewhat refreshed, Cadmus looked at the information wall and asked the virtual concierge for a map of the city showing the nearby sites of interest to tourists and any local events around this time of day. The concierge asked him whether he wouldn’t prefer to get something to eat first and then explore the sites. He thought that sounded good so the concierge suggested a restaurant just off the main lobby, and displayed a map with instructions how to get to it.
He picked up his backpack and walked to the door. Lonesome was already there waiting for him. He opened the door and they walked out into the hallway following the arrows back to the hyper-vator.
Chapter 7: A Walk in the Park
The flashing arrows turned left, as expected, and when Cadmus and Lonesome turned the corner and saw the door of the hyper-vator flashing exactly where he expected it to be, he didn’t know whether to be amused or irritated. “They must think we’re half-blind fools or clueless children with these flashing arrows and doors,” he thought.
He tapped “0” on the keyboard and before he knew it the hyper-vator door opened for them. They stepped inside the cabin. He had the same funny feeling in his intestines going down but in reverse. The door opened and they stepped out into the lobby.
He spotted the restaurant off to his right. It wasn’t too hard because the sign was flashing. They walked over, looked for a spare table, and sat down, Cadmus on a glass chair and Lonesome under the glass table by his companion’s feet. The surface of his table flashed a slowly rolling menu with today’s fare. He touched a fresh local fruit and vegetable salad, hot bread, and mildly spiced tea on the menu for himself and synthetic meat and water for Lonesome.
A glass cart rolled up to him with the food he’d ordered. He laid the glass dish with meat and the water dish down on the floor beside the dagu and pointed at the food. Lonesome started nibbling at his food and then began to eat more enthusiastically. Cadmus ate his food. It wasn’t bad, but he’d tasted better on 4g, his home moon. He ate his salad and sipped his tea. He finished off with the hot bread dessert and downed the last of his tea.
They left the restaurant and walked to the large glass doors of the hotel. On the way, he glanced at the name of the hotel on the wall behind the check-in counter. It was ” x5 − x4 − x + 1 = (x2 + 1) (x + 1) (x − 1)2 “. Catchy name. He knew it was a quintic function but he had no idea whether it was solvable with real roots or not. He kept on walking without giving it another thought, the tall doors opened before them, and they stepped outside.
Cadmus looked around him. He saw the base of the hotel he’d seen from his room. He followed the parallel lines of its outer walls until they seemed to meet in infinity in the high clouds above.
He looked up and down the street. He knew better than to cross the street not in a crosswalk. He wasn’t thinking of a law officer giving him a ticket so much as some crazy driver coming out of some higher dimension he couldn’t see and running over him.
They started walking down the sidewalk and he noticed a pretty little park situated in the space between his hotel and the next hotel down the street. There were trees with green-gold leaves, exotic red and blue flowers, and lush green-blue grasses waving in the breeze beside inviting wooden benches. He saw a young Rational couple sitting together on one of the benches. They seemed to be immersed in each other, smiling and holding hands. Lonesome pulled toward the entry gate. He probably wanted to sniff something more alive than glass. They approached the gate where Cadmus noticed an unobtrusive sign warning “Rationals Only”. “What could be the risk?” he thought to himself. I can see the whole park. “This is ridiculous,” he persuaded himself. Lonesome looked up at him expectantly. The couple on the bench didn’t seem to be paying attention to them. He opened the gate and stepped inside with the dagu.
Nothing happened with his first step but the second step was … Suddenly he found himself falling, flailing his arms wildly, and someone else inside him was howling insanely. He saw Lonesome standing on the edge of a precipice high above him smaller and smaller cautiously peeking down over the edge at him. The flowers, trees, and bench with the couple sitting at an impossible angle flashed past him. He was falling towards a tall tree at the end of the path. The sky around him was quickly turning dark cobalt and the planet above filled his entire sky. His howling became thinner and softer, more distant. He couldn’t breathe anymore. His eyes felt like they were going to pop out and his lungs were bursting. “Goodbye my heart” were the last words he managed to think.
Finally, mercifully, he blacked out …
Chapter 8: A Stitch in Time
Cadmus opened his right eye just a slit. He saw a tall blue woman bending over him. A slice of sharp pain slashed through his chest and stomach. He winced and lost consciousness.
Sometime later, he couldn’t tell how long, he heard a detached voice asking someone, “how do you feel?”
He opened his right eye and then his left. The young Rational couple he had seen at the park was standing near him. He hadn’t realized before how tall they were.
“Where’s … Lonesome?” he asked with obvious concern.
“If you mean the dagu,” the blue man answered, “he’s right here beside your bed.”
Cadmus tried to move his head to the right to see for himself but the pain in his neck was intense. He inched his right hand toward the side of his bed and felt Lonesome’s cool damp nose and warm breath nuzzle his hand.
The words came to him slowly, as if from a great distance. “What … happened … to … me?” he asked.
They looked at each other and the woman softly explained, “You entered a place you shouldn’t have entered, failed to see the hyper-bridge, and fell down a worm hole.”
“We have so many of these holes around here and I’ve told the others we should put doors over them or plug them up,” the young man interrupted. “This one isn’t good for much besides providing a local gravitational lens vector to view the surface of the planet 3 below.”
“Galen,” she stopped her partner, “he is not concerned about that. Turning back to Cadmus she continued, “and you died.”
Cadmus turned pale and stuttered, “Do … you … mean I’m dead?”
“No,” she corrected him, “I said you died. Nothing is forever and nothing is immutable. Death is just another state that organic molecules can transition to or from at the cellular level.”
“I … don’t understand,” Cadmus began to find his voice.
She went on, “Galen and I picked you up from where you fell and carried you back to our cave, as it was closer than the hospital …”
Galen interrupted again, “… and, besides that, Remi here is just as good as any of our hospital doctors.”
Remi went on modestly, “it’s a simple enough procedure. Everything natural in the universe exists symmetrically in all dimensions, the ones you know about and can sense as well as all the higher dimensions. Only Sapien-made things are three dimensional because you can’t make what you don’t know, but your natural Sapien bodies are all-dimensional.”
“I still don’t follow you,” Cadmus confessed. “I don’t know much about this higher dimensional stuff. Most of us just know how to use the hyper-space vectors that you and the robots created. None of us have the technology to build this.”
Remi said, “The fact is you were in pretty bad shape when we found you. We had to take you home, reprint some of your internal organs, get your cells to stop dying off and start living again, and insert a codec or two and a few transducers … oh, yes, and stitch up the rupture in your local temporal dimensions.”
“I thought of it,” Galen said proudly.
“Sounds really simple,” Cadmus said somewhat sarcastically.
Remi smiled at Cadmus. “I was joking about stitching up your time. There’s no such thing as time. So how do you feel?” she asked once more.
“Like I fell off a cliff,” he smiled back. “I guess Lonesome and I will pay better attention to the signs from now on. What about the hotel?” he asked.
Galen answered, “We called them, told them what had happened, and that you would be staying with us until you felt better, Cadmus.”
“Would you prefer us to take you to a hospital?” Remi asked. “You and your dagu are welcome to stay with us until you recover.”
Cadmus wasn’t really sure what he should do under the circumstances. Should he politely refuse them? On the other hand, it might be an interesting experience in his otherwise inconsequential life. “If it’s really not too much trouble,” he tried to remember to smile, “I’d prefer to stay with you here until I can get back on my feet and get around a little.”
Chapter 9: Path to Recovery
Time, rather the illusion of it, lapped at the shores of higher order space, coming tantalizingly close but never quite crossing the threshold. There were no clocks on the walls of his room. Cadmus had forgotten to buy a hyper-dimensional watch at the store where he bought his new clothes and backpack on the orbiting terminal above 3. He was probably still wearing his old 3-D watch but he couldn’t see it or feel it. Time passed or it didn’t pass. He had no way of knowing for sure.
Lonesome seemed to get along just fine with Galen. He took the dagu with him on long walks. Remi put his favorite synthetic meat in a bowl for him to eat every day. They also brought Cadmus his meals and tea when he was strong enough to sit up in bed.
One day the morning sunlight warmed his eyelids and when he opened them he felt strong enough to try getting up without calling for help. He sat up, swung his legs slowly over the side of his bed onto the cool glass floor. He stood up and managed to lock his knees against the wobbliness. He took a few steps toward the doorway, his arms held out at his sides trying to keep his balance. Negotiating the doorway, he turned left and walked slowly down the hallway with his hand sliding along the glass wall. He came to another open doorway and glanced in.
Remi was standing in front of a mirror brushing her long thick blue hair, her naked body wet. Cadmus snapped his eyes around in front of him and continued walking forward, the wobbliness in his knees nearly uncontrollable. He had seen her back and front, and she just kept on brushing her hair. He almost fainted.
He reached another open doorway and saw that it opened onto a kitchen. Cadmus sat down at the table and looked around him. There was no clock in this room either.
Remi walked into the kitchen dressed in her usual one-piece suit, her hair tied in a simple knot from which the rest of it flowed loosely down her back.
There was no way in God’s galaxy that she had not seen him looking at her when he had passed her bedroom in the hallway and yet she behaved as though nothing had happened. “Would you care for some tea?” she asked.
“Yes please,” he said. He watched her run the water into a kettle, place the kettle on a metal square until it began to whistle. Then she spooned some tea leaves from a jar into two glass cups and poured the steaming water into the cups, turning the water brownish green and dissolving the leaves. Cadmus made a mental note on how to make oneself tea in this dimension for future reference. It seemed so quaint but the tea tasted good. She sipped her tea too.
“May I ask you a question?” he broke the silence after a while.
“Certainly,” she answered looking into his eyes.
“How do you know enough about my anatomy to operate on me?”
“We are not so different, you and I. We have the same anatomy as you, except that our skin and hair are blue and we lack amygdalae.”
“I guess you know more about my anatomy than I do. What are my amygdalae for?”
“They are connected to your sensory systems, provide your basic emotional responses, and aggregate and index your long-term memories.”
“Do we need them?”
“Apparently you do.”
“How do you get along without them?”
“Our sensory systems connect directly to our prefrontal cortex, which aggregates and indexes our long- and short-term memories. We have emotions too, but they are processed in our prefrontal cortex.”
“Is that what makes you so smart?”
“I don’t think it makes us smarter than you but it does make us more rational, our motor responses are thirty percent faster than yours, and we are able to see things you can’t see.”
“Like higher order dimensions?”
“Yes, like those.”
“Why is that?”
“Preconceived structures in your brains prevent you from seeing all there is.”
There was a soft swishing sound from the hallway and Lonesome came bounding into the kitchen. He nuzzled Cadmus affectionately and stood up to him with his front paws on his shoulders. Galen walked into the kitchen a few moments later, saying “I’m glad to see you up and about.”
Cadmus swallowed his guilt about seeing Remi naked and asked Galen, “Where did you and Lonesome go?”
“Lonesome led the way. You’ll have to ask him. Anyway you’re welcome to join us whenever you’re up to it.”
Galen ran some water into the kettle, made himself a cup of tea, and sat down at the table with Remi and Cadmus while Lonesome lay at his companion’s feet.
Chapter 10: Succubus
Kalyra stood naked in front of the mirror of their bedroom brushing her thick long black hair while he lay on their bed watching her intently. He loved when she would do that just before she’d lay down next to him. He wondered whether there was a mathematical function that expressed the exquisiteness of her geometry. Cadmus shivered in anticipation. She would brush slowly, repeatedly, until the soft light danced and shimmered in the blackness of her hair. When she was done she put the brush in its place on the table in front of the mirror and turned around to face him. He looked up at her dark brown eyes, the pronounced cheek bones, and her inviting lips puckered up in a kiss. He couldn’t breathe, she was so proudly beautiful. He made a space for her to lie down. She turned off the light and lay down beside him carefully, tentatively. He felt the full and warm volume of her breasts against his chest. He kissed her mouth, then her cheeks, and then her eye lids, her ear lobes, and neck. He kissed her breasts, first one and then the other. He kissed her soft belly. The room was now bathed in some sort of ambient light. Her skin was so blue it was almost black. Kaly’s face had changed into Remi’s face. When he entered her they were so entangled, legs and legs, arms and arms, that he had no sense of where his body ended and hers began, that he was inside her and she was inside him, that he was obliterated in an explosion of …
He woke up. He felt the wetness between his legs. Lonesome was snoring in his sleep on the floor beside his bed. He got up and walked into the shower to clean himself and clear his head of the dream that made him wince in guilt when he remembered it. Is this how I repay the generosity of my hosts? He thought to himself. Is this how I honor Kaly’s memory?
Cadmus tried to shake the thoughts and memories from his head. He dried himself and dressed.
He walked out of the room, keeping his eyes straight ahead of him until he reached the kitchen. Galen was sitting at the table sipping a cup of tea and reading the morning news as it flashed across the table surface. He looked up and saw Cadmus standing there.
“Would you like a cup tea?” he asked.
“Yes, that would be nice.”
“Would you like some fruit with that? It is fresh from our garden and will just take a moment to prepare.”
“I’d like that as well, thank you.”
Cadmus ate and sipped his tea while Galen continued reading the news.
Lonesome came into the kitchen, walked over to his food bowl, and began nibbling at it. Then he licked at the water bowl.
When Cadmus had finished his tea and fruit, Galen asked him whether he felt up for a walk with Lonesome and him. He said yes, he’d enjoy that.
They walked down the path to where the steps led down the valley into the fields. The sky above them was dark blue almost to the point of being violet. The sun was warm but the air was cool and refreshing in the shade of the orchard they were walking through.
Galen broke the silence. “Don’t feel so guilty about that dream you had last night. We don’t have doors in any of the rooms and we’re not very modest when we are at home. Remi is beautiful, isn’t she?”
“How do you know what I dreamt?” Cadmus asked. His knees began to shake. “Do you know my thoughts?”
“As a matter of fact, yes,” he laughed. “How do you think we’ve been communicating together? We project our thoughts into your mind and you think of how you want to respond and speak. We sense all they ways you think of responding and hear what you decide to say.”
“I feel so embarrassed about what I dreamt of Remi.”
“You can’t direct your thoughts any more than you might put a rope around the wind. Your mind will think whatever is possible for you to think. Consciousness is quantum after all. It’s what you do about your thoughts that is important.”
Lonesome sniffed a bush beside the path and lifted his hind leg to release his water.
“Remi reminded me of my wife, Kaly, I guess.”
Chapter 11: Possibly Inevitable
They went on many walks together over the coming days and weeks, sometimes with Galen and sometimes with Remi. Lonesome would lead the way with his meandering path. Cadmus felt like the paths and sites around their cave, the hills, and valleys were becoming more and more familiar to him, but he was warned that the local topology could change without warning and his sense of space and time couldn’t deal with it.
He took their word for it and let them walk him around like a blind man being helped across a busy street. Remi had told him that all of his senses were limited, not just his vision. His perceptors, that was what she called his eyes, ears, tactiles, taste buds, and olefactors, were capable of perceiving in all dimensions but the higher order conceptors were only capable of creating a worldview of three spatial dimensions and a linear temporal dimension. Those were Remi’s words as he remembered them afterwards. He might have gotten some of the terminology mixed up but he thought he understood the idea.
“How do you and Galen see things?” Cadmus asked Remi one day in the kitchen over a cup of tea.
“Would you be able to explain what it’s like to see color to someone who has never seen color before?” she asked. “Or what it’s like to see at all for someone who has never seen? Or to imagine the second-order spaces of a hypercube perpendicular to its first-order space?”
“You lost me at the last example.”
“I’ll try to explain it to you with an analogy more familiar to you.”
“This ought to be good,” Galen walked into the kitchen, poured himself a cup of tea, and sat down at the table.
“When we focus our conceptors on a particular volume of space we conceive it like you do, but when we unfocus we conceive it differently.”
“How so?” Cadmus asked. When he unfocused, things just got blurry.
“Our unfocused conception allows us to see the inside of you like we and you see the outside of each other. We see where you’ve been and who you were all the way to the beginning of you and where you’ll be and who you’ll be all the way to your end. We hear everything you think and say, everything you’ve thought and said, and everything you’ll think and say.”
“But how do you know what I’m going to say or think before I know it?” he asked.
“Because that is how you think and speak, all at once. That is how you act, all at once. You think everything happens in linear time, one thing at a time. That’s your worldview.”
“So what is your worldview?”
“Everything that is possible is inevitable and everything that exists existed since the beginning and will exist until the end.”
Cadmus couldn’t really understand how a worldview like that was possible, but Remi’s words somehow gave him comfort that Kaly and Lonesome might be around in one form or another until the end of the universe. Maybe Cadmus too.
Chapter 12: Departure
Lonesome was lying in the corner of his room, conserving his energy, while Cadmus was getting the few contents of his backpack together for the trip back home. He had enjoyed his recuperation with Remi and Galen, it had been most interesting, but now he was ready to return to Kaly’s memories on his home moon of 4g, a little wiser but also a little humbler about what he knew and what he didn’t know.
“We called ahead at your hotel to tell them you’d be checking out today. They said you’d only be charged for the one day,” Remi said when Cadmus walked into the kitchen with his backpack. “We also called the terminal to let them know you’d be departing and that you’d need a tug to retrieve your ship from long-term parking.”
“Thanks Remi,” he said.
“Do you want anything to eat or drink before you go,” Galen asked.
“We’re just a few moments’ walk from the garden and the hotel.”
Cadmus whistled to Lonesome who came bounding into the kitchen looking for his water bowl.
They left the cave and strolled up the path to the stand of trees on the ledge overlooking the valley and backing into the public garden between the two hotels. Cadmus never realized just how close the cave had been to the garden and hotels. Perhaps their cave had been in a higher—order dimension and he hadn’t been aware of it.
They stopped at the trees and looked out over the valley below. They felt a pleasant breeze wend through their clothing.
“I almost forgot to ask you both about a dark moon I passed on my way into the 3 system, 3b I think,” Cadmus broke the silence among them. “Can you tell me any more about it than the little I remember from what we were taught in our schools?”
“What were you taught?”
“That 3b had been inhabited by humans who had destroyed their moon, turning it into a cinder and that there were no artifacts or evidence of their existence.”
“Actually there were.”
“What do you mean?”
“We were there,” Remi answered. “Well, not Galen and I. My great grandparents, Lem and Yani, were born there.” Remi told Cadmus about Lem’s and Yani’s Sapien parents, about the mutation, caused by working in the cobalt mines, that in turn caused their amygdalae to disappear and their neurons to reroute directly into their prefrontal cortexes. The mutation also caused their skins to turn blue.
The Sapiens on 3b believed the blue babies were abominations in the eyes of their god and killed all the ones they could get their hands on. A few Sapien parents, like Evanor and Thort, Lem’s parents, and Kivo and Thana, Yani’s parents, tried to protect their children from the hatred of the others. As it turned out, the children had certain attributes that proved advantageous so that the children ended up protecting their parents.
“The Sapiens called us Rats, for Rationals,” Remi continued. “My great grandmother, Yani, called the Sapiens Saps, probably a childish means of dealing with their hateful name calling, but the names caught on and stuck.
The Rationals tried to get away from the Sapiens, made their way to an uncharted area of 3b, and created a refuge for themselves in a fertile area with many natural defenses. The Sapiens organized an army with rifles, canons, and balloons and tried their best to exterminate the Rationals.
“After failing to crush us and losing many soldiers in the process,” Remi said, “they developed a cobalt bomb and shot it from a magnetic canon into the Refuge.”
Lem and the rest of the Rationals at the refuge saw it coming long before it was even built and they built a hyper-space tunnel between their Refuge on 3b and the unpopulated moon of 3a. It was rather primitive but effective. By the time the bomb was launched at the Refuge, the last Rational had left 3b, sealing the tunnel door shut.
As the Rationals had predicted or seen depending on who was telling the story, the cobalt bomb set off a chain reaction of explosions that burnt the atmosphere and the surface of 3b, along with all the Sapiens.
“So apparently you and I have common roots,” Cadmus said after a while. “Do either of you have any idea where our common species came from?”
Galen had been quiet all this time but now he spoke up. “That’s a bit of a problem. As you might well know, Sapiens weren’t very reliable historians so much of the history predating the earliest Church records was attributed to stories and myths, but it is rumored that the Sapiens were deposited in this part of the Draco galaxy by robots who brought them along with them from a planet called Earth2 somewhere in the Andromeda galaxy. The robots called them humans. The robots kept very good records but, unfortunately, they were written in a language called ML1, which nobody living today can decipher.”
Cadmus asked, “What happened to the robots?”
“They were all destroyed by some sort of digital virus,” Galen answered.
“And if there was an Earth2, what happened to Earth?”
“There may or may not have been a planet called Earth in a galaxy called the Milky Way that collided with Andromeda a long time ago,” Galen suggested.
Cadmus had no more questions he wanted to ask.
They walked through the park, Lonesome getting in some last-minute sniffing. Remi held his arm as they negotiated the hyper-bridge over the chasm near the entrance gate.
At the hotel entrance, Cadmus hugged Galen and Remi, and thanked them for saving his life and taking such good care of Lonesome and him. They wished him a safe journey back home. He turned to the door but then something made him stop and turn around quickly, but they were gone already.
He walked through the doors with Lonesome up to the desk.
“I trust your time with us was interesting,” the clerk at the check-out counter asked.
“Yes,” he replied, “it certainly was.”
“Please take your seats in those chairs over there and make sure to buckle your seatbelts and those of your dagu,” she said as though he were an experienced interdimensional traveler. “When you are ready, just press the button on your arm rest.”
After buckling Lonesome into his chair and then buckling himself in, he pressed the button, closing his eyes. Cadmus felt his body lurching backward.
He opened his eyes and saw the shuttle through the trees. He unbuckled himself and then Lonesome who jumped down and started barking at a flutterby that had landed on his nose.
They walked through the trees toward the shuttle. An attendant asked him whether he had a reservation for the flight to the terminal.
Cadmus said yes he thought so and fumbled around in his backpack looking for the papers.
“Don’t worry sir,” the attendant said kindly, “somebody called ahead and made arrangements for you both.”
Cadmus thanked her and they climbed into the shuttle, taking their seats. He checked to make sure there were no passengers sitting next to Lonesome. He fastened his dagu’s seatbelt and then his own, looking around the shuttle cabin and then looked at each of the safety signs. Some were written in Draco.763 Standard and some were written in what he assumed to be ML1. They all had MASER audio streams directed at anyone who looked directly at a sign. They’d get their safety message to you one way or another.
The steps retracted back up into the shuttle underside and locked down. There was a faint whistle of air and a sense of pressure against his eardrums. A female voice told the passengers the shuttle would be taking off momentarily.
Lonesome barked twice but before Cadmus could shush him, the shuttle’s engines began their own roaring and the shuttle lifted above the tree line. The ground beneath slowly became a lush green quilt of beauty interspersed by wisps of clouds. Soon the blue canopy of 3a darkened into a black night studded with stars. He looked out the window and saw the lovely blue-green moon roll to the side. A small point became brighter and larger, turning slowly into the Draco.763.3 Terminal.
The shuttle adjusted attitude and approached its assigned docking port. He barely felt the press-relax-lock between the shuttle and the Terminal port. A few moments later there was a sound of air exchanged between the shuttle and the Terminal port and then the portal door opened. The Terminal air smelled slightly stale. He frowned without thinking about it and unlocked his seatbelt and that of Lonesome who jumped off his seat and waited for Cadmus to follow him.
They came out through Gate 138A and followed the arrows as did their fellow shuttle passengers and the merging passengers from other shuttles arriving from other sectors on 3a.
Cadmus followed the arrow to the long-term parking pick-up spoke. When he arrived, he stopped in front of a vacant screen. A pleasant looking Rational avatar appeared on the screen and asked how she could be of assistance.
“I want to go back home to Draco.763.4g. I need my ship.”
“Please prepare for DNA spectral analysis flash identification.”
After the flash the avatar told him his ship was waiting for him at Gate 28M. He thanked the avatar who smiled and then the screen was blank again. He followed the arrows to Gate 28M.
When Cadmus and Lonesome arrived at the gate he was flashed again. The gate portal opened and they stepped into their ship, humble but home for the next two hundred and seventy days. Lonesome ran to his favorite corner beside the rocking chair.
He checked the consoles and saw that his ship had been topped up and restocked, even Lonesome’s favorite synthetic meats.
The rocker and folding table were where he left them, next to the picture window. The calendar and checklist were still taped to the wall. Most importantly the photo of Kaly was still there on the window ledge. He picked it up, lost in thought, still married to her memory, in spite of his imaginary transgression during the shock of seeing Remi naked that one time.
He put the photograph back on the window ledge. He walked over to the consoles, sat down, and clicked the engine warm-up sequence. The mechanical joints tensed up and the portal lock released them. The ship floated back and the engines whirred with a soft throbbing sound. The ship was now moving steadily backward in a straight line. The Terminal moved away, still looming large in front of them, but a little less so than before.
When the ship had reached a safe distance from the Terminal, it turned away slowly, and then stopped, waiting for permission to proceed. After a few moments, the command feed started to display on the running log and the ship’s auto-response answered back.
His ship began to move, slowly at first, then picking up speed, maneuvering around the terminal until it had a clear vector to his home moon, Draco.763.4, at which point it adjusted attitude once more.
He felt the expected mechanical shiver of his craft as the massive solar sails unfolded and spread out to catch the faint radiation from Draco.763. The engines quieted down somewhat.
Cadmus settled down for the long trip home. He looked at his checklist to check what there was to do.
Lonesome was snoring beside him.