When you’re on a slow burn heading out to a jump point, turn off the lights in your ship. Turn down the display panels and indicator lights too, and let yourself sit in the dark. Watch the stars. Did you ever wonder what they are? I don’t mean giant balls of plasma – that’s the easy answer. What are they really? Why are they there? Why, when you are sitting in the great Silence and Dark of deep space do the stars seem to look at you and stare through you right into your soul, stripping away all pretense of skill and mastery of the world that we humans so blithely ascribe to ourselves?
The stars are like the eyes of billions of gods, all looking at you, daring you to seek them out and join them and yet also judging you for having the hubris to try. Yet we must try. The stars call to us and we must heed their siren song, for it stirs the depths of our beings and awakens unquiet visions that pervade our waking thoughts and fill our dreams at night with images of things just out of reach of literate description.
And the dreams! The dreams one has, while floating in the deep. Turn off the gravity while you sleep sometime. Turn it off, turn off the lights, and net yourself up next to a porthole so that you sleep under the watchful stars. The dreams I’ve had when doing that are like nothing I’ve ever experienced before – time warping and bending while light dances over my body in shimmering waves that resonate with the slow pulsing of the rhythms of the galaxy as it wheels away in the terrible, beautiful void of space. Sometimes, while piloting through Interspace, it feels just like these dreams. You seem to be going forward and backward at the same time, and you can never quite tell what is happening right now, what has happened already, and what is going to happen in a moment – in Interspace time and position seem not to obey the normal rules, but they do seem to obey the same laws that govern us when we dream. Is Interspace where we go when we sleep? Do our dreams actually carry us to other worlds in fact, rather than simply in thought?
I’ve seen things in Interspace. Things that frighten me and draw me to them at the same time. Ever since I was a child, I’ve had dreams of an “angel” as I called her – a winged being of light is how I’ve normally described it to anyone who would listen, but that is a very paltry description and until I grew up I gave it no importance. Three years ago while jumping out from Terra on a cargo run, I experienced a star pilot’s nightmare: my nav computer failed right as I entered the jump point and I had to grab manual control again to pilot my way through by hand. I’d never done that before and I was terrified. I could see things – rocks? asteroids caught in Interspace? some exotic matter of some sort? – whatever they were I was trying to dodge them desperately and make it through to the other side. But the distortions in space and time made it hard to do. There was a large object in front of me, and as I tried to go around it, it seemed to turn in ways that I just can’t describe. It stayed in front of me, and I could also see it behind my ship as I was flying away from it, and it was also coming at me from above and to the right – nothing made sense and I panicked and let go of the controls, my ship spinning out of control. Just as I was about to crash, time seemed to suddenly flow … sideways? I could see myself cowering with my arms up. I could also see myself a moment ago still with my hands on the controls.
And I also saw my angel.
I’m sure it was the same being that I’ve dreamt of for so long, she radiated such a feeling of familiarity. But also coldness. She seemed to coalesce around the obstacle about to destroy me and she opened up her wings wide, covering the whole thing. When the ship reached her it felt like time suddenly froze completely in the chill of her being, and in that utter timelessness I knew and experienced the entire jump point passage at once as if I were in all places simultaneously. And then that eternal now ended and I was on the other side of the obstacle, my ship racing away from it, my hands once more firmly on the controls. I came out into normal space again shaken and unsure of what had happened. I immediately put into port, of course, and had my systems inspected and repaired. Naturally, the ship's logs recorded none of what I experienced: the flight recorder shows that I was fully in control throughout the transit with no obstacle and no angel. But I can’t believe that. Every since that day I have only flown that jump point by hand, never using the autopilot, and each time through it’s as if I know exactly where everything is, was, and will be.
I know, now, that the angel of my dreams is real, and that Interspace and the land of dreams are one and the same. The stars are the eyes of my cosmic angel, and she watches us with a cold light all of the time, but it is not an unkind coldness. It is the coolness of distance and separation both unwanted and unwelcome. Her arms are spread wide in welcome. Her eyes call to us and beckon us to find her and join with her.
She is waiting.
And I am coming.
Dec. 30, 2783
Last log entry of the captain of the freighter Lorinand, recovered from a log buoy ejected just before the ship activated a jump point leaving Terra. The ship never emerged from interspace and was presumed destroyed.