– The two Lords? Why do they call us the two Lords?
– Just ask them, eh!
– Very funny.
– Oh? Do you not think, as I do, that it wouldn’t be very clever to ask for an explanation about something we are not supposed to know about?
– Yes, but the two Lords…
– Hold on, I am going to do it: “Hello? Yes, we heard you talking about us in a recording you don’t know exists, and you called us “Lords”. Could you just tell us why?” I think they will be very happy. Good luck to them in answering this question. Do you really want to tell them that operators’ conversations are recorded just like the other data, in the laboratories? And that we are the only ones able to access them?
– Ok, I get it.
– Thank God.
– But the two Lords…. Couldn’t they find a better nickname for us?
– Let’s talk about something else, ok? Beth Smith is waiting in the travel room. Let’s get started with her.
– Miss Smith, nice to meet you.
– The pleasure is mine!
– First session today?
– A little.
– All is going to be ok. You’ll see. My colleague and I will go to the glass room over there. All the measuring and monitoring machines are in this room. You will be given instructions from us. At my signal, you’ll enter the space travel machine. The lid will be automatically closed. After a few moments, gas will be sent in and you may be able to start your trip. When it starts, the catalyser will help your mind focus on other minds. It is how this works: minds attract minds. It might take a few seconds, maybe one or two minutes before you go anywhere. The gas has to become active in you. But when it does, you’ll never forget it.
You can come back whenever you want. You just have to wish it. As it’s your first trip, a first return signal will be sent to you after 4 hours, which is already a good length for a first-timer. But if you prefer to stay longer, another signal will be sent at 8 hours, then the three tones you remember will be sent at 12 hours. Regardless what happens there, even if you decide you want to stay longer, we’ll bring you back after 12 hours. Gas stocks are not calibrated for longer trips. And without the catalyser, the travel ends. But believe me, you’ll want to come back before then, because it’s very unpleasant.
You’ll easily recognize the signal. The training is good enough for a return even the first time. You’ll experience a falling feeling, like on a roller coaster in the dark. It’s very brief. Not that comfortable, but much better than having the gas cut out.
It will be the only little bad moment of your day. But compared to the fantastic ones you’re about to live out, it will be nothing.
– I hope so!
– But enough talk. We are going in our glass bubble. Would you mind going to your travel chamber?
The two men enter their glass bubble:
– Ok, we’ll give her the same sequence as last time: music, operator’s voice, and we record the vital data. We’ll send the gas then.
– Ok, Miss Smith. Get ready. Lie back in the chamber. Good. Now attention to the lid closing down. And listen carefully to all that will be said.
– Here we go.
– Yeah, everything seems to be al.. Damn. Cardiac quickening. No gas sent yet. Do we go on?
– Look, she’s calming down. It’s ok. It didn’t last long. Maybe narrow space anxiety. Send the gas now!
– Done. It seems to be all right.
– You spoke too fast mate. Pulse increasing.
– I don’t like it.
– She just screamed.
– Pulse isn’t slowing down. We have to proceed with an emergency return.
– Do you mean gas cut?
– Yes, gas cut. Now!
– She’s coughing and spluttering in there. She certainly threw up.
– Miss Smith?
– Help me to get out of here. Erk!
– We’re going to lead you to the bathroom, so you can wash up.
– I mostly need a new shirt!
– Let’s call headquarters and see what can be done for you.
– Miss Smith, you’re welcome to take a shower in the visitor’s suite. Someone is coming to take you there. A wardrobe will be available. Choose whatever you want. When you’re finished, you can have a rest. We’ll await you for debriefing.
– Yes, we would like you to tell us what happened.
– Why not now?
– Don’t you prefer to put on new clothes first?
– Yes, let’s take this bad smell away. Oh this is Alice, isn’t it?
– Hello, my name is Alice. Would you follow me please.
– Eh, we met each other last month.
– Ready to go?
Back to face the two men.
– So Miss Smith, are you feeling better?
– Yes, much better! It’s luxury up there. I really like these clothes, too. I promise I’ll bring them back next time.
– It won’t be necessary.
– Sure. Keep them, that way your memory of this day won’t be completely bad, I hope. Miss Smith, can you tell us what happened to you?
– Well, in fact it is the same thing as last time, at the beginning. As soon as the voice started to talk about my beloved ones…
– Do you remember the exact sentence?
– “You’re safe now, among your beloved ones, your friends, your lover…” And then I was facing him. I was hovering above him actually. In his flat.
– My boyfriend. I saw him. In his home. He looked so sad. We had a bad argument before I came here, I have to say. It seemed so real.
– There must have been some trouble with the gas.
– Oh, the gas? Was it already there? I think I smelt it later.
– It’s almost odorless. Please go on.
– Like last time, I quickly calmed down because of this wonderful voice. My boyfriend, or at least his picture, vanished. And then, nothing, and then,… I don’t know what happened. I was trapped in a colored vortex. First blue, then green, then red. It was as though I drifted at a very high speed. And suddenly it was pitch black. I had the feeling of being very far away, but there was nothing. I screamed, because I couldn’t return. I fell down, roughly. I had a very bad feeling of suffocation. You saw the result: I threw up.
– That seems like gas intoxication
– Hallucinatory period certainly due to a bad gas dosage.
– Bad dosage?
– I’m afraid so.
– You’re kidding me!
– I’m afraid not.
– How is this possible?
– Well, we’ll have to investigate. We’ll have to verify the human biological factor too. We are going to take another blood sample.
– But you’ve already got one!
– One month old. Too old. We need a sample taken today.
– And what will happen then?
– It depends on the results. In case of a gas system failure, you will be given another first trip. But if it comes from you, we’ll have to make a decision.
– But I want to have my space travels.
– Believe me, Miss. We’ll do everything we can to make it possible.
– Mmm, no indemnity if you can’t travel. It’s in the lottery rules.
– Listen, we are scientists. If you’re capable of travel, you will.
– I can’t help being disappointed. The only thing I can do is wait.
– You’ve got it.
– Bye then.
– Don’t forget the blood sample before you go.
– Oh yes, sorry.
– Your arm please… Done.
– Didn’t feel anything.
– Good. We’ll inform you as soon as possible. Good bye, Miss Smith. I called Alice to escort you.
The two men are alone.
– So what do you think? Nothing to do with the gas, eh?
– These are not hallucinations, for sure. The boyfriend, she saw him before the gas was sent.
– But it’s impossible.
– What a silly thing to say. It happened.
– And when the gas was sent, she didn’t succeed in any connection with other minds. She drifted in space, went through gas stars and stopped in an absolute void. Unable to come back.
– And just before that, she did an astral projection without any gas.
– Yep! Do you have your analyzer with you?
– Of course. Always when we are called on anomalies. Even if most of the time it’s useless. Wait a minute. I have it. Here it is.
– A drop of blood on the sensor, and now let’s see the results on the remote screen.
– Stop saying that when you have the results in front of your eyes.
– I meant incredible…
– Hybridization trace in her DNA. With another species. Not terrestrial.
– It’s heavy stuff! I thought it was legend, this story of human-alien breeding.
– Obviously, it’s a reality. And it interferes with her space travel ability. I’m afraid we have to tell her the bad news: her space travels are over now.
– Are you completely mad? She’s capable of astral projection without gas–with great emotion apparently–and you want to prevent her from space travelling? She’s certainly the most able on Earth.
– She’ll probably be noticed.
– As someone gifted, that’s all. It’s already happened that some people are more gifted than others: going farther and missing some nearer planets. We can adjust the gas composition according to her blood analysis. So she can travel quietly. We can do it with our tools, you know it.
– We’ll act on her memory if necessary.
– We’ll try not to have to do it.