Chapter 8 – Second travel

At the second travel debriefing:

Beth:  Something wrong? Why are you looking at me like that?
Smith1: Sorry?
Beth: Your faces. I wish you could see your faces.
Smith1: Oh sorry. Don’t pay any attention to us, we…
Smith2: … just had a strange phone call during your trip. Nothing about you.
Beth: Oh. Let’s start the debriefing then.
Smith1: We can’t wait.
Beth: Well, when the gas came—when I suppose it came—I arrived in a world under a blue light. As if the sun, or something, hadn’t succeeded in rising. I think it was a planet called “Midnight”. I recognized the beings with red luminous eyes.
Smith1: So you went ba… er, … to Midnight?
Beth: Indeed. I am sure. And believe me, that was fabulous. Midnight is so peaceful aboveground. But I remembered stories about underground cities. So I tried to find one, by following some people. But those I followed led me into what I think might have been shops. Interesting, those shops, but as I didn’t know I was going to Midnight, I didn’t search for any documentation on it, and I have really no idea what kinds of goods I might have seen. I guess it was food, but, actually, I really don’t know. Midnight isn’t even among the 10-first-visited worlds. How could I be prepared for that? During my first trip I only went to Proxiterra…
Smith2: Midnight is actually among the farthest planets visited by humans.
Smith1: But we’re not surprised you went there.
Smith2: Well, in fact we are. What are you saying Sylvester?
Beth: Sylvester?
Smith1: That’s me.
Beth: And you are…
Smith2: Paul.
Beth: Sylvester Smith and Paul Smith.
Paul: How about getting back to the subject? You were on Midnight.
Beth: And I’ve finally found someone who led me to an underground city.

– Beth yells –

Beth: What does that mean?
Paul: Sorry?
Beth: What?
Sylvester: What?
Beth: You two are completely odd today, eh? I was saying someone led me to an underground city.
Sylvester: But you ye…
Paul: … you’re completely right. All our apologies.
Sylvester: Er, yes, sorry.
Beth: May I go on?
Paul: Please.
Beth: Then I arrived in one of their underground cities. I’ll remember it forever. It was huge, and so beautiful. All these sculptures, and cave dwellings. The peaceful sound that could be heard down there: water whispers, bird songs, from what looked to be actual birds. I don’t know how much time I might have spent over there, but I have to say I didn’t grow tired of it. And this light blue hue. It was lighter below than above. That was amazing. I headed to a huge fall. Down below, where the water hits the bottom, I saw inhabitants doing some sort of rafting on watercrafts. I felt their happiness. I wished I were with them. Being an invisible witness is so frustrating. Sure, to be able to watch things from all possible angles is great. And Physics doesn’t matter; you can stay underwater or float above it. One thing, though, I really don’t like is when somebody goes through me. Even if it’s just a feeling, just a mind there, I hate it.
And then, some weird stuff happened. I went round the planet very quickly. Actually I saw place after place, like I was attending a slideshow. When I was at the waterfall, I thought I would like to see each remarkable place of Midnight. And then I got stuck in this terrible loop.
Paul: You saw the whole planet flash by?
Beth: In a certain way, yes. And as I’d seen all that can be seen in that world, I could choose where I wanted to go. Isn’t amazing? I just had to focus on one of the flashes remaining in my memory, and there I was.
Sylvester: You’re a very gifted traveller.
Beth: Really? You know, I have never read that sort of account. I mean these sorts of visions amongst Snoopers.
Sylvester: Snoopers!? What an ugly word!
Beth: I find it funny.
Sylvester: I personally…
Paul: So you have gone everywhere you wanted to go?
Beth: Yes Sir! I’ll have to write about it on my blog!
Sylvester: You’ve got a… blog?
Beth: I have. Every Snooper has.
Sylvester: Could you just talk about travellers instead of Snoo…
Paul: Please, let Miss Smith tell things just the way she wants to. So a blog?
Beth: Yes. I’ll have to tell. I’ve seen places no Snoo… no traveller has ever described. I’ll have to give names to all these places. And I’ll have to try to draw them. I am not bad at drawing, you know.
Paul: Beth Smith, you’re a very surprising person.
Beth: Oh, from my viewpoint the surprise is in these travels. That was a dream for me. And the reality of it outshines all that I was able to imagine. I really can’t wait for my next trip. Actually, I didn’t want to come back when I heard the first return call from Earth.
Sylvester: You were on Midnight…
Beth: No. I wasn’t anymore. I really lose the notion of time up there. While I was still on Midnight, I wished I could go to another world. What were the risks? Not being able to go? So I said to myself: “let’s go.” And then I arrived somewhere in the middle of a downpour. I really didn’t know where I was. I had to go into a house just to see anyone, because outside, there was nobody at all. I saw a family watching… er… the tube. A 3D-TV. So great. But I couldn’t understand anything. I was facing sort of blue humans with big orange eyes.
Sylvester: Tridolians
Beth: I was on Tridolia? Me? I am so honored. So few people go there. But watching them watching TV was a bit boring. And then the first return signal was sent to me. I said to myself: how about another stop on Proxiterra before getting back to Earth.
Sylvester: And she went back to Proxiterra.
Beth: Eh? I’m right here. Don’t talk about me in the third person please. What is it about you today? Why are you both looking at the ceiling?
Paul: Difficult day. Sorry. So Proxiterra.
Beth: Yes, absolutely. And I went immediately to the underwater world. I think I might have seen the imperial couple. They were finishing a part of a fresco. Wonderful!
Paul: You didn’t need the second return signal though.
Beth: No, I wanted to come back with that picture in my mind, so I did. As soon as I’m home, I’ll start drawing. It’s so clear in my head. It’ll probably go viral, when I put it online.
Paul: Well, anything else to say before we go to the analysis cab?
Beth: Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Let’s go now. I’ll follow you, Smith and Smith.

Sylvester: Well, she’s lying on the couch. What do we do now? Is it necessary to play with her memory again?
Paul: She’s got a blog! We can’t let her publish the things she experienced on Midnight. No human can scan a planet like that.
Sylvester: We go from one surprise to the next today, don’t we?
Paul: You can say that again. By the way, do we have any results for her alien gene origin, finally?
Sylvester: I received an answer today. The calculators are still searching for the transformations of the DNA over time. We still don’t know. The travel molecules synthesized through these genes could originate from a dozen species.
Paul: This girl is a real mystery.
Sylvester: Sure. But we need to know quickly now. We can’t go on like this for a long time. We are risking memory damage unrelated to space travel. Won’t it be easier to talk to her?
Paul: And tell her everything? That’s just reckless. We can’t. Think of her future.
Sylvester: OK. Everything wiped out, except Proxiterra.
Paul: Proxiterra. And when it is done, we’ll have to go to the laboratory to get back the data of the day.
Sylvester: Let’s not waste any time then, we’re expected tonight.



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