This morning, I had my third travel. The two Smiths welcomed me as usual. I got into the travel chamber and then waited for the gas. I arrived in a world under a blue light. As if the sun, or something, hadn’t succeeded in rising… I think it was the planet called “Midnight”. I recognized the beings with red luminous eyes.Believe me, it’s an amazing world. Midnight is so peaceful aboveground. But I remembered stories about underground cities. I found a way there, I don’t know how. It’s weird. It was like I had already been there. I am sure I will 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, and what looked like actual birds. I was on cloud nine. I wanted to see everything. And what happened was unbelievable: I went round the planet very quickly. Actually, I saw place after place, like I was attending a slideshow. And you know what? I had a such feeling of déjà vu. So I decided not to continue and wished to visit another world. And in a heartbeat, I changed worlds.
I ended up 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. Inside were a sort of blue humans with big orange eyes. I didn’t feel like watching them. Still this feeling of déjà vu. Once more, I wished I were somewhere else. I can say I had a big surprise.
When I arrived on this planet, I was welcomed by screams. It took me some time before I understood that they were screaming because of me. Every time I went somewhere, screams followed me. The beings of this planet pointed toward a direction. I finally went to it. I wondered if they could see me. A mind? In any case, they felt my presence. They knew where I was each time. I finally arrived in front of a building, after following the fingers that kept pointing the way.
Inside, I had the feeling of being expected. There was someone at every crossing point. It was easy to find the place they wanted me to go to.
And here I am, in a big, well-lit room. Inside, just one character.
Let me describe to you the inhabitants of this planet as I had observed them till now. I couldn’t say if they were tall or small; everything is relative, and as I am just a mind, I don’t have any point of comparison. They are slender though, with honey-colored skin and curved lines on it that vary from pale to dark, depending on the being. What is most remarkable is their eyes. They are almost round, slightly stretched up on each side of their face. But this is not the point that makes them remarkable. It is the mark they have around one of their eyes. A more or less pronounced mark from white to dark brown.
The nose is like a cat’s, the mouth like a human’s, and the ears are very small, almost not visible on each side of the face.
They are draped in a sort of fabric. And in the population you can see beings with their hair in a long plait and others, a bit smaller, with their hair cut just above the shoulders.
The one in front of me has a plait. He has been talking to me for some long seconds, but I don’t understand anything.
“… me, draw a circle. Please, I would like to know if you can understand me. I can feel the movement of your mind. If you understand me, draw a circle. Please, I would like to know if you can understand me. I can feel the movement of your mind. If you understand me, draw a circle…”
A circle; to draw a circle. I have seen a whole planet pass through my eyes. I came up here. Drawing a circle is not complicated. So I draw a circle.
“Oh good, the translation is active. You’re an unregistered traveller. You’ve come into town without a body. It’s strictly forbidden in our world. You can’t see without being seen. You should have come immediately in the disembarkation room. In other words, here. You have two choices: you can run away and never come back to this planet, or, you may enter a body. Even if you were not expected, we have one ready for you. If you choose to stay, it is possible you don’t know how to do it. It’s easy. Just watch it and think to go inside. The psychic sensors will catch you and make the linkage.”
Entering a body? And mine? I really don’t know what I have to do. Run away to Proxiterra? Would I ever have another opportunity to talk to an alien? This story of a body freaks me out, but I am tempted. No more being invisible. Being able to talk, to exchange. And this desire is enough for me to enter the body. So here I am, lying on a sort of couch. I feel I can make the limbs move. I open the eyes.
“Here you are. Wait a few moments before trying to sit up. Vital functions have to be activated. It’ll take one or two minutes before all will be operational.”
I try to speak.
– Be patient.
– We are going to have time to know each o…”
And then I heard the door being starkly opened.
– What have you done?
– Good morning, Major.
– What the hell have you done?
– I’ve given a body to a lost traveller.
– But you’ve given THIS body.
– This was the only one ready to be used at the moment.
– He could have waited.
– She – that’s me beginning to better handle my new body, and a weird voice by the way.
– She? the Major asks
– Yes. I am a girl, and my name is Beth.
– What a ridiculous name. Couldn’t your parents find a shorter one?
– Major, no need to be rude, says my host.
– Are you going to tell her? —this is the Major. I have a feeling he is sniggering.
– What about? my host asks.
– The kind of body. It doesn’t fit with what she is.
– Oh, that…
– What? I say, beginning to worry.
– You’re in a male body. Not really male. All the attributes aren’t there but…
– Shut up!
– Yes, Major.
– Do you mean I am in a guy?
– I’m afraid, yes—still the Major and his mocking tone. She is under your responsibility, he says to my host. And if any damage happens to this body, you’ll have to answer for it.
– Eh, I am in. I won’t damage it, I retort
– You know nothing.
And the Major goes out slamming the door.
Meanwhile, I have succeeded in sitting up on the couch. I can see my host, and I have seen the Major too briefly. He has turned on his heel by the time I have him in my field of vision.
– Nice guy, I say showing the door with my chin.
– Don’t be angry with him. You don’t know everything.
– Oh, but I just demand to know.
– Let’s get to know each other first.
– My name is Beth, and I come from the planet Earth. And I’ll have to get used to this strange voice.
– You are Beth, the first Earthling to visit Dalygaran.
– Yes, this is the name given to this world.
– Can I have your name?
– Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe.
– I am asking for you name.
– Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe.
– Eh, what do you have with this star?
– Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe is my name.
– Couldn’t your parents find a longer one?
– You and the Major are two of a kind.
– Sorry, was I impolite?
– Nothing serious. You are a foreigner. There are just things you don’t know.
– The Major, what’s his name?
– Moon Crystal. His parents were eccentric.
– On Dalygaran, we’re used to giving long names. It shows your parents’ love and their vision of you. Moon Crystal, in our world is a short one, and only eccentric parents would expose their children to taunts with such a type of name.
– Moon Crystal… It’s a very nice name, though.
– Do you think so?
– Sure. How do you find Beth?
– You don’t like it.
– It means nothing—Beth. It’s just like a name given to a planet.
– In my world, people are called that way, by special names meaning nothing. Except sometimes: Rose, Jasmin, Violet …
– It’s very short!
– It’s not important on our planet.
– I understand.
– But tell me, how is it possible we’re talking together?
– Psychic translation through automatic learning.
– Your mind was scanned long enough for a valuable acquisition of your language.
– What do you mean? You scanned my mind?
– You came without a body.
– Yes, obviously! Bodies don’t travel.
– Of course they do!
– Don’t tell me you’ve got spaceships…
– Space what?
– Spaceships. Machines that can travel in space.
– We have transporters.
– Transporters. Machines that dematerializes at one point only to rematerialize again at another. Like your mind does, but with the person, body and all, inside. A transporter. Considering the way you travel, I’m not surprised that you don’t know anything about the transporters.
– What’s wrong with my way of travelling?
– You watch without being seen. It’s very impolite.
– But here, you’ve “seen” me.
– Felt. We feel the presence of minds, even alien ones. We felt your surprise and your fear. We have a part of your memory now, which we analyzed during the language acquisition.
– You dug into my memory and I am impolite?
– It’s reachable only under activation. People know that someone from Earth has just arrived, and they have notions that earthling vocabulary has no equivalent here, like “fish and chips”. That’s food, isn’t it?
– It is. How do I know you’re not still scanning my mind?
– Because now, with this body, you’re one of us. You’ll be able to feel a mind scan. Everybody does.
– You look annoyed.
– My mind isn’t scanned every day, you know. It was really nice to meet you, but even if I didn’t hear the return signal, I think I ought to go back to Earth now.
– Hear a signal?
– Yes a note which tells me how much time I’ve been wandering around if I wish to go back…
– A note? But a mind “wandering around” like you said, doesn’t hear anything that happens near its body.
– I assure you that I do.
– You’ve been fooled. But, on the other hand, this is less scary.
– Could you just explain it to me?
– Yes, I know. Conditioning.
– You’ve received electric impulses.
– A note.
– That too. So then, when an electric impulse is sent, you think you are hearing a note.
– I do hear a note.
– You see. But you can’t hear anything. You aren’t near your body.
– And the electric impulse?
– It disturbs the connection between your mind and your body, the connection which allows you to go back. It is why you feel it. You have a prickling in the extremities when you go back after a note, don’t you?
– Electric impulse.
– The bastards!
– Don’t be severe with them. Believing it’s a note is less scary…
– You’ve already said that.
– I really think it. But you won’t be able to go home today.
– You wandered in town without a body. The Great Council has to rule on your fate.
– Are you kidding?
– Not at all. But don’t worry. The Great Council is very merciful with foreigners—I mean people like you who don’t know our rules. They’ll probably vote for an assistance for your return to Earth.
– Do I need any assistance?
– To go out from this body? Yes. It’s easy to get in, not to get out. Nanites are required.
– Nanites. They are very tiny robots carrying micro-active particles. You take them by swallowing a pill to disconnect from the body. But first, as you’re the first Earthling to have come here, we need a blood sample.
– My body is on Earth.
– I know.