The following morning, I awake early and come out of my bedroom to go downstairs with all my drawings. I show my hosts the one for the school and give the others to them, included my selfie.
Just before my departure, Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain gives me a big hug as a good bye. It is Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe who leads me to the space travel center, in horse-drawn cart this time.
The Major is there with some other people I do not know. They are introduced to me as members of the Great Council who are there to witness my departure. I have to address them each with a “Your Excellency”.
– Major, I say to greet you know who.
Our exchanges will be strictly formal this morning.
– Beth, he answers me, bowing his head in return. He goes on: you will have to take the capsule and the pill very soon. The blue one is what will allow you to go out of this body; the white one is for the time re-synchronization. Would you like a glass of water?
– Yes, please.
– Take a seat on this couch, he continues. You can swallow your pills now.
I bring the blue capsule to my mouth and take a sip of water. Then the white one, and another sip of water. When it is done, I say to my host:
– Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe, your wife and you were my hosts during all my stay here, let me give you an earthly greet. Come closer.
He comes up to me and I warmly shake his hand. He gives me a wink. It is done then. How not to take your medication and give it discreetly away, in one lesson, by Beth Smith. The white pill is now in Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe’s closed hand.
– You should lie down now, the capsule may take effect very soon, says the Major.
I comply. I close my eyes. Just a little time is needed for my mind to escape. No desire to stroll around, I go straight away to Earth.
I open my eyes in the lottery space travel room. The gas cutting process begins. When it is completed, the lid opens.
Paul: Well, miss Beth Smith. What do you have to tell us this time?
Me: That I remember, I dryly answer.
Paul: What exactly?
Me: Yes, absolutely everything. I dreamt a lot on Dalygaran, you know.
Paul: So, Dalygaran too.
Me: Yes. Is it an obsession in the universe to play with people’s memory?
Paul: Between too different worlds, on the technology level I mean, yes.
Me: But I remember. And I’m sure you are the ones who made me forget my first travels.
Paul and Sylvester: Yes.
Me: Who else, anyway?
Paul: You were not supposed to remember Dalygaran either. Well, not immediately…
Me: I didn’t take their bloody pill against “re-synchronization sickness”.
Paul: A pill? That’s weird. I thought it would be an injection.
Me: Does it matter? They gave me a pill and I didn’t swallow it. Tell me, how much time was I up there?
Paul: 10 days.
Paul: 10. Do you have any idea of what happened here while you were over there?
Me: Someone was in my body.
Paul: That’s right.
Me: And did you go to my flat?
The two Smiths look at each other.
Me: I would say it’s a yes.
Sylvester: The person who took your place was not prepared. We had to…
Paul: I think we can tell her: we had to put right some “damages”, with your mother and in your flat. I’m afraid it’s a bit worse with your boyfriend. Officially, you have been confined to your flat suffering from a bad virus which makes you go nuts for a while. We took you to hospital for analysis after having discovered you disorientated at home. We came to see you because you had shown weird behavior at the travel center. And this last thing is completely true.
Sylvester: You’re not saying anything…
Me: I’m trying to figure out the sort of damages she could have done.
Me: Oh, he wasn’t the good gender either.
Paul: Above all, he wasn’t Earthling and…
Me: Any chance he emptied a whole bottle of champagne?
Paul: Oh, did you see that too?
Me: You don’t look very surprised.
Sylvester: From you, nothing surprises us anymore…
Paul: That’s right.
Paul: How what?
Me: How is it possible I saw that?
Paul: His drunkenness made room for a connection while you were sleeping. It might have stopped when he passed out.
Me: I passed out?
Sylvester: You threw up too.
Paul: This information wasn’t that useful Sylvester…
Me: What the hell did he do?
Sylvester: He tasted everything in the fridge. Even two ice-cream tubs…
Paul: One of them was already started he told us.
Me: He’s totally crazy. Have I gained weight?
The two Smiths look at each other taken aback.
Paul: No, I don’t think so. The excess didn’t last more than one evening. We coached him thereafter.
Me: Really. Lucky him.
Paul: Oh, this is sarcasm…
Me: You’re very acute. But let’s talk about my memory now. Why did you wipe it out, and why does it come back?
Paul: You don’t travel like a human being.
Me: Don’t be silly. I am a human being.
Sylvester: But you’re special.
Me: What do I have that’s so special?
Me: Do I need to worm the information out of you?
Paul: You knew how to change planets since your first time out. You felt emotions from the beings you saw, you scanned an entire planet before going everywhere you wanted to go, you knew how to stop somewhere on your way back to Earth. And, the icing on the cake, you found a portal.
Me: A portal?
Sylvester: The Universe is divided into pockets, and those pockets are connected by portals. Inside a pocket, most of the time, civilizations progress in harmony. An alpha planet inhabitant has few chances to meet a gamma planet inhabitant, except if her name is Beth Smith.
Me: I see. And among these abilities, am I able to see through other minds?
Paul: What do you mean?
Me: On Dalygaran, I went to a school. The children sang the gold ring ceremony song for me. It was like I was hypnotized, and I drew the rise of the gold ring. And I’d never seen it before.
Sylvester: You drew?
Me: I told you already. I’m gifted for that. They appreciated my drawings on Dalygaran. You didn’t answer my question.
Paul: This picture came to you from somewhere, and the children are good candidates. They are excellent transmitters.
Sylvester: Adults hide their thoughts, not children. They project them.
Paul: Nevertheless, it is an unexpected ability. Even for you. I guess it has something to do with your Dalygaran body, a sort of alchemy. You inherited their abilities and gained some new ones you probably will never have elsewhere but in this type of body.
Me: You don’t say! And where do these abilities come from?
Paul: We don’t know.
Me: You’re lying. You just talked about all these abilities I shouldn’t have had. That means you have a profile.
Paul: Be reasonable. We can’t say anything about it.
Paul: That would be a spoiler. You have to discover it from yourself.
Me: I can’t see how…
Paul: I’m sure you will find out.
Me: If you say so. Why do I remember now?
Sylvester: Spontaneous Memory Recovery.
Paul: If you hadn’t this ability, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. We’ll have to trust you…
Me: To trust ME? You’ve got a nerve!
Paul: And you’ll have to trust us too.
Me: I’ll see.
Sylvester: Do you understand why we wiped out your memory?
Me: I think I do. That way, I can’t tell anything.
Paul: Right. What are you going to do now?
Me: Not telling anything at all. I promised a friend on Dalygaran As for the other travels, I won’t tell anything either. I wasn’t aware I was so different. I don’t want to be considered a freak. Who would believe me anyway?
Sylvester: Oh, you’d be surprised. I’m sure you’ll find at least one attentive ear on Earth.
Me: And thousands of others to scoff at me.
Sylvester: You can talk to us.
Paul: Yes, to us you can talk. We’re most certainly the only ones on Earth you can talk to.
Me: I really need to figure all this out. Now’s your chance.
And I begin to tell my story. After the day of the Great Waterfall, I pause for a moment.
Sylvester: This Major, you seem to like him very much…
Me: He betrayed me, I answer with anger.
Sylvester: Hola! It appears to be a sensitive subject. The Major and you…
Me: We didn’t purr together if that’s what you want to know. I was in a man’s body anyway.
Sylvester: But I…
Paul: Sylvester, shut it! Beth, please go on…
I take a big breath and I continue my story, until my return to Earth. Then I hush for a moment. As the two Smiths don’t say anything either, I add:
– I’m finished.
Paul: Well, your days were pretty busy.
Me: You can say that again. It was such an experience, and this body was such a discovery. Talking about sensations, it was… unexpected. I went from surprise to surprise.
Paul: New shape, new strength, new abilities— you experienced lots of new things at once. You pushed your limits.
Me: I was stuck in this body. I had to keep myself busy.
There is silence for a moment. Sylvester breaks it.
Sylvester: Well, I have a question for you. Not about your travel, but about both of us.
Me: Sorry, both of us?
Sylvester: Not you and me. Him and me. Us, the two Smiths.
Paul: Oh no, Sylvester, don’t do that!
Sylvester: She has the answer.
Paul: We don’t need any answer.
Sylvester: I do.
Me: Eh oh. I’m right here. What do you want to know Sylvester? Do you mind if I call you Sylvester?
Sylvester: I don’t mind.
Me: So what is the question?
Sylvester: Why the two Lords? You called us the two Lords. Not you, the guy being you.
Sylvester: It’s this nickname that came through first, in the memory tracks you lent him.
Me: I heard it the day of my training at the lottery cafeteria, after my results. I was about to leave when the two operators…
Me: Do you want to know or not?
Me: So they arrived at the cafeteria and sat at a table behind me. I was hidden by a partition, but I clearly heard their conversation. They were talking about two guys they called the two Lords to watch over the Beth Smith travels. And they were annoyed because they find them distant and uptight. Haughty too.
Paul: It seems you take pleasure in telling us this…
Me: You played with my memory. Don’t be surprised if I have a grudge against you.
Sylvester: So you’re vindictive.
Me: You have no idea. By the way, how is it possible I am here in the lottery travel center, 10 days after my last travel? I’m only supposed to come one day per month normally.
Paul: You were offered a compensation for having caught a sickness in the travel unit. Gas contamination suspicion. Who knows why they prefer not to investigate more, eh?
Me: In any case, space travels are over for me now.
Sylvester and Paul: What?
Me: I can’t accumulate memories I can share with nobody. I don’t want to be a snooper anymore, a voyeur, after having shared the life of people on another planet. I can’t do this anymore and I can’t take the portal either without taking the risk of betraying my friends. I have to stop. At least I know someone who will be happy—my grumpy mother. You patched things up with her I understood?
Paul: Yes. She found us very charming. She’s not angry with you anymore.
Me: But with Colin…
Sylvester: He left you a message.
Me: Did you listen to it?
Paul: We had to prevent you doing silly things. Well, the guy. So we listened to it.
Sylvester: You should listen to it yourself. It’s not deleted…
Me: Let me guess: break-up.
Paul: He met someone.
Me: It had to end so.
Sylvester: That’s it?
Me: Yes, that’s it. With each travel I grew apart from him.
Paul: You really don’t want to travel anymore, do you? There are other portals where nobody knows you.
Me: And they’ll want to wipe out my memory.
Sylvester: There will be that chance, yes.
Me: So no. Nobody’s playing with my memory anymore or even considers doing it.
Paul: Take your time to tell the lottery. Think hard about it. And come to see us, if you need to talk.
Paul gives me a card with an address and a telephone number.
Me: I’ve made my decision, but ok, we’ll keep in touch. May I bring you my drawings one day?
Paul: Come draw at our home. We have canvasses.
Sylvester: Yes. They are not from here, but I’m sure you will like them.
Me: Unnecessary to ask you where they come from, eh? Never mind. Gentlemen, I think you’re going to see me soon, I say enthusiastically.
Paul: The pleasure will be ours.
Me: Paul, Sylvester, I have to go home now.
Paul: Give us a call.
Me: I will. Good-bye, two Lords.
Sylvester: You’re …
Me: I know – impossible!
Two months later
“Beth. Finally, you’re asleep. I come… without a body. I know… you can hear me. Star Shining… in the Vastness of the… Universe told me… everything. You must come… back to Dalygaran. The planet is… in danger. Everybody is in… danger. I’m very… weak. You’re expected… in the disembar… kation room. I’m begging you. Come back.”
I awake suddenly and I am chilled. The Major. It was the Major.
To be continued…