Prologue to the Sphere-World Series
When Maria-Sol first met Ah-dam, she fell in love. Threw herself right over the cliff and into the abyss!
He stood there – just stood, and opened his arms to receive her. And she floated into him as if she didn’t have a husband, didn’t have any responsibilities, didn’t have the rest of her life to drown in both unforgivable guilt and unbearable longing for his love.
And yet - at that moment - she felt neither: No remorse. No regret. No guilt.
They had a week - and one week only. Seven seconds – a tiny sliver of eternity.
1 - Launch Day – September 01, 7289; a.m.
I stood on the main observation deck of space station Δ9, where The Sphere hovered on its pillar of dense light. I watched Nick Cole – the official father of my six-month-old daughter Mona – vanish into the layer of green mist, which surrounds The Sphere. I held Mona in my arms; next to me were my two horses Silvercloud and Alchemist and my dog Digger.
Nick would re-emerge in precisely 10 seconds, after spending 10 days within The Sphere in his imaginary world along the shores of Lake Huron in the Canadian province of Ontario.
It was my turn next. For the last time, I would visit my cherished log house in British Columbia - the place I dreamed up and developed from the age of six when I was first allowed inside The Sphere. It is the place, where I met Dylan – my alien husband and Mona’s biological father.
I took a deep breath and prepared myself to say farewell before embarking on our journey back to Earth - a perilous voyage of five billion light-years.
My need to live a life with Dylan outside The Sphere had been the driving force for building The Odyssey - the spaceship that would take us back to Earth. Nick, an engineer by trade, designed the ship; including its crucial warp engine, which would allow us to make the journey in just over five years - a billion times faster than the speed of light! Dylan provided his knowledge of the universe and his intimate understanding of the energetic phenomena within to help design and build The Odyssey.
Nobody but me knows that Dylan exists in reality outside The Sphere – not even Nick! My husband is not a figment of my imagination. But nobody must ever know!
Dylan would board The Odyssey as a stowaway, and the plan was for him to stay hidden throughout the journey. There were very good reasons for these measures: Dylan must not be found out! Not by my people or – more importantly – not by his kind! He is a singular entity - a being as old as the universe itself, born in what we call the Big Bang. And right now he was in mortal danger of being found out to be in a relationship with a ‘minor life form’ - or humans as we like to call ourselves. To make matters worse - every human being, who is privy to his true nature will be terminated as well. He would rather sacrifice himself than put one of us in danger – and I simply must not lose him. I cannot live without him!
Dylan got attracted to my energy signature – my aura, as he calls it. My pull was so strong that he threw concerns for his own existence overboard to meet me inside The Sphere, where we were able to conceal our relationship from his kind as well as from mine. When I fell pregnant with Mona, The Sphere expelled us. Dylan had no choice but to escape with me into the confinement of the space station. We spent the next 14 months fighting for approval and constructing The Odyssey.
It was a long and arduous process; a road paved with many pitfalls and dangers, a road that more than once almost ended in despair and heartbreak - having to battle and overcome social and technological restrictions alike.
But I have told this story before.
Today was the day we would set off for Earth and let humankind know, that we survived the collapse of wormhole Δ9 over 4,000 years ago, which left us stranded five billion light-years from home. Wormhole Δ9 was our only connection route to Earth, and its catastrophic failure left us stranded in space with no means to contact home. Against all the odds, we not only survived the event, but we also thrived, and we developed into a genuinely self-sufficient community in an environment, which couldn’t be more hostile and alien.
* * *
As I waited for Nick to exit The Sphere, my mind wandered to our crew, who would soon be meeting us on the launch deck to run through the final checks before setting off for Earth.
The past few days had been a whirlwind of preparation, excitement and farewell parties. The stream of people, who came to wish us well seemed endless and I was exhausted, longing for launch day to come. But with less than eight hours to go, my heart was heavy and nostalgic.
After Nick emerged from The Sphere, I handed him ‘our’ daughter before I made my way inside. I could take the animals – no problem, but not my child. The Sphere does not allow more than one human being inside at the same time.
For what would be the last time in my life, I let The Sphere take me in and show me my world. We would spend the next 10 days in British Columbia, roaming the forests and plains, the mountains and the beaches before we would imprison ourselves inside The Odyssey for the next five years.
The prospect depressed me; I wasn’t looking forward to a five-year confinement - to living in claustrophobic conditions with only a minimum of comfort, distraction, or redundancy; with nothing but uncertainty ahead and dangers lurking, which we could not have anticipated, when we designed and built The Odyssey.
For a space-stationer, uncertainty is a fearsome prospect. Our people have been living cut off from any external influences for almost 5,000 years. And with isolation – following a brief period of upheaval and change – came stagnancy. ‘Winging it’ was not part of our social makeup anymore. Undertaking a journey of five billion light-years without traveling through a wormhole, using technology that had never been used before, in a prototype spaceship, without even knowing, if we would find a habitable planet at the end of it, was a terrifying venture. For all we knew, humankind might have wrecked and abandoned our blue planet millennia ago.
But for now I was safe inside The Sphere, and all I was hoping for, was the existence of a real place that could rival my imagination. It had to exist! If not, our mission would be in vain – an epic failure, a fool-hearted folly - and I would have subjected my family and friends to a perilous wild goose chase.
* * *
I closed my eyes and sucked the warm air of British Columbia deep into my lungs. I wanted to make the most of my last days, and fill up for the five years of sensory austerity that lay ahead of us. ‘Dylan,’ a sharp twinge of pain stabbed my heart. ‘I wish you could be here and - for the last time - enjoy this wonderful environment with me.’ But it would have been far too dangerous for my husband to follow me into The Sphere this time. It would have upset the energy fluctuations within the space station and drawn unwanted attention. Flying under the radar of other singular entities had been a tricky business for Dylan and required a lot of deception. He was never more than a heartbeat away from being found out and subsequently annihilated for breaking the law.
Right now he was probably making his way from my quarters to The Odyssey. On the space station, he had to assume a semi-state – a hybrid form half human and half energy, which allowed him to go undetected by singular entities and humans alike. Only when we were alone, would he assume his fully human form.
I reverently entered the house, that had been our home for a very long time. In the time between my 16th and 18th birthday, we spent more than 20 years together inside The Sphere; if that sounds somewhat like a conundrum – well it is. Time inside The Sphere expands. A second in the outside world accounts for a whole day inside The Sphere.
My name is Bella ΞΙ, I am 19 years old, and I love my imaginary world inside The Sphere, but at the same time, all I can think about is going back to Earth.
After saying goodbye to all my favorite places and the animal friends I made over the years – like my little snowy owl, which had grown into a majestic bird - it was time to leave The Sphere behind forever. I felt somber when I gathered the horses and Digger to exit.
My spirits immediately lifted when I saw Nick and Mona waiting for me outside.
This was it! What we planned and worked for so hard, was finally going to happen! We were going to embark on a journey of epic proportions – a journey that has not been made in almost 5,000 years and never before in this form. I gave Nick a quick hug – partly because I was happy to see him, partly to put on a show for the spectators. Yes – we were on display all the time. We not only designed and built a spaceship that would take us away, but we were also parents to the first child naturally conceived and birthed since the year 2933. We wrote the year 7289. Nobody was aware, that Nick is not Mona’s biological father. He agreed to pretend, to keep The Sphere safe from the authorities’ scrutiny… and because he was in love with me.
I like Nick. A lot! He is kind, intelligent, and flaming hot. And if it weren’t for Dylan, I would be with him, and I would be content and happy for the rest of my life.
* * *
I experienced a strong sense of disconnectedness; it was like floating on a cushion of air, completely shielded from outside impressions. Sounds became muffled, and Mona’s chubby arms around my neck weren’t truly touching me – as if my skin was coated with a thick layer of lead.
“Can you hold her for a second?” I asked Nick. He took her from me and threw her up in the air – it made her giggle with glee.
I didn’t feel like laughing much that day. I needed to make sure, that Dylan made it on board The Odyssey safely; that he wasn’t stuck somewhere and left behind. If he didn’t make it onto the ship, I would not see him for the next five years. It would kill me, it would kill him and who knows, how much Mona would suffer. A cold trickle of fear ran down my spine.
I legged it.
He wasn’t in my old living quarters. That was a good start. I made my way to the launch deck. Only once I was sure, his invisible semi-human form was tucked away in my bed on board The Odyssey, I would allow myself to relax and give myself over to the excitement, that unfurled on space station Δ9 like a living, breathing beast. I tried not to attract any attention when boarding The Odyssey. I swiftly made my way to my quarters and closed the door firmly behind me.
“Dylan…?” I questioned my claustrophobic, dimly lit surroundings.
“I am here, baby,” came his deep, calm voice from what I assumed must be the general direction of the settee.
My knees wanted to buckle with relief, and I sucked in a big gulp of air. I wasn’t even aware I had been holding my breath. I steadied myself by leaning against the smooth nano-wall, that separated my quarters from the rest of the ship.
“I am so glad you are here,” I whispered. I still couldn’t see him.
“I can’t shift at the moment,” he explained. “This whole launch spectacular is creating a big energy buzz, and there are singular entities all over the place!”
I stiffened! Singular entities around the station spelled mortal danger to Dylan – and our daughter for that matter! She was half singular entity after all. And neither Dylan nor I knew, how much attention she might attract from others of their kind. Well – put it this way: If any of them should catch on to the fact that she had singular entity blood running through her veins, they would without the shadow of a doubt kill her, me, and Dylan… and everybody else, who knew about their existence. I left our quarters without uttering a further word.
* * *
I hovered over the space station, trying to penetrate its surrounding energy field to probe, to taste, to sense. I was on a secret mission: The Dark King sent me to find ‘The one with The Darkness inside’. I didn’t know who or what I was supposed to be looking for, but I could feel, that I was close. It didn’t matter. I don’t count my time in revolutions of puny little planets around their own axis. My time is infinite – I am eternal.
2 - Launch Day – Noon
I didn’t know, what urgent business Bella had to attend to when she left me with Mona standing next to The Sphere. Perhaps she was upset because she had to say goodbye to her imaginary boyfriend, Dylan. By some weird trick of biology, parapsychology, and sheer magic probably, Bella fell pregnant with Dylan’s child around the time of her 18th birthday, after she was legally allowed to have sex. By that time we had already started to draw up the plans for building a warp-driven spaceship that would cover the five billion light-years between space station Δ9 and Earth in five years.
My name is Nick Cole – I am an engineer, and I am in love with Bella. I love her so much that I agreed to pretend to be Mona’s father – a child that so clearly is not mine, but might still be one day. I am also the Captain of The Odyssey, and I am hoping, that taking Bella away from the space station and therefore The Sphere will make her forget Dylan and allow her to fall in love with me. After all – I am her second choice. If it weren’t for Dylan, she would be with me. She told me so herself. And it is all I am clinging to, and if I only hold on long enough, she might love me… one day.
I checked my timer. Four hours to launch. It was time to say goodbye to my parents, my baby sister, and my friend Barnes, who introduced me to Bella. At precisely three o’clock I would board The Odyssey together with the rest of the crew; five people - myself and Bella included. Along with a committee of experts, we selected the three additional members based on their knowledge, their pioneering spirit, and their flexibility. All three proved their creativity and ingenuity when dealing with the unforeseeable before.
There is Dr. Seth Spencer, a physician by acquired trade, but also a competent veterinary surgeon, scientist, and a humanitarian. With his boyish, good looks – tall, broad shoulders, trim, blond shoulder-length hair and an almost permanent smile on his face - he is immediately likable. Seth Spencer is the doctor, who delivered Mona. No mean feat after thousands of years of in vitro fertilization and incubator-breeding! He would be our Scientific Officer on the journey to Earth, and he would help to disseminate, distribute, and implement our technology.
On a personal level, I like and respect Seth Spencer. ‘If you can fix a human, you can wield a screwdriver,’ is his very hands-on attitude. I certainly know my way around a screwdriver, but I wouldn’t want to fix a human! Seth is of high integrity and very compassionate. He helped us through the rough time after we announced Bella’s pregnancy to the space-stationer’s community. I don’t want to go through all the details of the hate and rejection, that was thrown our way by the radical elements in our society, we didn’t even know existed. Crises bring out the worst in humans – we found this out the hard way. The hate and prejudice didn’t stop at Bella and me; our families got dragged into the maelstrom of hatred and repulsion as well. I remember my mum sitting in her front room, tears in her eyes because some radical scumbag had called her profanities.
We will never forget this. It left marks on us.
Anyway – these times lay behind us, and we were all looking forward to the journey ahead and more so its destination: Earth.
3 - Launch Day – p.m.
I made my way into The Odyssey a couple of hours ago. Now I was laying on Bella’s bed in what would be my prison for the next five years. I fought off a sudden bout of nausea, waiting for the crew to board the ship to start their pre-flight checks. Not that there would be much to check. All systems were ‘go’ and had been for the past week.
At around 01:00 p.m. I could hear Second Officer Lucia Dawson, and Second Engineer Elnora - ‘Elly’ - Stewart walk up the metal ramp into The Odyssey. The women were absorbed in a conversation about the launch procedures, talking navigation, propulsion, matter-conversion, and wormhole ignition. Lucia Dawson, Nick’s second in command, was in charge of piloting and navigation. Elnora Stewart was Nick’s right-hand engineer.
Nick is the heart and soul of The Odyssey! He designed her from scratch, and he knows her workings inside and out. Theoretically, we wouldn’t need anybody but him to fly the ship, but redundancy was so ingrained in space-stationers, that the committee wouldn’t allow a one-man mission. It was reasoned, that should emergencies occur, Nick couldn’t function as captain, navigator, and engineer simultaneously. And Bella – well – she is hopeless with a screwdriver! She is the Morale Officer of this mission, and she would also be communicating and disseminating our knowledge and technology to whatever remained of humankind. She knows how to convey ideas and get people on board; it was her ingenuity, that sold ‘project spaceship’ to the space-stationers.
What nobody knows, but Bella, is the fact, that The Odyssey will carry a stowaway – me. My name is Dylan. I am a singular entity; I was created in the wake of the Big Bang 15 billion years ago. I am Bella’s husband and Mona’s biological father. I fear for my family’s safety! If the singular entity community ever gets as much as a whiff about us, they would not only exterminate me but my wife and daughter as well. That’s why I must stay hidden – at least until we reach Earth, where I will assume my human form and blend into society. Bella and I will ‘meet’ and fall in love and stay together forever. That way it will only ever be her and me and our daughter knowing about my true identity. We will endanger nobody, but us. Sounds like a good plan? Well – it will all depend on how well I will master the skill of blending into human society and still stay connected to the domain of the singular entities, without them realizing, what is going on. I will have to do better than my best – our lives depend on it.
I allowed my mind to drift, and soon the monotonous clatter of the crew, preparing the ship for launch, lulled me into a state of semi-consciousness.
* * *
Elnora pulled the lever, that activates what we flippantly call the stuff-generator. She asked it for a selection of things, ranging from foods to metal and plastic parts for the ship. She tested consistency and quality of the goods dispensed. The stuff-generator is a molecular assembly line, which allows us to recycle anything from man-made to biological materials by separating them into their basic molecular components and reassembling them into whatever is required. The system works loss-free. Its invention allowed the space station to become a genuinely self-sufficient, self-sustaining environment.
Nick chose Elnora based on her thorough knowledge of engine design and construction. They knew each other from work. She is a five foot five curvy redhead with emerald green eyes and what I can only describe as a bouncy personality. She is full of energy, and her sense of humor is outrageous. She is empathic and her social consciousness higher than average. She is a good sport and reliable.
Lucia Dawson, on the other hand, is a tall, athletic, raven-haired beauty. She is serious, bordering on somber. She has the outward appearance of a natural leader and her cucumber-cool calmness on top of that made her the perfect choice as second in command. Navigation and astronomical charts are her specialties, and I think, she has a crush on Nick. Her personality can be a bit abrasive at times, but the general outlook of this mission is not to make friends, but to go and put space station Δ9 back on the map of humankind – as their colony in outermost space!
* * *
I could hear faint music and laughter drifting into the launch deck. There was a party in full swing on the main observation deck, celebrating launch day. The mood was good, and spirits were high! All the stationers would watch the launch. Nick and Bella would have excused themselves a while ago to say their farewells to their families. It was a sad moment for them amongst all the celebrations.
…and I felt profoundly sorry for Nick.
His primary motivation for building The Odyssey was his hope to win Bella’s love, once she was spirited away from The Sphere, not being able to see me ever again.
I was also apprehensive about him being close to Bella for the next five years. I knew she would have chosen him, were it not for me. Nick was a serious contender for her love. On the one hand, this concerned me, on the other hand, it provided me with a certain degree of comfort; should anything ever happen to me, I knew, he would take good care of her and Mona.
4 - Launch – Minus Two Hours
Two hours before launch; one hour before I was going to board the ship that would be my home for the next five years. I held my daughter firmly wedged in between my mother, who did not want to let go of me, and myself. I was feeling very emotional; I knew, I would probably not see them again in this lifetime. And as much as it hurt me, I was also looking forward to life with Dylan in freedom, without the need to always look over our shoulders and hide. My dad was next in line to say goodbye. He hugged me and told me how much he loved me, how proud he was, and how much he was going to miss his granddaughter and me.
He held me for what must have been some of the longest minutes of my life; time stretched, and I was starting to feel afraid, that we would end up frozen in time, never to make it on board The Odyssey. This was a foolish notion, of course, but I have learned to trust my instincts the hard way. I extracted myself gently from his hug, gave him a quick and final kiss on both cheeks, briefly hugged my mum again, and said goodbye before I made my way to the launch deck.
The five minutes it took me to walk from the main observation deck to The Odyssey felt like the loneliest time of my life. I held Mona firmly pressed against my chest, and for a second I was questioning my doings: It was pure madness to take my baby on a journey as long and dangerous as the one we were going to embark on! What was I thinking? How could I deprive her of her grandparents, all the friends she would have in the future, her education, her quality of life, healthcare…? The list was endless!
Chances were high we would find Earth and humankind in social and technological disarray, malnourished, lacking basic health care, and stripped of the knowledge or means to properly care for, and educate people. For all we knew, humankind might be living in caves, struggling to light a fire. If there was any of humanity left that was.
I looked at my daughter and silently apologized for the peril I was going to impose on her.
She beamed me a toothy smile.
When I entered the launch deck, Nick was already there. Silvercloud, Alchemist, and Digger were with him.
My poor animals! They would not get much distraction for the next five years. The reason they were going on the journey were manifold. For starters, nobody wanted to take care of them; Hell – nobody but myself and Nick knew how to! And then there was the notion that there might not be much life on Earth left and we might be in need of transport and a hunting companion. It sounded very ‘caveman’, but my personal feeling is, that the council got carried away when they decided on who and what was going to make the journey to Earth. Don’t get me wrong - I was grateful, that they allowed me to take my animals.
Cheers started when the crowd spotted me, and people demanded, I should stand next to Nick. The historians wanted to document our last minutes on the station in as much detail as they possibly could.
I am a historian myself, and I happily indulged their desire to record history in the making.
I stood next to Nick and looked at him – all smiles for the recording devices, which banned every movement, every word said onto the fabric of eternity.
Voices grew loud to ‘kiss, Kiss, KISS!’
My heart skipped a beat. This was dangerous territory! Nick and I had never kissed before, and I wasn’t quite sure if that wouldn’t take it too far and blow our cover at the very last second.
Nick could feel Bella tensing up next to him when the crowd demanded a parting kiss. Sadness swamped over him like a black, gooey stream, carrying with it all the things that were so wrong with their ‘relationship’. And it didn’t help one bit that Bella so clearly didn’t want to kiss him.
I could see the sadness in Nick’s eyes when he noticed my reluctance to grant him this one kiss.
The truth is: I wasn’t at all opposed to kissing Nick – I just didn’t want to do it in the eye of the public. Who knew – hundreds or even thousands of years down the line, a skilled observer might just catch on to the fact, that Nick and I were not used to any intimate contact whatsoever.
Still – when he extended his arms towards me, I could do nothing but step into his embrace. He looked me into the eyes and said:
“Here we are, finally,” before his lips touched mine – ever so gently, ever so hungry, mine for the taking.
My knees gave way. Nick held me firm. I was lost in his kiss and helpless to escape the power he held over me.
‘Dylan!’ my mind screamed. And it was the thought of my alien husband, which eventually gave me the strength to break away from Nick’s kiss.
The crowd cheered!
We waved them goodbye and boarded The Odyssey. I stumbled on my way up the ramp, but Nick was there to steady me.
5 - Launch – Minus 90 Minutes
I lay on Bella’s bed, waiting for her and Mona to board the ship.
I heard the crowd chanting ‘kiss, Kiss, KISS!’, and I knew they had no choice but to comply.
A red hot poker of jealousy rammed itself firmly into my semi-human gut. Damn! It hurt! I couldn’t breathe, and a wave of nausea and fear rolled over me, catching me full on. I was shaking; unable to move. My mind produced pictures of Bella and Nick – pictures I never wanted to see for real. I pressed my face into the pillow to muffle the pained scream, which ripped away from deep, deep within my soul. Ah, the pain!
* * *
“Nick…,” she took my hand, and we walked up the ramp into the belly of The Odyssey. I was still dazed from the kiss we’d shared only seconds ago. Ah, the intensity of it! In those precious, brief seconds she was mine. I could feel it.
‘This is how it could be,’ we walked up the ramp and out of the reach of prying eyes. ‘This is how it WILL be,’ I corrected myself. ‘Once she is over Dylan...’
At that moment in time, I had no idea of how much heartache was still going to come my way.
* * *
“I am going to lay Mona down,” I told Nick. “I’ll join you on the Flight Deck soon.” I turned around and walked purposefully towards my quarters, which were adjacent to Nick’s - deceivingly connected via an internal door, so the three other crew members would still assume, we shared a bed at night. I still couldn’t see Dylan, but I could hear him speak. His voice in semi-form being low and husky, hardly audible. Mona cooed and giggled with glee when she sensed her dad’s presence. I thrust her in the general direction of Dylan’s voice and waited for him to take her from me. I waited in vain.
“Is everything okay?” I asked. It was not like Dylan to ignore his daughter. He was a very hands-on, loving father and Mona was totally his. Daddy’s girl!
“Not now, Bella…,” he managed to say. “Go to the Flight Deck and leave Mona with me.”
I was worried, but I knew, I had to deal with that later. I was already late for the final pre-launch checks. Luckily I didn’t have much to do, apart from making sure, that everything was ticked off the checklist. Easy!
I met the others on the Flight Deck, and we immediately started to go through the list. It included everything from ‘hardware’ on board - in our terminology that’s pre-assembled goods like food or blankets, vital spare parts or anything we might desperately need, should the stuff-generator fail – to ‘software’. Those are stocks of the basic molecular building blocks that we need to generate goods, without having to sacrifice and convert goods, which were already on board. We had to tick off the functionality test sheets for the warp engine as well as the spaceship’s navigational systems, its life support systems, and shield devices. It wasn’t quite as tedious as it sounds, but it took us almost an hour to complete the task.
Meanwhile, the space-stationers were having the party of the millennium!
“Bella!” Nick’s voice startled me out of my thoughts.
“Here, Nick!” he caught me out daydreaming.
“Wormhole shield generator…,” he said.
“Check and good!” I replied.
What a pointless exercise! We had been checking and re-checking everything over and over again. And I had been present for each and every one of those checks. Redundancy is king in an environment like a space station, but sometimes less is more.
When we eventually finished the final checks, Nick dismissed us to do our pre-launch meditation, which would not only allow us to sever the emotional ties we held to the space station and its inhabitants but would also help us to focus on the task at hand. The pre-launch meditation had been my idea. I am the Morale Officer after all! Not that it was absolutely necessary, but I scheduled this ‘time of reflection’ in to allow me to make sure that Dylan and Mona were both okay and settled for launch. I wasn’t going to meditate for one second…
6 - Launch – Minus One Hour
I was wired and edgy when I made my way back to where I hoped to find Dylan and Mona safe and ready to go. Upon entering our quarters, I could see our daughter in the middle of the big double; Dylan was still in his semi-form and invisible to me.
“Are you with Mona?”
An eerie sense of déjà vu struck me and reminded me of the time inside The Sphere when Dylan wasn’t there waiting for me when I arrived. In my panicked mind, the illusion that he had been found out and terminated manifested itself as reality. I sighed heavily.
“Dylan… now is NOT the time to play games…” I was annoyed. How could he! He must know, how stressed I was!
All of a sudden Mona was floating in mid-air – so I could be sure, Dylan was holding her up. She was delighted to be with her father! I breathed a sigh of relief. I was happy. My family was safely tucked away inside The Odyssey, and in just over an hour, we would be on our way! For the first time this day, my anxiety lifted, my nerves calmed; excitement and anticipation took over. In five years time, we would be reaching Earth. There we would be able to carve out a life without restrictions… or so I was hoping.
I flopped down on the bed next to Dylan and Mona.
“Excited?” I asked.
“I will be glad once we are in hyper-light-speed,” he said. “It is hard for me to maintain this semi-form." I could hardly make out his voice.
“We are less than three hours away from going into hyper-light-speed,” I said. “You can become human after that.”
I smiled in his general direction and pinched Mona’s cheek; she responded with a delighted squeal.
“…I can’ t wait to have you all human again!” I added as an afterthought. I blew a kiss in his direction.
One hour to go.