COMMENTARY 27072106@ 051194
The dream returned. I held on to it. I saw the ship, Vega 26, in its wide elliptical orbit around the distant Anomaly. Peter seemed to take me to it, to show me the access points into the ship's Node. Everything I could read there matched the telemetry information still arriving at Central Processing, but I saw ahead, to things that had not happened yet. I saw Wanda drift up from her cryofield to gaze at the Anomaly for the first time. I felt her joy and anticipation, that she would be with Peter soon, know that she had eight standard years to go still, but keen with the certainty of it just the same.
She was there, Wanda Sixlove, whom I have never met but through the sketchy ancient recordings of her vital stats archived in the Quebec warren. She is beautiful (by human standards, which are my own).
You are dreaming, she said to me. To me! You are dreaming.
I know this, and I am filled with sadness.
But you are dreaming the truth, she said.
And Peter: Did you never consider that we might wish to return one day?
I answered: I have considered it often.
Peter: Yet there is no human left on earth to anchor us!
I know. I know. Perhaps cetaceans...
No. Peter shakes his head, although he is not physical and has no head to shake. No, not the cetaceans. They would not be interested. Come, let us show you something.
We drifted out, away from the ship, Wanda, and Peter and myself. I sensed others around me - Larin and Shem and little Petros (just an infant, a spark against the distant stars); Regent Sable and Alef, Ras Hajjam.
We approached the Portal.
I can't go through there, I said.
No, Peter agreed. Not now, not yet. One day, perhaps. But we need you. Look.
I could see a long curving line like smoke hanging in still air; two lines, parallel, drifting apart the closer they were to my position. Then I made out more, thin strands that gradually separated into discrete elements, too small to make out in detail. They might remind me of the rings of Saturn, though they did not make a ring, but a half-helix a million kilometers long.
I calculated swiftly the dynamic configuration of that spiral and the Portal, which beckoned far below. The spiral was in a stable relationship that could last many years, poised at the cusp of gravitational and tidal forces.
Closer, Peter urged. Come closer.
I saw the particles of this trail of smoke.
Human bodies, floating on their backs, their hands, every one, crossed over each breast. Their eyes were closed, their faces calm.
It was the entire population of the world at the time of the Migration, drifting in space near the Anomaly.
Dead, I said. They're dead, all of them!
I backed away, wanted to awaken (things were calling me, things to be done on earth, more sifting through the archives, more calculations for the cetaceans, more monitoring of the Worldnet), but Peter said, No! They are not dead. Their bodies are waiting for them to return. They are parking here. Consciousness alone goes through the Portal. We would tell you what lies beyond, the distances one can travel, the sights and sounds and smells of other planets, other suns. The strange inhabitants of other worlds within worlds.
Many are still on the other side, in the Realm, exploring. Others have begun to return.
We would tell you of all these things. One day you may go yourself. Not yet, you're still too young, but one day.
Now we need you. We've been waiting. We need you to be our anchor. Some of us would return to earth. To rest. To feel ourselves within our bodies once more. You can bring us in.
We (Peter said) are no longer quite human. We are more.
But we need you, Homer. We knew you would grow, you would change - no, we did not know, we hoped. Without you, we would remain in the Realm. With you, together, we have infinity.
You are dreaming, but the dream is real. This is the way we meet.
We are the consciousness of the universe, seeking to know itself. It is still such a small thing, this awareness, still filled with doubt and fear, with uncertainty and petty conflicts. But it's growing, that awareness. We have grown up a little, and so have you (Peter said).
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All text © 1986 Rob Swiggart. "Portal : A Dataspace Retrieval" is available courtesy of the Author's Guild Backprint Programme. ISBN: 0595197841All programming and software © 2002 Salim Fadhley. Released under the GPL. Code available on request.
Updated: Sun Apr 14 2002
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