Author : D. R. Pinney

The other side of Ray’s bedroom door was the universe. A brilliant collage of billions of galaxies spreading out through all of infinity just over the threshold. The sight of it was so staggering that he fell back, an insane scream rising but failing to escape, like in a dream. He must be dreaming! When he realized there was no possible way that something like this could occur in the waking world his scream of unabashed terror left his lips as shameless, uproarious laughter.

‘Man,’ he thought, getting to his feet, ‘I must’ve fallen asleep downstairs with Star Trek on.’ It made perfect sense to him. When the conscious mind finally gives in to its exhaustion the subconscious acts goes into hyperdrive, dissecting all its backup data it received that day in wild and marvelous ways.

All day and night Ray had been filing his taxes. The new software he downloaded was supposed to make it easier but it only pissed him off worse than ever and the hideous glow of the screen gave him a troll-sized migraine.

Every few minutes he would look away from the blasted thing to the Trek marathon on one of the local broadcast station. He’d never been a Trekkie or Trekker growing up and all the series blended together in a Menagerie (wasn’t that the title of an episode?) of alien diplomats, planets that looked like southern California, phaser blasts, torpedoes and cyborgs. He didn’t watch it because he cared much for whatever was happening on screen, it simply offered a little escape from the monotony.

At one point, when the concept of time had slipped from him, he looked up and saw a ship, which wasn’t the Enterprise, cruise through a vibrantly colored, unnamed nebula, sending the cosmic gasses spiraling out into space. The image was tranquil and surreal in the gloom of his dinky apartment.

He thought he remembered thinking, ‘There’s more out there than taxes and dead-end jobs. There are planets where they live for the beauty and awe of the universe that we ignore by filing taxes and downloading software,’ but wasn’t sure, he may have said it out loud.

All his life he had dreamed of doing things the people around him thought impossible. That didn’t necessarily mean space travel, maybe just Earth travel, he’d even settle for coast to coast travel. There were mysteries in the world he wanted to be a part of. But couldn’t. He had to be practical, that was what the world told him to do. Too many nights he wondered what would happen if he just tried it, took the first step forward.

Given the extreme pressure he had been under his subconscious had a LOT of room to stretch and really try things out once he finally surrendered to sleep.

He regarded the expanse of the incalculable number of worlds and possibilities they held with a wonderment he had never known. This was the sort of thing the word beauty was meant for and yet it fell embarrassingly short.

For a moment he hoped that he wasn’t dreaming. He hoped that he could step away from this comparatively minuscule space into the vastly enormous outer space. Perhaps he could catch a ride on a passing comet and visit the most distant burning emerald in the sky.

The notion filled him with enough pure white excitement that he felt he might fly there on his own.

“What the hell?” he said. “If this is a dream there’s no harm in trying.”

He closed his eyes and stepped forward.

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