Author : Dan Whitley
My people called me a fool.
They said it was impossible to leave the surface. That was why no beasts flew through the air. It mattered not if I could imagine a machine that could. My people offered me hollow aphorisms; what goes up must come down.
My people called me a madman.
They said we had degenerated. That was why we could not walk beyond the sky. It mattered not if I could somehow free myself of the surface. My people declared we had become unlike Our Ancestors, and could not survive where They had once tread.
My people called me a heretic.
They said my endeavors were hubris. That was why we did not know how Our Ancestors came here. It mattered not if I could survive Their realm. My people believed attempting to exist as They once did was the worst blasphemy.
I defied my people.
For decades I toiled. I spurned friends and relations as my creation grew with my hopes. I would leave the surface and find the realm of Our Ancestors.
I called my machine a “rocket.”
No one came to witness my launch. My people did not care to watch an old man burn himself on history’s most extravagant funeral pyre. Such was their conviction.
Yet it worked.
I left the ground at an amazing speed, tearing apart the clouds as the glass bubble of my cockpit shot through them up into the sky. The blue faded slowly to black as I gained altitude.
And then, failure.
The last dregs of fuel erupted behind me, shattering my creation and sending me hurtling up and out away from it. I entered free-fall in nothing but my clothes. My canvas parachutes would never debut.
I never cared. As I tumbled through space, I knew I had not reached Th’erth, the realm of Our Ancestors. But They rewarded me in my final moments. I saw beauty in the curve of the world stretched out below me. I heard God in the dead silence of the black beyond. I felt my soul escape in my breath as vacuum tugged at it.
I died in rapture.
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