Author : Suzanne Borchers

Within a huge classroom, Professor Stella watches what appears to be a wild party. Twelve divergent beings converse in languages of uttered speech, thought, movement and touch. Shouts, laughter, and slaps resound. Is this a scene of galactic insanity?

No. It is an experiential warehouse of virtual reality learning which spins in space billions of parsecs from the nearest star. Images of cooperative and competitive thought-architectures fill the shelves, spilling onto the floor and piling upon each other.

Stella calls to Xerus who immediately blows a gust of laughter at his tottering bot to prevent it from smashing into his partner’s project. Stella turns her attention to another team.

Often during this past season, Stella had contemplated how she would feel on her last day of teaching. Would she regret the seemingly infinite number of seasons she had spent here? Would she regret her sacrifice of personal time and relationships for this full-time network? Would she find another vocation in her mandated retirement?

Stella’s breathing is heavy and her two hearts pound.

Last day is here.

Stella smiles as she gathers her students into a circle. The playful shoving, poking, and guffaws take time to settle into place. Each “other worlds” student has grown in personal and interpersonal confidence. This season has been successful. Now is the time to release their images back to their own worlds. Her smile falters a moment at her future loss, but again Stella smiles.

“The universe survives by intertwining cycles with networks. Use these to prosper the spheres of light in our worlds.” She breathes deeply. “I am satisfied you possess the tools to network successfully.” Stella reaches out her rainbow-colored fin toward each student. “Network wisely, my children.” Professor Stella closes her eyes. “Power out.”

The darkened room becomes empty space promising a new season.

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