Author: Timothy Goss
Lieutenant Tann wiped his fuzzy torso. Months in a Chrono-tube caused the growth of a downy hair that matted together on the backs of his legs and arse. The computer suggested both Lieutenant Tann and Major Spar rub themselves with oil before taking to the tubes again.
There was a ten-hour window to perform a full systems check, exercise, stimulate brain stems and enjoy some human company before returning to Chrono-sleep.
The computer pumped a little music through the internal speakers:
“Mares eat oats
And Doe’s eat oats
And little Lambs eat ivy
I would eat ivy too
Major Spar found the weightlessness of the Minotaur craft physically liberating, a relief from the inaction of the Chrono-tube. Bodily freedom offered the chance to stretch limbs and flex muscles, which he did over and over again. As he drifted about the craft fragments of ‘dreams’ or ‘visions’, spiraled through his thoughts. The Major was aware that no one had ever reported dreaming during ‘Chrono-sleep’, but the images were clear and defined to him. They were not memories so they must have occurred in the Chrono-tube. He didn’t bother asking if Tann had experienced anything similar. They had spoken after first call, eighteen months into the mission. Spar had a sense of dreaming then, but nothing certain.
“I can’t say I had any dreams.” Lieutenant Tann had said, “Nobody dreams during Chrono-death! It’s impossible!” The computer offered to strengthen his vice bandage.
Tann discarded the small rectangular wipe into the garbage tube with an audible whoosh and smiled.
The miasma of consciousness flickered at the periphery of Spar’s vision. It had been fifteen years since he had experienced the unconscious sensation of naked, unaided flight. As a teenager, it was a recurring theme. Dreams of unaided flight over fields and oceans, his naked body sensing every twist and turn, every nuance of the atmosphere from the slightest change in temperature to the sudden rush and exhilaration as he ascended the burning clouds into the silence of the cosmos. Because of his dreams, Major Spar joined the CSC, to spread the seed of humanity beyond our quiet corner of the galaxy. Now he was in flight once again and reveled at the majesty of his naked body as it soared.
“Major, you are both due back in Chrono-sleep in six hours thirty-four minutes.” The computers colder electronic tones reminded him, sensing bodily and mental fatigue. “Can I assist you with some pain relief or muscle relaxants?”
“Thank you, but I’ll be fine.” The Major said wincing as he gripped a handrail to steady his drift. Thoughts and dreams once again cramped his cerebrum.
The Minotaur’s destination, Gliese 581g, was twenty lightyears from Earth in the constellation Libra. The furthest any Earthling had traveled, the stresses and strains on the human body and spacecraft were unknown.
In his dreams, he saw old lovers, old regrets and old mistakes, but there was something else now, something he had never experienced in his physical form. It was all around him; in every star, every nebula, every asteroid, every world and every atom. Everything in the cosmos oozed and pulsed with conscious energy. There was no judgment, no conscience, just unconditional love and unconditional belonging.
Hours later, returning to the Chrono-tube, Major Spar looked out at the unfamiliar stars, distant, minuscule. He could sense their warmth and his belonging. He saw himself through the porthole drifting further and further into the cosmos and smiled.
The CSC lost all communication with the Minotaur four years into its mission.