He laid there in Med-Bay for a long time reading the anomalous entry in his allnet pad wondering who the hell this Sheriff Funk was and why he was getting his cosmic brain email. There was no sense in getting out of bed yet because the ship was still stuck in the great emptiness that swallowed everything. He was so tired and needed to sleep for a week but this insane thrill ride was probably far from over. How far could he continue to push himself was the real question. So much had happened and it seemed like everything was too fucked up to make any sense at all. If he was someplace else when the ship was gobbled up by nothingness, and he didn’t belong on the ship either, then where the hell was he really? Trapped in some sort of weird hell dimension where everything seems to work out alright during the day and then the questions come at night to kill you slowly while you lay awake?
The question of why he didn’t feel like he belonged here or anywhere else was something that haunted him. A stranger in his own life. He didn’t know who he was and he sure as hell didn’t know where he was at. This puzzled him as he surely should remember something before this. Something solid and not just the blurry images that would stream past occasionally. He could remember the hospitals and the awful cancer back in 2017, but how could he know if that was even real after all he’d seen. The people around him felt familiar which was an impossible thing because he didn’t recognize where he was at even a little bit. Maybe if he just tried to close his eyes for a little while sleep would come to take mercy on him. Let the world say a prayer of all the lost souls.
At first, the sleeplessness stayed with him like an alert animal searching for predators. He had a horrible headache and earlier in the day he’d had a nosebleed that didn’t want to stop. There was a strange new feeling inside of him that he was trying to understand. A warm buzzing wrapped in a flashbulb. A silent storm that had blown in from nowhere. No one else was in the room but he didn’t feel alone somehow. There were words drifting on whispers in the back of his mind somewhere just out of reach. All of a sudden he felt like everything was going to be alright and a smile spread across his face in a way he’d never experienced before. Like someone had installed a spotlight somewhere inside of him. He could see the Lady in White reflected on a sunbeam down deep inside.
Images began to stream behind his eyes again like they had so many times before. If he just let go and didn’t try to control them they would unspool like a movie in his mind. There was a man and a woman walking up a slightly inclined street that looked like it was made of cobblestones. Before he knew it he was the man, he had been transported into him somehow, seeing through his eyes. It was starting to get dark and the wonderful old Victorian street lamps had come on to illuminate the cool air with glowing halos. He had never seen a more beautiful woman in his entire life, it made his breath catch when he turned to look at her. She was like an angel in her long red flannel coat and hat. In her right hand, she had shiny holiday shopping bags and she was absolutely radiant in the streetlights when she was smiling. It was like staring into the sun. He could feel both their heartbeats racing inside him. It would be a day the two of them never forgot…..ever.
The locations shifted and now they were in a towering skyscraper made of windows. He had never seen buildings like this before. Everywhere he looked, the exteriors of the buildings were made of huge glass panels with no frames. Panic raced through him for a moment and he felt like he was falling before a pair of invisible hands reached out to grab him. Then he was the man again and he was making love to that beautiful woman under a white down comforter behind that wall of windows. You could see for miles outside those windows. There was something here that he had never experienced before. A magic so strong that it was timeless. Worlds stopped in between their breaths and stars were born. They were rising through the ceiling now, rocketing into the sky. Facing each other with their arms outstretched, palms and foreheads pressed together.
Worlds began to slide by them like frames in a movie projector. Nebulas swam in and out of view. For a time they floated above the rings of Saturn. The moon was beautiful and so quiet. They were able to stop places but they had to be careful to not start thinking and drop into the world by accident. Never had he seen such things. An endless red desert under purple skies. Impossible landscapes from undiscovered world’s deep in the cosmic marble bag. Lush green forests filled with strange birds songs and windswept plains from another time. The worlds felt like they sat right beside each other and all they had to do was let go and slide through. There was no separation between them now, they had become one thing, there were no words for what they were now. Reborn as something else out on the edges of everything.
For a moment, he had lost control of his thoughts and she had caught him again, it was time to return to their world again. They had almost been gone too long. He could feel the heaviness of the body sliding back around him as found himself standing alone in a room. Before he could call for her she came through the front door crying in a pretty red dress. She held him so close and said she was sorry that she had to go. There was something she had to bring to him in another place, that he wouldn’t understand now, and that he had to trust her. As he felt his entire world slowly imploding she hugged him and ran out the door. He watched her run past the front of the building and straight into a door made of light that had appeared on the sidewalk. The great emptiness that swallowed everything closed around him ever so tightly. The crushing feeling of a man falling apart was the last thing he remembered before waking up in the Med-Bay.
It shocked him to see her standing near his bed when he awoke. She was standing in the doorway with her head cocked to one side, watching him with a type of curiosity he had never quite seen before, looking at him with eyes that were filled with blue fire. He wanted to embrace her but the shock was too much. She was standing right there of all the impossible things. The floodgates inside him opened for a moment and he could feel it all happening again but he had to control it before it all came pouring out of him in some sort of sobbing mess. He could feel that flashbulb going off inside himself again like a thousand suns. Everything was buzzing inside him and he could feel two heartbeats again. Time stood still in that doorway for a moment. An exchange of knowledge that no one else would ever understand expressed with a mechanism that didn’t operate on words. She was smiling at him now.
“I see you’ve met our new patient,” said the voice of Dr. Sophia from someplace far away. “The little girl you saved wasn’t a little girl after all. It was a woman that was just really good at hiding. While you were sleeping there was a flash of light in her room and when the camera was able to refocus there she was right where the little girl was laying down a moment before. The first thing she did was get up and come to your room. I don’t even understand how she even knew you were in here.”
He heard her words but couldn’t process them now. The words felt like they were coming from a million miles away. A pulsing had begun deep in his forehead and that feeling of not being alone inside was with him again. She was smiling at him even more intensely now.