Table of Contents
Father Michael had had a long day. Four days ago, a routine maintenance job had turned deadly when an airlock malfunctioned. A young engineer had been killed. He left behind a young wife and two toddlers.
This morning, Father Michael had held the service for the engineer. It was so heart-wrenching that he was relieved when it was over. But his mind drifted back to the toddlers all day.
Afterwards he had listened to four confessions. One was a mentally unstable woman. Anna suffered from insomnia, and no drug seemed to offer much relief. She had taken a rather self-destructive path in life, and perhaps simple insomnia lay at the root of all her problems.
It was the feeling of powerlessness that got to the Michael. What had the toddlers done to deserve growing up without their father? And Anna seems powerless to stop her glide to destruction.
Why did an omnipotent God make these things happen? Michael had no answer to this. And yet, people demanded an explanation from him. All he could offer them were empty, hollow words. And Father Michael knew this. He felt tired, and in some sense abused by his Ultimate Master.
He called his wife and explained that he needed some meditation. She understood, as she always did. Michael was still amazed by how good their marriage was. And so he set of to the one place where he felt that he could truly relax: the float room.
The ship had the shape of a rotating wheel. This created artificial gravity in the decks along the wheel. But the wheel had four spokes, and a center. As you took the elevator up one of these spokes, gravity gradually receded. In the center, where the propulsion engines sat, there was no gravity.
In fact, the propulsion engines had not operated in Father Michael’s lifetime. The ship was on a steady, albeit high velocity course onto the Andromeda nebula. And with the engines inactive, it was safe to be in the center.
In fact, some of the rooms had been converted into floating chambers. They were not open to the public. Access was restricted to the upper echelon. These people enjoyed the luxury of an occasional zero-gravity float, with some music, perhaps a glass of wine.
As he got older, Father Michael’s back had started giving him a bit of grief, especially after such a long day. And zero-gravity worked wonders on his back. So Father Michael was more than happy to find a vacant floating room. He squirted some wine into his mouth, selected the right music on his sound-device and just floated in the dark and the quiet.
When he awoke with a jolt, he was at first completely lost. For a second, he did not know who he was, let alone where and why. How long had he been asleep? He checked his watch and found that he had, in fact, slept though the entire night. He was overcome with a feeling of guilt for leaving his wife alone. This had never happened before.
As Michael stumbled to the out of the floating room, his dream started coming back to him. In fact, the memory was so vivid that he was unsure whether it had been a dream.
Michael had been walking on a planet. No doubt about that. The smells, the feeling of the wind on his skin, a sun peeking between the clouds. These were things he had seen in movies, but last night he had experienced them. He had actually felt them.
Michael had been overjoyed by the reality. But then he had been saddened by the poor life he and everybody he loved had known on the ship. He had been overcome with pity. He had thought that The Creator had wronged them by putting them on a ship, when they where meant to live on a planet. Once again, Michael felt abused and he had no explanation for it.
Michael saw a hill in the distance, and started towards it. Birds flew over head, he heard insects buzzing under foot. He looked for them, but could not find them. And still, there was this humming. He had come to a wild river and felt that he needed to cross it, in order to climb the hill. But when he had waded waistdeep in the river, he was surprised by the force of the water. It pulled on him, he lost his balance and got dragged along.
Of course, Father Michael had never learned to swim. The ship had no pool. Then, he felt a stinging pain in his chest, he must have gotten water in his longs. He was strangely aware of how he lost consciousness. His last thought was: “what a silly way to go.” And then he must have died.
The next moment however, he was on top of the hill, and was looking back at the raging river. He saw his body being dragged along in it, but felt strangely indifferent. He turned and saw three men sitting at a rough stone table. The men were sitting in stone thrones, but the cushion made them look quite comfortable.
The man to the left called out him: “Michael, come here.” Michael went towards them, but he did not seem to be walking. Again, he noticed this without wondering about it. He felt completely dull.
When Father Michael was quite close, the man to the right spoke: “You will be our messenger. You will take this message to your ship. You must stay on course.”
“Do not get distracted.” interjected the man to the left. The man to the right resumed: “You will meet the other ships at Mundus Melior. That is the planet you are travelling towards. You do not need to change course, it was set exactly right by us.”
“You will meet the other ships there,” concluded the man in the middle. It was the first thing he said, and he said it as if it explained everything. And that was the end of dream, if it had been a dream.
As Father Michael made his way back to his cabin, he was mulling over the significance of his experience. What other ships had the men been talking about? There was nothing in the scriptures, nor in the prophecies about other ships.
And there had been two foreign words, although Michael remembered them quite clearly. Mundus melior. That must be an unknown language. Was that the language that was spoken on their destination-planet?
After explaining to Anna, Father Michael reported back the magisterium. He had an appointment with Mrs. Severa, the second in command at the church. It was just a standard monthly debriefing.
Julia Severa was the foremost authority of the prophesies. Father Michael was very interested in her opinion on his dream, and told her in full detail. But she did not really respond. She just looked at him and asked him to relate it once again. Then she insisted that he put the dream in writing and have it on her desk before his shift was over.