Now we came to the crux of the matter. The point of our questions. We wanted him to tell us of these important details.
“What do you want to tell us, then? What are these pieces and directions?”
“First,” he answered, “you need to be ready to go. There’s no way to find more if you’re unwilling to travel out beyond.”
It was the consuming guilt that finally convinced him to go back to the machine. As he placed his hand on its metallic shell, dust floated up in a puff, showing in the yellow sunlight that shone through the barn’s high eastern window. As he brushed the dust away, he couldn’t help but feel a connection to this object.
It was nothing magical, of course, but a thing of memory. A recalling of the desire and passion he had felt during all those days and nights spent working on the machine. He remembered the longing for something greater—a higher beauty—that had called to him so strongly.
Where had those passions gone?
As he stuck his head into the machine and began to examine the computer, the answer occurred to him with certainty. He had pushed away his excitement for the prospects of this machine. He felt ashamed of that. And yet, he realized now why he had done it. Out of a passive fear of the unknown—or rather, a love for the comfort of the known—he had decided day after day to pursue lesser things.
But no more.
His guilt faded as he once again understood the necessity of finding whatever was out there beyond—wherever it was that he could discover the grand things of his dream. So he set to work, slowly at first, tinkering with the parts until he was acquainted with them once again, and then building confidence and refining a determined precision that surpassed even what he had accomplished before.
He would not turn back again. There was no more denying the great things that lay beyond, just past what he could imagine.
In a matter of sixty days, the machine was complete and fully operational. Soon, it would be time to prepare for liftoff.
“Second, you have to decide what you’re looking for. That way you’ll have an idea of when you’re coming close. You won’t be disappointed when you find it. It will be better than you ever imagined.”
As the man sat in the cockpit of his rocket ship, he took a deep breath before beginning the final preparations. Mental checklist fulfilled, he was certain that all was in order. All was as it needed to be, according to his dream. According to the decision he made out on the dunes nearly a year before.
His work here in the barn was complete, and he was ready to become more than a simple inventor. In a matter of moments, he would travel out in search of the great mystery of the far away.
He initiated the final countdown.
The ion valves opened in sequence. The temporcosmic sails unfurled through their dimensions. The computer buzzed out one last note of a task accomplished. The mystery traveler said a prayer, though he was already certain.
Then he was off. Disappeared. Gone. Out to see the things beyond the beyond.
He paused before explaining further. He seemed eager to continue, but also unsure how to proceed.
“Is there more?” I prompted.
“So much more,” he said, grinning. “It’s just so hard to describe. I was blessed to have it come in a dream. For most others, they have to search all their lives under the mud and leaves of distraction.”
“Is there any way to show us what you mean?”
“Yes,” he said, stretching a hand toward me. “If you’ll allow me.”
“Of course,” I said. “I’m eager to know more.”
Whether it was months or whether it was years, he couldn’t have said after a while. It was so wonderful, the sheer beauty of it, that he barely had time to stop marveling. Sailing out past the stars, witnessing supernovas and specks of dust with untold tales of atomic freedom fighting, he continued to search out whatever came next.
Dancing in the solar wind became weaving through the dangerous surf of the peculiar Yandin planets. Forests of green and blue and yellow plants sprung up in various places, perfect for camping out under the stars. Life of every unexpected variety approached the mystery traveler with as much curiosity as he approached them.
And then past it all, and within it all, there sang a constant praise for the One who made it all. That mystery remained. And yet it did not make this life unsatisfactory.
Time and again, in ways that always amazed him, he would find hunger or thirst and then have it quenched with abundance. To the one seeking out this kingdom beyond, he realized, there was always plenty to sustain them along the way. Never did he lack what he needed for long, and soon he came to never doubt that he would find the necessary resources to carry on.
And once he came to this realization—this trust of goodness for his life—he determined to share it with others. In fact, he knew that there remained no other path for him. The greatest of mysteries, the place beyond, would wait for his eventual arrival, even as it continued to call to him. But until the time came, passing from this existence into another, he felt obligated to share what he had found.
So he did. Passing from world to world, he shared his dream of the mystery. The great passion he held for the beauty out past the stars. And soon, many more came to see it too, the fruit of a good tree feeding many in the starry sea.
He placed his hand on my chest, where my heart would have been, had I been of his kind. I gently corrected him, moving his hand to the right spot. He smiled in understanding.
“I apologize,” he said. “Somehow, I still sometimes forget about the differences.”
“No problem,” I said.
“When you’re ready, I will begin.”
I nodded and took a deep breath. “I’m ready.”
In response, he whispered a single word. A beautiful word.
And I sensed in my heart and my mind an even greater beauty. The indescribable grandness he hinted at burst into my thoughts with a rush. I gasped at the pure transcendence of this dream. And in that moment, without any more doubt, I knew I needed to travel out for myself to see this wonderful beyond.