McCleary has worked as a Mathematics teacher since obtaining his Science Degree
majoring in Mathematics and Physics from
He has always had an interest in works of science fiction and more recently has undertaken research into spirituality with particular reference to the ‘Near Death Experience’. Since retiring he has tried to explore both of these themes in his novels ‘Raised as an Angel’ and the sequel ‘An Angel in the Making’.
The great star hung in a jewelled space. In this part of the great spiral galaxy there existed billions of stars. The Beings who had long ago taken possession of this great star had called it simply The One. It was the one which could easily be made to support the thousands of planets which existed either naturally or artificially within its huge biosphere. Its extremely regular and dependable variations in luminosity made it ideally suited to generate all the energy needed by the trillions of Beings who had made this system their home. The small companion star also had its share of planets which were home to still more of the Beings.
Across the galaxy and beyond the Barrier the great star could be seen and was known by many names. The lizard people on the desert world of Sotor knew it as ‘the star which forever changes’. On the far distant world of the Avions, these gigantic birds of prey knew it as a faint star which always appeared in their evening sky. It was one of the few stars visible in the almost total blackness of their night. To the Beings who owned it and lived forever in its loving warmth, it was simply The One. It was The One which had been chosen. And thirteen hundred light years away, on a small blue ocean world, the people who lived there knew it as Delta Cephei.
The Beings, who lived on the many worlds protected by The One, had reached that stage of personal development where their existence was idyllic. They truly loved and cared for each other in every way. There was no sickness and no death. They were the absolute masters of the physical universe. Everything from the smallest sub-atomic particle to the largest objects in the universe was well known to their science. The worlds on which they had built their homes were perfect in every material way and the Beings lacked nothing in the way of physical resources.
Most had no memory of a time before the great star and its planets had been chosen and transformed to become what they now were. Continued personal development, the goal of all, was still dependent on missions spent beyond the protective Barrier on the far-flung and untamed worlds across the galaxy. But when their missions to these worlds were over, they inevitably returned to the sanctuary of their families and homes surrounding The One.
* * *
The small vehicle travelled effortlessly along the road, winding its way through the brilliantly green paddocks and hills on either side. The two travellers in the vehicle had set the multi-controls to manual operation. In this mode it was their physical exertion which was powering the vehicle. Michael was steering the vehicle and pedalling while his friend, Gelf, was at his side supplying additional pedal power. Ahead of them, The One was steadily rising in the morning sky. This morning it was a beautiful mixture of colours favouring light orange tinged with a pale blue. The filtering settings in the atmosphere made it possible to look directly into its disk and to study its wondrous beauty.
It was Gelf who broke the silence of their journey. He was small in build, being a good head and shoulders shorter than his friend, Michael. With his reddish hair and complexion he always had a slightly impish look about him. “What do you think the professor will be talking about today?”
“To tell you the truth, my friend, I don’t much care.”
Gelf was a little disappointed to hear this from Michael as he had sensed for some time now that something was deeply troubling his friend. However, he went on as though he had not heard the remark. “I find his lectures on the speed of light as a limiting factor in the universe very interesting. It puts some perspective on the universe for me. It means that our science is not all-powerful and that we will always be operating under some constraints.”
Michael was starting to get a little edgy now as they were approaching their local university and he was not really looking forward to another day studying this or similar topics. “I honestly don’t care whether space and time are flat, curved inwards, curved upwards or in any other direction! I don’t want to know that we will never be physically able to travel to the outer worlds because of some perceived constraint. I don’t really believe in it anyway. The Guardians are all I care about. Becoming a Guardian is the only thing that is important to me.”
Michael immediately realised that he had over-reacted and had said too much. “I’m sorry. I did not mean to offend you, my friend. I am just not very happy at the moment.”
“No offence taken, Michael, of course. I wish that I could be of some help to you with whatever it is that is troubling you.”
They drove on the rest of the way in silence until at last the little vehicle reached the entrance to the university. Michael engaged the air controls and the vehicle slowly rose into the air and Michael piloted it towards the tenth level of the building where their lectures on Field Dynamics were held. They left the vehicle and walked the rest of the way to the lecture hall. Michael was tall of frame and well-built with dark hair which he kept short and well-groomed. It was a small attempt on his part to at least appear to be conforming to a particular set of ideals.
When Michael and Gelf entered the lecture room, there were about twenty or so other young-looking people already seated in the stands which faced down to where the professor was standing. Professor Waifensaal looked every part of his profession. He appeared to be only a short time off his retirement, with white hair and a white wispy beard. He wore the traditional white lab coat and when he stared up into the faces of his younger-looking audience he carried quite some authority.
Michael and Gelf sat down and took out their powered notepads. Michael could not understand why this format, where the students were required to physically write onto their notepads, was used. After all was said and done, the information from the lectures could easily be transferred directly and electronically to the students’ notepads to be read later. The information could even be fed by forced telepathy directly into the minds of the receivers. However, Michael knew that this latter was morally inconceivable and would never be done. Still, the whole situation did not sit well with Michael.
The professor was talking and all the other students were totally absorbed in his every word. “No material object and no signal of any kind can ever travel faster than the speed of light through the vacuum of space. The speed of light is an absolute constant of the universe and this law can never be violated.”
The professor continued but with a slightly different tack. “I know that many of you regularly attend the wonderful dimensional movies where creations from all over the galaxy from the greatest artists ever known are shown. I also attend these highly entertaining shows. Many contain great moral wisdom. However, you must know that the great spaceships that carry the characters between the stars are purely a literary device. They regularly travel at speeds faster than light in order to make the stories work. Please do not think that in reality it will ever be possible to do this.”
Suddenly it all became too much for Michael who had made a study of this material some time ago and had found it to be very shallow. The Guardians routinely transfer the very essence of people and, in fact, all of life’s essence, across the Void instantaneously. Where does the professor think that the collective memories, on which all of these movies are based, come from?
Instead, Michael rose to his feet. “Excuse me, Professor, as I have a question for you.”
The other students were absolutely shocked to think that anyone would so rudely interrupt their teacher. Gelf, who was seated next to Michael, tried to sink as far down into his chair as possible.
Michael already knew the answer to the question that he was about to ask, but he suspected the professor would be caught out by it. “Professor Waifensaal, what would happen if I were to, theoretically, shine a strong beam of light onto the distant clouds? What if I then caused the projecting device on the ground to rotate at a certain finite speed, thus causing the point of light to trace out an arc across the clouds? Every science student knows that the speed of the point of light moving on the arc on the clouds is directly proportional to both the distance to the clouds and the rotational velocity of the device on the ground. Both of these can be finite and not even necessarily very large. However, the speed of the moving point of light on the clouds depends on the product of these two quantities and by a suitable choice of these two finite numbers, which I multiply together, the spot of light can be made to travel much faster than the speed of light.”
Following Michael’s question there was a silence and a look of stunned disbelief on the faces of the students. He knew that he had done himself no good at all by his attitude and his question. To his somewhat perverted satisfaction though, he realised that the professor did not have an immediate response. He was standing facing the class and was temporarily lost for words. Michael could not help feeling a little sorry for him.
The tone of the remainder of the lesson was somewhat strained after that, and Michael was pleased when it was time to board his little transit vehicle with Gelf and head on home.
The One was setting low towards the
horizon and some of the brighter stars were already showing themselves as small
specks of light against a darkening sky when Michael and Gelf began their ascent
in the little flier. From this altitude, the inland sea could be seen almost in
its entirety and was showing glistening shades of turquoise and crimson on its
gently moving surface.
Michael’s sombre mood had improved somewhat now that they had left behind their day at the university and were headed towards home.
“I’m sorry about today, Gelf, I know I embarrassed you.”
Gelf, who was more worried about his friend’s underlying problem, simply replied, “Don’t think any more of it.”
“I know I shouldn’t let things get to me as much, but sometimes I reach a critical mass and well, you know …”
“Yes”, said Gelf who was a little amused by now, “I have observed you with both of your feet in your mouth on other occasions.”
Michael ignored the slight jibe. “For one thing, why does he have to look as he does? He is a professor in his area of expertise but why does he have to look old and have that silly beard and white hair?”
Gelf reflected for a moment before replying thoughtfully, “That is probably the way he sees himself on the inside. We should respect his wishes.”
“Yes, you are right of course, my friend. Everyone can choose how he or she looks but most people tend to want to look their best.”
Gelf watched as the tiny craft began its final approach. He could make out his own home now and that of Michael and Davida as well. “Why don’t you try to tell me what is really worrying you? I know that you are deeply troubled, my friend. All the rest is as nothing.”
Michael appreciated his friend’s concern but said nothing more. He allowed the small craft to settle in front of Gelf’s home and he watched as his friend got out and walked the short distance to the entrance to his home. They both waved a friendly goodbye even as the tiny machine climbed once more into the evening sky.
When Michael got out of the vehicle in front of his own living complex, he looked up at the night sky. The stars held a special fascination for him. Some nights he would lie outside in his garden and gaze at their never-ending beauty for most of the night. In the section of the sky facing toward the galactic centre, the stars were so numerous that they appeared as a bright mist where individual stars could not be made out. In general the stars were so clear and bright that, away from the city’s lights, it was easily possible to read written text and to see the landscape clearly in the pale starlight. Many of the other planets could be seen, depending on their positions relative to The One. Tonight The Companion was also clearly visible high in the sky. It was always the brightest object in the night sky when it was in a position to be observed.
Michael often wondered about the countless billions of stars which were visible but which lay huge distances away across the great galaxy. They were, of course, well outside the Barrier which surrounded the system of The One. He knew that many of them contained planets that supported life and that millions of these worlds were home to civilizations of Beings similar to himself and who were in various stages of personal growth. These were untamed worlds and many of the Beings who lived there were equally as untamed. They treated each other cruelly and with almost total disregard for the well-being of the other person. Also, even on the more advanced worlds, the people and animals were still at the mercy of their planet’s weather and geographical patterns. They bred freely in the natural way which ensured that their offspring were complete unknowns when they came into the world. This meant that there was always going to be a steady input of new Beings into their societies, each of whom was at a completely different stage in personal growth. Without intervention, it would never be possible to form a completely stable and loving society where every Being nurtured and cared for everyone else.
Michael walked the short distance through his courtyard to his front door. In the pale starlight the flowers and other exotic plants from all over the system could be made out in all their magnificent splendour. The mixture of fragrances from each of them was indescribably beautiful, almost to the point of being overpowering. Michael lived in an apartment complex which joined many others. Davida, his mother, lived in one of these joining apartments and hers also faced onto the same courtyard.
Tomorrow would be the start of several free days from his university studies. There were a number of activities planned by his circle of close friends, but Michael knew that he was reaching a point where question after question was entering his mind, and many disjointed memories from before were also occurring. He was starting to remember his last mission in the natural way. This was the way that Jonathon had insisted that he do it. He had pointedly refused to allow Michael access to the Hall of Memories where every minute detail of every past mission of every creature who had ever existed anywhere was kept. Michael could have easily extracted all of his memories in just an instant. Jonathon had said that this would be pointless as it would not help Michael’s personal growth in any way. All the lessons so painfully learned would have to be redone. And so it was that Michael spent much time alone trying to piece together the slowly forming bits of his past mission memories.
When Michael awoke the next morning, The One had already started its ascent into the sky. It was at the peak of its brightness cycle, and over the next few days it would get slowly dimmer until it reached its lowest point and then once again begin to grow brighter in the sky. The endless cycle had been repeated for aeons of time and would go on seemingly indefinitely. At some point in the distant future the great star would begin to run short of its nuclear fuel, but no one worried about this and certainly no one doubted that, when that day did arrive, that a suitable solution would be found. The colours in the sky progressively changed from a deep purple to a brilliant crimson as The One went through its cycles. Thirty trillion Beings currently lived on the worlds surrounding The One. The billions of artificial satellites, which lay in direct orbit around The One capturing and storing electrical energy as the star varied in luminosity, supplied the energy needs of these Beings.
Michael walked the short distance through the courtyard to his mother’s home. He was determined to get at least a few answers to the questions which were plaguing him. As he approached the door, the sensor screen immediately came alive and Davida’s radiant form appeared on the screen.
Her face shone with the pure joy of seeing him. “Come in, my son. There is much for us to discuss.”
Michael walked through the entrance and into a large and brightly-lit living space. The choice of colours and soft furnishings spoke much of the loving and beautiful person that was Davida. When she came into the room from another entrance, Michael noticed that she had changed her appearance slightly. Her hair was now a lovely golden shade which perfectly matched her complexion. She was easily the most beautiful and radiant woman that Michael had seen during his time on Tranador.
She sat on the soft lounge in the centre of the room and invited Michael to do the same. “It is so wonderful to see you, my son. I am so proud of you.”
Michael’s impatience with his own inner thoughts began to fade away as he was swept up into her loving presence. She had been the centre of his existence from the time of his birth here on Tranador, and only recently had he slowly begun to pull away and become more of his own person.
Davida spoke aloud to the room’s auto-unit and immediately ordered up Michael’s favourite drink and a small snack. When the drink and food arrived she watched with a mother’s love as Michael began to consume it. “There is something that I need to tell you, my son.”
Michael could tell by her tone that something was not right. He looked into her eyes and he sensed great sadness. “What is it, Mother?”
Davida paused and looked away so that she was not looking directly at Michael. “It is my time.”
At those simple words a silence hung between them until finally Michael found his voice. “How do you know it is your time?”
“Everyone knows when it is their time to begin the next mission. As will you, when it is your turn.”
The shock had still not fully penetrated to Michael. “Your level of personal standing is the envy of most here on this world and others. Why do you have to leave now, at this time?”
“I do not yet know the details, my son. But a person’s growth is forever unlimited. Nor is it limited by the material bodies we have here on these worlds. Someday we will all progress to the Ethereal Plane of existence and beyond.”
Michael understood that when a person’s time for a new mission arrived, they simply knew it at their core. The person then presented themselves to the Guardians in order to make the arrangements. Some people spent huge amounts of time relaxing and rejuvenating themselves within the protection of the worlds of The One, while still others stayed only for a short time before starting on a new mission in the outer worlds across the galaxy.
Davida went on to say, “I do believe that this mission that I will soon undertake is not so much for learning but is more of a rescue mission.”
For whatever reason, Michael knew that he was about to lose, for a time, the person he felt closest to on this world. He felt more alone than ever and his own inner troubles once again came to the surface. “I had some questions for you when I came here today but now they do not seem all that important.”
“That is alright, my son. Ask your questions. I will answer them if I can.”
“Just one will do for now, under the circumstances. Why is it, Mother, that I am so different to everyone else?”
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