Averting my eyes, I focused on a free-form sculpture on the side table. Her office was dimly lit and womb-like, designed to make guests feel safe and comfortable. In my current agitation, the effect was lost on me. “Carousel horses go round and round to insanity-inducing, tinkly music and then abruptly, one breaks free of its pole and leaps off the thing to jump over a bench. In seconds, another follows, then another, until all the horses are gone. The carousel continues to spin, the music keeps playing.” I stopped. I didn’t have to be a psychiatrist to understand what it meant.
She knew me well enough to skip all the mumbo-jumbo and go straight to the heart of it. “You’re afraid.”
“I’m terrified. It’s never been done before.” There’s nothing like stating the obvious.
“If you only had to worry about yourself, would that make a difference?”
“You’d do it without regard for personal safety?”
“What makes you think every member of your crew hasn’t made the same decision?”
Owl-eyed, I stare. That hadn’t occurred to me.
“What do you think we’ll find?”
I’d given it a lot of thought and still didn’t have an answer. Shaking my head, I twined my hands together in my lap. Nervous habit. I’d been doing it a lot lately, and the joints ached.
“I’m going to give you a sleep aide. Get some rest. Tomorrow’s a big day.”
I didn’t go to my quarters, though. I went to the observation deck. The view never failed to instill in me a sense of awe: stars and more stars in the black of space, at a depth unimaginable on Earth. It always made me feel small but never hopeless. I was out here, wasn’t I? I was doing what I’d dreamed of since I was a kid: exploring space.
And tomorrow, we’d do something new, something never tried before: enter a wormhole. NASA had spent years perfecting the equipment, running studies and simulations, and the moment of truth was finally at hand.
If our greatest minds were right, we’d end up in another universe and possibly never see Earth or our family and friends again. Or maybe we’d die; it was a distinct possibility.
Either way, it was the adventure of a lifetime. Terrified I might be, but I was ready for whatever happened.
I was hoping for another universe, though. Dead was no fun.
That night I didn’t dream.
Word count: 415
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