“Captain, it appears there is another relevant text from the EarthWorld, unrelated to the one we’ve already found.” TechieSquid paused. “Or only barely related.”
“Which of the . . . areas we are studying does it hale from?” inquired the captain. He had barely stopped himself from revealing more, shifting automatically at the last moment into vague and coded speech. There were sometimes watchers and listeners drifting through the ship, not malicious, but not secure either. Blabbermouths and Gossip-inkers. Loose lips sink ships, thought the captain irrelevantly, wondering what a ‘lip’ was.
“As yet to be determined,” replied TechieSquid conscientiously.
The captain scanned the small blue cube, inhaling its contents. The scent of words was in the air, and the Squidren gathered round as they always did at such a moment. The pull was irresistible.
“Inauthentic,” he decided. “Grok this.”
” ‘Zohrane had power beyond conception, but she hungered for more. . . for the potential to travel outside the world itself, to pass the Gate of Death yet living . . . she was mad, of course. Only the dead may pass. . .’
“It gets worse,” he added and a few Squid officers writhed discretely in their equivalent of laughter.
” ‘But mortals must die, even the Gifted ones, and journey blindfold into the unknown. Zohrane wanted to take that road with open eyes, breaking the first law of Being.”1
“But the First Law of Being is—” cried an excited Ensign.
“They are not fools—they have poetry and jet propulsion,” interrupted Four. “Surely they traverse this barrier twice each night, departure and return. Surely they are aware!
“Every Squidlet does this!” said a young one. “We cross that river daily.”
The captain glanced with mild reproval. “For all their talents, they may not be aware. We know development across the multiverse proceeds unevenly.”
A murmur of ascent.
“But look at this,” cried Four, shaken, for once, from her diplomatic calm.
” ‘The windhorse ran so smoothly she was scarcely jolted. . . Above and to her right soared a sky so thronged with stars that there was scarcely space for any blackness in between . . . starry sky merged into starry sea at a distance beyond guess. . . the sea itself seemed to be made of stars . . her own bare arms had acquired a pearly lustre. There was no sound but the waves breaking and behind that, like a distant harmony too complex, or too simple, for the ear to comprehend, came the rumour of an immeasurable universe.’ “2
“They know about the Sea of Stars. They know about the Windhorse!”
Ah! The Windhorse!
And the Squidren, confident in the ship’s ability to guide itself through time, space, and dimension to the strange planet of the Earthlings, shifted higher and higher in consciousness, transcending plane after plane, lost to themselves in ecstatic contemplation.
When they eventually came down, there would be several new poems in the multiverse.
- p. 91 Prospero’s Children, by Jan Siegel
- Ibid., p. 131