About The Books
of Starman #10:
The following is an
excerpt from one of the chapters of the tenth Starman book. Enjoy!
Starman Kathy Foster paid careful attention to the passing of time.
If she were to return to the Raptor without cutting her air supply
too closely, she had about three more hours to engage the computer
system of the inner ring of the city. She was aware that she was
becoming unnaturally tired, much more tired than she ought to have
felt after only fourteen hours.
She pursued her exploration of the images that hovered in space
around her, learning how to enter into them with her mind. Keeping
her mind focused as she slipped into exhaustion became more and more
challenging. As her mental faculties blurred with her fatigue, she
found that she made unintentional contact with the images, and they
dragged her through spaces she had no intention of following. To
escape, she shook her head, refocused and slowly returned to her
reality. She came to feel like a small child playing among potent
wonders that could prove very dangerous. Her mind began to reel and
sway, and her eyes kept watering and blinking.
Finally she ceased to concentrate and pulled back into herself. She
shut her eyes and tried to think of something familiar. She made
herself remember sensations and experiences from her daily life.
Memories of her favorite foods came to her. Spaghetti with sautéed
onions, meat sauce, herbs. She remembered the aroma. The memory of
the distinct taste of freshly made garlic bread made her mouth
What is that? came the voice. Amazing! Something I don’t
know. You intrigue me now, Starman Kathy Foster. Show me more.
Kathy felt too tired to resist the intrusive voice. It’s food. My
favorite food, she thought. She shook her head and opened her
eyes. She sat bolt upright and stared unseeing. Why am I here?
she thought toward the voice. Why have you left me to wander
through your inner city? What do you want me to find?
There was no answer. Suddenly she felt energized, even euphoric.
Then she felt abject fear, and cried aloud. Then she felt a surge of
adrenaline and a firm desire to act boldly. Then she felt hunger,
hunger to the point of starvation. A pounding headache burst between
her temples and she felt weak and faint. Next she felt completely
sated. With panicky alarm she knew that she was being played like an
instrument. The voice was tormenting her—or maybe merely exploring
her psyche and physical reactions the way she was exploring the
images in the room where she was sitting.
Stop it! she ordered vehemently. You have no right to use
me like this!!
A feeling of curiosity wafted over her, a feeling she discerned as
coming from beyond her. But no words accompanied the feeling.
If you want to show me something, show me! she ordered.
Stop playing with me!
Immediately she felt a complete absence of any other being. An
overpowering sense of wretched solitude swelled into her, of there
being no other living, thinking, feeling entity of any kind for
light years in every direction. She was pierced with an unfathomable
dread as if plunged without warning into an icy, heaving ocean wave
that was working to engulf her. But within a few seconds she had
collected herself and calmed her gut reaction. Her months of
battling loneliness on the Raptor had given her the resources for
rebuffing the experience of absolute disconnection.
You intrigue me, Starman Kathy Foster. The words came into
her mind with a slow deliberation. Now look, then, and you will
see what you came after.
One of the images that was floating in the air around her came close
and opened up. Helplessly, she drifted into it. She saw deep stone
walls, black and sparkling, and then she passed through the space in
between them until they fell behind her. She was floating in space.
A swath of millions of stars, mostly white but also red and blue and
violet and green, extended before her like a pathway, though it was
light years below her feet.
She saw an armada of thousands of spacecraft coming toward her,
spacecraft of advanced design that she knew she had never seen
before, yet which looked familiar. With a sudden realization, she
remembered that they were the ships whose ruins she had seen in the
time stases that her modified reconobot had descried.
A startling and ominous vibration coursed through her body, and she
felt energy pulse from somewhere behind her and move outward. Wave
after wave of the ships of the armada disappeared as if caught by
giant hands and drawn into oblivion.
When the armada was gone, she saw a planet sweep near, and she
hovered over it, watching an enormous host of ships on the ground,
surrounded by buildings of spectacular beauty set among meadows and
groves. It was all suddenly frozen white and silver. The ground upon
which it all lay heaved like a turbulent ocean, and then that too
froze in place. And then a diaphanous silver veil drew over the
scene. After a few moments in which Kathy puzzled over what she was
seeing, there was an eruption of violent, swirling clouds and jagged
light that filled her entire field of vision and obliterated all
that she had seen before.
You know this planet, said the voice, though you have
never seen it.
Then the planet disappeared under a fold of darkness, followed by
another fold, and yet another.
Ah, said the voice. Next… A field of stars rushed
under her and around her, followed by the deeps of interstellar
space, and then more stars. And then one star became more luminous,
and its surrounding stars faded and dropped out of view. With rapid
heartbeat, Kathy recognized her own sun. Saturn flew past her, just
barely recognizable before vanishing. And then she saw Mars, and
then Earth. As she watched, both planets took on a silver tint as in
the early stages of icing over.
She experienced the voice’s elation at precisely the moment she felt
the billow of panic fill her.
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