I’ve been able to fly since before I can remember. Apparently my mother screamed the first time I floated out of my crib as a baby. No one else in my family has any kind of power like this, so no one knew what to do with me. I taught myself how to float, how to get above the trees, buildings, clouds. It was work, but it was fun in a way.
No one else I’ve ever met knows how to fly, or do anything out of the ordinary. I look human, but there’s got to be something different about me. The scientists still call my parents every once in a while, but their incessant calling stopped a while ago. Mom and Dad didn’t want to send me to be tested. “We want to give you as normal of a life as possible,” they had told me once I found out about the calls. “You’re a special little boy, but you don’t have to be poked and prodded all your life.”
I never kept it a secret from my friends; in fact, I offered “rides” to them sometimes. No one ever took me up on it…which was probably alright. I didn’t know if I’d be able to get off the ground with extra weight anyway. I wasn’t popular, nor was I shunned. Kids at school were strangely indifferent towards me. I never went out of my way to stand out or anything. It’s enough that I can fly while everyone else stays land locked. Of course, I’ve always thought it was strange that no one seemed to really care after the initial shock of seeing a person in the air.
One thing I’ve always wanted to do with this power of mine is see just how high I could go. I’ve never been too far above the clouds, per my parent’s request. After all, I’m not indestructible. I’ve broken a couple of bones trying to teach myself how to get in the sky. But every now and then, I’ll push myself a little harder, feel the air getting thinner, and wonder to myself if this new height was my limit.
That’s why today, on my 23rd birthday, I’m going to go as high as I can. I’ve moved out of my parent’s house, so there’s no guilt about “breaking the rules”. When I was younger, I researched all about the Earth’s atmosphere (thank you, Science Fair) and I knew that I could get to the top of Mount Everest (thank you, flight training) so in theory, I could make it further than that. The clouds have been pretty far below me before. I figured I could probably get up to the mesosphere before needing to come back down to Earth.
I stood now in my backyard, looking up. I didn’t usually push off to start my flight, but today was different. Kneeling down, I took a deep breath and launched myself into the sky. Flying was second nature to me now. I remember having to learn to keep my mouth closed to prevent bugs from flying in, and keeping my body steady to avoid getting blown away by wind currents. The worse the weather was, the harder it was to stay afloat. But today the weather was perfect.
As I flew upwards, I kept my mind steady. I didn’t want to chicken out at the last second and come back down defeated. I wanted to do this for me. Knowing my limits was important to me. If I wanted to succeed in other things, shouldn’t I try to perfect this strange talent of mine first?
The sky was cloudless where I was, but I could see a storm forming across the horizon. Clouds were wet, and I’m glad I waited until a cloudless day to take my flight. When I was a kid, I was so disappointed to find out that clouds weren’t the fluffy, bouncy, marshmallow-y objects they were depicted to be. Now they were just an annoyance, an unfortunate side effect of not paying attention to where I was flying.
As I ascended above the Earth, I could feel the air getting thinner and thinner. My lungs reached for air that would not come, but I didn’t feel incumbered. It was strange knowing that I could breathe up here. A plane flew beneath me. I wondered if anyone could see me up here?
It was getting very dark and very cold very fast. The curvature of the Earth was slowly being revealed to me, the horizon glowing blue. I could see countries below me. Suddenly, I realized that I was flying way past the mesosphere. I knew soon I would hit the imaginary line where the sky met space. Would I die up here, falling back to Earth and burning up like a meteor? Also, why was I not burning now? The launch was easily sending me upwards at brilliant speeds. I should be like a space shuttle, burning up in the atmosphere…
A neighborhood of satellites greeted me as I felt my body grow a little more weightless than I should be. I began to float in a different way, like how one feels underwater. Across the stars, I could see the International Space Station orbiting the Earth.
I was in space.
I began to panic. Any second now, I should begin to feel my body boil, my air evacuating my lungs…but nothing happened. I floated aimlessly across the blackness, trying to avoid the metal that called the exosphere home.
This was strange.
It felt like a very, very long time before anything happened. My parents would kill me once they realized I wasn’t on Earth anymore for good. But then, a strange light began to gleam off in the distance. A green light, pulsating, growing closer and closer until I could make out the shape of another human.
Blinking the light out of my eyes, I tried to focus on this person. A man, much older than I, made his way towards me. The green light faded as he approached, slowing to stop right in front of me. He wasn’t in a space suit, but his clothing was foreign to me. The green light seemed to have been coming from his hip, where a orb was attached to his hip by a chain. He almost looked like a superhero. We stared at each other for a very long time before he spoke, his voice deep and definitely confused.
“What are you doing up here?”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “What are YOU doing up here??”
The man’s face did not crack. “You shouldn’t be up here, young man. Why are you up here?” I suddenly felt embarrassed, as if my parents were already scolding me. I stumbled over words, trying to explain myself, but the man held up a hand to stop me. “You know that it’s forbidden to leave your post, right?”
“My…post?” Now I was the one who was confused.
“Yes, your post,” he sighed, pulling out a small book from God knows where. “Says it right here in the rulebook: ‘Arialites may never leave their assigned post, lest they be punished.’”
Frowning, I said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
The man returned my frown, putting his book away while looking me up and down. “You are an Arialite, are you not?”
“I…I’m a human?”
He laughed a hearty, rumbling laugh that made me feel stupid. “You obviously are not human, seeing as you’re thousands and thousands of feet above the Earth. Don’t you remember getting your assignment? That’s why you’re on this planet.”
I didn’t have to rack my brain to know I didn’t know what he was saying. “I’ve never been assigned anything by anyone…well, in the context of flight. Also, how are we alive up here?”
“We’re Arialites.” The man said this like I should have known by now. “We travel amongst the stars to find new worlds, then we report our findings after twenty three years.”
The intense pull to fly upwards now made sense. “Twenty three is a very arbitrary number,” was all I could say to that.
The man ignored my comment. “You…look young.” He came closer, still eyeing me with confusion. “How old are you, anyway?”
“Oh.” He backed away. “This is…strange. It’s safe to say you have no idea what I’m talking about.”
“That’s what I’ve been saying!”
The man folded his arms, looking even more confused now. “How did you end up on this planet?”
I shrugged. “Like everyone else down there, I’m assuming.”
“You assume wrong,” he said. “There is no way you are a natural born human. Look at you! You’re in space! Humans die within minutes upon crossing through the atmosphere naked like this…”
“I’m not naked — “
“…so there has to be another way you ended up here. Someone is lying to you down there. And,” he continued, furrowing his brow, “Someone is shirking their responsibilities to our home planet.”
There was a long silence in which I absorbed this strange information. I wasn’t human? That would make sense, seeing as I could breathe in space. But why was I just learning about this now? And how the hell did I end up on Earth?
“You know,” I began, unsure, “no one in my city really cares that I can fly. Does that have something to do with all of this?”
The man paused, looking away for a moment in thought. Finally, he said, “I doubt it, but that IS strange. I’m sure there’s a logical reason behind their avoidance of the topic.”
Probably because it’s fucking weird.
“Young man, what is the name you have been given? Maybe that will help us solve this mystery.”
“Evan,” I told him. “Evan O’Malley.”
“Evan O’Malley…hmm…” He looked down for a long time. I could practically hear the gears in his head working overtime trying to think of any possible way he would know my name. “Nope,” he finally said, meeting my eyes once more. It seemed like his formalities were slowly dwindling as he tried to figure me out. “I have no idea who you are.”
“Great,” I sighed.
“But,” he continued as he came closer again, “you could have a human name and an Arialite name. This would not be uncommon, as our people have to assimilate in order to live on another planet for several years.” He looked me up and down one last time before pulling out what looked like a really fancy walkie-talkie. “This is Hobar of the Virgo Supercluster, do you copy?”
A woman’s cool voice immediately responded, “We copy.”
“I’m talking to an Arialite who has lived on Earth for twenty three years, over.”
“He is twenty three years of age, over.”
There was a pause. “Oh. Copy that.”
“He has no idea what his ancestry is, and no idea what I speak of when I say he is an Arialite. Should I bring him in, over?”
“Uh, yeah, that sounds pretty serious. Take the highway to Ursa Major, that’s where the ship is right now, over.”
“Oh great!” Hobar looked at me and smiled an excited smile. “That’s right next door!”
“Oh, yeah, over.”
“We’ll see you soon. Over and out.”
I had no idea what was going to happen next. Hobar took my arm rather gently, saying, “This journey might feel physically strange, but don’t let yourself succumb to the pressure. We have to take the highway a few lightyears away, and the speed we travel is unlike anything you’ve ever felt. I think you’ll be able to handle it, but I wanted to tell you before you came with me.”
“What am I getting into right now?” I asked, unable to fully grasp what was happening.
“Listen.” Hobar began to use his free hand to speak, seemingly mapping out what we were about to do. “We are currently in the Milky Way, which is in the Virgo Supercluster. We have to travel through the Supercluster to get to another cluster of galaxies within the Ursa Major constellation that you can see from down there. If I’m assuming correctly, the Arialite ship is probably next to NGC 3953.”
“What is that?”
“Another galaxy we have yet to explore,” he said, eyes widening at the thought. “Are you ready? I don’t like to keep Nanette waiting.”
Not knowing what else to say, I simply nodded. With that confirmation, Hobar instantly propelled us through the cosmos.
Hello everyone! Here is yet another dream-inspired post for you today! In my dream, Evan reached space and promptly froze to death. I didn’t think that would make for a good story, so I decided to jazz it up a bit! Hopefully it was fun to read! It was fun for me to look up all of the terms and the neighboring galaxies and such. I love the idea of astrophysics, but unfortunately science in general has too much math for me to pursue a career in it (math is my greatest enemy, if you didn’t already know).
If you enjoyed today’s post and would like to keep up with future ones, consider subscribing to me here on Medium! If you don’t want to commit, I always post the latest blog on Twitter. Following me there is much less of a commitment, I’d say. Thanks for reading! I’ll see you all here next week with the Monthly Update!