Where Does “Journey to the Edge” Really Go?

Short Stories for the SoulFrom my soon-to-be-released Short Stories for the Soul:

“Journey to the Edge”

Suited up, helmets on, inside the spacecraft Wilson and Clark climbed into their seats. Switches, dials, and levers filled every inch of the surrounding control panels. Gauges and monitors glowed in green and amber, a soft visual buffer to the darkness outside.

Wilson glanced at the small mirror he’d glued—against regulations—to the console. No sandy brown hair and gray-blue eyes looking back, just the white sphere of his helmet and the face shield that looked like the giant eye of a bug. A bug in outer space. Just how he felt.

We’ve traveled so far, so long, beyond time. What is this in front of us?

Wilson and Clark were approaching a massive surface—maybe the edge of the Universe, or the edge of something. He fastened his buckles.

The necessities of recycling oxygen, water, and waste, and especially of growing food, limited the spacecraft to two astronauts hurtling through empty space, light-years alone. When Wilson didn’t feel like a bug, he felt as if he and Clark were the sum of all of humanity.

So on behalf of The World Space Authority, they sought answers to the big questions: Did the Universe have an edge? And what, if anything, was beyond it? Or would electromagnetic forces arc them back from it? If the Universe were expanding, would its edge always be ahead of them? The God question was never an official subject, but it lingered behind the science. Early on Wilson thought he might find some evidence of God out here. But no sign. At first it confirmed his skepticism. Then he wondered if the whole thing were an immense divine expression. He had always thought most religions kept their renditions of God inside their buildings. Maybe the Universe was God’s church. But where the heck was he?

Whenever Wilson considered the big questions, he eventually came back to the more practical question: Would he and Clark ever return to Earth? And if they did, would the human race still be in business?

The wall was getting closer. He took a deep breath.

Wilson and Clark, like most of humanity, didn’t like mysteries they couldn’t solve. So they’d come this far, and would go much farther, in their pursuit of answers.

Clark flipped switches and scanned dials. Through the intercom he said, “Internal systems normal.”

For now anyway.

Before them loomed the biggest mystery to date. Readings indicated that in this barrier, they had found the long-theorized Einstein-Rosen Bridge—a wormhole. Hopefully it would be the Morris-Thorne version and let them return from the other direction.

They could feel the ship being pulled toward the massive plane of light streaks that converged into a wide circle sloping into a funnel.

“Wilson, look at this. And this.”

Wilson leaned toward a pair of meters. One indicated increasing fields of electromagnetism. They’d expected that, and it would surely increase. The other one indicated rising levels of radiation. Wilson swallowed hard. They’d expected that too. He could hear himself breathing. . . .