I’m not like all those crazy people. This is different.
Imagine flying a starship. Most people can only imagine, because most people never leave the planet they’re born on. Still, even if only a small percent of people ever take a starflight, a small percent of an enormous number leaves you with a lot of people, and therefore, a lot of pilots. Enough that there are pilot circles, anyway. You get to know each other, learn the routes and swap stories over pints at the ports.
And in these pilot circles, everyone has a story about Void Phantasma.
What did you imagine? When you pictured flying a starship, did you see the stars streaking by like meteors in the night sky? Did you see flashes of color shifting towards the blue? How about detonating supernova and whirlpooling quasars and sparkling nebula like a cosmic aurora? Well, it doesn’t look like that. Not at all.
Close your eyes. That’s it. Don’t imagine anything. Just sit there in the silence with your eyes closed. Now do that all day, every day. That’s life between the stars.
So every pilot has a story about Void Phantasma. Star Psychosis. Space Madness. Interstellar Hallucinatory Syndrome. It’s got a few names, but it’s all the same thing. You’ll never meet anyone who’s ever had it, or even known someone who’s had it. It’s always, Well, I talked to a guy once who said he saw it happen to someone else a long time ago. Just a bunch of rumors. Tall talk across the table about crazies who spent too much time alone and thought they saw little green men. Like old sailors spinning yarns about sirens and sea monsters.
So if it were to happen to you, you wouldn’t have anyone to go to. There aren’t any doctors for this sort of thing, or at least none you’ve ever heard of.
But that’s not what happened to me out there in the void. I actually met them. The Others. I know how it sounds, but you’ve got to believe me.
Because they asked about you.