He could never return from the dream. Gordon Levy was an astronaut, happy and successful. He loved his family. His son, Timothy, wanted to be just like him. They played ball in the yard while Margie, his wife, watched with pride. Gordon was good at his job and he was rewarded with a special mission: to be the first astronaut to visit a habitable planet in another galaxy. Everything about the mission was top secret. Even Gordon was not privy to the exact technology that made the voyage possible. The mission was only supposed to last a year, an impossible objective since no one could go faster than the speed of light and the destination was hundreds of light-years away. Gordon was ecstatic to be chosen, but it meant leaving his family behind. Still, he couldn’t resist the challenge and glory of such a mission. On the morning of his departure, Gordon got a call from the President wishing him luck. His wife and son waved goodbye from the monitor in the cabin of the space craft. The countdown seemed to take longer than the actual trip through space. An incredible journey flashed through Gordon’s brain – faster than the speed of light. The new world was teeming with life. Furious colors, plants and creatures seemed to mutate before Gordon’s eyes like strange cartoon characters. Suddenly his silver space-suit began to ring. “Hello,” Gordon automatically responded. “This is the voice of your on-board computer … this is not happening!” Gordon didn’t have time to understand the message because the world around him went totally dark. The dark absorbed all light, even the beam of his lantern was absorbed. There was only sound: chittering, snapping, gobbling noises that seemed to be closing in on Gordon.
Back at mission-control there were applause and congratulations. They managed to isolate Gordon’s brain, separate the brain from the body and put it in cold storage. The mission was speculative, authorized by the Union of Cybernetic Scientists. Outer space was never the goal of the experiment. The scientists were concerned about “living space” on planet Earth. There were too many people on the planet and resources were limited. By taking Gordon’s brain and disposing of his body, more space would be available that could be sold to stimulate the economy. Gordon was never an astronaut. He was just an uneducated man collecting unemployment benefits. Billions of brains could be stored. Benefits would no longer be a drain on the economy. The brains would be treated well, nourished and provided with dreams. Of course the scientists had no idea about the kind of dreams that would haunt the remains of humanity.