A gentle breeze blew over the meadow and rustled the leaves on the trees in the stand nearby. It was good to breathe air that hadn’t been endlessly recycled, to plant one’s feet firmly on solid ground, and to gaze out to the horizon as far as the eye could see. Cadmus thought Lonesome probably felt the same way he did about it all. The dagu was sniffing the grasses in a lazy eight pattern.
He looked at the attendant. She was rather attractive in an exotic sort of way. She was tall, a good head taller than him, and thin but not too thin. She looked like she could handle herself in a fray if she had to. And then there was the fact that she was blue, cobalt blue, from head to toe, he supposed. She wore a one-piece flight suit, also blue, that didn’t leave much to the imagination.
He glanced at the others. There were a hundred Sapiens and five Rationals milling around the shuttle.
The attendant spoke without moving her lips. She said, “please follow me to that stand of trees over there” where she was pointing. They walked over and entered the small woods where they stood in a clearing of dappled shade. They saw a row of ten chairs locked together. Each chair had a body harness.
The attendant asked the Sapiens how many had visited them before. Twenty-five raised their hands.
Then she asked how many knew how to go perpendicular without the chairs. Five raised their hands. “OK,” she said, “you can go on ahead of the rest of us. The first step is that flat white rock by that tree over there.” She pointed at an inconspicuous flat white rock next to an inconspicuous tree.
The attendant turned to the rest of the passengers and said, “OK, we can take ten at a time.”
Cadmus was watching the first of the five step onto the rock, flip over, and disappear. The second did the same and disappeared! He stopped the attendant and asked her, “what’s happening?”
She said, “please be patient. Everything is OK and I’ll explain it all to you.”
It was disconcerting to him that she spoke without moving her lips.
The attendant asked one of the remaining twenty passengers who had visited before to show Mister “what is your name?” she asked him.
“My name is Cadmus,” he answered.
“Mister Cadmus,” she continued.
“No, just Cadmus,” he corrected.
“Cadmus,” she continued again, “how it’s done, but come back to us as soon as you arrive; otherwise, he won’t trust us or our chairs.”
After the fifth of the first group of passengers stepped on the rock, flipped over, and disappeared, one of the second group sat down on one of the chairs and strapped himself in while the last group of first-timers watched with heightened interest.
The attendant addressed the third group of passengers, “we usually host an orientation session after everyone checks in, finds their rooms, and has an opportunity to look around, but Cadmus would like to understand what he’s getting into before he takes the plunge.”
All the Sapiens laughed politely.
“Simply put,” she began, “it’s like the hyper-drive ships in which you came.”
“I didn’t come here in a hyper-drive ship,” Cadmus said feeling a bit contrarian. “I came in a solar sail ship.”
Everyone turned to look at him. Even Lonesome looked up at his strange companion.
“I understand,” she said softly. “These are hyper-chairs. You strap yourself in and they reorient you so that you are perpendicular to the three dimensional volume to which you are accustomed into another three-dimensional volume to which you are unaccustomed.”
“I don’t understand,” he said.
“We live in this world on which you are standing,” she explained, “but in more dimensions than you can fathom. Our buildings and environment exist in higher dimensions.”
“Is there something bothering you Cadmus?” the attendant asked sympathetically.
“It’s just that I saved up for this trip,” he said sadly, “and it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to see or do anything, since you all live in this higher dimension.”
“That’s not exactly what I said,” she smiled. “We live in every dimension that exists, at least the ones about which we are aware. Of course there may be others. We can transport you into higher dimensions but you will only be aware of three at a time, what may be called your local volume.
“You will see one of your fellow passengers sit down in the chair, strap himself to it, and when he is ready the chair will twist forward with the passenger.
“You will perceive him to disappear but he will only disappear from your local volume. The procedure is perfectly safe. In a moment you will see him come back to your volume.”
The Sapien strapped himself into the chair and looked up at the attendant.
“Is everyone ready for the demonstration?” she asked.
“I am,” the strapped-in Sapien said. Cadmus and everyone else had their eyes on him.
“You can go,” she said, “but please come right back.”
He pressed a button on the arm of the chair, his chair flipped forward, and he and the chair were nowhere to be seen.
“When is he supposed to …” Cadmus asked.
Suddenly the chair reappeared with the grinning passenger strapped in.
“… come back?” Cadmus stuttered and then said “oh.”
“Do you feel a little more comfortable now?” the attendant smiled at him.
“What about my dagu, Lonesome,” he asked.
“Not a problem,” she said brightly. “He can sit next to you or on your lap. You should cover his eyes before going perpendicular. You should probably close your own eyes too.”
“I’ll let everyone go before us,” Cadmus said generously. “I wouldn’t want to slow anyone down or spoil anything.”
The second group sat down and flipped out ten at a time. Then the third group sat down ten at a time. The only ones left were Cadmus, Lonesome, and the Rationals. They all sat down. Lonesome jumped onto his companion’s lap facing him. He held the dagu’s head to his chest and put his hand over his open eye. The attendant checked their straps and smiled at him. Cadmus closed his eyes.
When he opened his eyes he saw a beautiful hotel lobby made of glass and light.
The attendant unstrapped them and pointed at a glass counter a few meters away from the chairs. “Do you see the female behind the counter over there?” she asked Cadmus.
“She will help you both check in to your rooms.”
from Out of Time