Now the timetable seemed to speed up. No sooner had I prepared each group of Earthlings for their new autonomy than Àkbä appeared, absorbing the entire flock of recruits in a great golden sphere, which subsequently vanished. My mentor explained that they were being transported to the next phase of their resettlement. I was beginning to grow curious about this “next phase” but never said anything to Àkbä about it. Finally, after I had completed a grueling tour of fifty communes, Àkbä placed his hand on my shoulder: “Sam, it’s time you got to see the results of your labor.” With that, everything around us began to dissolve; I sensed I was about to enter a new phase of my journey and experience.
Once again, our means of locomotion was unprecedented. “Time is not merely multidirectional,” Àkbä quietly informed me, “but a Vortex which renders all dimensions permeable to thought.” He laughed gently at my apparent puzzlement. The entire process was easily reducible to a set of Galanx equations, so named after the seven-year-old Joracian mathematician who, in the 60th Tir or cycle of Joracian history, had first discovered them. When I told him I didn’t see how that could explain the physical transporting of our bodies through vast stretches of space-time, he simply said: ’Thought is physical existence.” It took a moment for the fact that I distinctly heard him tell me this—even as I watched his motionless lips—to sink in. And the Vortex is the key to Universal Servicing.
We stood inside a shimmering curtain or column of light a few feet in diameter. Nothing was visible beyond the wavering colors surrounding us. Àkbä was standing with his back to me; when he turned around, he was holding two blue hyböls, one of which he handed to me. It seemed to have a tiny parasol sticking out of the top; but as I looked more carefully at the object, I realized it was something painstakingly carved out of a fruit or vegetable of some kind, as delicate as origami—and edible! It tasted like apple. “Sit down,” my companion directed. A most comfortable-looking barca-lounger invited me to put my feet up. There was one for my friend, too. He joined me, reclining. When we had finished our hyböls, he placed a tablet in my hand. “Chew this. And make sure you swallow the juice.”
“What is it?”
“It’s like gum,” he explained.
I did as he suggested; it tasted like fire.
“You want another hyböl?”
“Sure.” I was beginning to feel good. He handed me another. I don’t know where he was getting them from.
“Now, Sam,” Àkbä said when I had finished my drink, “it’s very important that you listen to what I’m going to tell you and that you remember. I’m going to seem to leave you for awhile, but in point of fact I’ll be very close to you. I’ll be in telepathic connection with you throughout, but you’ll feel like you’re alone. Okay?” I had no idea what he was babbling about. ‘You won’t be able to touch anything,’ he mentioned.
‘Why not?’ I grinned.
‘Because we’re out of our bodies.’
I turned around and—sure enough!—there I was, reclining in the lounge chair, my blue hyböl clenched firmly in my claw, a grin plastered on my mug as I stared straight ahead into empty space. Àkbä sat coolly next to me, both of us motionless as ice.
I experienced a pleasant floating sensation as the column of colored lights began to spin, vibrate weirdly and reshape itself. Objects upon which my eyes could focus appeared and I let myself watch with absorbed fascination. Larger than life, like titanic gods and goddesses, their faces like moons and suns, their figures appeared to me; I listened to their conversation with the half-guilty feeling of a spy or voyeur; but this soon wore off, as I was drawn, deeper and deeper into the scenes I watched with increasing amazement and curiosity. Why was the young woman crying? Suddenly, I recognized the face: it was Kirstin! And the woman she was talking to was her mother, I now intuited: they had been reunited! While the great drama unfolded, I recognized others with whom I had worked and slowly came to understand that they had moved on to further stages of the Resettlement Process, were reuniting with loved ones all across the universe. Grasping how important my preparatory work had been, I could feel tears welling up in my eyes, until I realized that—disembodied as I was—these were simply “ghost” tears, like the somatic “tingling” of those with amputated limbs. As I watched the intimate stories of each person briefly unfold, I beheld an extended glimpse of the tremendous harmony and dignity of each life; and I felt an intimate acquaintance and kinship with the Joracian ideals of service and duty, of Clej Ameo. The colorful images and sounds swirling all around me gradually faded away; and I found myself back in my body in the barca-lounger, holding my hyböl. Exhausted, I sat shrunken by this experience of Sublime Encounter. I quickly drained the rest of my hyböl. Àkbä sat serene in his composure. “You see, Sam, your labor has not been in vain.”
I needed sleep. I told Àkbä this and returned to my mini-ship alone.