Chapter 25: A Walk in Space
4 February 1964
The morning of February 4, 1964 started out like most others here in Massachusetts. Outside, it was bitter cold and myriad stars were sparkling in the winter sky. Perched on the horizon to the west, the huge figure of Orion dominated the sky. One could easily see in this constellation the form of the hunter. Below it, Sirius stood out dazzlingly among those of lesser brilliance. The rest of the winter's star figures occupied their places in the celestial sphere. To the southeast, the waning gibbous moon cast its cold glow on the snow and the scattered clouds that drifted slowly eastward. And due east, the reddish glow of Arcturus drew my attention for a moment in the direction of a far-away star, too dim to be seen by the eye but glowing brightly there in my mind - the yellow-white sun, Korena.
After spending a few moments gazing upward at God's heavens, I went back inside to thaw. It quickly became just another night. I was listening to WKBW from Buffalo and reading through my account of the January 4th contact, looking for the inevitable mistakes and typographical errors that one doesn't see immediately while writing. [Note: I am forever indebted to those who put computers into the homes. If only I had one 40 years ago.]
I had just begun reading page 30 when the music in the headphones stopped short. I thought nothing of it until abruptly a powerful carrier filled the phones with a soft tone. At that point, I dropped the pencil, turned down the volume slightly and switched on the small transmitter to my left. A familiar voice came through, that of Orii-Val. He said, "Alen, Bob. Don't switch on your unit, as we will be but a minute. We ask that you be ready to go with us in ten minutes. We have a very special surprise for you this morning. You won't need any heavy apparel, as you will be outside but a moment. Orii-Val out."
WKBW popped back in, and I sat there for a moment wondering if maybe I had been hearing things. The decision on this was easy one, since I'm not prone to hallucinations. Quickly, I removed the phones and shut down the radio and the now-warm transmitter. In a few moments, all was ready, and there was nothing to do but wait for their arrival.
I went outdoors to do this, and the time went quickly. I spent a few moments reacquainting myself with old friends in the celestial regions, and I hardly noticed the arrival of a huge disc. It was at least 200 feet in diameter and was completely dark. It stood out for its very blankness, a great circular void in the stars. As I watched, a hole appeared near the edge and a small ship flashed out and dropped to Earth.
It landed on the driveway twenty feet away, and when its dome opened, I could see Orii inside motioning me to come quickly. As I was climbing aboard, Orii said, "We must go immediately. There is a car rapidly approaching." To the south, a bright glow was heading our way. The car was within a quarter of a mile. When I was seated, the top closed and sealed, and Orii thrust the elevation control forward. We shot upward just as the State Police cruiser's headlights lit up the drive. Damn! Another second of delay and it would have been Q&A time.
We were aboard the large disc five seconds later. The little craft slipped into one of three stalls in a room on the outer rim of the craft. The ceiling curved over our heads in a solid expanse of glowing material. There was a very definite arc on the wall before us, rather than its being flat. I assumed it enclosed a circular room and I was partially correct in this. We deboarded and went through the door on the wall. Rather than emerging into a large room we came upon a hallway that curved off in both directions. We went down it to the left, and shortly we came to a doorway labeled "Control Deck" (in English). Going through, we walked along a small corridor and then emerged into a fairly large room.
It was circular, about fifty feet in diameter. The ceiling was ten feet high and made of white Lumiglow. There were no windows, but several telescreens mounted in the wall served as well if not better.
They showed the outside terrain quite clearly, much brighter than it actually was. I was told that the cameras were extremely sensitive in weak light, and could produce a good image in starlight. The illumination provided by the moon was far more than enough for crystal-sharp images.
There were six screens located hexagonally around the room, corresponding to six cameras outside, which covered such an area that their pick-up areas overlapped. Each of the cameras was individually controllable from wide angle to telephoto over a zoom range of 50 to one. They were mounted on pan and tilt assemblies that could cover about 100 degrees away from center in all directions. They defaulted to the view that I saw.
On the board to the left of the entrance door, two more round screens showed the view above and below the craft, again with the field of view overlapping with the six on the wall. There was not a point outside this craft that could not be seen from inside. I have included a floor plan for this ship.
The main control panel was actually quite small, only about ten feet long. It was operated by a man and a woman whose fingers were dancing over keyboards and buttons as they watched panel-mounted screens in front of them.
Sensing motion, I glanced at the nearest of the screens in time to note that we were moving upward rapidly. While we were rising, I looked over the rest of the room.
The walls were of the same flat pastel blue color that I had seen so often in the rooms of the two bases. Here and there were documents, pictures and directly opposite the door, the glorious image of Ageless Life. This one seemed to have a unique beauty to it. It was almost alive in its realism. Every feature of the face was defined sharply. The individual hairs on the head could be distinguished. The eyes were very expressive. In them one could set great wisdom and compassion. I found it very difficult to look away from this singularly arresting portrait.
The floor was covered by wall-to-wall carpeting of a slate-gray hue. It had a very fine, firm texture. The pile was extremely dense. It had just enough resilience underfoot to give the impression of walking on the finest of oriental rugs, and the sensation was extremely pleasing.
Between the panels were potted plants of several varieties, including two not unlike palm trees in miniature. None of them bore blossoms of any sort, but their presence nevertheless added beauty to the room.
In the center of the room there was a column about six feet in diameter. I was told that it contained a variety of equipment, as well as a ladder to the upper observation deck.
All together there were eight people aboard, six men including myself, and two young ladies. Except for me, they wore the type of uniform I described in an earlier account. Their average height for men was 5'11" and for the women about 5'6". One of the girls was a blonde Venus, the other a dark Spanish-appearing brunette with sparkling deep brown eyes and a flashing smile. She spoke with a noticeable accent, although it was not similar to any that I had ever heard. The men all had brown hair, although their eyes ranged from blue to almost black, and their skin color varied from light to a deep tan.
Soon after we began to ascend, three of the men left with one of the young ladies. We rose for almost five minutes, then stopped. Looking at the screens, I could see that we were a considerable distance up.
I was about to ask when the remaining lady said, "Our present altitude is 5000 Miles." Now that's fast! 5000 miles in five minutes, 60,000 miles per hour.
Orii said, "This craft, as you see, is designed for deep-space travel at velocities very close to the speed of light. This requires a prodigious expenditure of power, and we don't often push it to the limit for that reason. Usually we restrict it to about 90 to 95% of light speed for interplanetary travel.
"At present we are merely hovering above the Earth rather than orbiting it. We have come up here for a specific reason. If you will follow me, we can be about it."
As we left the room, I meditated on how they flung about numbers like 95% of the speed of light with the same abandon that the owner of a racecar would talk about 100 miles per hour. Certainly our present propulsion systems wouldn't allow such speeds. Their technology, however, is as far beyond ours as the X-15 is beyond the Wright brothers' plane. When we discover for ourselves the control of gravity and magnetism, then we will go farther in a year than we have in the last hundred.
[Note: in the report printed in UFOI, I provided data that proved to be erroneous by a large factor. This was due to another example of IC and my sketchy memory of what was actually said. The Korendians provided me with accurate audio records during the conversion of these reports to computer format.]
We followed the hallway around further to another door leading into a room that was about ten feet square. This is area 12 on the drawing. Once inside, I saw on the left wall a row of lockers. Orii went to the end one, and opened it. He then opened the one next to it and called me over. I was stunned at the contents. Space suits!
Orii took out the two suits and laid them out on a table on the other side of the room. He explained a few features, and then asked me to follow his every motion as he was putting it on. It was about a five-minute operation, with the instructions being given as we went along.
I was now dressed for whatever was to come. The suit itself was of a metallic material that appeared to be seamless except for the opening to put it on. It was extremely comfortable. The flexibility was truly amazing, considering that I was told that no meteor smaller than 1/4 millimeter could penetrate it. It contained air conditioning, breathing apparatus, communications and a variety of indicators and instruments for temperature, air pressure, humidity, radiation, etc.
The helmet was about half-glass and half-metal. It could stop meteors up to 1/2 millimeter in diameter. It shields against ultraviolet and infrared radiation. It minimizes radiation of all types. Most interesting of all, its density changes with light intensity. Yes, our scientists have developed a similar material, which darkens as light increases, but the similarity ends there. Unlike ours, the glass reacts in microseconds. One can look directly at the sun and then turn his head and see the stars in the sky. The glass limits incoming light to an intensity about equal to that of a room illuminated by a 100-watt bulb. Even more remarkable, it amplifies light below that level, to the point that the naked eye can see 8th magnitude stars. How this is done was not explained, and I doubt that I would have understood it had Orii told me.
Getting back to the story, we left the room and went around to the main exit. Orii went to a control panel and pressed a button. The large circular entrance opened in iris fashion, revealing a shaft illuminated by an unseen light. We climbed down a ladder about ten feet, then went into the first airlock door. He pressed another button on the wall. The iris slid closed above us, and simultaneously the door below us opened.
When we had gone into this cylindrical chamber he closed the door behind us and reached over to switch on my communicator. This done, he told me to turn on my air controls, and handed me a small tubular device, explaining that it was a jet propulsion unit for travel out there - just in case.
He then told me, "I'm now going to reverse the gravity in here to orient us correctly." So saying, he threw a switch. I felt the gravitational force fade until we were weightless. Following his lead, I reoriented myself so that I was upside down from how I had entered. The gravity then increased until I was standing on the "ceiling" of the chamber.
He pressed another button and the air in the chamber was quickly evacuated. The suit ballooned, making movement a bit less easy. I noticed also a sudden deadly quiet. While I was thinking about this, Orii opened the outer door and we went through into another chamber. I looked up and saw another iris door opening slowly. [Note: the multiple doors were part of their safety-in-depth policy. Decompression in space from a malfunctioning airlock is not high on their Things To Do list.]
A few seconds later there was nothing but infinity above us. We climbed up the ladder and at this point I shall lay claim to being the first man of Earth to experience the awesomeness of "walking" in space.
We were now standing on the bottom of the ship, our magnetic boots holding firmly. [Note: there is a ring of ferrous alloy surrounding the airlock for a radius of about twenty feet, for just this sort of extravehicular activity. The bulk of the hull is non-ferrous, and the boots would be useless.]
I shall attempt to describe the indescribable. The ship's vertical axis was parallel to the Earth's surface, so that our beautiful globe was off to one side. We were over the twilight area, since the darkness was about halfway across the globe. There was a fuzziness about the scene, and must have been due to the deep atmosphere, I could, however, make out clearly the various continents. On the oceans, many small islands poked their noses into the continuous expanse of water, In the air were a number of cloud areas drifting ever so slowly in their courses.
As I swept my gaze into the night zone I could see glowing patches in many places. They were the major cities. Orii pointed to one spot in particular, barely visible. "That is your home town." Fascinating!. My own home city was visible from this far up. Ah, what wonder! This is a fame of sorts. Out In the ocean I noticed a number of tiny specks of light. They turned out to be ships. Ships! From 5000 miles high! [Note: the light amplification of the helmet lens increased their brightness considerably.]
When I could wrench my attention from this spectacle, I turned to look at the moon. One may look at it on a very clear night and it seems like a mass of detail. Friends, you have NEVER seen it like this. Its edge was defined so sharply that one could make out the small projections that were mountains on the rim of the disk. The twilight area was very clearly visible, with a number of mountains and craters making spectacular patterns of shadow and light. The detail is what one would expect to see from a telescope, with craters in great numbers, and "seas" with their mountainous rims and pockmarked surfaces. Orii told me, "With a pair of good binoculars you can see as much from up here as a six-inch reflecting telescope would reveal from Earth's surface. With that same telescope up here, you could never hope to see all the detail." I believe it. [Note: the helmet lens not only amplifies light but sharpens it. It's a technological masterpiece.]
So here it is, the glowing Lady of the Night, the inspiration for poets and lovers. The moon in all its stark, cold beauty, seeming only a stone's throw away, with its icy white radiance illuminating the ship and the both of us in a ghostly glow, a completely unreal scene.
Here is man's target for tomorrow, the one body in all of space that fires the imaginations of both the elite and the laymen, that draws men to it like an irresistible magnet. It is that globe to which men have ascribed all sorts of mysterious abilities. It can cause insanity. It can affect plant growth. It can change men to werewolves. The things that are blamed on this splendid white orb!
MY attention turned away from the moon into the depths of space. The stars were in their glory, shining with unwinking steadiness in numbers to defy counting. There are red ones, blue ones, yellow ones, white ones. There are double stars. There are clusters. There are blots of light that are other galaxies, millions of light years distant.
All of these seemed so close that one could almost reach up and pick them from the sky one by one, yet so far it would take man a lifetime to reach even the nearest of them without the fantastic drives that propel our brothers to and fro in mere seconds, Orii pointed to his home star, faintly visible, a definite yellow-white color. [Note: visible due to the helmet lens' light amplification. Korena's visual magnitude is about 7.4.]
I looked for a long time at this one point of light, In my mind I could see several worlds about its teeming with human life. I could see people living at a leisurely pace, unworried by threats of war and violence, unscathed by the ravages of disease, unaware of the possibility of poverty, of hunger, of anger, of hate. I can picture a beautiful world where all are at peace, where everyone loves all others, where everything is for the good of the people, where men have reached a state of true light and consciousness.
I can picture a world of green grass, tree, flowers, bubbling brooks, blue lakes, vast seas. I can see a splendid blue sky with fleecy clouds wafting lazily overhead. Occasionally a bird files by, singing its joyous song. Beneath it a garden perhaps, where there blooms a variety of beautiful flowers, red, blue, white, yellow, crimson, orange, golden. I can see a young girl of about ten years of age skipping down through this festival of colors, stopping occasionally to small a fragrant blossom, to watch a hummingbird flitting about, to wonder at a butterfly preening itself on a leaf.
[Note: all these reveries turned out to be rather Terran-oriented. The substantially higher gravity, 3.2 times our own, renders winged creatures quite uncommon on Korendor. Those that do exist are quite powerful. Typically, they are predators similar to our hawks and eagles. They hunt for small animals but do not spend a lot of time airborne.]
This young lady has no worries, Her family is happy, her friends are happy, her world is happy. They have learned to love and live in the way that men should live. Hers it a world of beauty and joy and love. No one wants to blow her and her people into oblivion. They are too busy being good, kind citizens of the Universe.
I turned again to my own world. It too was beautiful. It has its flowers, its trees, its birds, its brooks and lakes. It has little ones who skip through gardens, enchanted by the great loveliness of nature. But, it has major differences.
On it is hate. On it is distrust. On it is prejudice. On it is war. It has its poor, its sick, its hungry. It has despair. It has men, women and children doomed to lives of hopelessness.
On my Earth there is little true love. There is little awareness of the universal truths. We do not live in harmony with nature. On my Earth, men fight, men claw; men, whose noble destiny is made known by outsiders who ride in ships that flash In the night sky, are not interested in giving of themselves. They only want at any cost, even to the taking of life. They are greedy, they are envious, they are desperate. Who cares about the rest of mankind as long as I get what I want: This is our philosophy, readers, This, then, is our task. We must bring our terrestrial brothers up from the pit of darkness and into the warmth and light of truth and love. We must make them radiant in their goodness. We must not be satisfied until mankind is at peace with himself and with nature.
Turning again to the stars, I envisioned innumerable worlds whirling in eternal orbits around these sparkling gems in the blackness. Then I noticed the "fireflies", the specks that were seen by our astronauts, and first by Adamski. They were flitting about us in every direction.
I asked about them. Orii replied, "Some are phosphorescent dust glowing by absorbed ultraviolet light from the sun. Some are ice crystals shining by refracted and reflected sunlight. Some are microscopic flakes of stone.
"Most of it you would call meteoric dust. It comes from many sources, among them comets, the debris of the fifth planet and the uncountable trillions of tons of loose matter drifting about in space, waiting patiently for a home of its own. It can present a hazard if in great enough quantity. Our ships have shielding force fields to deflect it.
As he was speaking, a sudden loud "ping" came from the top of my helmet. The impact threw my head forward. Orii said, " That was your first contact with one of those little interstellar missiles, the micrometeors. They may be small, but at speeds in excess of 100,000 miles an hour they pack a load of kinetic energy. One of them the size of a pea could go right through the hull of an unshielded ship. The one that just hit you was perhaps a tenth the size of a pinhead. Thank heavens for "small" favors.
Speaking of meteors, it occurred to me that I should be able to see them in our atmosphere from here. I was right. As I looked at the night side, there were occasional fiery streaks of light as the meteors spent themselves in their brief bursts of glory. I then noticed a moving spot of light going across the globe, apparently well above it. "The Echo balloon satellite," Orii said in answer to my unspoken question. Fascinating indeed!
Finally, I turned cautiously to face the central furnace of this system, old Sol. The glass darkened instantly as I turned. I was looking directly at this luminous ball of ultrahot gases. This is an inspiring sight, friends. In the center a glowing sphere, mottled with occasional freckles that we call sunspots. Out from it all directions is its "atmosphere", and the evasive thing that astronomers would relish seeing from here, the corona. Usually, it is visible only during solar eclipses. Up here, it is a standard view.
Very occasionally one could see a prominence pop out of the surface and arch over to drop back. Each time, I could see more energy released than the entire earth uses in electrical power for a day or more. If only this great ball of superpower could be harnessed. Orii had no comment.
I looked once again to the stars and turned down my communicator. Everything was quiet. It was an unearthly kind of quiet. It was easy to listen to my heartbeat, to hear blood flowing in the vessels in my head. Here was the sailence that one associates with a graveyard in the early morning hours -- eerie, deathly stillness.
Under the noises of my own body, I heard Orii's voice from the communicator, which I turned up quickly. He said, "We must go inside now. However, the opportunity for you to do this again is yours for the asking. If possible, we will oblige."
"I have been out here many times, and yet each time I get a renewed thrill. My understanding deepens each time. I can well imagine your feelings at this time. I recall how I felt when made my first venture into the vast nothingness of deep space. There are times when I think I could spend eternity contemplating on the universe, its order and its breath-taking splendor and beauty.
"Time is growing short and you must be returned home before you are missed." I was silent all the way back home. After that experience, what can one say?
As I stepped out of the tiny craft back on terra firma, I looked upward, beyond the sky, beyond the clouds. I had been standing out there moments ago. Now I was back to Earth, a bit wiser, a bit more enlightened. I watched the tiny craft slip into the huge black hole in the sky and felt a pang of regret and loneliness as it vanished into the early morning sky. Overhead, the familiar figure of Bootes beckoned me for a last look. In my mind I could see their home star, their great world, and their wonderful people, waiting for the opportunity to greet us as brothers and friends.
And then the reality of the midwinter night prevailed. Lost in thought, I went inside. There was no sleep that night.
[Update 20080909: While editing this file for typos and undetected errors, I decided to contact the Kors for info on how the suit lens works. The response: it is not actually transparent. It involves an outside layer of microscopic "cameras" feeding a video processor in the helmet. The image seen inside is similar to an LCD display. Since we define such things in terms of pixels, it is equivalent to a 20-megapixel display system.
The "screen" is designed to enable the wearer to see its image as though he/she were looking through glass rather than in terms of a couple of inches. Included is an infrared "tracker" that monitors the eye's position and corrects the image to account for a change of pupil orientation.]
This graphic was scanned from the issue of UFOI in which this report appeared. The original drawing has long since disappeared.
© 2008 Robert P. Renaud -- all rights reserved