A Wandering Mind: Part 20–Jump

“Dream beneath the desert sky. The rivers run but soon run dry. We need new dreams tonight…Set me alight, we’ll punch a hole right through the night. Every day the dreamers die to see what’s on the other side.” –U2

Electrified Air

Lightning Strike

Razor Edges

Vaporized Water

Burned Grass

Earth Cracks

Startled Jump


Storm clouds thicken, encroach and surround the area with blinding rain, unleashed in sheets, flapping in wind gusts. Hail batters manmade and natural surfaces.
Through it all, untouched and dry, a woman walks in its eye. Her hair, not windswept, gently shifts with her movements–gliding strides–as she slips past the edge. The more she moves forward the farther away the storm tracks in the other direction.
The woman takes shelter under a cliff’s overhang. Seated, she recharges by taking in the strikes of lightning, each flash searing, the power riding invisible currents like EMP from a blast. The razor edges sharpening the dull static charge. Palms out and down at her sides, her hands are dishes scooping up the electrified air. After one loud BOOM, she makes fists and stands up. She descends down to saunter the perimeter of the wall of red stone. Halfway around the circle she stops. Only her head swivels in your direction. Her eyes spark and like a strong bolt hits metal, you go to her.
With her right hand she clasps your left and you are zapped by a sliver of fire that jolts you. You both walk left around the curve of the circle. At the break you both stare out over the barren land below and out into the distance.
“Step back.”
She moves her right leg, you your left, and as one step through the opening. You both act as a door.
“Take a deep breath.
Keep your eyes forward.
Hold on.”
Lightheaded, your peripheral vision fades to black, and about to faint, your sight pixelizing, you squeeze her hand and the ground’s rug is pulled out from underneath you and you drop.
Just as you blink your eyes the scene changes and slightly ahead and to the left of you you see how she holds your hand tightly. Your surroundings are blurry, speeding by you.
Her hair whips behind, her dress clinging, plastered by air pressure, some sections fluttering. She strengthens her grasp for a second and in the next loosens it.
You remember to look forward.
The high-speed panels to the sides seem to writhe with creatures. Before you see what’s ahead, your eyes wander off to the right, and you are pulled away from her, sucked into the belt, conveyed to a place of pitch black.
The sudden stop has you wavering on your feet, seasick. You fall to your knees, plant your hands on the ground, dry heaving. The air you breathe in is damp. You take in salty gulps. Not only is this space void of light, but it is soundless. You hear only yourself echoing off what you can only guess are rock walls. You are alone and this terrifies you. Not knowing where you are, and with nothing to guide you to an exit, you are not only lost but trapped.
Then, you hear something that stills you like a frightened animal in fear of a predator. A splatter like moist seaweed hits the floor directly behind you. A bone cracks. A continuous scraping approaches, like a being dragging something in its wake.
“Who are you?” A feminine whisper demands.
“A traveler.”
She comes closer and stops, nearly touching your back. All is quiet. You cannot hear her breathe. Your heart is caught in between beats. Your vocal chords contract, strained by the stress. Your whole body has tensed up in a stance ready to take a hit of any kind.
Guarded, you ask, “Which way is out?”
Slimy tendrils brush your shoulder. Her breath misty and cold, slithers into your left ear. Her drenched tongue foams against her teeth.
“Straight ahead.”
A pinhole of white appears. You get to your feet and rush–not blinking–toward the light. It grabs your attention, you are whisked through and in your fall forward, she’s there flying as fast as you.
You stretch out your left hand, with sheer force of will you push faster forward, and your fingers hook into the cups of hers. She closes her fingers over yours and yours over hers.
You look ahead and see the horizon: the sunburst of light is the profile of a phoenix, wings spread out. As soon as you make out the form, you are propelled, jettisened not only through this walled tunnel, but also in between an upper and lower plane. You shoot through the thin layer of hot light and sense liftoff.

It takes some getting used to the act of falling up. In the split second that my realization hits that we’ve cleared the barrier I yell out to you

“Grab the sides.

Dig in your fingers.”

With my left hand my fingers grapple to unseen ridges, you dangle and swing from my right hand.

When I see your pupils shrink, I know you’re surfacing. I see by the expression on your face, determination back, when understanding dawns, your right arm raises out to the side and the surprise on your face is priceless.

I repeat “Grab onto the sides. Dig in.”

How do you tell someone how to touch and sense what should be empty space?

Once you are clinging, I signal with my yes. Your left hand in mine, that I’m letting go. You nod. You swing back then reach for a spot behind me. You’ve already found climbing spots for your feet.

I look into your eyes and smile.

“You’re going to enjoy this.”

And when I know I have your attention, that you comprehend to do what I do, I lift my head and eyes straight up, close my eyes, and become a sunflower–the warmth of the sun above us guides me, pulls you and me through the portal.

In the next instant I’m seated on the tallest capstone of a stone circle. You’re at my left side. We both face the sunbeams pouring in from the transom slats between tree branches.

My eyelashes unmesh and I keep my eyes almost fully closed, just a slit of light enters. I look to the treeline and see the beings of the Otherworld, curious at our arrival.

“Don’t move.” I softly tell you. You don’t even open your eyes. With a peaceful smile I raise myself up as I slowly lift my lids. My calm doesn’t scare them away. I gradually lower my left leg, then my right, like trickling water and then cascade down to the ground. With a thump I land.

They snicker. All you hear is the quick shake of leaves in a breezy gust.

Their eyes move from me to you sitting on the rocky pedestal. They wonder why you are here.

I turn around and stand to your left. Without blocking your light, I lean over and kiss you on your left cheek. I take your hands in mine and whisper in your left ear.

“Slowly open your eyes.

Look only at me.”

Your sleepy eyes appear behind your scooping lashes and you peer into my irises checking for a sign. I tug on your hands and you stand up. I step back and you hop down.

You’ve jumped right against me. I release your hands and place my hands on your chest. Your eyes move into mine like keys into a lock. And it clicks. Your smile broadens. You close the distance and we connect. The shafts of light raining around me now cover you. I hear our spies fly and run off. We are alone together.

Love at First Simulation “Transom” (created April 4th) paired with Nightmares at First Simulation “Startled Jump” (created April 3rd)


Simulations, trial runs, practices, rehearsals, crash courses, deep dives, rites of passage, initiations, boot camps and basic training are all ways to prepare for a challenge. They require discipline, a regimented routine, endurance, a battle of wills. A milestone comes only after limits are tested, by stretching and reaching potential. Individuals face uphill battles and embrace difficulties by pushing themselves, and by ignoring fatigue by drawing on energy and creative reserves. Time is forgotten toiling enthusiastically day and night, wrangling a particularly stubborn problem. It’s only when we refuse to accept the easy way out and boldly attempt to reach that excellent goal, and dare to strive, when mind is truly over matter that the grind is effortless, each hurdle cleared a triumph. Momentum spurs more movement
until we are no longer up to the challenge but already at the summit. It’s then that we can take in the view, get our fill, breathe in wonder, growth, strength, accomplishment, achievement and eminence.

My team and I tested ourselves in personalized visualization exercises in virtual reality scenarios -both waking reality and in shared dreams. We faced our greatest fears in nightmares of our own making. We knew when the time came, when the game was up, harsh physical realities of space exploration would push us to our limits and we needed to be prepared.

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The story continues now and then here on Medium.

Everyone dreams. Are you one who realizes there is more to dreams than just what you do while sleeping? Check out @virtuonaut on Twitter to see who else throughout human history has commented on the value of dreams, wondered about the unknown and pondered the unexplained.

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This work is under creative commons licensing Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 4.0 International

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