The Words of the Weber Family

Voyage To The Center Of The Universe a story of the value of being young-at-heart

Ken Weber
September 4, 2010

This is my first science fiction story. It expresses how I feel about the value of being young at heart. I hope that you enjoy it.

They came in a huge golden spaceship that soared down out of the sky and hovered just a mile above the city. So immense was the craft that it blotted out half the sky, casting a shadow across the land like a huge solar eclipse. They descended on a mile-long moving stairway that stretched from the ship to the center of the city, and their presence was blinding to anyone around them, for they were beings of light who shone brighter than the sun itself! They were the Imperials, and they said that they were ambassadors from the center of the universe!

The arrival of the Imperials caused a panic around the world. Who were these strange glowing beings? What did they want? Why were they here? Quickly representatives of all the countries around the world gathered to meet with them. Scientists and theologians also gathered representing all the sciences and various trains of thought.

"The time has come," said the Imperials, "for your civilization to take a step to a new level of understanding. We want you people of Earth to choose representatives from your planet to take a daring voyage with us to the center of the universe. Here you will meet the Alphas, the civilization that we serve, and you will learn from them! When you return, you will be able to lead the people of your planet to a whole new level in your relationship to the rest of the universe!"

"Who are these Alphas?" questioned all who heard the Imperial's words.

"The Alphas are special beings," replied the Imperials, "who possess qualities of a wonderful imagination and curiosity. They have a unique sense of wonder. These qualities and more give them a special place in the universe. Now, choose your representatives who will make this voyage! But choose wisely, or all will be in vain and the voyage will be worthless to you!"

When the Imperials finished speaking, they vanished, leaving behind many questions in the minds of those who heard them. Who should be chosen to make this voyage? What qualities should these people have that would prepare them to meet the Alphas, beings who must be even greater than these glorious Imperials? Who would be the wisest choices?

It was decided to choose the most mature and elder statesmen of the world and also the most knowledgeable and brilliant scientists. Quickly representatives from around the world were gathered who fit the qualifications that the leaders of Earth felt were necessary to make the voyage.

Among them was a brilliant scientist by the name of Professor Edward Steele.

"Oh Daddy!" cried Stevie and Sharon, Professor Steele's eight-year-old twins. "You've been chosen to go on the spaceship?"

"Yes, I have!" said the professor embracing his wife, Helen, and hugging his two children.

"Oh, please take us with you!" gasped Sharon. "Yes!" shouted Stevie. "We want to go with you to the center of the universe!"

Professor Steele stood up straight. He had a thoughtful look on his face which Helen recognized instantly. "Oh Edward no!" she said. "You can't take the children with you!"

"Well, why not?" asked Professor Steele. "Honey, this would be the experience of a lifetime for them! Just think of what they would learn! You've seen Sharon's eyes when she looks at the stars at night, and you've seen Stevie's interest in rockets and space travel! How could I go and leave them behind? How could I not take them?"

Quickly the professor grabbed two extra suitcases and started packing them with the children's clothes.

"Oh, Edward," said Helen. "Are you really sure this is the right thing to do?"

"I've never been more sure in my life!" said Professor Steele.

"Oh my gosh!" whispered the children. "We're going on the voyage!"

On the departure day the children followed their father to the waiting spaceship. They marveled at the two brilliant Imperials that stood on each side of the stairway greeting all who arrived, and they held onto their father in awe and fear as they made the mile-long assent high above the city. The spaceship above them shone with a bright pulsating golden light, and as they passed through the entrance they saw that the interior shone with a soothing blue light.

"Look at this," laughed Sharon. "The floor of the spaceship is soft like a big cushion."

"Hey, look how high I can jump in here!" shouted Stevie bouncing on the floor like it was a huge trampoline.

Suddenly they were interrupted by a gruff voice. "Excuse me!" the voice said. "Who said that children could come along on this voyage?" It was Ambassador William Whittaker, the man who had been chosen to lead the expedition from Earth.

Professor Steele stepped up to his children and put his hands on their shoulders. "These are my children," he said. "I couldn't bear to leave them behind because of their love for space and their feelings of wonderment about the universe."

"This is no place for children," said the ambassador. "They will interfere in the work that must be done. I must insist that they stay behind!"

"And have them miss this glorious opportunity?" replied Professor Steele. "No! They deserve to be here more than I do! I will watch over them. They won't interfere with the work."

Suddenly the bright light of one of the Imperials shone next to them, and Ambassador Whittaker turned to the being. "Please explain to the professor that these children will only hinder our mission," said the ambassador. "They must remain behind."

The Imperial walked over and touched Sharon and Stevie on their heads. "They will not hinder the mission," was the only thing he said. Then the Imperial vanished into thin air.

"I hate it when they disappear like that," said the frustrated ambassador. "Very well, the children may come. But you must control them."

Professor Steele smiled and hugged his children. "That was awesome!" Stevie was saying. "Did you see how he just disappeared?"

"Yes," said Sharon, "and his touch was so warm and friendly. He was really neat!"

At departure time, Professor Steele and his children looked out of one of the many windows in the bottom of the spaceship. A mile below in the city, they could see crowds of people gathered to watch their departure.

Then they were off!

As the spaceship sped into the sky, the city vanished into the distance beneath them. Then the Earth itself loomed before them, a huge ball hanging in space. As they sped off into space, the Earth seemed to grow smaller and smaller until it also disappeared in the distance.

"We're moving so fast!" exclaimed Stevie.

"But, I hardly feel any movement at all!!" whispered Sharon.

"The Imperials have found a way to bend time and space," explained Professor Steele. "As a result, this craft can reach speeds many, many times faster than the speed of light! Yet, we feel no movement whatever!"

They were now leaving the Milky Way Galaxy, and soon it faded in the distance. Then another galaxy sped by, and another, and another as the craft continued to pick up speed!

"My gosh!" said Stevie. "Do you know how fast we have to be going for galaxies to be passing by so fast?"

"Faster than we can even imagine!" whispered his father in awe.

When Professor Steele and the children finally turned away from the windows, they found that they were completely alone except for the Imperials who were piloting the spaceship.

"Where is everyone?" asked the children.

One of the Imperials turned and faced them. "They're in a meeting room at the center of the ship," he said, "discussing how to prepare for meeting the Alphas."

Professor Steele was surprised. "They must have missed seeing the entire take-off!" he said. "I guess I had better join them. Come along children!"

Thus, as stars and galaxies sped by outside the ship, meetings continued in the central meeting room far away from any windows or viewing screens. Theologians debated about what the Alphas must be like and how to greet them. Scientists discussed whether or not there could even be a physical center to the universe.

Finally the children got bored and went back to join the Imperials who were guiding the spaceship.

"They say that they don't think there is a real center of the universe," said Stevie to one of the Imperials.

The glowing being seemed to laugh. "The center of the universe is not a place," he said. "It is a state of mind and heart!"

"What do you mean?" asked Sharon.

"The Alphas are the center!" replied the Imperial. "The way they think and feel is at the center of how the universe operates and what gives it its purpose."

"What are the Alphas like?" asked Stevie.

The Imperial's only answer was a gentle, loving laugh.

Finally after several hours, the Imperials made an announcement that they were approaching the center of the universe and that all on board should prepare for meeting the Alphas. Professor Steele and his children looked out of a window. The spaceship was now passing through an area filled with stars and swirling gasses. Everywhere they looked there were brilliantly colored masses of light. Stars circled and spun around each other. Some even collided causing massive explosions. Blue-green gasses swirled all around the ship, and some formed gigantic whirlpools with white-hot centers that kept pulling gasses to their centers until they exploded into newly formed stars. There was light, movement, and activity everywhere!

"This seems to be the place where all the stars are born!" said Stevie.

There was a grunt from another scientist standing behind them. "Hogwash!" the scientist said. "There is no one place where stars are born. It happens all over the universe. This just happens to be a place where there is a lot of this type of activity!"

"But, don't you find it breathtaking?" asked Sharon.

The scientist just frowned and said, "This is simply one place where gasses and gravity work together to form new stars," he said, and with that, he walked off.

But the children were not disillusioned. "Well, I think it's awesome!" said Stevie.

"Yes," whispered Sharon. "Absolutely awesome!"

Suddenly Professor Steele knelt down next to his children. "Look," he said pointing out the window. "Another spaceship."

Sure enough, in the distance, silhouetted against a massive sun, the children saw another spaceship coming towards them. It was the same shape as the craft that they were now on, and as it got closer they could see that it was every bit as big! Everyone else now saw the craft and began lining up next to the windows to watch its approach.

"Is that the Alpha's spaceship?" asked the children.

"It must be," said their father.

The other craft approached with such speed that it seemed as if it was going to collide with them. But then it stopped, hovering a short distance away, its huge shape blocking out thousands of stars! After a few minutes it began to move toward them again, very slowly now, inching its way closer and closer! It was docking with them!

"People of Earth!" said the Imperials moving to stand on each side of an airlock. "Prepare to meet the Alphas!"

Now the great craft touched theirs causing the entire ship to rock gently back and forth. A loud hissing sound was heard as the pressure stabilized in the airlock between the two ships. Then all was silent.

All eyes turned toward the doorway. Everyone waited silently. The time had come! The wait was over! On the other side of that door were the Alphas, the beings that these great and majestic Imperials served! The Alphas, special beings who possessed a quality of wonderful imagination and curiosity, a quality of a unique sense of wonder, all qualities that gave them a special place in the universe. The Alphas, whose ways of thinking and feeling were at the center of how the universe operates and what gives the universe its purpose! The great and wonderful Alphas!

Slowly the airlock opened, and the people from Earth stepped back. They watched and waited. All was silent!

Now a small round face with big eyes appeared to look around the corner of the doorway. Then another face appeared, and another, and another. Everyone gasped! They were all the faces of children! Slowly, one by one, the children began filing into the room, first one, then two, then four...eight...twelve.... Soon hundreds of children stood on both sides of the airlock! Behind them came the parents, hundreds of parents standing proudly behind their children. They seemed to be from all parts of the universe...children and parents from many planets and from many galaxies!

Ambassador Whittaker was the first to speak. Frowning, he stepped forward and spoke to one of the Imperials. "I say!" he said gruffly. "Why are all of these children here? When are we going to meet the Alphas?"

The Imperial, however, stood silently without saying a word.

Now one of the children, a little boy with blue skin and pointed ears, stepped forward and walked over to the people from Earth. He seemed to be searching, and he seemed very disappointed. "Didn't you bring any?" he asked.

Ambassador Whittaker walked over and glared down at the boy. "What should we have brought?" he demanded. "Who are you? What are you talking about?"

"Your children," smiled the blue-faced boy. "Our parents brought us here when our civilizations were contacted, and they bring us every time another civilization is contacted. Didn't you bring any of your children?"

"Yes," said a voice. It was Professor Steele. Slowly he was pushing Stevie and Sharon forward. "We brought two. My son and daughter!"

The blue-faced boy turned and smiled.

But, Ambassador Whittaker was shaking his head. "I don't understand," he stammered. "When are we going to meet the Alphas?"

"We already have," said Professor Steele. "These children standing before us now are the Alphas! They are the ones that we have come to learn from!"

Slowly the blue-faced boy walked over to Stevie and Sharon whose eyes were wide with wonder and who were grinning from ear to ear.

"This is awesome!" said Stevie.

"Totally cool!" said Sharon.

"Yes," said the blue-faced boy embracing the two children. "It is definitely awesome and totally cool!"

"But I don't understand!" stammered Ambassador Whittaker. "They're mere children!"

"Mere children," whispered Professor Steele walking over and standing beside the ambassador. "But, think of how much we have to learn from these mere children! Don't you remember? I think it was the Bible that said it. '...anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.' Look at us, Ambassador, stodgy old adults who are serious and not open to new things. We doubt everything and trust nothing. We have to have scientific proof before we will believe anything. Now look at them, full of a sense of wonder and curiosity, they are learning from everything they see and touch. Their imaginations soar causing them to seek out and explore new things. But most of all, they are full of a faith and trust that we, as adults, lost or destroyed in ourselves years ago."

Professor Steele and Ambassador Whittaker followed as the blue-faced boy led Stevie and Sharon over to meet the other children. "We have the opportunity to learn a great lesson here," said the professor. "At the heart of the universe is a child-like heart and sense of wonder. These and other child-like qualities are things that we should maintain in our daily lives, no matter how old we get. This will give greater purpose and meaning to our lives, and help to draw us closer together."

Now the blue-faced boy was leading Stevie and Sharon and all the children to the windows of the spaceship. Together they looked out at all the wonders and marvels of the universe around them.

Professor Steele smiled and looked over at the Ambassador. "Come," he said. "Let's see what we can learn from our children!" 

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