I am working for Bill Gates. He’s not a bad guy, and now and then I talk with him. Usually he’s busy off doing stuff. He is scheduled to take a space shuttle ride but is busy with something else, so he asks me if I want to go. I jump at the chance.
It’s a tight schedule, so I book a flight, arrange a rental car, and get my space shuttle tickets.
Then I realize I have completely botched my travel arrangements. I have scheduled the plane flight, car rental, and shuttle flight to all start at the same time. I am distraught, realized I’ve screwed it all up and won’t get to go. At the last minute, Gate’s administrative assistant steps in and straightens everything out.
I get to the flight, which goes smoothly, then take the rental car to the launch pad. I realize it’s just me and one other guy on the shuttle flight. I think he’s an airforce pilot or something. He looks around 25.
We strap in, and the shuttle takes off. It is scheduled to be a shortish orbital flight, but for some reason we are redirected to check out a planet that might support life.
We get to the planet and he lands the shuttle. We step out onto the surface, it is a very earthlike world, a bit dry and dusty, not a desert but dry, like Florida or Texas.
Exploring the area, I notice some houses and we walk over. It is a community, it seems fairly technologically advanced. There are a few natives around, they look like ordinary people, about our height, fair-skinned. Most are female and there are some children running about. The are somewhat in awe of us, and take us to meet their council of leaders.
We are taken to a large circular building. Inside it is dimly lit, but not bad once my eyes adjust. In the main room in the center of the building is a fire pit with glowing embers in it. Around it in a circle are many beautiful women. They are dressed in thin black robes, which are essentially transparent, and are wearing masks. Not unlike Eyes Wide Shut. They speak to us with reverence, and smile and flirt with us. Then the meeting is adjourned, the lights come up, and they take their masks off. They are all fairly young and pretty. Since they had just been flirting with me, I ask a couple out, but now they look at me with scorn and laugh, and all hover around the younger astronaut. “You are old and silly,” they say, “this man is young. He is the future.”
I am of course depressed by this, but then I notice a commotion near the entrance. A woman with a child has been brought in, and a crowd is forming around her, with gasps of disapproval. I edge closer to see. The child holding the woman’s hand has dark skin, in contrast to all the pale-skinned women in the room. “Throw her in jail,” the leader of the women says, “and take that” (she gestures at the boy) “to be destroyed.”
“Stop!” I shout, as they are about to be taken out, “you can’t do that to them!”
The leader of the women looks at me with a mixture of surprise and pity. “They are tainted,” she says, “by the inferior race. Come, I will show you.”
She leads me out of the building, down a road and a path. Soon we are overlooking a primitive-looking village of clay houses. “See, ” she points towards the village, “they are foolish and stupid.”
I look down at the village, noticing their clothing is brightly colored, they are singing and laughing. Where the pale women’s village is aloof and technological, with everyone wearing either light clothing or dark robes (just for the leaders), the dark-skinned village is earthen, and emotional, and a riot of colors and sounds.
“This is why the child must be destroyed,” she continues, “we cannot allow this worthless frivolity to infect us, it would destroy everything we have worked to achieve.”
We walk back to the women’s meeting hall. I realize I have to choose a representative to bring back to earth, to be a liaison between earth and this world. The airforce pilot has already picked out a very attractive woman. “She’s very limber,” he says, and winks at me.
“No.” I say. I realize I have the say over who we will bring back with us. “We will bring him.” I point to the dark-skinned boy, still being held by the wrists by the women in black robes. They are all shocked, and appalled. “Did you not understand what I just showed you?” the leader cries, “that boy is not one of us, he is of the mud!”
“Well,” I reply, “you will just have to learn to work with him, since he will be your ambassador on earth. And if you want him to treat you fairly, you’d better take good care of his mother, too.” The pilot begrudgingly kisses the young woman he had picked out goodbye, and we climb back on the shuttle with the boy.
Then I wake up.