Tell us what you see, Corporal.
Same ruins as last time. White marble pillars and sand dunes.
Air temperature?
I know she’s here somewhere.
Please answer the question, Corporal.
Uh, cool. It’s always cool. Eleven point one degrees celsius.
What else do you see?
Blue sky. No clouds. Apart from the two suns, nothing unusual.
Your auditory sensors are picking up data. What do you hear?
I don’t hear anything. Why isn’t she here?
The general’s orders are not to interact under any circumstances.
I thought he wanted more data?
This is reconnaissance. No engagement permitted.
I see something. A white pyramid in the dunes. I’m going to investigate.
Do not approach the structure. Stay where you are.
En route to pyramid.
The general instructed us to unplug you if you disobeyed orders again.
Go ahead. Good luck finding someone else for your experiments.
You’ll die from shock if we have to terminate suddenly.
Do what you want. I’m going to the pyramid.
Corporal.
Don’t you want your precious data?
You must not touch the structure.
Think the general will mind if I go inside?
Corporal.
I’m kidding, Command. I’m about halfway there. It’s bigger than it looked from the ruins.
Height?
From here, I would guess 300 metres.
Constructed from blocks?
No, it’s smooth. Looks like some kind of quartz.
Don’t go any further.
I’m right there.
Don’t touch it.
Feels cold, like glass.
We’re bringing you back.
Wait, I hear something.
What is it?
Somebody singing. It’s her, I know it.
Move away from the pyramid. Return to the ruins immediately.
She’s saying my name. Calling me inside.
Your vitals are glitching.
The quartz has changed. I can put my hand in it. It’s like water, but dry.
If you don’t comply–
She’s leading me in. She says she wants to show me something.
You’re not just endangering yourself, Corporal. Return to the extraction point.
She says we are all in darkness, but the light is coming.
Remain still. We’re working on recalibrating the extraction point.
She’s telling me the truth. I know she is.
You’re suffering a neurological breakdown, Corporal. Do not listen to the entity.
She’s laughing. She says she’s never been called that before.
Remain outside the structure.
Too late.
Corporal?
Wow. It’s a jungle in here. So many colours in the trees. Like diamond fruit.
It’s not real. Maintain focus.
She says that Earth is a paradise lost. That we must start anew.
It’s just an hallucination.
She says you’re the hallucination.
Run from the pyramid right now.
She says we’re the failed experiment.
You’re leaving me no choice. I’m pulling the plug.
She says it’s time for all of us to come home. Even you, Command.
Abort mission. Abort mission. Counting down to termination. Five.
I feel like I’ve always known her.
Four.
Always. Not just in this life.
Three.
Tell my wife I love her.
Two.
Oh, God. It’s beautiful in here.
One.
Come and see.
Mission terminated.

Read a short story about a trawlerman caught up in a net of industrial espionage and deadly propaganda who must hide out in one of the last traditional fishing villages in the same post-disaster Britannia as The Horseman’s Dream.

Learn more about psychonautics.