Ilium Liberto rubs his head in front of the chaotic sea of documents on the semicircle desk in his laboratory. His mentality at the moment can only be commented as misery. Before thirty-five years of age, Ilium is the role model of any science major college students. His outstanding, consistent contribution to the development of science earned him fame and a laboratory in the World Science Research Center. However, for five years after his thirty-fifth birthday he has been focusing on the condition needed to generate a wormhole and has not made any progress. His career has been so smooth that spending three years on a single topic is not his style. He received court summons regarding his divorce issued by his wife in the morning. The recent blows makes Ilium uncontrollably miss his wife, Charlotte. She is not salient in beauty. She always lowers her head when her wavy hair covers her face. It is her warm smile and elegant gestures that drew Ilium’s attention in college orientation. She has admiring passion of life and is a good wife who pays meticulous care to her husband.
Their only but fatal divergence is their attitude regarding religion. Ilium is a definite atheist, which corresponds with his ambition to become a physicist since youth. Charlotte is such a faithful believer in God that she is a member of the community food pantry, a volunteer in town hall Christian network and drags Ilium to the church every Sunday ceaselessly. Both of them are unswerving believers in their own theory that none is able to persuade the other to take his/her belief. Since their engagement Charlotte has been accentuating the importance of them having the same religious belief, but Ilium remains with a passive attitude. Even their wedding was held in a top restaurant instead of the church Charlotte’s family visit by tradition. This seemingly ignorable distinction before marriage is unstoppingly magnified day by day. Eventually, Charlotte leaves the words ‘we shall not endure each other’ and moves out.
It is difficult to say harsh words about such an angel. Ilium grabs his laptop. He has to focus on career to eliminate his umbrage. The seeming disordered data are forming a pattern. Ilium’s eyes widened. Is today the day to put an end to the agony?
As a sophisticated researcher, Ilium comes up with the expected measurement of energy needed to form a wormhole in ease. Consulting the distance between Earth and other galaxies, his pencil stops at a grey nebula. Here should be the other end of the wormhole. Earnest to start the experiment, Ilium holds his draft moistened by sweat in his trembling hand and starts the power generating machine. He begins to feel himself in the center of a whirlpool, isolated from the outer environment. Light fades. He feels himself becoming supple and his spirit spreads. Only if their is light and a mirror to let him observe the shape of his body. He doesn’t have a slight idea of what awaits him.
Ilium drags his legs weary from bending more than a decade in Earth time out of a pile of rusted metal components in a flurry. With no time to waste, Ilium goes to meet the aliens before they come to him. Though Ilium is unavoidably scared just as any other Earthlings who is going to meet aliens for the first time, he is confident that his accumulated knowledge about the universe is sufficient in helping him coping with the aliens.
The aliens are nicer than Ilium has seen in any scientific film. They look just as humans and are of high intelligence and morality. An elaborate high technology system spots Ilium and sends him to the planet’s universal creature shelter. Being considered as lower animal as well as new immigrant in this four dimension world, a personal space simulating Earth environment with rocks, trees and small animal species brought from Earth is set for him. It is so easy for citizens of this planet to cross wormholes. Ilium thinks.
A wise, authoritative looking man introduces himself to Billy as an astrophysicist. The meeting of the two elites is like heaven. Bang, the astrophysicist, invites Ilium to his laboratory.
‘Why do you treat an alien so well? Is it because I am your guest?’ Ilium is surprised by Bang’s courtesy when Bang hands him a vaccum package of hydrogen oxide after seeing Ilium licking his lips.
‘I am doing this because our virtuous supreme being demands us to always be kind. I am not treating you better than I treat my fellows!’
Ilium couldn’t believe his ear. Are what he just heard from a figure with higher intelligence and masters advanced technology?
‘How absurd! I don’t mean to ridicule you, but as a scientist from such a developed planet, you believe there exists God?’
‘Oh yes! Our society progresses in the right direction because we are lead by the supreme to act according to our conscience. Moral and belief are the basis of eternal improve. Such idea can also be found on your planet, right?’
‘Indeed, but I never believe so since no evidence can prove the existence of the God!’
‘The Lord is omnipresent. The Lord doesn’t have a concrete form but everything in the world including everyone of us takes his form. We have faith in Lord, that is equivalent to having faith in each other. Trust, loyalty, love, these are the keystone to better future.’
Bang’s words remind Ilium of his wife. He and Charlotte wouldn’t have future. Bang’s words are replayed in Ilium’s head. Have Charlotte and himself lost faith in each other? Ilium certainly has had faith in Charlotte. Does this mean for some moments in his life he has had faith in God? Such dangerous thoughts allure Ilium. He is no longer so determined.
‘I still believe in technology is the only correct path.’ Ilium murmurs.
‘Things go well only when technology and belief act together. It is people’s will and reverence that push the development of technology and deter it from doing harm to people. Think about this, what made you wanting to become a physicist?’
How could Ilium forget? It was the hope to benefit human by exploring the resources in the universe.
‘For me, I saw the harm that giant difference between wealthy and poor generates and my initial project after stepping into the field was to solve this. I soon discovered that diminishing the gap relies on both technology and morality. Sole technology can never function until people realize that helping each other is fundamental to their own survival.’
Ilium starts to miss Charlotte. She always volunteers at community food pantry, donates canned food and advocates for charity at town hall. What an angel!
No, I have to save my marriage. Ilium suddenly recalls: it is written on the court summons of his divorce that the court session is Wednesday at 8am!
‘What time is it on Earth?’
Knowing that he still has three Earthly hours, Ilium entreats Bang to send him back to Earth through the wormhole. Despite the fact that Bang warns Ilium several times that this technology is owned currently only by people from his planet and Ilium may not be able to come back, Ilium has decided.
After going through the same process for unknown length of time, Ilium sobers up in his laboratory on Earth, finding himself sitting on the floor with his back against the wall. Remembering his purposing of coming, he stares at the clock: 7:20.
Rushing out onto the street without grabbing his coat, Ilium stops the first taxi he spots. ‘Please, this matters the happiness of the rest of my life.’ The taxi driver accelerates hearing Ilium’s crave.
Ilium jumps out of the taxi and catches sight of the woman he is so familiar with. She looks pale in long black cashmere coat.
‘Charlotte,’ Ilium skips several staircases, ‘I apologize. I agree, faith in God is important. Now I have as much faith in God as I always have on you.’
Charlotte tries her best to control her tears, but she is such a sensitive person. ‘Are you really Ilium? How are you able to change what you have believed in so long?’
‘I have always mistakened my belief. Our believes have always matched. Technology benefits people only when we have faith. Regarding how I changed, it’s a long story. I shall tell you at home.’
The next day, taking the lunchbox Charlotte got up at 5am to prepare, Ilium steps into his laboratory whistling. Now his experiment finally turns out to have a good result. Reorganizing his draft, he would be able to give a wonderful end to his five years of endeavor. Surprisingly, his desk is empty.
The cleaner knocks on his door with a smile. Mr. Liberto, you left a great mess on your desk yesterday. I have cleaned it up.
Liberto repeats the calculations. However, he can not come up with the result no matter how many times he tries. Liberto smiles bitterly. Indeed, he can never go back.