Is that I’m dreaming and I’m just refusing to wake up? At this moment I look around me and everything seems new, like I’ve never seen it before. What I know is only from pictures in books and movies. But here I am, standing in the center of a room that looks like a quarantine room from a movie about a killer virus. All six of us, we stand at various places in the room in our bland, scrub-like uniforms, leaning against doorways or standing still like we’re trying to remember what that feels like. We’ve all just been revived from the hyper sleep and the effects are worse than they described to us. We all look incredibly hung over.
I’m one of the leaners. I have my head resting against the door frame to my bunk and I’m trying I’m watching to see which ones in the group are worse off than me. One of the ladies standing near the center of the room near the round conference table has her arms wrapped around herself like she’s freezing. She could be, but she’s not shivering. The temperature for me could be cooler, because I feel like my head needs a ten pound bag of ice on it.
Our tour guide comes into the room, bright and peppy. She’s a sweet lady, but I’m dreading to hear the sound of her voice. Obviously, she’s been awake must longer than the rest of us, and I don’t think that’s fair. Plus, none of us are going to want to hear anything she has to say at this point. She begins by laying out folders on the table while we all watch in anticipation. We’re about to be briefed on what we should expect in the coming days as we arrive at our destination. She’ll walk us through how to maintain our bodies, the exercising, the diet, etc. Also, she’ll be be reminding us of itinerary for the remainder of the trip. We’re to orbit Saturn and then Titan and take shuttles down to see the surface. We’ve payed a lot of money for this so everything must go according to planned.
We are invited to take our seats. Each one of us looks around the circle at our peers and smiles sympathetically. None of us have met before the trip, but we have become close, especially through the suffering of the training. These sterile white walls aren’t much different from the walls of the facility where we met and prepared for the departure. It does seem like the time on this ship was shorter than the time spent together on Earth, but we have been moving through the dark of space for over two years now. This place is now our home, despite how unwelcoming it feels.
After our briefing, we are given leave to wander the ship and familiarize ourselves with it. We will be spending several weeks here. The only thing I’m interested in seeing though is the big planet itself. I’ve always wanted to see it ever since I was a boy. I wanted to see it because even though I had faith in its existence, true belief would only come from looking upon its majesty with my own eyes. And what a sight it was. I stepped into the observation room, and I was stunned by the sheer size of the planet. The furthest wall of the room was made of glass, and Saturn filled it completely. My breath caught in my throat. What I once thought was just a brown ball of gas turned out to be a beautiful golden sphere that consumed my vision and sparkled against the pitch blackness around it. I saw the gases move and the colors twist and change and the once impossible planet was made new before my eyes every second.
And the rings. Of course the rings. They were something to behold. You could watch them spinning for hours and forget about everything. And I did. Our perception of time as humans is relative to where the sun is in our sky. I didn’t have that to tell me how long I stood and looked upon the greatness before me, but I imagine the sun passed overhead those back on Earth, possibly more than once, as I was hypnotized.