Nobody could do it like Gim. We'd all be standing around in a circle, trying to make it move just an inch, just a smidge, and Gim would already have disappeared and reappeared twenty times, like a flickering porch light, there and back, there and back.
I popped some more triasaniline. Big rush, lean over, focus the e-center, make it move, make it move. Gim -- there and back. Damn. I'm just no good.
Nobody else in the circle was having any luck, not even with seven caps and a mantra bought from a true Port. We all just kind of gave up, and grouped around Gim to get some points.
"What you thinkin' about, Gim? What's your mantra?"
"No mantra. No thought. I just go."
"Where you going?"
"Way out, some berry field, maybe Eastern Europe or something."
"No way! No way can you go that far!"
There. Back. With a handful of berries, calmly munching. He tossed one to me. It tasted good.
Gim flickered, then stopped, and closed his eyes.
"Where can I go?"
The guys were immediately full of ideas.
"The White House!" "Bank vault!" "Karen Ansington's bedroom, man!"
Gim opened his eyes and swivelled to look at Orderson, who had uttered the last and most impossible suggestion.
"Mars?" mused Gim.
Orderson got excited. "There's a big warehouse for the roadbots, you can see it with a good telescope, right there near Hooke crater, you know, by the Admin complex. That's like thirty football fields of air during the day, when they got all the machines out."
Gim thought for a moment. "I'd have to see a picture, I think."
So we all went over to Orderson's house, and looked at pictures of Mars and this giant warehouse, and maps, and then Gim shrugged. "I guess I can," he said. "Let me warm up."
We all went in the living room, and sat around in a circle, while Gim stood in the middle. He lowered his head, took a few deep breaths, and jumped somewhere. Poof and he was back, and then fwooh off again, and then he started strobing, like a deadly mad flickering light bulb in a murder house -- I've never seen anyone do that. He seemed to pick up light as he went, glowing somewhat brighter with each trip -- drawing power to himself, I guess, somehow -- getting ready.
He stopped tripping for a moment, and looked at us all. "Wish me luck", he said, and -- he was gone.
"Good -- " was all I got out before he disappeared.
A minute went by. We were all nervous as hell. He must be dead. We knew it.
Five minutes later, Orderson swore. "Where the hell is he?" and fwooh he was there, and stumbled, and we caught him.
He was fine. Just a long jump, the longest any human being had ever taken, and we'd been there for it. No trike, no mantra, no nothing. Just. Went.
Gim asked us not to talk about it. said he could get in trouble, that a security guard had seen him walking around. We all swore an oath to this, which is why you've never heard of Gim Gennehy. But I know he went, and I know he went even further out the next night, and I know he started teleporting out into unknown deep space wearing a space suit he made in Materials & Design, and pretty soon a lot of us were popping up to Mars, and that's how it all really started. None of this alien stuff, just some guys from school trying to take trips, and one guy, one particular guy, who could lead the way.
"Where is he now?"
Out there. Somewhere New.