"Last week, as you recall, Major Don West was snatched from the Jupiter 2 by the inhabitants of a mysterious ship. West would soon find himself the unwilling participant in a bizarre test that will challenge him to his limits …"
Once again, West underwent the sensation of falling, heat and cold, and he found himself in another, larger room. It was similar in appearance to the one he had just left. At the far end was an immense wavering screen of unknown purpose. A voice much like to other echoed in the chamber.
"Minor One, step forward. This is test one. Notice the black area before you. It measures three wuandroes square, or fifteen meters. In a moment you will see twelve squares appear in the area. You must attempt to remember the exact location of each. On my signal, you must attempt to traverse the area without stepping on the lighted areas. The lighted areas will disappear before you begin walking. An alarm will sound if you tread on the restricted squares. The consequences will be dire for all of you if you fail."
"What are you testing me for?" asked West. "What purpose will it serve?"
"Silence, Minor One," sound the voice. "No questions now. Observe the dark area."
Turning to the area before him, West watched as twelve green squares appeared. In his mind, West tried to associate the positions of the squares to some symbol. The locations resembled no familiar shape. They were scattered unevenly throughout the board and remained visible for five minutes before vanishing.
The voice spoke again.
"Minor One. You must begin your walk. You may walk any path you choose. However, you cannot leave the dark area, and you must reach the opposite side as the one you start from. Now begin."
West stepped on the first square. No alarm sounded. There were fourteen squares to go. In his mind, West tried to recall the location of the green squares. Slowly he worked his way forward, pausing after each advance to study the board. After what seemed ages, West stepped out of the dark area. His whole body ached.
"Very good, Minor One!" echoed the voice. "You have scored well. Prepare for test two." West knew better than to reason behind them. "Enter the room to your left, Minor One." West obeyed.
The room he entered was rather small in comparison. The bulk of it was taken up by what appeared to be a swimming pool. However, it was filled with a slimy, green-tinged liquid.
"This test" said the voice "Is a test of bravery or self control. In this test, Minor One, you must walk across the liquid to …"
"What!" cried West in surprise. Surely the being was joking. The voice sound annoyed.
"Silence!" No interruptions!" snapped the voice. "As I was saying, you must walk to the other side. The liquid will support your weight only if you retain your composure. The minute you panic or let your mind drift, you will begin to sink. If you panic then, I’m afraid you’re lost. Now, step onto the liquid."
It took West a great deal of nerve to place his foot onto the seemingly watery liquid. He was surprised by the resistance with his feet. It was something like walking on foam rubber. The pool was approximately twenty-five feet long, but to West it seemed much longer.
While watching a bubble float slowly to the surface before him, West lost a little control and found himself sinking, slowly but eerily. Remembering not to panic, West managed to step to firmer surface.
After that unnerving experience, West made it safely to the opposite side. He mumbled a short prayer of thanks. His legs felt a little weak, but he managed a grin.
"Is that all the tests?" he asked. The answer was puzzling.
"You have one more test, Minor One. It is a most serious one. To fail this one, is to die. You have handled yourself well so far. Let’s hope you do this last time. Enter into the hall on your right."
Passing through the odd shaped door, West found himself in a long, seemingly endless, hall. He surmised it was the passageway down one of the numerous spokes.
"Turn left at the first passageway." This bit of direction took West about fifty yards down the hall. When he turned , he found himself in a small room about 20 meters square. On the opposite wall were two closed metal doors.
"What do I do now?" asked West. The answer seemed come from the ceiling.
"You now have a choice to make. One of these doors before you will lead into a teleporting room which will return you to your spacecraft and you will be free to leave."
"And the other one?" asked West, fearing the worse.
"The other door, Minor One, is simply an opening into space. If you choose that one, well, I’m sure you know what will happen." West nodded his head and shuddered.
West first tried to find a difference between the two doors, but there seemed to be no distinguishable features. After five minutes of careful thought, he reached for the opening on his left."
"I choose this one" he said, touching the smooth surface.
The voice replied.
"Go, Minor One, and see what you have chosen." The door swung outward, revealing blackness.
West cried out as he was yanked out of the room into blinding brilliance as if he had fallen into the sun. Once again, the sensation of falling was apparent, and he yelled in pain as his head struck metal.
West swept away the fog of unconsciosness, to look up into the faces of Dr. Smith and Professor Robinson.
"The injection I gave him should stop the pain and the bleeding," said Smith. "However, he’ll probably be quite numb and dizzy for awhile. Be glad he’s alive – a little harder bump on the head would have killed the Major."
"What happened," murmured West. He winced as he felt a distant stab of pain on his forehead. "Oh, boy, does my head ache!"
"Glad you’re back, Don," said John. "We thought we’d lost you for awhile, until you were teleported back into the ship."
As his head began to clear, he told everyone the entire story. They congratulated him on his success.
"We should be able to break free now, John" he concluded.
"We lifted off three days ago, Don. You’ve been out for quite a while now."
"Dad," asked Will. "Why do you think they tested Don?
John shook his head.
Well, son," he said thoughtfully. "There are a lot of things about space I guess we’ll never comprehend. I guess this is just one of them."