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    "On the contrary. We-- along with several other observatories-- were contracted by NASA on a top-secret research mission. They wanted to find some way of beating the Russians to Mars; had us look into the possibility of wormholes by studying how black holes--"

    "Are you telling me that the government wants to send people through black holes?!" My father interrupted him.

    "No Kev, you misunderstand me."

    Dad regarded Tim quizzically.

    "It's NASA-- not the government; and wormholes are only somewhat like black holes," Tim explained. "See-- black holes are the larger, more destructive of the two. Wormholes are, in a way, the dwarf cousins. They're similar-- in that they both pull objects in, but theoretically wormholes deposit objects in other places, while black holes completely annihilate them."

    Father stood there taking it all in and then asked, "Is that all?"

    Tim replied, "Well, theoretically, no. It's hypothesized that wormholes may grow and mutate into black holes given time and the right set of conditions."

    While they were conversing, my gaze had stayed fixed to the scope. In my view, I could make out some odd shaped cloud. Periodically, what looked like electricity shot from it in varying directions; splitting more the further it reached-- clutching, grabbing at the emptiness around it, which seemed to pulse more erratically nearer the threatening miasma. In that moment, I could almost feel as though the universe was afraid. I could feel that gripping fear, as well as my own overwhelming sense of wonder. I tugged on my Dad's arm.

    "Daddy, what is this?" I probed him.

The End

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