|Image Source: http://juliedillon.deviantart.com/art/Gateworld-519343382|
"Father, where do these stairs lead?" the young girl had asked.
"They go to the worlds beyond. You know that the world we live in is artificial; a great cylinder in space that the fore-bearers built to save us. They knew that such a world may see its population grow beyond its means, and so they provided portals to worlds beyond. When our people grow too many we send some of them away through the portals..."
The woman's heart beat in her chest, not from the strain of the climb, but from the strange anticipation. She had looked at these stairs for years, as a child and a young woman, knowing that what lay beyond them was truly outside of her world. She craned her head upward, seeking to catch a glimpse of the end of the stair as it twisted seemingly across the great O'Neill Cylinder.
She was ready for this, but at the same time there was a sadness in her mind. Her family were the keepers, they alone retained the knowledge of the operation of the portals. In recent years the population had once more jumped beyond the means of their home to sustain. She would ascend the stairs and open the gateway and allow those chosen to flee this world to pass through the portal.
She nurtured great curiosity about what lay beyond the portals. What did this unknown worlds look like? What new explorations and strange sights did they hold? She wished she could travel beyond.
At last she reached the end of the stairs. A simple arch of stone, the gateway showed nothing more than a superb view of her home. She reached out, touched the archway, and watched as a curtain fell within that simple shape; a curtain that showed the nighttime sky of some world not her own, of rolling fields of grasses and of a sky filled not with the arching land of their world, but twinkling lights and strange orbs.
It was too much. The woman made her decision before she had even realized it. She stepped forward, and passed beyond her world.