(I must be tired… forgot to post the title of this blog post…)
Fate, yes. Some Earthian friend of long ago called it karma. Whatever it was I would pit myself against, I would serve Earth again. The people would never know but she would know. She would be grateful. “Ich diene.”
[end blog post #43]
[begin blog post #44]
Chapter 20 – Goodbye until the End of Time
The day drags on, yet the moments fly. I strain to hear sounds from the kitchens that indicate Deirdre is there, working and in her inimitable way, amusing the other workers without seeming to do so, right under the eyes of their guards.
Why am I torturing myself so? I act as if I were a pubescent girl in love for the first time with a man who pays no attention to her. Damn. What a predicament. Now I can understand what those poor Earthians went through with their own personal love affairs I thought were so stupid. Now I certainly could empathize. Now I’m living their pain. What a terrible thing this inloveness is! And the worse is yet to come.
I dread the time of evening meal. She will come out, unaware, innocent, and will give me my bowl with her beautiful hands, the long fingers shamelessly running over my skin, her hair brushing my bare shoulders. She will lean against me for a few moments before moving on and returning into the kitchens. And I will never see her again.
The sun has gone behind the battlements and Albaral has not risen yet. We end our training for the day; put away the wooden and rough or worn out fibresteel weapons we train with. Wash and get in line for count, inspection and finally our evening meal.
Two of our own have not returned from the arena. I should feel something for them, I know, compassion and a real sense of personal loss, not necessarily in that order. But what I feel is envy. I’m jealous of their new found freedom. Death means it’s over, all the pain and suffering we are made to endure; that so many endure all over this world. Death means we find peace finally. We can fly away free for as long as we wish it. Death is our blessed realm.
Of course that is an incomplete picture, but my mind is not into completing images right now. I feel torn and shattered. The count and inspection complete we line up at the tables and sit, waiting silently for our meal. The clattering in the kitchens stops and silent young servant women file out, each with two bowls in hand, passing them out. Deirdre is not among them. Again I’m paralyzed by fear that something happened, that our plan was discovered, that they’ve taken her to kill her. I can barely eat, yet I must so as not to arouse suspicion.
The meal over we wash our faces quickly as we pass the washing troughs, then file into the cage compound, each to our own. In the gloom I see a young woman in my cage, and for a moment I think it’s Deirdre but it is not. She could pass for Deirdre in size and no guard recognizes the subterfuge. I don’t know where they found her or how they got her into my cage but it satisfies the official count. I sit next to her and she moves against me, crawling between my legs as the young ones often do, like young animals seeking a mother’s warmth and protection. I hold her lightly and wait. More lights go out and there is the usual noise of the changing of the guard outside, only with much less volume than usual. Many less men out there. Then as the automatic alarm systems fully set themselves, no one remains in the yards to accidentally trigger the sensors.
Rising Albaral is hidden behind phosphorescent-edged clouds above the keep.
With night comes the expected storm. I can hear the thunder far away and soon the wind comes up. Heavy drops of rain spatter far above on the tiled roofs, sparsely at first, then increasing to a true downpour. Distant lightning flashes and my heart beats as loud as the thunder. After a time a trainer comes to my cage and opens it. The young woman, startled begins to stand. She is ordered to lie down in the straw and to not make a move: she won’t. Guided by the Cydroid-trainer’s extended arm I step out and follow. In the gloom I see two guards carrying the body of a woman towards one of the southern portals. Deirdre? It has to be! It opens and I want to run out to her and at the very least, whisper goodbye. The false trainer grabs me and whispers my task again.
“You have twenty minutes now to lay the marks. I will wait for you inside the wall and return you to your cell. Your friend is fine.”
I run out as if I were making for the crossing, then turn sharply, digging in the muddy sand to leave impressions, run down to the water and go in silently, gliding through the deep waters. For a moment I can even enjoy the sensation of swimming, even though the water is icy. Reaching the far side, I run up the bank far enough for my footprints to get lost in the shifting sands. I steal one moment to stand and stretch in the breeze, outside the keep, giving myself a momentary illusion of freedom.
I carefully retrace the steps, backward over the first set until I’m in the water, turn and, as silently as before swim back across the moat. I take a different path along hard ground and rock, back to the portal that immediately hisses shut. The false trainer leads me back to my cage. It’s now empty. I understand the simplicity of that part of the plan here: I go in with Deirdre; a trainer orders me out of my cage in the night and makes me walk outside the walls and back. When I return Deirdre is gone. Meanwhile in reality my false companion is returned wherever she came from and cannot be found to be interrogated. In any case, she would have no story to tell except she was put in the wrong cage, in the wrong line-up. She could not know why the mistake was made. My lies and her innocence almost guarantee a dead-end.
I spend the night transfixed in thorough angst, ice running through my veins – feeling more alone than I remember ever having felt.
I look up through the only opening visible where sometimes you can see a star or two, or where Albaral crosses. It’s still dark and raining so if they reach the craft in time, assuming they have a reliable carrier that won’t be grounded by lightning, it will have gone through the clouds and become invisible quickly. I can see and imagine the shuttle craft streaking across the skies picking up speed to vanish on its way to Koron, a trip that should take the small craft just a bit over six months shunting time. How I long at this moment, to be aboard that craft!
Goodbye until the end of time!
“Don’t look back when you reach the new shore,
Don’t forget what you’re leaving me for,
Don’t forget when you’re missing me so,
Love must never hold,
Never hold tight but let go.
Oh the nights will be long,
When I’m not in your arms,
But I’ll be in your song,
That you sing to me, across the sea.
Somehow, someday, you will be far away,
So far from me and maybe one day,
I will follow you,
‘Til then, send me a song.”
(excerpt from “Send me a Song” by Celtic Woman)
And I cry for us, for her, for me.
Not all of it is sad.
I take comfort in the Cydroid’s words of certainty. She is safe. What else matters?
For now I must try to find some sleep. Tomorrow we will be subjected to the inevitable investigation. Escapes, even attempted ones, are taken most seriously here as I’ve seen. If the investigators cannot arrive at logical conclusions regarding the events, they will arrest individuals at random and send them to be interrogated by the inquisitors. Most will never return. They will be made to endure the most extreme sophistication of torture ever devised by pseudo-humans, either to extract information (the lesser reason) or satisfy the torturer’s lusts.
Since Deirdre is my friend and known as my lover, I will certainly be one of those chosen for the inquisition. Ah well, it’s the price you pay for loving, for caring, for standing out in some way and for upsetting the status quo which I’ve already done much of. I know in my heart that even if I had nothing to do with Deirdre they would come for me. I’ve been on their list of suspected subversives for some years now, whomever ‘They’ be.
This I must share here: my experiences on Old Earth taught me well as regards those we are forced to call ‘They’ in referring to ‘Powers’ we know exist but cannot identify because they are chameleonic in nature and use humans to camouflage their evil works. We’ve always known ‘They’ exist and have power of life and death over us, never mind how many legal ‘rights’ or safeguards we are given under the law. Whenever we choose right over wrong in their viewpoint and according to their arbitrary rules we are targeted as the enemy; terrorists, subversives, spies and in many cases we forfeit our lives to them. So, let me emphasize that ‘They’ are very real to me.
I must sleep now.
[end blog post #44]