By Hugo Pim
Themas slept a lot. Only in his dreams could he find respite from the endless torment of reality. It was only then that he could regain the peace of mind that had so long deserted him. Thus, he slept.
Warm memories floated back to him, carried forth on tides of longing. His dreams were of home, of all that had been. He dreamed of the friendship and happiness he and other Aggelos had shared. Familiar faces drifted back to his tortured soul.
He remembered Ishtar, and Hajile, especially he remembered Hajile’s words of warning. ‘Accept’, he said, ‘all you have to do is accept.’ He remembered Halla, the wisest and kindest of all the Elders. At his judgement it was Halla who had tried to make his punishment lenient, and he recalled precisely the look of such unparalleled tenderness that Halla given him just before the sentence was carried out. That was his last memory…when he awoke it was to find himself entwined in a private hell.
The first thing he’d found was that he was trapped within an alien body. This discovery filled him with horror to begin with, soon followed by frustration as he discovered how ungainly and malcoordinated the body was. He was unable to perform even the most basic of tasks, and relied entirely on the aid of the deformed beings, who were his jailers, to do everything. These aliens scared him; he could sense the air of suspicion and fear that surrounded them. They had violence and greed constantly present in their minds.
They seemed to revel in plaguing him night and day, one in particular, as if hoping to add to the misery he had already suffered.
Thus, Themus slept, his mind drifting amongst his memories in search of respite from the cruelty of his punishment. He remembered THE LIGHT. He found it strange not to feel it’s constant pulsating presence. He remembered its tender caress, the wave upon wave of bliss it had brought forth. He longed to feel again the fathomless joy he had felt the first time at KNOWING.
He had always been different. He realised that he had been unable to accept as others had. He had doubted. To begin with he had tried to bury the questioning deep within his mind, but it had always resurfaced. Hajile had tried to warn him of the consequences but he had not listened. He had looked into the centre of THE LIGHT, and had not been blinded by its purity. He had broken the oath and had looked further than he should have, further than was allowed and had realised the horror and evil that dwelt at the heart of THE LIGHT. The Elders had sensed a change within him and, on finding the cause, had pulled him from Eden. They had decided that he was to be banished for Eighty Cycles in order that he may learn acceptance through living with doubt.
Until recently he had comforted himself on his memories, brought back to him through dreams, but it had gradually dawned on him that his last connection with home was fading every night. He tried to push the thoughts out of his mind of being completely for fear of what it would do to his sanity.
Themus felt himself drifting back to reality and desperately clung on to the last tendrils that remained of his memory, cringing from the thought of never regaining them. He awoke with a start, forced to control the cruel reality of his situation. He screamed into the darkness as loud as his alien body could, in an attempt to release all the fear, anger and frustration he felt.
The couple lay awake in bed, each resolving not to be the one to hush the baby back to sleep. Eventually, Antonia could no longer bear the crying. She groped her way back towards the cot, wondering what it could be this time.
Themus saw the figure of the alien through the bar of his cell as it crept towards him. Sensing her curiosity, he screamed all the louder.
Antonia heard her baby’s screams grow more intense and hurried forward to comfort him. As soon as Themus felt the alien’s limbs encircle him, he fell silent for fear of retribution,
In the darkened room, Antonia tenderly rocked her son back to sleep again. Soothing his troubled mind and whispering that it was all right. There was nothing to worry about.
(First published in The SICA Book of Writings Volume 1 in 1992)