Sitting cross–legged on the surface of the thick white slime she awoke gently from her daydream. She’d been enjoying a scene of beautiful green grass but now gazed around once more at the white slime surrounding her… encasing her in a small, roughly spherical chamber.
The slime slid slowly about her and dripped the few feet from above her, but never touched her except where she sat, on the surface, sinking into it a mere few inches. It was very thick and, she knew continued in all directions trapping her with no possibility of physical escape.
Yet she could breath. She leaned forward holding her hands in her lap, and very slowly, sat upright again, taking a deep, deep breath... holding it... and silently letting it out again.
Only one, inevitable choice existed. Only one option, and her heart never failed to flutter with excitement at the prospect of it. This particular time though, she seemed to feel the need more urgently than usual.
She would rescue herself yet again by stepping through her mind’s window – beyond the slime, beyond mere daydreams and back to that actual place that exists in reality beyond the monotony, the silence and colourlessness.
In the part of this strange and wonderful world that she meant to visit she would need to be clothed… so she closed her eyes and her imagination dressed her in a long white gown. With her eyes still closed, she pulled herself up out of the white slime to stand in it… relished the moment… and the sudden coolness was bliss. It was raining in the strange world.
She opened her eyes to see that she had arrived at night, as she wanted, in a narrow house bricked passage. Looking up at the falling rain she wished she could see the stars speckled across the infinity above but dim, dark rain clouds filled the sky, way above the houses and raindrops. She began to feel wonderfully free, yet the walls on either side made her feel still closed in. So she started carefully forward toward the opening at the end of the passage, where she could see a parked car.
As she left the alley between terraced houses she held her arms up high and stretched – leaning her head far back to catch the rain in her open mouth. She then slid her fingers down her neck with the rain and lowered her head, licking her lower lip as the door of a house directly opposite opened. As she watched, a young man aged nineteen years left the house and walked to her right, down the hill that the road had been built on. She wouldn’t make herself visible to the people yet. Maybe later.
She walked in the same direction the man had taken, down the cool, wet pavement and soon reached the foot of the hill. She looked over at a house, on the opposite side of the street that she was still on, and half way up the wall at a sign reading ‘Salisbury Street’. She leaned her back against the wall of the house next to her and gazed through the night along the adjoining street, at the houses and yellow streetlights reflected in the dark water on the roads. She listened to the quiet hiss and murmur of distant traffic.
Countless times she had now visited this strange and fascinating world and its many landscapes, waterscapes, cityscapes, technologies, diverse peoples and myriad creatures. She began to recall her previous visits, and her recollections warmed her heart. Yet she would forget about this reality’s beauty and actuality once she returned to the white slime.
In the chamber of slime she would instead remember other things that escaped her right now. She continued to lean against the wall and let the rain drench her. Only occasional people and vehicles passed.
At first, she remembered, she had feared this world and then in time, she had come to love every part of it. She loved this cool night; wet rain that fell upon her, and the countless other wonders this world held. Also the playful games she would play with its unknowing inhabitants. But, as always she felt a particular uneasiness somewhere deep within her… something specific that couldn’t always be ignored… like a warning of something terrible.
However, she loved this world. Of course any existence beyond the white slime would at the very least be interesting! This world though, was now where she believed… knew… she was supposed to be. Or desired to be with all of her soul, heart and mind. If only she could step out of the white slime chamber forever and live her life in this, her beloved world.
Oddly, for some reason that she couldn’t quite grasp, she began to think suddenly that this particular time she had visited the world prematurely.
She already knew that this time, her heart had indeed longed for an escape from the white slime even more than usual but, somehow she suddenly realised that she had definitely come here too soon… Then a voice from nowhere startled her, “You need to go back.” It was a calm, expressionless male voice.
Instinctively she looked around – stepped away from the wall to look at the house windows but there were no people to see.
It couldn’t be someone talking to her because she wasn’t visible to people of this world at the moment. It must be directed at someone else… but where…? “You cannot stay here. You must return now and wait until it is time.” The voice held no threat or demand – just a logic that she couldn’t refuse. It seemed very close to her and… yes, with an inner groan she now remembered with dismay that the voice belonged to the one who kept her in the white slime.
She sadly pulled at the shoulders of the white gown; let it fall to the wet ground, stepped over it and sat herself down, cross–legged in the slime. The slime slid slowly about her and dripped from above her. There was no beseeching the voice because she remembered instantly that her crimes, whatever they were, were unforgivable and her doom was simply undeniable.
There was no choice, so, bravely, she sat as complacently as she could while the memories swiftly returned. The painful truth came too rapidly as though it were being poured into her mind from a jug. Yes, her torment, her terrible punishment was clear.
It was her lot, her punishment, to keep visiting that strange world – her joyful escape from the slime – and grow to love it and its peoples and creatures with all of her heart (because her captors knew her deep capacity for love). Then, when the world had become her only wish, when she loved it beyond her very existence, she… she would be the one to bring about the final destruction of that world!
She did indeed love that strange, beautiful, magnificent, abundant and complex world. It was indeed precious to her now, part of her and crucial to her. And the time to destroy her beloved world, surely, was crowding around her like the slime… The time when she must kill that which she loved: the world, the inhabitants, the rich history and unbounded possible futures. All must end by her hand.
And as a cruelty upon cruelty, once the world was no more, she would live on, with her memories intact, in the white slime.
Every time she had visited the world she was unaware of her being its eventual executioner, murderer, but when the unavoidable deed was finally done, she would remember everything. She would live on with endless bereavement, unbearable guilt, agony, loss and self–contempt. She had no hope. She had no possible escape or possible way to stop this outrageous atrocity from happening.
Time dripped by. She sat and expected her horror of what was to come to be lost in the mist of forgetfulness. She expected a return to oblivious daydreams and waiting and boredom. Boredom would have been a kinder state… but her knowledge remained with her this time, without fading, until she started begging silently for mercy.
Eventually she found herself trying to escape by daydreaming about endless desert dunes, shifting below the heat of the star above. But the knowledge of what she was, stayed with her, laughed at her, kept her imprisoned, much more than even the white slime itself…
When the voice finally came, she was curled up on the surface of the white slime, weak and weeping, quietly, yet with her whole shivering being. His voice was as casual as ever. “Annathia. You cannot stay here. You must return now for the last time. It is time.”
Her wail escaped from the bottom of her soul – a long desperate cry of despair and helplessness – and then its pitch suddenly altered as her screaming burst forth into unrestricted fresh air. She opened her eyes at once to find herself curled up on grass. Her forlorn cry ended…
Here she was.
Her sobbing gradually subsided, and she fought her way into a sitting position but took no heed of her surroundings.
Then a definite change entered her unwillingly and she became immediately uncaring. The method of the world’s destruction was simple. Stored in her frail form was awful power. First she would make herself audible. One spoken word in this fresh air from her lungs, throat, mouth, teeth, lips would start the chain reaction. The sound waves would transform into doom’s reaping waves of dissemination. Where it touched matter the vibration would infest it; all of it; even the particles and atoms of the fresh air.
Only a short span of time and the fabric of all matter in this speck of this galaxy would unravel. The mighty star above, and all of its children including the sphere where she stood, would unravel and dissipate. After all… empty space is the major component in all of it. Atoms are mainly empty space. It’s just a matter of changing matter.
Like the white slime, the effect would surround her but wouldn’t touch her. And she alone would continue to breathe.
The fatal word of deconstruction waited inside her for her utterance, as though it were a living, forsaken and caged creature salivating at the prospect of raw, helpless flesh… but she waited… didn’t speak it yet.
She began to dimly focus her blurred vision on her immediate surroundings… and saw trees; people, buildings over there, railings… then sounds began to enter her ears.
She had been placed in a city. She sat in a park, naked and invisible to others. As she gazed emotionless at the people walking, sitting and riding bikes she began to wonder… had a thought and grasped at it… a realisation that triggered something important; made her want to pause a while longer.
She had been placed in the world for her deadly purpose yes, and had been programmed to not refrain from it, and yet she had come to a place where there were people – lots of people – and that one detail, she felt increasingly certain was of her own doing.
She pondered on how she had always, as far as she knew – even if unknowingly mentally controlled into each ‘decision’ to visit this world – visited the world wherever she herself wished.
This final visit was forced upon her and yet, she had some part in it even while screaming in despair.
The word inside demanded utterance now.
If… if she had a measure of control in where she arrived she might have more control… the kind of easy power that had let her step into the rainy night of Salisbury Street. That visit she now realised had been completely of her own volition and choice and not because of any mind control subtly compelling her to visit as though it were her own decision.
Also, although it was of course true that the disembodied voice, or whoever, meant for her to visit this world all those times so that she would grow to love the world, it was her doing. Her mind had been violated and manipulated but the power to do these things was innately hers.
As this providentially timed revelation came to her she expected the voice to intrude and chastise her – command or impel her into her task. No voice spoke and so she continued her thought, which she realised, became truer as she made it truer! Her confidence grew to such a level that she felt she could dispel the voice even if it tried to stop her!
Escape was hers.
Her mind, her love and her power were all hers.
A full smile lightened her face and mind. She rose to her feet – dressed herself in a long black robe and became visible to the world.
She walked. The breeze flung her hair across her smiling face. She walked onto a path and smiled at the passing people. At a junction in the path, a woman in the last few years of her life sat on a bench, frowning at the black robed Annathia.
Annathia looked into the old woman’s faded yet wondrous eyes and knew that there would be no destruction here – no annihilation of this rare solar system – no death other than the natural changing of matter; the natural progression of existence, which would soon bring this old woman’s present state to an end.
Annathia would not speak the word to end the world. The impulse to utter it whimpered under her command and dissipated itself. The word ran afraid into the deepest, forgotten parts of her mind.
She would not return to the chamber of slime because she knew now that her crimes were a fallacy and her punishment a deception. She felt no desire to take revenge on her misguided jailors even though she knew that she could. Since being faced with committing a real crime, a crime that her soul could not have borne; her mind was swiftly becoming fully her own again.
She walked on through the park with a new contentment and peace, because she knew that she was home. Not the long ago abandoned far flung home of her youth but her new found, home of her heart. The ones that had betrayed and imprisoned her, violated, controlled and crafted her into a would-be weapon were what they were.
They were not content to have her destroy the world but they also required her to love the world. The pain of the loss was intended for her because it was in their nature to hate.
They had not considered though, how deeply ran her nature to love.
There was no doubt that they would make the attempt on this solar system again. Thankfully their unwitting mistake had been in their first choice of whom they would trick into performing the subtle and cowardly task.
Now they would never be successful because – she laughed out loud with glee – because they had helped her to love this world and now she would defend it from them and any other who dared to even interrupt the natural progression of this world and her inhabitants. She would defend it successfully, discretely, eternally.
The would-be destroyers of the world had instead given it a mighty and unconquerable defender.