"......all my ghosts come back to haunt me......."

             It is not peaceful here.

       The body lies entirely still, frozen into immobility, unfeeling, unmoving, without sensation, without 'life'. As the lid hisses shut, the physical systems shut down once more, until needed.

              But the mind - ah, the mind......

       Imagine, if you will, a corridor, a corridor two and a half thousand years long, a corridor that turns back upon itself, spiralling inward and upward to a point in the far past, when I was young and His Shadow was just a distant rumour.
       The memories of those days are hazy, little more than faint images on a flickering view-screen, half-remembered sensations. The golden light of the warm season, and the feel of cool water against my skin. The first time my hair was pulled up into the traditional kliya, the strange heaviness of it, and the look of pride on my mother's face. A look I could see clearly now, no longer needing to peer through long strands of blackness......
       I remember my studies more clearly, but only a little. We were all proud of our history. We studied our past, learning the names of our great heroes, what acts they had accomplished, the sacrifices they had made. We learned of the great battles, now long-past; we learned of our place in the Light Universe. We learned how to make our lives beautiful. And we learned the arts of battle, and of love.
       I remember a veil of bright black hair softly shrouding a slender body, and a face, smiling shyly at me over a white shoulder. I remember acceptance, and tenderness, and the electrifying feel of skin on skin.....
       She was beautiful, the mother of our child. Strange - I can no longer remember her name, only that I loved her, her innocence, her compassion, her gentle wisdom - and the passion of our nights together: learning together, giving and taking, tangled hair as free as our spirits, naked under a star-bright sky.

       My body stirs without moving, remembering but unable to act. It is torture. But the memory will not die. I am forced to drive it back, to drag other memories to the fore to hide it, to try to kill it - as I tried to kill His Shadow, to protect my people, and my world, and my love......

       I felt my spine snap as I slammed onto the Foreshadow's deck, but mercifully the pain was brief. The pain of my world's death could have lasted no longer..... No, don't think of it, they are dead now, beyond hope of recovery, leaving a vast black emptiness in my mind and in my soul - and I am faced by an overtowering evil. Can the Prophet have been so wrong?
       I feel the bio-scholars' knives as they mutilate my body. But how can this be? I'm already dead! I can't move.... they rip out parts of me, and I can't move, can't scream, can't stop the pain......

       Later (ten years? fifty? a hundred?) there is the sound of stone scraping on stone; a faint hum; a cold sensation where my heart used to be..... My eyes are forced open. My first sight is of that hated, black-cowled figure. I would reach for him - but my body will not react. I hear my own voice, hoarse from lack of use, answer his half-heard command with - "Who do you want me to kill?"

       NO! I kill only when there is due cause - not to another's will. I will not comply.....
       But I have no choice. I am locked somehow in the depths of my own mind; my body, my will no longer my own.
       I can't remember, now, whether I felt this way at the time: only since I stole back my memories have I known the truth. But the fact that I do makes me believe that somewhere, somehow, the awareness was there all along, suffering, screaming silent and unheard through the millennia.
       The knowledge of what I have done would be unbearable, except that I also know I could do nothing to prevent it. I had hoped, for a while, that stealing the Lexx would at least prevent the destruction of other worlds, and so make amends in some part for the thousands I have killed. But even that has been denied me.....

       And now? Now I lie here, dead to sensation, remembering. And questioning. Is there a way for me to be human again? To regain, at least in part, the life I once knew? With the destruction of the Cluster it seems unlikely. My people are gone. I did not choose my companions, although I am grateful to them for helping me to survive. They tell me I have destroyed the Divine Order, that I have fulfilled the prophecy. And so I no longer have any purpose.
       Awake, I can forget the pain, force down the memories, function for a while. With nowhere else to go, I may as well do what I can to help my companions - at least until my extinction. There is some satisfaction in it.

              Yet somehow, beneath my memories, there is something else. Deep down within me I can feel something stirring, taking form. It feels familiar. And very, very dark.........

© 1999 Joules Taylor.

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