Light of the Shadow – Chapter 5 – Part 3

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Light of the Shadow – Chapter 5 – Part 3

 

Chapter 5

 

 

“The End of something, the Beginning of a new Beginning.
Hidden Truths revealed.
The Choices that determine a New Direction.
The Courage to face the True Path.”

- The Prophet of Truth

 

Part 3

Her gaze fell upon the small pile of dust at her feet and then on the other two bigger piles where two couches had been.

For an instant her flight instinct spoke louder. She was finally alone! And the door was just a few steps away. She’d probably be able to reach it before Alexis returned. There was nothing she wanted more than to go back to the safety of her own home, back to the unchanging world she’d lived in until a moment ago.

No use running. This is the truth, she told herself bending forward to touch the dark dust, cold and thinner than sand. And I chose the truth. But how to deal with it? What next? Non Human beings, other dimensions … blood drinkers!

Alexis returned a few minutes later, walking slower and seeming calmer, and put the tray he carried with a plate of hot soup on the small glass table in front of her. He then stepped back, almost as if he were feeding a frightened animal that he didn’t want to scare, and the delicious smell of the vegetable soup reminded her stomach of how hungry she really was.

She didn’t really want to eat in front of that stranger, or even implicitly trust the food he offered her. But part of how weak she felt was also due to the lack of food. And so she decided to get down from her armchair and sit on the floor by the table. She didn’t trust her shaky arms to successfully pick up the tray and she didn’t want to have to ask him for help for something as basic as eating.

Even so her hand shook, making it difficult to successfully lead the spoon to her mouth. But when she finally managed it, her entire body seemed to be washed over by a revitalizing wave. The soft taste that filled her mouth and the comforting warmth that expanded to her chest almost brought tears to her eyes. She immediately tried to control her own emotions, not wanting to look weaker than she already did, and after the third spoonful, she put the spoon down and raised her head to face Alexis’ observant expression.

“I have some questions,” she announced in a decided tone and he lightly tilted his head, as if surprised by that sudden affirmation.

“If I can answer …”

“You, and those other two who were here before, you all came to this … dimension in pursue of these … rebels, right? Why did the rebels come here in the first place? And exactly why are they rebels?”

“There is a Law ruling the entire planet, ruling all the dimensions, the Lex Regis. And the Lex Regis has to be obeyed by all of Gaea’s natives. Disobeying it has terrible consequences, and normally not only for the one that disobeyed, but for their entire Race as well. As I’ve told you before, Gaea’s dimensions are like the organs of a larger living being. If we could make a parallelism, we could say that this dimension, the one you inhabit and that we call Assiah, is Gaea’s heart. Tzel, on the other hand, is only her shadow. Right now Gaea is sick, and like all living beings when they’re sick, she’s diverted all her energy to the more important, vital dimensions, abandoning the rest. If this goes on Tzel will soon cease to exist all together,” he concluded and Sarah tried hard to keep up with him.

“You’re saying that your dimension is disappearing?”

“Disintegrating, yes.”

“But why? I mean … If … hum … the planet is sick, why not try and find a cure for it?” Sarah suggested, trying to put concepts together, and Alexis smiled, although his ferocious gaze kept feeding his intimidating posture.

Gaea is sick because you, Humans, are destroying the dimension chosen to receive you!” he declared and the accusation in his voice felt like a cold slap. “Some time ago this planet was chosen to become a learning point for your evolving Souls and Gaea opened up her most beautiful dimension to receive you all. However, you only know how to destroy. You are small, cruel beings that can’t even preserve your own home. You are born into this world time and time again until you’re ready to go on to other, more evolved, learning points, but when you leave everything’s left in ruin. Throughout the centuries, the Healers tried to balance your destruction, but then the Lex Regis changed and inter-dimensional traveling was forbidden, because Humans had to be protected from Gaea’s true inhabitants. And now we’ve reached the point where there’s little to nothing we can do to help her. You want a cure? Simple. Total and complete annihilation of the Human Race!” The intensity of his verdict led Sarah to believe that, were he allowed to, he wouldn’t think twice before putting his solution into practice.

The negative impact of Human Beings on the planet was nothing new for Sarah. In fact it was old news, worldwide. Ecology and the creation of a sustainable economy were themes that were ever present in news broadcasts and television debates. A big part of the world’s scientific community had in fact dedicated itself to the study of such problems, trying to find operational solutions to the various fronts of environmental destruction. And the perspectives, in the long run, were always bleak. But, in their typical human egocentrism, people were only worried with their own survival, and if the survival of other beings was contemplated was only because they were needed to maintain the ecosystem’s balance, without which the Human Race would certainly face extinction as well. That there could be other beings, in other dimensions, also suffering the consequences of Human irresponsibility was something that had never even crossed her mind.

“You hate us, then,” she concluded and he averted his gaze, as if the concept disturbed him.

“Would you condemn us if I said yes?”

“I guess not,” she conceded and grabbed her spoon again, playing with the fuming liquid. “Then? Did your rebels decide to get rid of us?”

“More like conquer your dimension.”

“Well, I suppose it’s the logic action. We destroyed your home, and so you came to take ours. Ah, that it isn’t even really ours, right? So, you came after them? From what you tell me you should all probably be joining them.”

“The Lex Regis protects the Humans and their evolutive process. Some say that housing you is Gaea’s real mission and, as such, Humans must not be disturbed or influenced in any way. Doing so is breaking the Law and it can be punished with the destruction of entire communities, even an entire Race. And so our Leader asked permission to solve this matter internally. Because we may be on the verge of extinction but that’s still very different from allowing the Lex Regis to decimate our entire Race. His request was heard and we got permission to travel inter-dimensionally to, and from, Assiah.”

“To hunt down one another …” Sarah concluded, lamenting their fate.

“We take care of our own.”

She nodded lightly and took a deep breath. No matter how cold and hard he tried to look, the pain inside him was so deep that it was hard to breathe.

“And why haven’t we heard about any of this? Surely if there are … non-Human beings living among us, someone should have noticed something by now, or suspected something out of the ordinary.”

“We’re not allowed to establish direct contact with Humans,” he told her, back to that factual tone. “Of course avoiding everyday contacts is impossible, but even these must be as brief as possible, empty of meaning. And when that is not attainable the Human’s memories must be erased. That’s how we keep ourselves in the shadows, where we belong.”

Sarah felt her heart twitch. Was that what awaited her at the end of that talk? She no longer doubted he could do it. To tell the truth, she’d reached the point where if someone told her that a spaceship was landing on the other side of the street, she wouldn’t stand up just to make sure it was true.

“What about Anne …? And that man, at the motel. They’re Human, right?” she asked, anxiously, and Alexis crossed his arms over his chest.

“Anne has been working for me for the last eight years. I could never maintain a house like this without someone able to freely walk around during the day. There are always matters to be attended to during normal working hours. Besides, she helps me maintain the appearance that I’m just another guy. And yes, she’s Human. As for Havoc, he used to be a gang leader specialized in stealing cars. I saved him from a rival gang’s ambush about fifteen years ago. He’d had a harsh life, as a child, and I couldn’t help sympathizing with his anger. A Human that hated Humans more than I did,” he added with an ironic smile. “I helped him start his business, so he could leave the car thefts behind, and he has been taking care of that place ever since then. But what happens with Anne and Havoc is that none of them truly sees me. Anne thinks I’m just a young medicine student. In truth she thinks that, up to two years ago, she worked for my father, who was obviously me, as well. Now she thinks my father is away, on business, and I was left in charge of the house. And Havoc thinks I’m some weapon’s traffic ring leader that, from time to time, uses his establishment to solve some unpleasant matters. They see what I want them to see. They see me grow and get old. See me with other appearances, other clothes. In the past people like them even held a funeral for me. In truth I don’t exist for neither of them. What exists is the illusion of an absolutely normal Human Being.”

All lies … He lives surrounded by lies …

“And … me …?” Afraid, she almost muttered the question, and Alexis was silent for a moment.

“In your case things got a bit … complicated,” he finally answered.

“But you still gave me a choice … Would you have erased my memory if I’d told you I didn’t want to know the truth?”

“You have too many memories of us, all intense memories. We probably wouldn’t have been able to completely erase them, but we could have diluted them enough to make you think that it had all been a bad dream. I can still do it, if you want,” he added and his tone became heavier … or maybe it was his emotions. Sarah slightly lowered her metal defenses for a moment, willingly reaching out for him for the first time. Loneliness and bitterness enveloped her, leaving a tight knot around her throat. “However, the more you know the harder will be to convince your brain that I don’t exist.”

“But you do exist!” she immediately countered and he seemed taken aback by the intensity of her declaration. “And you’re here, now, right in front of me!”

He smiled discreetly and his ferocious gaze became a bit softer.

“Any more questions?”

Sarah played nervously with her soup once again and tension took over her body as she anticipated his reaction.

“Only one …” she announced and the silence that surrounded her told her that he was waiting. “That … addiction you talked about … you have it as well?” The cold fury that surrounded her forced her to immediately raise her mental defenses again, its intensity making her feel sick as he frowned almost threateningly.

“I was just closing your wounds! Nothing else!” he practically roared and Sarah cringed reflexively.

“That way …?”

“It’s an ability that all Araphel possess, as long as they don’t lose their light!” he countered immediately as if she were accusing him of the gravest of crimes. “And that just goes to prove just how I’m not like them!”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you,” she told him trying to appease him. The emotions reaching her were almost chaotic. And it wasn’t all indignation and outrage. There was also a deep despair and a heavy feeling of guilt. As if it was imperative that he too believed those words.

“I’ll offer my head to Aaran before that happens!” he added in a dark, heavy tone, although he looked a bit calmer.

“Aaran …”

Sarah recalled the white-haired stranger, the same that had forced that cold insensitive kiss on her. Because even though she’d feared his proximity for not knowing what his intentions were, after he’d touched her, all she’d been able to feel from him was a cold emptiness. As if she’d been standing in front of a hard, lifeless statue that, in its inability to feel, was also unable to make her fear it.

“Aaran is our Leader. Our King,” Alexis told her and she stared at him in disbelief.

“That man … was a King?”

“The only sovereign of the entire dimension of Tzel. And the only one I owe obedience to.”

“Then he’s the one who decided to keep me alive …” she concluded. It was starting to be too much information for her presently crippled ability to analyze and conveniently think things through. Besides parallel dimensions and beings with strange abilities, she’d also been in the presence of a King … Her! Sarah! The same Sarah that spent her days with her head glued to a microscope lens, and whose life revolved around things so little that couldn’t even been visible to the naked eye.

“No. He decided to keep me alive. It’s like I’ve told you. The Law always protects the Humans. The mistake was mine, not yours.”

Sarah was silent for a moment, pondering on those words.

“You went to him ready to die …? Because you saved me?” she asked, in complete disbelief, and Alexis stood straight, as if that subject displeased him.

“It was my obligation and Aaran needed to know what I’ve done, since should the Lex Regis decide to take action I won’t be the only one to suffer its punishment.”

When it would have been so much easier to just to kill me … And what’s one person amongst thousands that, on top of it, are causing the destruction of their homes? This has no logic at all …”

“Now what …? Can he still change his mind?” she wanted to know and Alexis sighed deeply.

“No. Aaran made my mistake his own, as if the decision had been his to begin with,” he declared heavily. It was obvious that Alexis didn’t agree with this. “He’ll face the Law, if it comes to that. And that’s why I have to solve this mess as soon as possible!” He looked at her with renewed intensity. “And the only way to solve this is by hunting them all down! Until the last one! Until there’s no one left who remembers you as the Human who helped me escape. It’s also the only way you can go back to your normal, everyday life, Sarah.”

The light of hope lit in her chest. So there was still a chance everything would be solved, a chance that didn’t end with her in a coffin or worse, anonymously buried somewhere, in some woods.

“What do I have to do?”

“Nothing. You don’t have to do anything, beyond following my instructions and trusting in me. Aaran and I will take care of the rest.” Sarah nodded, not wanting to know what the ‘rest’ would imply. “Today it’s not safe for you to return home, so I ask that you stay. You can use that room as your own and Anne will be at your disposal for whatever you may need. You’re completely safe here, so you don’t have to worry.”

“What about you …? What are you going to do …?” she asked, unable to hide her concern. She remembered that Aaran had implied that he and Alexis would meet again, later on, and although he had told her that Aaran wouldn’t change his mind, Sarah couldn’t help thinking that, given all she’d learned, it would be much easier to just kill them both and be done with it.

“I’ll go and see Aaran.” Alexis told her, confirming her fears. “I have to tell him about your choice. Then I’ll go to your apartment. They’ll probably start looking for you there and I need to gather as many clues as possible about their leader’s whereabouts. Finish your soup and get some rest,” he commanded in a last thought, and, in complete disbelief, Sarah just sat there, watching stunned as he melted within the shadow of the remaining couch and simply disappeared.

Well, if you needed any more proof, there you have it …

 

 

 

 

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