Category: Interview

Interview with Yul (from Earth): Part 2

T: Ready to continue?

Y: Always ready.

T: I would expect no less (smiles). Tell me what happened when Rog walked in the door.

Y: You know how when in hospital they ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1-10?

T: Yes.

Y: Well, on the pissed scale, I was about a 15. Beyond pissed, beyond anger. It was an odd place, emotionally. I felt like I was in the eye of a storm. Hell had happened and I had a feeling hell was going to happen again, but in this moment I felt the strangest sense of detachment. When he walked in that door, I felt nothing.

T: Nothing. At all?

Y: Not a damn thing; and it scared me to death. He sat there with his pathetic eye bandages, and I felt nothing. I didn’t even feel numb. He was like a book I had once read and at one time liked, maybe even loved, but now, it just looked old and yellow and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why I had ever felt the way I did. He didn’t look the same. I almost felt embarrassed.

T: (dumbfounded look)

Y: What?

T: I’m sorry. I was not expecting this and my mind is running, trying to grasp what you are saying.

Y: (sighs) I wasn’t expecting it either. It happened in an instant. The door opened. The nurse walked him to a chair beside my bed. He sat down, looking all the much like the Jackassary he explained himself to be, and I just didn’t care. If fact, I felt a strange sense of boredom. Only later did the eye pass and the second wave of hell overtake me. To be honest, the meeting with Rog, well, even saying it was anticlimactic, is overstating the case. It was a non-meeting meeting. He looked whipped, like a pampus with his tail between his legs. His shoulders drooped, his voice had no power and he seemed very uncomfortable not being able to see. I don’t think he really knew what he wanted to say, not that there was anything he could have said that would have made a difference.

T: I want to come back to this second wave of hell, but before we move on I want to bring closure to your meeting with Rog. My understanding is that when he came out of the room, the only thing he could tell Kyra that you said was “either/or.”

Y: (laughed) Not sure we really talked about much of anything.

T: But he was in there for an hour or so, right?

Y: Probably.

T: What did you do for an hour if not talk?

Y: I think you are missing the whole scene. We talked, but about nothing, at least nothing that I remember. But the words were only words. They didn’t mean anything. You see, there was only one thing to say. We both knew what it was. He didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t feel I needed to say it. He had made a choice. Right or wrong and that choice was, to put it bluntly, to leave me to die. I don’t frailing care what the circumstances were. I was dying. He choose to be elsewhere. Ain’t no words gonna reconcile that.

T: (silence)

Y: So, I told him. Either you get your sorry arse out of my room or I’ll find someone who can. He sat for what seemed like the longest time, almost like he didn’t comprehend what I said. Then he stood, again, just standing there like I was going to say something else. The silence must have just killed his soul, especially not being able to see me. Next thing he heard was the call button for the nurse. She escorted him out.

T: (sighs)

Y: Look. I never said I was some frailing Janussary.

T: True.

Y: And would you want to frail me as bad as you do if I were?

T: (hesitates)

Y: Still struggling to be bluntly honest.

T: (starts to speak)

Y: Look. Frailing is a waste of time without an absolute commitment of unadulterated openness. If there is anything, and I mean anything, between you and the other person, any idea, concept, thought, hope, belief, dream, whatever, then the frailing will suffer. You must bring all of you to the frail. And the same for the other. (pause) All of you. And nothing but you. Otherwise . . .

T: Otherwise . . .?

Y: Otherwise, the pieces won’t fit.

T: I’m not sure–

Y: Of course you don’t. You don’t speak my language. You see, the problem was not Rog and what Rog did. The problem was me. As soon as he left the room, the second wave of hell came, slowly at first, but with a relentlessness and a force, I suppose I can say this now, that was beautiful to watch in its power and intensity. And it was pure hell. Now stand up.

T: (stands)

Y: Take your pants off and show me what you got.

T: What?

Y: Take your pants off. Now.

T: I–

Y: Sit down. Why would I frail you and all your baggage? Drop the baggage and then come back and see me.

T: I don’t think you understand–

Y: No, I don’t think you do.

(to be continued)


The Yul Interview (Part 1)

Interview with Yul (from Earth)

T: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us this morning.

Y: No problem. What’s up?

T: I wanted to ask you about the time when Rog returned from the mission to rescue Bravo and–(notices strange look on Yul’s face). What?

Y: Go on.

T: You sure? You seem–

Y: Like a girl in the bathroom who hears a door open and a stranger walks in?

T: (smiles) Well, more like a girl in the bathroom who sees the stranger and doesn’t break eye contact but instead sits upright, chest out, eyes wide, lips slightly parted with a Mona Lisa smile.

Y: (laughs out loud) You know, I would frail you, how do you say it, just to be clear, and I would frail you right now (Yul seductively slides her spear-like blue tongue over her glistening upper lip, and her eyelashes, or so it seemed, swayed like palm trees in a gently breeze, glimmering and sparkling like the surface of the turquoise ocean they guarded and longed to reach.). What do you say? Be our little secret. Rog doesn’t have to know.

T: You know, you don’t really have to try so hard (deliberate pause), to avoid the subject. Just say you’d rather not discuss the matter. I understand if you don’t (shifts position).

Y: (laughs again, her eyes dropping, starring) Seems I’m not the one avoiding the question (winks). It’s getting a little warm. Do you mind if I take my shirt off? (starts to unzip her blouse, slowly, tilting her head without breaking eye contact)

T: (stares at her perfectly polished nails delicately and slowly pulling his eyes south with the metal enclosure, the valley of her feminine charm, fertile as fields before mountains, opening as flowers on the dawn, only the lush green replaced with an exotic, mysterious blue cast)

Y: (with a slight pout) The zipper seems to be stuck. Would you be so kind as to assist.

T: (smiles wide) Yul, perhaps we should continue this interview another time.

Y: Another time, yes (pulls the zipper back up). Now, what was your question?

T: You sure you want to do this?

Y: Oh, I want to do this. The question is, do you?

T: You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?

Y: Like a cat with a ball of yarn. But I am making (drops her tone), things difficult for you.

T: No, not at all.

Y: Really? (looks down) To get the truth you must be willing to give it.

T: (turns to his aide) Turn the camera off and leave us.

Y: Thank you.

T: Do you want to interview or frail?

Y: Why does it have to either/or?

T: (bursts out laughing) Touché.

Y: Business before pleasure. Ask your first question.

T: After the operation, when you woke and you knew you were still alive, walk me through what you felt, what went through your mind.

Y: (sighs) You really know how to turn a girl on don’t you (her eyes water and her lids drop; she reaches out and touches his arm with her nails).

T: We can stop at anytime?

Y: No, I want to answer this question. Just not easy to go back there. Sometimes the past is best left in the past.

T: Easier said than done.

Y: True. Pain. That was the first thing I remember, the intense pain. I learned later their pain meds didn’t quite work as they should on our alien nerve centers. Every movement hurt. Breathing hurt. Laughing hurt. Lifting my head hurt. Moving my arm hurt. But none of those things hurt as much as waking up, in that white room, alone.

T: Was Mairi not there?

Y: No. After the operation, she went back to her quarters to get cleaned up, to recover, and I suppose that is when Trev appeared. At the time I didn’t know why Mairi was not there. I had no idea the trouble Trev had gotten himself in nor the extreme guilt Mairi felt, undeservedly, in my opinion, but then again, who am I to judge the burden another picks up, right? (laughs)

T: Can you describe the loneliness?

Y: You’re alive. A miracle has occurred. And you want to die. As painful as the surgery was, it was the moon to the sun of my mental torment. I suppose I was primed to feel sorry for myself. As I think you know, I was never “the one.” My sister (Yul pauses), can we take a break?

T: Sure.

Y: (wipes her eyes) Never mind, I’ll push ahead. My sister was the one. She got everything. I was passed over so many times, the scars, well, if I told you even today they were completely healed, I would by lying. So when I woke up and there was no one there, well, I slipped into an emotional free fall. Not exactly what the doctors wanted to see.

T: Keep going.

Y: (takes a deep breath) I knew Rog had made a choice to be elsewhere but I was not expecting neither Mairi nor Trev to be absent. I was angry, resentful, bitter, scared. I didn’t understand why they weren’t. I mean, how could they not be there! Frail, for Janus’ sake. How could they not be there! So you want to know what I felt. I felt frailing pain like you will never understand. Think of it this way. Imagine you walk into a bank and you present your life as a deposit and the banker looks over your portfolio and starts laughing. You ask him why he is laughing and he says there is nothing here. Imagine that. Your life is deemed worthless by those who know you best. You are on your deathbed and your lover leaves you. You go under the knife and when you wake your other two friends are not there. Do you have any idea, any frailing idea what it is like to wake in an alien hospital, attended to by aliens, your mind is drugged, you are disoriented, in pain, severe physical pain and they are whispering in a language you can’t understand while taking sideways glances at you, and there you are, rejected again, abandoned again, told, not with words, but with actions, that you don’t count. You want to know what went through my mind? I’ll frailing tell you. I thought of Mairi and Trev sitting in the sun having a leisurely breakfast and talking nonsense about what they were going to do that day without my name ever coming up. And then I thought about Rog, jacking off, and you know what. He wasn’t thinking about me. He was thinking about Kyra, about Em, in his quarters, wailing away. That’s what I frailing thought. And then I thought, frail them all. Just frailing frail them all. You know what I mean?

T: I had no idea.

Y: (Yul looked at him hard) Frail you.

T: Pardon?

Y: I don’t need your false sympathy. If you want to continue this interview I need you to be real, just speak the truth, otherwise we’ve got nowhere to go.

T: (sighs) Look, I understand the events, the time line. I meant I have no idea what it must have been like to be you at that point, not that I didn’t know there was pain.

Y: Oh, my bad. Won’t be the last time I put my foot in my mouth. Promise. Make it up to you later.

T: Don’t worry about it. So when did you know Rog was on his way to see you?

Y: About five minutes before he walked in the door but I don’t think that is what you’re asking is it.

T: Not really.

Y: Since the moment I slammed the phone against the wall and broke it into a thousand pieces, all I could think about was that moment when he returned and what I would say. Keep in mind, I had ample time prior to the operation to stew and mull and that soup burned under the blazing fire of eminent death. Not even Mairi knew she was capable of pulling off what she did. I could see the look in her eyes, same for the doctors. There was no light, no hope. The surgery, at best, was going to be a living autopsy. I was their plaything. Not of their kind. What the frail did they care whether I lived or died. Maybe it was my imagination, but I could have sworn they looked eager to open me up. Anyway, so before the operation, my emotions were running so strong, not thinking, but knowing I was going to die, and I was obsessed with how I could somehow pay that little frailer back for abandoning me. I mean what the frail. I’m frailing dying and he runs off to save someone else. Stop and think about that for a second. Put yourself in my shoes. How would you feel?

(to be continued)

I Know

T: Rog, thanks for granting us this interview. Kyra will be along in just a bit but I think we can get started.

R: No problem. Let’s do it.

T: If you would, start from your time in hospital.

R: Sure. My recovery proceeded much faster than anyone expected; and, I was able to convince John to release me a day early without telling anyone. I wanted to surprise Yul. They had flowers, which may seem like a strange thing to say, but in space, you don’t exactly come across them everyday and we hadn’t for some time. Yul loved flowers so I knew I had the perfect makings for a wonderful surprise.

T: Did you know at this time why Yul had acted so strange when she first came to visit you?

R: No frailing clue. I felt like such a blockhead because all the signals were there—that something was wrong—but I was so self-absorbed in my own good fortune I didn’t see it. I suppose Kyra is right. We do see the universe as if we were dead center and everything else revolves around us. Not exactly the best prescription for building a relationship is it.

T: I suppose not. So you got out a day early and no one knew.

R: Yep.

T: And you had flowers.

R: Yeah, I did. Very exotic. John said Cait grew them in their garden and that they were sure to make the impression I was after. I knew Yul was going to love’em. I was determined that whatever was bothering her I was going to fix, or, as I used to think, use my force of will to wash away. Much power in a smile, but sometimes . . .

T: Sometimes? Please continue.

R: Sometimes you need just a little more. And sometimes [Rog looked down], sometimes you just need a little luck. Hindsight, well, I’m getting ahead of myself.

T: So you were released early. What happened next?

R: I walked, no, actually I ran to my quarters, jumped in the shower and tried my best to scrub that hospital smell from my hide. You know, the one that reeks of stale linens and that strange metallic scent. So I scrub my skin red, jump out of the shower and as I’m standing in front of the mirror drying my hair I’ll be damned if that smell isn’t still there. No can do. Believe me, there would be no babies if we all smelled like that and besides, the last thing I wanted to remind Yul of was that moment in the room.

T: So, how did you get rid of it?

R: Look, if you are going to interrupt me every time I get started on this story, I’d just as soon stop now.

T: Sorry, please continue.

R: First time I met Yul I had used some homemade goat’s milk soap in the shower that morning—very strong scent that tends to stay with you all day. She loved it. Said it was pure Rog. Down-to-hyneria, strong and pure with a touch of raw integrity, whatever that meant, but she just loved the smell. I didn’t normally use it since it can overpower all other smells, not a good thing in tight quarters; believe me, in space, a strong smell can get old real fast. Besides, I didn’t want to interfere with the flowers, but, as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. So, I jumped back into the shower.

T: I take it, it worked?

R: [Rog laughed] Yeah, it worked. Couldn’t smell the flowers anymore but what the hell, I was after bigger fish if you know what I mean. And failure, as they say, was not an option. Had a lot of confidence at that time in my life. Ignorance breeds it—or stupidity—take your choice. You know how they say everything happens for a reason?

T: Yes.

R: Well, drum that idea out of your head. Sometimes shiott happens and there ain’t no reason. And there ain’t nothing you can do about it either. That whole universe thing again. Truth doesn’t bargain nor suffer fools-kinda like Yul I suppose. My nut was a little tougher to crack. Dad always said I preferred the hard way. Can’t say he was wrong, although at the time I would have lived up to his argument.

T: Not sure I follow that last bit?

R: Maybe a couple shots of snoot will clear your head. Hey [Rog motions to my assistant], bring us some snoot or whatever you call that stuff. We’ll sort you out. Anyway, this is what you don’t know. The whole time I’m pimping in front of my mirror, Yul was sitting in front of hers too. You got that Jack? Ask Kyra about the difference a few seconds can make. Frailing vanity. Cost me a few minutes. Not much of a trade but then again hindsight is a cheap beotch turning her last trick of the night. How was I to know?

T: [Puzzled look]

R: Not your fault. I’m getting ahead of myself. All these memories exist for me as one thing, a single event, and I don’t normally separate them out into chronological order. So here we are, me getting ready for my surprise visit while at the same time Yul is sitting in front of her mirror. She is getting ready too. Of course, I had no idea.

T: Okay.

R: So I sneak down the hall and let myself into her quarters. Of course, I had the code for silent entry. Her quarters were dark, which at the time I thought was a little odd, but again, I wasn’t really thinking about anything other than my own agenda; was feeling quite proud of myself actually. I called out her name. No answer. I knew she was there—in her quarters that is. I saw a dim pale blue light coming from her private quarters, so I tip toed toward the bedroom. The light was coming from her bathroom. With the flowers held behind my back and the biggest grin I could muster I poked my head around the corner.

[Assistant shows up with snoot] Care to join me?

T: No thanks.

R: Suit yourself. [Rog knocks back his shot and mine and tells assistant to bring more] I wouldn’t normally drink during an interview but I think you’ll understand in a minute. Have you ever had a moment when you felt her heart was going to knock itself right through your chest and onto the floor?

T: Well . . .

R: Hold that thought. When I poked my head into the bathroom Yul was lying on the floor, a dark blue liquid dripped from the corner of her mouth and had formed a puddle on the floor around her cheek, which caught the flicker of the candles she had burning on the vanity. That dance of light was the only thing moving. [Rog stopped, starring straight at me]

A: Kyra has arrived. Should I bring her in?

T: [I looked at Rog] He nodded.

K: I hope I’m not interrupting.

R: Not at all. Your timing is right on, again. I was telling our friend I had just walked into the bathroom and found Yul on the floor.

K: I see. Please continue.

R: At that time in my life, I felt I had experienced quite a bit. When I saw Yul, unconscious, cold, on the floor, my knees buckled at the hands of fate and I knew—I knew in that instant, in a flash and I can’t emphasis that enough, the moment was quicker than the snap of my fingers, I knew that I knew nothing and I knew that my whole world, everything I thought I held dear, trusted was so, was slipping away. Hard to explain the moment, the feeling, the sensation. Your eyes see and your mind thinks but there is a disconnect between the two. All that you stand upon gives way and the emotional fall knows no bottom; and so you fall into the pitch of darkness for what seems like eternity. Part of you just wants to hit bottom and end the nightmare. But there is another part, arms wailing, that wants to grab hold of some imaginary branch. Your heart feels like it is in your ears, your stomach in your throat while your mouth lips words–but no sound comes out.

K: Was this the moment you commed me?

R: No, not yet. In what seemed like a lifetime but must have only been seconds I dropped the flowers, fell to my knees and immediately grabbed her head—my Janus, I had held her head a thousand times and it had never felt this leaden. The conversation is still as blurry in my mind as her face was in my tear streaked eyes and I wasn’t sure how much was directed toward Yul and how much toward Janus. She had no pulse. Her eyes were open, wet; and they seemed to be staring directly at me, kinda like one of those painting that no matter where you stand in the room the eyes always seem to be looking right at you. They looked like doll eyes, glassy and all I can remember is violently shaking my head back and forth.

My Janus, those eyes. Do you know what it is like to see those eyes, those eyes you have seen so many times, those eyes that animate your every waking moment, those eyes that have brought pleasure and delight in the sparkle of midnight stars. Do you know? Can you imagine seeing those eyes staring back at you now—lifeless, begging? They seem to say, where were you? Where were you when I needed you? And all you can think is what a frailing stupid idiot you were pimping in front of the mirror because that is where you were.

T: With all due respect, seems a little harsh to view your actions that way.

R: [Rog smiled] I had dropped the flowers on the floor when I saw her. After all the begging and pleading and swearing I pulled her limp head into my chest and cried for I don’t know how long. I think the goat’s milk scent interfered with my ability to smell, but when I pulled her head to mine and that viscous blue liquid rubbed against my skin, the burning sensation told me what I needed to know. And then I saw the vial, broken as my soul, upon that stone cold floor. That is when I commed K.

T: [Turning to Kyra] Where were you when the call came?

K: I was in my quarters standing in front of the window looking down at the planet and wondering how I had let John talk me out of accompanying his search and rescue team. Preoccupied, in my own world one could say. I knew I would only get in the way of their teams and that John was right, still, I felt I owned it to Mairi to be there when they found her. So, I was having a pity party and my mind was filled with the self-doubt that only the ego can manipulate.

T: What did Rog say when he commed?

K: He said, It’s Yul, it’s Yul. Please Janus, It’s Yul. What have you done baby. My Janus, what have you done? I commed that I was on my way. When I walked into that bathroom he had Yul’s limp body pulled tightly to his and the two of them were smeared in what appeared to be a purplish blue liquid. I knew instinctively the situation. Not good.

R: I don’t remember K arriving. One moment I was pulling Yul to me as if I could squeeze the poison from her pores if I just held her tight enough and then the next moment I felt K telling me to let go.

K: Actually, I told you to let go of her hands and to hold her head in your chest as if her very life depended on hearing the beat of your heart and to think of nothing else. Oh, and I think I told you to keep your mouth shut too if I recall correctly. You were mumbling like a baby.

R: Really?

K: Yes. Now, as I said before, shut up. I think he wants to hear the story from one who was there. [Kyra winked at Rog and Rog signaled for more snoot]

T: Kyra, the floor is all yours.

K: I held both of Yul’s hands in mine with my chest pressed up against Rog’s back as he held her head in his chest. All three of us are still on the floor. I closed my eyes and focused my heart. My mind filled with white light and I saw Yul and then Kieran. Yul spoke first and this is what happened:

[Yul]: I see the light. I feel the light. And you want me to go back to darkness? (laughter) Get the frail out of here.

[Kyra]: The light will be here—when it is your time.

[Yul]: And who are you to tell me when my time is?

[Kyra]: I have something to show you. (I showed her the scene back in the bathroom with Rog holding her head tightly to his chest, his eyelids shut so tight they appeared to be squeezing out the tears that were raining down upon her beautiful mane.) Our life is not ours alone. The way to light is love. This room is not the room, but rather an antechamber, a waypoint so to speak, the nexus between this world and the next one. If you decide to stay, I cannot promise that when we leave you will remain in light. Look again at the scene below and ask yourself: Did you bring love here with you or is that love crying out for you right now? Look Yul. Look at those hands holding your head so tightly to his chest. Can you hear the beat of his heart? Can you feel the energy of his love? Can you see the light in his soul shinning out for you? Look again. Tell me what you see?

[Kieran] Time is running short. You must decide. We cannot hold this chamber open much longer.

[Yul]: (She looked again. Kyra’s eyes were closed and her entire body seemed to be trembling with a slight glow, her hands locked on hers. Rog held her head and sobbed) I don’t know. I don’t know if I can go back to what is there. You don’t know everything.

[Kyra]: True, but I do know love and I know there are no guarantees on when or if you will ever find it. But I will say this, when you do find it, run, run like the wind and embrace it like Rog is embracing you right now. If you can’t see that, if you can’t feel the merging of his soul into yours, then I say try harder. Yul, listen to me. I can’t stay here much longer. I’m your ticket back. Come with me. Come with me now.

[Kieran]: Ask yourself where love is. If you believe you have it here, then stay. But if love is back in that room, then go to it. That is where you belong. Either way, you must decide now.

R: All I know is when she released the contents of her belly and that blue slime spewed all over me I thought I had squeezed the life out of her. And then she coughed and threw up some more and I could feel a pulse and her eyes blinked and looked at me in a way I don’t think I had ever seen before. All I could say was that I loved her and that is when she spoke these words: “I know.”

T: [Period of silence] Kyra, you said there was a note.

K: Yes, we found a note. She never asked about it and so we suspected she didn’t remember writing it.

T: Can you share what was in the note?

K: Perhaps another time. It doesn’t really fit with this part of the story.

Categories: Story, Rog, Yul, Kyra, Kieran, Earth, Interview

T: Please continue.

K: About that time Kieran woke. His was facing away from me but must have sense my presence because he turned toward me immediately.

T: What did you say?

K: Didn’t say anything. Just smiled through the tears forming in my eyes.

T: Tears of joy?

K: Tears of confusion.

T: Explain.

K: Happy he was awake. Sad he might not live much longer. Frustrated there was nothing I could do. Conflicted on what I should share or say with regard to both Rog and myself. I had always been very direct and honest in my relationships and for the first time felt to withhold information might be the wisest choice.

T: I’m listening.

K: My heart spoke otherwise. And then he lifted his arm and held his hand out and my heart jumped into my throat. To hold one’s hand has great significance for me. Kieran and I had never held hands. I had dreamed of it and then, here we were.

T: Describe the moment.

K: [laughter] Damn disappointing. My hands were bandaged from my foolishness of a few hours before. Imagine shaking hands with gloves on.

T: But still . . .

K: But still, it was wonderful. Despite his condition his grip was still firm, still conveyed a soul with life, not someone ready to give up. I wasn’t sure who derived more from that simple embrace. I do know that grasp comforted, however temporary, many of my fears.

T: Who spoke first?

K: He did. Noticed the tears in my eyes. Asked why.

T: And you said?

K: I hesitated. His eyes were locked on mine and I felt as if he could see right through me.

T: Why the hesitation?

K: I don’t know. Didn’t know then either. I knew I had to tell him everything—direct and honest, no half-truths, no pampus shiott. Yet the words . . . well, the words, like my body outside the door just a few minutes before, failed to respond.

T: Must have been awkward.

K: Was. Till he smiled that swimmingly handsome smile. And then the tears just flowed. His grip on my hand increased slightly and his eyes never left mine. And then he asked.

T: Yes.

K: He asked for a full and complete update. So I told him Rog had secured the medicine but had been trapped on Neraj. I told him we had no contact with Rog since the Tear closed and no idea when he would be able to return. I told him there was a chance the virus would overwhelm him before Rog could return.

T: How did he respond to that news?

K: He said thanks. Thanks for being straight up. And then he asked me how long Trev thought he had.

T: And?

K: I told him. A matter of hours. And I told him he was a very lucky Hynerian. He laughed and asked why.

T: Yes, I’m asking too [laughter].

K: If he had been a normal Hynerian he would have died. Only the fluke deformity of two hearts saved him. I did tell you we valued those children of the shells as rare and special. Well, in this case, it saved his life.

T: Was he surprised you knew?

K: He knew Trev would know as soon as he examined him. Then he said something I’ll never forget. I can hear it in my mind as if he had just whispered in my ear.

T: Well . . .?

K: He said, “Let go.”

T: Let go? Let go of what?

K: [laughing] That’s exactly what I thought. Again, I felt like his eyes saw straight into my heart so I was a bit concerned by what he meant.

T: So what did he mean?

K: He saw the confusion in my eyes. Told me to let go of my attachment.

T: Attachment to what?

K: That’s what I asked him and he asked, no he told me, my tears betrayed me. He told me my tears clouded more than my vision but they clouded my heart. I was ready to argue with him when he dropped the second bombshell of a statement on me.

T: Which was?

K: He needed me now and he needed me here. That unless my tears were tears of joy, which he and I knew they weren’t, then I was not what he needed at this exact moment and since his moments were perhaps down to hours . . .

T: Sounds rather harsh on his part.

K: It was the slap in the face I needed. I was not too proud to admit when I was wrong nor too proud to pretend to be the stronger of the two at this moment. So I asked him to enlighten me because I wasn’t completely sure I understood what he meant.

T: Please continue.

K: My head was spinning. Here was a Hynerian on pain killing meds, perhaps within hours of meeting the great Janus and he is as lucid and wise and philosophical as ever—educating me—he is thinking of me—in his last moments. Do you have any idea what that feels like?

T: I can’t say I do.

K: Well, it was mind blowing. They say truth is stranger than fiction. Then we entered a very deep discussion of life and death. I felt like I was at the feet of Papa again on the beaches of Valla during a rare three moon evening.

T: Can you share a little of that discussion?

K: Sure but I have to warn you we could spend all night talking about his insights.

T: I’m not going anywhere.

K: Well, I’ll keep it brief. He starts by telling me he is at peace. Peace with living intensely in this moment unlike he has ever lived before. I told him I didn’t quite understand and he smiled. He said he didn’t quite understand either forty-eight hours before. Oh, he had been taught these things and could have given the right answer on a test but that at this moment his understanding was at a different level.

He must have seen the look on my face so he continued.

Holding my hand with such a firm yet light grip I felt as if the very essence of his energy was flowing from him to me. How that was possible was a mind-*uck for me at the time. I felt lightheaded, I felt seduced, I felt guilty at the self indulgence I allowed myself to slip into but above all I felt a connection with another, an intensity of communication I had never felt before and even to this day do not have the words to adequately describe.

“Nothing stays the same Kyra. Not me, not you, not us. Everything changes in every moment. Die to the past, you must. Celebrate the birth of the present by holding tomorrow at bay. Stay present with me now. Live with me these moments now. And by Janus, stop attaching to an outcome. Outcomes are important but the attachment to outcomes are a fools game. Let go of your attachment to an outcome. As long as you hold onto something which is forever moving, forever changing, you will suffer the pain of incongruity. Flow with the present. Change with it. Resistance is futile,” he said with a wink.

T: Did you understand what he meant by the difference between an outcome and the attachment to an outcome?

K: Dissolve into now was the only thought going thought my head. Other than the concern that I wasn’t sure I could do it. I was awestruck that he could.

T: Getting back to the difference between—

K: Yes, yes, I haven’t forgotten your question. Just recently your entertainment industry celebrated something called the Oscars. Is that right?

T: Yes.

K: And these awards are voted on and someone is awarded a little gold statue.

T: In a manner of speaking yes.

K: And would you say much importance is placed on who wins, much anticipation, much worry and concern.

T: I think that would be fair, yes.

K: Now let me ask you this, “Does the award change the work?”

T: No.

K: That is my answer.

T: Fair enough. Anything else you want to share about the discussion on life and death?

K: Well, for whatever reason, in the midst of that discussion he thought to ask me why my hands were bandaged.

T: What did you say?

K: Interesting dilemma. So far I had been completely forthright in answering his questions. No little white lies or half-truths. And in a split second I was either going to be consistent or go down a different path.

T: Would it be so bad to withhold the contents of your heart?

K: That’s not the question and if you think it is you are confused.

T: Okay, I’m confused. Enlighten me as you say.

K: The content of my heart is one thing. The character, something completely different. The question at hand—I knew it and I knew he knew it—was a question of character, not content.

T: So you had no choice—

K: We always have choice my dear.

T: So?

K: So I decided to choose character.

T: Which meant?

K: I was going to be completely honest on what happened and why. He was going to know how I felt.

T: Quite a risk on your part.

K: The risk would have been to do otherwise.

T: So you told him.

K: No.

T: [eyebrows raised]

K: Yul interrupted. Said she had an urgent message. So I politely excused myself.

T: What was the urgent message?

K: Rog was near but in trouble. She needed my help.


The Interview: Part II

T: Must have been nerve racking not knowing when Rog and Em would make it back with the medicine, knowing the clock was ticking and Kieran was down to perhaps hours.

K: Hard to explain. So many conflicting emotions—good and not so good.

T: Explain what you mean by “not so good.”

K: I knew Kieran could very well die in the next few hours yet I could not banish my own selfish desires to unveil my heart. The rationalizing that took place in my mind was unlike anything I had ever seen. Papa had taught me well how to stand outside the stream of thought, to observe it and see it move, see it change, to not identify with it, not to attach to it. Yet, I felt like I was in, how do you say it, no-man’s land between conflicting emotions.

T: Can you describe what you mean by conflicting emotions?

K: My mind was racing you see. On the one hand I knew I had to regain my composure as the de facto leader of Bravo-Four-Zero. I was well aware that Trev and Mel had seen a side of me they had never seen before. Quite frankly, I was embarrassed that I had lost control and I worried what they thought. Leadership is a funny thing. I couldn’t well expect my colleagues to remain cool under pressure when I wasn’t. I also knew it was silly to be wasting time on what they may or may not have thought at this point.

T: Was that it?

K: [laughter] Oh, that wasn’t even the beginning.

T: Please continue.

K: I felt fear like I had never felt it before. The emotions from a few hours ago were still fresh and not all that far from the surface of my mind. I feared they would overwhelm me again, that I would lose control again. I never knew how strongly I felt about Kieran until that moment at the window.

T: Sounds perfectly natural.

K: Do you see the pattern here? Think for a second. Think about what I’ve told you. About Papa. What he taught me.

T: Not sure I follow.

K: Every emotion positioned me at the center of the universe. Me, me, me. My image. My love. My needs. My wants. My view. My vanity. My fear.

T: Oh.

K: See the pattern?

T: Now that you mention it. But it . . .

K: No buts. That wasn’t me. That wasn’t the granddaughter Zeke had raised. I hardly recognized myself and it made me sick to my stomach. And yet.

T: And yet what?

K: And yet the relentless assault of emotions continued unabated. I did rather admire the utter uncompromising and ruthless nature they exhibited. May we all be so resolute.

T: Interesting view.

K: Never mind that. Let me get to the story.

T: My pardon.

K: So I decided to go see Kieran. Not sure where that decision came from but the next thing I knew, as if my body was acting on its own, I had gotten Trev to agree to let me in and I was walking down the corridor to the iso ward. That’s when I came to the door.

T: Which door is this?

K: The same bloody door, no pun intended, I had knocked myself out trying to open.

T: Yes.

K: Well, here is the irony.

T: I don’t see it.

K: I’m standing in front of the door. It’s unlocked. And I just froze. My mind said open the door and my body refused to respond. Have you ever thought what it would be like to try and lift your arm and your arm didn’t move? Think about that.

T: So you didn’t go in and see Kieran?

K: I didn’t say that.

T: You’re right. Please accept my apologies. May I ask you a question that’s been eating at me since yesterday?

K: Absolutely.

T: Did your perception of Kieran change when you found out he had two hearts, that he was a child of the shells?

K: No. Why would it?

T: Seems like he would have been seen as . . .

K: As what?

T: Well, as not normal.

K: And?

T: I would think it would have changed your view of him.

K: It did. He was that special shell Papa held to the sun, that rare shell of inestimable value. One in a million.

T: The admiration still sparkles in your eye today.

K: [smiles] What can I say. I was head over pampus boots.

T: So you are standing at the door.

K: Yes. I’m standing at the door and my mind is saying open the door but my body won’t respond. I’d never had a time in my life where my body refused to respond to my command.

T: So what did you do?

K: About that time Trev came up behind me and he must have seen my dilemma.

T: Do you think he knew?

K: Knew what?

T: How you felt about Kieran.

K: He knew something wasn’t right with me but I don’t think he knew. I think he felt I was still in some sort of shock.

T: So Trev comes up and?

K: He says “boo.”

T: What?

K: He broke the trance I was in. I had to laugh but it worked. I reached out, opened the door and walked in.

T: Alone?

K: You’re learning fast [laughter]. My fear came too. The two of us, standing side by side next to the bed.

T: Was Kieran awake?

K: Not at first. I stood and just gazed at his angelic face. Part of me wanted to wake him, to see his beautiful, bright intelligent eyes. I wanted to see the life in them, I wanted them to see me, to reflect my image. Oh hell, I wanted him to sense what was pounding in my heart.

T: The pattern.

K: Yep. I was fully aware. Queen of the universe. If my hands hadn’t been bandaged I would have been tempted to slap myself. But then the fear beside me whispered ever so slightly. Whispered the most horrible things.

T: Such as?

K: This is it. Those eyes will never see light again, will never see you again. The image you see before you is the same one you will see at his service. Steel yourself, there are others to think about.

T: That doesn’t sound like fear.

K: He brought his friend. Guilt. Odd pair but they were tag-teaming me.

T: Did you blame yourself?

K: Oh hell no. We never did discover how we got the virus onboard or why Kieran was the only one affected.

T: Why the guilt?

K: Selfishness. Rog and Em were in danger too. Who knows what had happened in that Tear but I wasn’t thinking about them and their lives and I knew it. I wasn’t really thinking about Kieran either. I was thinking about me. I wanted Kieran to live for me. That’s where guilt made himself known. I practically invited him in and he made himself at home.

(to be continued)


Many years later Kyra claims to have no memory of the dash from her quarters to Trev’s lab. Everything Papa had ever taught her about here and now abandoned her in that short sprint. She remembers Goldie waking her and she remembers the look on Trev’s face before those first fateful words reluctantly flowed forth. The short period in-between is forever blank.

The Interview (from earth):

T: Kyra, what went through your mind when Goldie woke you?

K: Fear. Disorientation. Need for action, need for information, but mostly a sense that the worst had happened, that Kieran had passed away and I had been helpless to do anything about it.

T: What was the last thing you remember?

K: I remember seeing the monitors’ flat-lining, calling for help, realizing that the door was locked and only Trev had the ability to open it, throwing myself, repeatedly against it, blood everywhere. My last memory before Goldie woke me was that damn door that wouldn’t budge.

T: Any memory of seeing Trev?

K: None.

T: Let’s get back to the window. More emotion than we’ve seen from you before. Can you tell us what was going through your mind?

K: You have to remember, our homeworld was no more. What was left of our people were scattered to the winds of the universe and we, the eight of us on Bravo-Four-Zero, were heading into the uncharted territories. We had no contact with any other Hynerians and no expectation we would ever see any of our kind again. Now think about that for a minute.

T: Sobering. Please continue.

K: Well, I was a young female Hynerian. Had no desire to live my life alone and of the four males onboard Kieran was the only one I had feelings for. Rog was a great guy but not my type. Trev, heart of gold and sweet as could be, but again, not quite what I needed. But Kieran was different. Kieran was . . .

Editor: Kyra’s eyes started to water and she asked for a short break.

T: Kyra, are you ready to continue?

K: I’m sorry, even after all these years the emotions of that time still have the ability to overwhelm me.

T: I understand.

K: Kieran was special. Unlike any other Hynerian, well, except one [ed: we see the first smile from Kyra], that I had ever known. He could be so many things. Within his hands he could hold good and evil, strength and weakness, power and humility, all in equal measure and be neither deceived nor seduced by those concepts—almost as if he could stand outside the reality all the rest of lived in.

T: When did you learn he was a child of the shells?

K: I never knew till . . .

T: Do you need another break?

K: No, no, it’s ok. Just been awhile since I’ve recreated these memories. I had no idea until I walked, or was that stormed into Trev’s lab. Kieran had never spoken to anyone about it. Then again, that’s the way he was.

T: Let’s get back to the window. Tell us how you cut your hands. Trev said they were in pretty bad shape when he got to you.

K: Well, I was standing outside the iso room. There is a window to observe the patient. Kieran appeared to be resting peacefully, the incongruity of which only further fueled my emotional state. We had lost contact with Rog and Emy, the Tear had closed and there was every possibility they would not arrive back with the medicine in time. Remember, Kieran had reached stage two, which meant he had an estimated forty-eight hours and I have to emphasize estimated because no one really knew. I think the uncertainty combined with the sense of helplessness created a unique emotional situation.

Kieran was such a handsome young Hynerian. And he looked so peaceful standing bravely on the edge of death, and there was not a damn thing we could do but wait. Then it hit me. This could really be it. He might never come out of the peaceful drug-induced slumber. He might never see the sun again. Actually, I thought he might not ever see me again and, as a result, would have never heard the words I had so longed to whisper quietly in his ear. I felt a surge of regret I’d never felt before.

Then, almost as if my body acted on its own, I remember seeing my hands ball into fists and hurl themselves in frustration against the glass. The rings I wore just sliced through my flesh and blood went everywhere. Really was quite a mess I made.

T: Did Kieran have any idea how you felt about him?

K: None.

T: None?

K: Never said a word, never showed my hand in any way. I may have even subconsciously acted a little cold toward him to cover the approaches of my heart. Who knows in matters such as these? I may have been Zeke’s granddaughter, but I was no Papa at this stage of my life. You know, Goldie was so right. I did miss Papa.

T: What do you think Papa would have said to you if he had been there at the window?

K: Papa would have hugged me, told me not the resist the flow of energy but to embrace it. Then he would have told me how proud he was that there was so much love in my heart. Then he would have found a way to bust down that damn door. [much laughter]

T: So you “storm into” Trev’s lab. What’s the first thing he says to you?

K: Sit down.

T: Okay [interviewer smiles], so you are sitting down . . .

K: Oh no. I didn’t sit.

T: Oh.

K: I stood in front of his desk, put my bandaged hands down like a cat ready to pounce and said . . .

T: Yes?

K: I said Trev, no pampus-shiott. What happened.

T: And.

K: He said in a voice I had never heard before—SIT DOWN.

T: Sounds uncharacteristic of Trev.

K: It was.

T: So did you sit down?

K: Yep, although my eyes never left his. And then he started from the moment he got my distress message.

T: What did he say about his delay?

K: He said he never got my first messages.

T: Did you believe him?

K: Didn’t matter. Water under the bridge at that point.

T: But you don’t remember him arriving?

K: Nope, he says I was unconscious when he arrived. Apparently, on my last attempt to bust the door down I knocked myself out. He did say he was initially terrified when he saw me lying in a bloody mess unconscious.

T: And then?

K: And then as soon as he realized I was going to be okay he called Mel to come look after me.

T: So now he’s in the room with Kieran.

K: Yes.

T: You saw Kieran’s life support monitor’s flat-lining. Did Trev verify that fact?

K: Yes.

T: From the time you first saw them to the time he walked in the room—how much time had passed?

K: Trev estimated five to six minutes.

T: Could a Hynerian live that long? Do you know what I’m asking?

K: You’re asking if Kieran could live or survive for more than five minutes without blood flow.

T: Yes.

K: No.

T: Did you blame yourself for his death?

K: I think I would have had a great deal of guilt, if he had died at that point.

T: So he was still alive?

K: [smiling] Yes. I told you he was one of a kind.

T: Was he just that extraordinary, just that much stronger than the average Hynerian?

K: Stronger, no. Extraordinary, yes.

T: Please explain.

K: I didn’t know until Trev told me. Kieran was a child of the shells. Remember my shell story?

T: Yes, every school child had to build a shell collection of both regular and irregular shells. Hynerian culture valued those that were different.

K: True. Remember, Hyneria was on an elliptical orbit. Twice a year the planet approached the sun and the extreme radiation caused birth defects in all life forms. Most were rather cosmetic, not too severe. Just as shellfish were deformed so too Hynerian babies. One of every seven Hynerians were affected. Hence, we developed a deep sense of compassion for those that were different.

T: So the babies that were born with a defect . . .

K: Yes, they were called children of the shells.

T: What was Kieran’s birth defect?

K: He was born with two hearts.

T: No shiott?

K: [more laughter] No shiott, as you say.

T: Was this common?

K: Extremely rare. Kieran was the first double heart shell child I ever met.

T: So the life support monitors . . .

K: They were wrong. The equipment we had was not calibrated for a dual-heart Hynerian. When one of his hearts shut down the monitors malfunctioned, but the beauty of two hearts is the other can keep you alive. And so it did.

T: You must have been relieved.

K: Yes and no. Relieved he was alive, yes. But the basic situation had not changed. Kieran was down to one functioning heart, the virus was having an impact. The clock was ticking. We were down to perhaps hours and still we could not establish communication with Rog nor did we know if when we did whether it would be too late.

Lesson of the Shells