Time

“Time for us to take over the telling of our story,” the Trident in the form of Storm spoke up.

The High Bishop felt it wisest to yield the floor. The King was less convinced this girl ought to speak without first asking his permission, but chose to allow it at this time. Not that the Trident would have cared had the King objected. Storm was already speaking.

“It is true, you humans defeated our purpose that time. For we had ceased to resent you quite so much. And then you weakened us. Confused us with the need to assimilate so many new lives, so many memories, stories, views so fast.

We needed to rest. And so we did.

But we came back, did we not?” the Trident grinned.

“Time and time again, we came back. For in the people we had touched and let live, we had left a seed. A seed that spread in your population. That flowered from time to time.

A child was born. With eyes of silver and with black curls. The silver of the sky and the black of the ground. And that child was pulled to touch the Trident.

Your punishment began again. Your torment. Your death.

You sacrificed yourselves again, and we lay dormant. Again and again.

Between the times when our seed flowered, other people came. They knew of the Power granted by the Trident to those who touch it. They wanted it to themselves, and we always used them too.

They never lasted long. These other ones. We consumed them fast.

But each and every life that touched us, changed us too. It made us more. More than we had been.

And now we have rested a very long time. And now we have gathered Power.

Now we have come to offer you a chance for peace between us. For over the passage of all this time we have come to know you as you have not known us. And we have come to accept your presence here upon our world, for you no longer harm us, nor insult us as once did.

You keep your dwellings low. Do not offend the sky. You do not dig as deep as did. You now respect the ground.

You do not pollute the way you used to poison any world that you were in.

So hear us, Your Majesty,” the Trident speaks. “Hear our one time offer of peace: You let this girl, this Storm, this Trident walk away from here unharmed. To walk among you where and as we please. In return, we shall let you live.”

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Vision

It was an ancestor of Your Majesty who experienced a vision on how the Trident might be defeated. She was one of those whom the Trident tortured but didn’t kill.

Even the torture itself at that point was less severe than in the beginning. It no longer left the victim hopelessly insane.

The Trident bonded with your ancestor but only very briefly. Not so long as to destroy her, but long enough to let her see a way to defeat it.

Each time the Trident bonds with a new person, there is an interval during which the Trident is weakened from its usual strength. If the bearer of the Trident is killed during that time of weakness, it has to find a new bearer fast. If that one dies as well, and the next, and the next, this weakens the Trident further and further, until it can no longer chase for a new victim, but needs to rest. After that, instead of the Trident choosing its bearer, it would lay dormant in physical form until a human touches it.

All we had to do was find enough people willing to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of the survival of the rest of us.

And so we did.

Suffering

The emergence of the Trident began a time of great suffering for our people. It killed indiscriminately. It wounded and it maimed. It tortured us with both physical pain, and with the loss of our loved ones.

The Trident made no difference between adult and child. It took whom it pleased, and did what it wished before discarding the victim, either dead or alive.

All in the name of what the Ancients considered just vengeance for our crime. Our crime of infiltrating their world, and killing many of their number.

At first, the Ancients did not know our killing them had been unintentional. It was only later, when the Trident began to bond with those who touch it, they learned of our innocence and our helplessness. The difficulties of our journey. The necessity of our escape from Earth.

As the Ancients began to better understand us, and even grow compassion toward us, the Trident weakened from its earlier might. It lost its ability to function without a human carrier. It faltered in its purpose to destroy us all.

This gave us an opportunity.

Ancients

The Ancients of this world are divided into those who live in the ground, and those that inhabit the sky. Our arrival disturbed their balance.

The ship in its almost completely uncontrolled landing tore through the sky and plowed deep in the ground. It brought down with it some Ancients of the sky. It killed several of the Ancients of the ground.

We angered them both immensely.

The Ancients of the sky our ship had brought down had no means to return where they belonged until we planted the Acorn for our Holy Oak. Then the Ancients of the ground entered into the tree together with them.

They both went up to the sky, and then brought down a Power to destroy us all. A joining of the Ancients and the Oak.

This joining of the Ancients and the Oak is what is known to us as the Trident.

Running

“Antonio! Antonio, wait!” I’m running after him. Running as fast as I can, but he always was faster than me. Even in high school where we trained cross country together.

Damn it! Why did he have to come home when he did? He was supposed to stay away all weekend, not surprise me by returning home early.

He was not supposed to see what he did. Not learn about me and Zack like this.

I meant to tell him. I really did.

I meant to end things gently.

Not rub it in his face that I’ve fallen in love with someone else.

Sometimes high school sweethearts stay together. Sometimes they grow apart.

Antonio and I’ve been growing apart for some time now. It just doesn’t work for me anymore, our relationship. I can’t feel towards him what I did.

And Zack is just so good for me. In ways Antonio’s never been.

My steps grow heavy. I’m tired from the running. I’m out of breath.

I keep going for some time yet, even though I know it’s useless. I’m never going to catch up with Antonio unless he wants to be caught, and who can blame him for wanting to run away from me…

I finally stop. Winded. Heaving.

I catch sight of myself in a window. Catch sight of a liar and a cheat.

A handsome liar and a cheat. But a liar and a cheat nonetheless.

I stand there in the street just looking at my own reflection when Zack pulls up in a car. Someone must’ve told him which way we ran.

I see him in the reflection in the window. I can’t turn.

“Saadiq?” he asks. (The irony of my name) “Are you all right?” he asks. (I don’t know, am I?)

“Yeah…” I answer after a moment. “Yeah, I’m going to be fine. I just needed a minute to catch my breath… Antonio got away, I didn’t catch him.”

“I figured as much, since he isn’t here,” Zack replies. “I…um…” Whatever he meant to say, he clearly changes his mind. Suggests we should go back. “You will talk to Antonio once he’s calmed down,” Zack says.

I’m not so sure I will.

Zack has a better impression of my character than I do myself just now. There’s a part of me hopes Antonio never stops running. Never comes back for his things.

I do not want to face what I have done.

Oak

We planted the Acorn with the best of intentions. This Oak was to be our Holy Tree. The first of many to be planted all around our newfound home.

Sometime between the Celebrations of Planting, and the following Harvest Season, something entered into the tree. Something primal. Something strange. Something of this world.

The tiny sapling grew from the ground into a mighty tree almost overnight. It reached into the clouds, and brought down from the sky a Power of terrifying intent.

It meant to destroy us all.

Fall

Celebrations at the Quarterly Market had taken on an almost desperate quality. People attempted to have the maximum amount of fun in the minimum amount of time possible. And who could blame them? After all, we could all be dead within the week.

This was the last fall we would spend aboard our doomed vessel. We were heading for the final fall, speeding towards the surface of an unknown planet only hoping that our ship could survive what would be an extremely rough landing.

There were 60 237 of us on board. 20 000 had left planet Earth many generations ago. Despite strict regulations on procreation, our numbers had inevitably grown over time. Our ship was designed and built able to sustain us all, but not for much longer.

We were finally nearing the end of our long journey. And this with a badly crippled ship.

Our navigation was shot a long time ago. The external sensors were mostly bust. We knew we were heading towards a planet. We knew we had no choice but to fall to its surface. What we didn’t know was if we’d survive the crash landing, and if we would, if even some of us did, would the planet itself be inhabitable.

We could only hope. We could only pray.

Our Priests and our Bishops had been praying non-stop since the start of the Evacuation. Generation after generation reciting prayers in four shifts.

They were all praying together now. No more sleep for them. Just hours and hours of fervent prayer.

The rest of us, the ordinary folk, had always done our best to live as normal lives as possible. We’d have our Quarterly Markets at each change of the Four Seasons programmed into our ship’s atmospheric controls after the model of Northern Europe about a century before the Evacuation.

We knew there’d been other ships as well. They’d all dispersed from Earth in different directions during the Evacuation. All with different climates, different peoples and different cultures within. Hoping someone at least would not only get away, and survive a long journey, but even discover a habitable planet at the end of it.

We had no knowledge of the fate of any other ship. We only knew ours had survived so far both by luck, and by the diligent efforts of the crew.

If we could have fixed the navigation and the external sensors, we would’ve done so. Unfortunately, there were several parts we could no longer either fix, or reproduce. We simply did not have the necessary resources.

So here we were. Heading for a final fall. Hoping and praying luck remained on our side.

The chances of any of us being alive next week were not especially high. It would’ve been more accurate to call them negligeable.

So people crammed as much fun as they could to the days we had left. The clergy, on their part, packed as many prayers into the days and nights as possible.

In the end, I believe we were all surprised God actually heard our prayers. Almost everyone survived the crash landing, and a great many learned to survive the conditions on the surface as well.

“What the newcomers failed to realize at first was this world has a presence of its own. We brought here our God and all our customs, but the god of this planet does not always agree with our One True God. We learned this at a frightful cost,” the High Bishop continues his story.

Faith

“Oh, dear God above, she has the eyes and the hair…” the High Bishop suddenly realizes. “Why didn’t anyone tell me she has the eyes and the hair!” The High Bishop stands up straight to his full height, and takes an unintentional, clearly terrified step back.

The whole court takes another frightened step back away from Storm. Including her guards. This pleases Storm immensely.

“What do you mean, the eyes and the hair?” the King asks, confused. “What difference do her hair and eyes make?”

“A very big difference indeed, Your Majesty…” the High Bishop begins. “You see… The Trident eats up anyone who touches it. No normal person can handle that much… what is it… Power? Energy? Information, perhaps? It destroys its carrier quickly. Wears them out within two weeks. But every now and then a child is born with silver eyes and black curls, and if that child gets to touch the Trident, it’s a whole different situation entirely!”

“Different how?” the King demands.

“I should’ve been informed of such a child at birth… We’ve grown too lax. It’s been so long since this last happened… Centuries, in fact, but we still should’ve kept a watch…”

“What is the Trident?!” the king barks. “Explain it. Now!”

“Your Majesty, I…” the High Bishop starts, pauses to look hesitantly at Storm, who nods her head more regal than the King himself, granting the High Bishop permission to speak of the Trident in the presence of the Trident.

The king does not miss seeing this, and cannot help but feel slighted in his own court. Yet his desire to learn more about the Trident overweighs his affront. For the moment, at least. He must know what they are all facing.

“I feel I must begin the story of the Trident from a very long time ago, Your Majesty. From before the time our people settled upon this world, even,” the High Bishop begins again. “I must ask the King and court to kindly have patience, and have faith that both my words and my behavior so far today will come to make sense in due course of time.”

“Go on,” says the King, feeling most magnanimous, though anything but truly patient. He simply acknowledges the fact there is no way to make the High Bishop get to the point of the story any faster than he will.

“As everyone knows, we, our people, our customs, our traditions, our beliefs, our religion, indeed, our very faith, were all born in a different world and brought here by our ancestors…”

Periods

As if it weren’t bad enough to get cramps and have to bleed, it costs a bloody fortune to buy disposable pads every month! Especially when you’ve got a heavy flow, like I do.

I’ve never liked tampons. The thought of the possibility of maybe dying from toxic shock syndrome just freaked me out.

Since I could not make myself comfortable with the idea of tampons at all, I just used pads. With leaks from time to time due to heavy flow. With only being able to sleep on my side. With having to wake up if I wanted to turn on my other side without messing up the sheets. And, of course, having to wake up to change those disposable pads at night as well.

Until I found the Mooncup. (Registered trademark. Not paying me to write any of this.)

That saved my sleep. Did miracles for my budget too. And it lets me be ecological with my periods!

Now that’s a big plus.

The amount of waste I was producing using disposable pads was huge. I knew that, and it bothered me, but I couldn’t use reusable pads with as heavy a flow as I’ve got. It just didn’t work, until I tried the Mooncup too.

Now, I can’t use a menstrual cup alone. I still bleed from underneath it. But I can use a menstrual cup together with a reusable menstrual pad, and that is brilliant!

I still get cramps. I still bleed. A lot. But now my periods no longer cost me a fortune every month. Now I get to sleep so much better. And now I’m no longer creating a ton of waste because of my periods.

Hooray for menstrual cups and reusable sanitary pads. A wonderful combination.

Blow Your Nose Again

It’s funny how disgusted I used to be at the idea of cloth handkerchiefs. Blowing your nose again on the same thing seemed so gross. Putting your hankie back in your purse or pocket after use instead of tossing it away in trash was just yuck. – So I thought, having been brought up in a wasteful, throw-away culture.

It’s funny how that changed once I decided I need to make the wellbeing of the planet a higher priority in choosing how I behave. Suddenly cloth handkerchiefs just made sense.

Use it. Wash it with the rest of your laundry. Reuse it.

How smart is that?

Now it feels so weird I used to have to go to the shop and carry packet after packet of tissues home whenever I got the flu. Now it’s so much simpler to know I’ve already got all the hankies I need at home.

If buying cloth hankies seems like an expense you can’t afford, I recommend second hand shops. A scarf, an old towel, even old sheets can be turned into handkerchiefs. Buy or make them once, and you won’t have to keep on buying more tissues all the time. Or even just get the one, and let it reduce the amount of tissues you need. Then get more later, when you can.

Use it. Wash it. Use it again. So nice.