“Hello, sleepy head..” came a whisper that stirred Soman from his slumber. His eyes darted open in surprise as he saw Wenn lying on her side facing him.
“Wenn!” he exclaimed and automatically his hands shot out and pulled her closer both startling and pleasing her at the same time.
“Soman!” she cried out in happy surprise.
“Are you ok? Are you hurt?” he rapidly asked taking her head in both hands searching her face.
“Ye..Yes!” she exclaimed in surprise, her face suddenly growing concerned.
“I.. I am not sure,” his voice stammered off as his eyes moved from her face to the strange room they were in. It was… different. It had environmental control and decorated with sleek, modern furniture. Before he could comment on it, a chime called out indicating a visitor followed by a voice, “Are you decent?”
“Father!” Wenn shouted and jumped out of bed pulling a robe on and running out of the room. Soman looked around in confusion but eventually shrugged and pulled himself away from the comfortable bed to get dressed. Upon entering the kitchen, he saw Wenn’s father first before seeing his wife.
“Soman? What are you still doing here? You have defense training with Captain Arkan don’t you?”
Soman frowned at the older man trying to remember what this defense training was about when his father-in-law tossed him a fob saying, “Here, take my car.”
Kissing Wenn before stepping out of his house, he turned to see the rather quaint neighborhood surrounding his house. In the drive he saw a ground vehicle that automatically unlocked as he approached. Pulling the door closed, a voice asked, “Destination?”
“Uh.. Arkan’s training camp?” he answered after some thought.
“Setting route to Arkan’s Camp. Would you prefer self-driving or manual control?”
“Self-driving,” Soman replied quickly looking at the unfamiliar controls of the vehicle.
“Self-Driving engaged. Please enjoy the ride,” and the car started to back out of the driveway and proceed to the requested destination. Along the way, the layout of the town seemed a little familiar if on a larger scale. Moving towards the middle of town, rather than a small, wood temple was a rather large cathedral made of stone. The buildings and houses grew less the farther remote he got before getting to Arkan’s Camp that seemed like a shooting range.
“You’re late!” shouted a gruff older man the moment Soman exited the vehicle. “Here,” Arkan tossed Soman a rifle. “You will need to catch up with the class. I don’t need you shooting me in the back or your own foot off when the aliens get here!”
“Aliens?” Soman asked in confusion.
“Guess we aint alone anymore, my boy!” Arkan replied before spitting on the ground.
Soman shifted uncomfortably as if a voice had intruded in on a satisfying sleep. The darkness associated with unconsciousness parted to reveal a vision of the rather large stone temple he remembered seeing earlier in the day. The temple did not seem to hold any interest for Soman but this time he stopped to give it more than the casual glance. While being a simple square in design, able to probably hold around three hundred people comfortably or four hundred uncomfortably, other for its size, it did not seem to be that remarkable. There was some sort of writing on the panels surrounded the front double door but he could not understand the script. A thought entered his mind that it was impossible for someone to read any type of writing in one’s own dreams…
The train of thought stopped at the familiarity. Was he growing crazy? What was happening?
It is a mysteri
Soman’s eyes snapped open at the return of the voice.
“Soman!” came a surprised yet joyful voice behind the young man as he stared at the front panels surrounding the front doors of the temple. It was the day after his strange dream and he wondered if the recall of the writing was just his imagination or if the writing was something his subconscious picked up at some point.
“Proctor,” greeted Soman to the approaching man.
“Interested in Temple? You know you are always welcome?” the cheerful priest asked.
“I was curious about the writing over the doors here. It is written in a language I have never seen.”
“It is the old tongue,” the Proctor replied gesturing to the door. “Not many know it anymore.”
“What does it say?” Soman asked interested.
“It is an invitation,” the Proctor said.
“To enter the Temple?”
“To abandon loneliness, my son.”
Soman frowned, “That is a strange invitation.”
The Proctor’s eyebrows rose. “Is it? You would be surprised to know how many people, even in a community our size feel so alone. It can get to the point where one begins to embrace the loneliness and they drift away from the city, never to be seen again. Never underestimate the prison of the mind we put ourselves into.”
“Maybe they are just anti-social? Or maybe they just do not trust people?” Soman offered.
“Perhaps,” granted the Proctor. “But isn’t it funny that humans are a very social people and those ‘anti-social’ ones are thought of as the outliers of society? Look at your own experience, “he pointed to the younger man, “You do not remember your past and I can tell that we have no records of you anywhere so perhaps there is another city somewhere out there but one has ever replied to our queries. Even as alone as you must have felt, you have formed bonds of friendship and married a nice young woman.“
Soman felt his cheeks flush.
“But even married people can feel alone inside. The invitation to abandon the loneliness does not mean for one to break such ties of friendship, kinship or matrimony. The invitation into the temple is to strengthen those ties, to form a more solid bond. A bond of mind and heart. A bond of purpose.
A bond of the soul.”
Who are you?
Soman shifted uncomfortably as if a voice had intruded in on a satisfying sleep. The darkness associated with unconsciousness parted to reveal a vision of the rather large stone temple he remembered seeing earlier in the day. The temple did not seem to hold any interest for Soman but this time he stopped to give it more than the casual glance. While being a simple square in design, able to probably hold around three hundred people comfortably or four hundred uncomfortably, other for its size, it did not seem to be that remarkable. However, he could not approach the temple as it was surrounded by angry people shouting, chanting and holding signs of protest. What was going on? He moved closer to made sense of the yelling when the front doors opened inward seemingly by themselves startling the people nearest. It was as if whatever fear had been holding the people outside was broken for after the initial startle, they ran up the steps and passed the doors disappearing into the darkness of the interior. Soman glanced at the open doors when a wailing sound drew his attention back to the protestors still outside. A large shadow seemed to be cast over the temple and people alike and as Soma looked up he saw a large spaceship. The people began to cry out in fear as they turned to flee.
“Light the bastards up!” came a shout that Soman recognized as Arkan as several people with weapons raised them up and began to fire on the alien vessel. Things were happening too fast but before Soman could do anything an explosion ripped through the crowds tossing bodies around like rag dolls.
Abandon your loneliness
Soman’s eyes snapped open at the return of the voice.
“The next day Soman woke to an angry Wenn.
“Where did you get this weapon?” she demaned.
Soman frowned, off-put by seeing his wife holding the body of the laser rifle in her hand. “You know where I got it! Mr. Arkan gave it to all his trainees!”
“Who?” she shouted. “You will not join the protest outside the Temple! You need to be with me inside when they arrive!”
“Who is coming?” he asked though silently thinking he knew who she was talking about.
“Who?” she echoed. “The aliens! They are coming to the Temple to speak to us but some militants want to cause trouble!” Before he could reply she asked exasperatedly, “Where have you been?”
“I…” he had no words while thinking he had been weapons training with those same militants. But only to familiarize himself with a weapon should the aliens proved hostile. He was not aware of any attack they were planning but that was not proof of a lack of ill-intent.
His wife’s voice softened, “Soman, I don’t want to be alone.”
He heard the pleading in her voice and it made him very uncomfortable as images of a simpler ghost town came to himd.
The Full Moon
Soman shifted uncomfortably as if a voice had intruded in on a satisfying sleep. The darkness associated with unconsciousness parted to reveal a vision of the rather large stone temple he remembered seeing every day on his way to the training camp. He never seemed too interested in the building but this time he stopped. For this time the temple was surrounded by many people simply milling about as if waiting for something. The alien vessel had cast a large shadow even at night as it contrasted against the soft glow of the moonlight. As he looked up at the vessel, something else appeared against the full moon rapidly approaching the hovering alien ship. Another one? This one was shaped like…like..a piece of pie? The alien tried to rise but the speed of the second ship was too great and the two struck. The alien ship’s top seemed to gouge into the underside of the interloper as a series of explosions blinded his vision. People stood still in shock until pieces of both vessels began to rain down on them scattering everyone.
“Into the Temple!” a voice rang out and those closest ran to the double doors which had opened to them.
Soman continued to look at the vessels, the first alien visitor’s ship descending towards their world. After a moment, a bright flash from the impact turned the night into day.
He stared up at the other ship spinning slowly against the full moon, its jagged bottom spilling debris. Eventually the spinning slowed until the motion stopped leaving a vision all knew and he had looked up at for years. At least the years he remembered.
The Floating Mountain.
He frowned not knowing what it meant.
Soman’s eyes snapped open… and he remembered.
The next morning he woke up with a heavy heart. He decided to ignore the training session. Actually, he decided to stay home and eat breakfast trying to draw this time out as long as possible. Wenn, Enginner’s Mate 2nd Class Wenn Pyetre, chatted about this and that reveling in the comfort of the sound of her voice. Later her father ,the Chief Engineer of the Victory came by and they shared a lunch and stories of their lives (such as they were).
“Soman? It’s time,” as his wife and father stood up.
He sighed as he stood up with them and decided to walk with them towards the Temple. The large alien ship, a ship of the Imperium, hovered over their destination. There were people around the Temple shouting and protesting as if they had found themselves in a democracy. In the crowd he saw Arkan, the Major who lead the on-board Marines and as the crowd parted to let them through, he caught Arkan’s eye as the Major opened his cloak revealing a rifle blaster and nodded to him. Tears stung Soman’s eye as he nodded back.
The doors to the Temple opened inward and Soman stopped. Wenn turned around, her eyes wide. “I don’t want to be alone!” she whispered in a fright that tore at him.
“I…. I can’t,” Soman said, a hollowness and a tired exhaustion settling deep within.
Tears were streaming down Wenn’s face as the Chief Engineer took her hands and led her away from Soman towards the open doors. The Chief nodded to Soman and he nodded back in silent affirmation that they were each making their choice. He continued to look at her back as her shoulders shook with weeping and as she disappeared through the doors beyond what he could see, the people surrounding the Temple vanished along with alien ship overhead. The town dissolved into a rather rundown collection of hovels, his clothes fading into torn, dusty rags that only resembled clothes in memory.
Everything changed as the sun burned hot.
Everything except the large temple standing before him.
That “god-damned fucking temple!“