Chapter 24: Right place, wrong time
Selene entered her mother’s chambers. She found her mother in a good mood, though a thoughtwave passed from the doctor’s mind to hers that made it clear she was at the end.
“Soon,” was all he said.
Selene sat next to her mother’s bed and they held hands. Their insignias shone as it always did when they made contact. She could feel her mother’s warmth, but her light was dim. It was only a matter of time. Selene’s mind was racing with all of the things she wanted to say, or wished she had time to say. More things she wanted to do or do one last time. But there would be no more last time.
Perhaps sensing her anxiety, her mother turned her head and sent the first message from her mind to hers. “Selene, my child. Don’t worry. Those of us who live, must die. We must part our knowledge on to the next. It is tradition. I am not afraid.”
“I’m not ready for you to go,” Selene said.
Her mother’s light flickered, and she gasped. But she recovered and spoke more. “I have to tell you something. You know how when the ghosts pass, sometimes at the end thoughtwaves can become uncontrolled or random?”
“Sometimes those thoughtwaves can come from different species on other planets.” Her mother explained. “Sometimes these thoughtwaves are even from different times; could be past or future. A thoughtwave can be so strong it burst out and traveled through the cosmos until it found one of us, and then passed on through. Sometimes it’s a blessing, sometimes it’s just confusing.”
“What is this about, mother?” Selene asked, afraid they were wasting valuable time. It didn’t seem like a good time for another lesson. But maybe that was the lesson. Maybe her mind was so far gone, she couldn’t really be present with her. She began to cry at the thought.
“Don’t cry, child.” Her mother pleaded. “I intercepted a thoughtwave before you came in. It was you. Not from you, but about you. From a different time. I’m not going to spoil it for you, the future is yours. But one day you will stare adversity in the face, and you will have to choose between love and hate.” She paused for a moment, gasped for air until she was coughing repeatedly. The coughs became more and more persistent, and harsher with each repetition.
Selene tried to sit her up, but her mother pushed her away and laid down. Her insignia burst pink, purple, yellow, green, and blue with each cough. She held her breath, and her light went dark for a moment. Her chest lifted off the table, she remained that way for what felt like an eternity to Selene. But then finally she dropped her body down to the bed, her light came out of her so strong. It was warm and purple at first, it knocked Selene against the wall and to the floor. She received memories of her mother's childhood, time with her own mother. Learning, playing.
This was the way of the tribe of Phobos at death. With their remaining breath they shot out thoughtwaves carrying their life story to anyone within range. It was their tradition to pass on their life story to as many as would listen. The doctor was in the hallway receiving the story as well, pressed against the wall from the force.
The blues and reds were always the hardest colors to receive. Memories of hardships, anger, hatred. But it was necessary to learn from the past. Phobos was committed to keeping from repeating past failures.
A blue wave crashed hard against Selene; she heard the doctor hit the floor in the hallway. It was a memory of a young Phobos tribal leader. Someone she’d never met before. Her mother and the young Phobos leader were lovers for a space, but then he died in an incident on Earth. Her mother carried her to term alone, bore her alone, raised her alone. Never showing it, but always carrying the loss of her lover in a blue hue. Buried. Selene had never met her father, but here he was in her mind’s eye. She could see him. He was so young, so handsome. His death was tragic, violent. She understood why her mother had kept it from her for so long. Such strength to hold onto that thought for so long. To bury that blue so deep and stay strong for Selene.
After it was all over, Selene laid on the floor crying uncontrollably until she could only cry dry tears. It was the worst night in her life. She would carry that blue with her to the end.
One last time
Selene’s mind kept wandering to that night as she traveled back towards the center of the city where she’d last seen the pod. Out of all that she’d experienced in her life to that point, nothing really felt like that moment her mother had warned her about. As she neared what she was sure would be the end of her life, she was certain that the moment had been wasted. That her mother’s mind was too far gone and she was rambling on about thoughtwaves that had no pertinence. It was disappointing. She had always held on to hope that it had meant something. That her mother’s last moment of life was spent doing what she’d always done—she was looking out for her. Preparing her for the battles she’d face.
Selene came upon the abandoned Taco House and stopped at the trash bin. She looked across the street. In the Aldi parking lot was the very pod she’d come after. It was all lit up by the parking lot lights. She knew it was a trap. They were calling her out. It would be a massacre.
She just needed enough time to get to the pod, pull the lever to the detonator. It would trigger the self-destruct which only took two seconds. It had been designed that way so only serious situations warranted it, because it meant someone was losing a life. The situation was dire, she determined. She had to put an end to the madness they were attempting to conspire in the small town of Tipton. She couldn’t let them reverse engineer the liquid into a chemical weapon. So many innocent lives would be lost, and in the worst possible way.
The trap be damned.
She pushed off the bin and took off into a full sprint on all four legs. She looked behind and saw a hummer come peeling out from behind the Taco House. It had men hanging out the sides and top, aiming their guns at her and shooting. She jumped as high as she could, spun around in a corkscrew pattern two times. Several bullets still caught her. She wasn’t sure how many, but she knew the landing wasn’t going to stick. She landed on her back and slid across the pavement. She got up and limped on her left leg. There were two more hummers that had come out from behind the Aldi, they were headed towards the pod.
Bullets flew everywhere.
She could feel nonstop bullets hitting against her. They were high caliber and tore at her tough skin. Entire pieces of flesh were being ripped apart.
She fell and skidded across the pavement to the pod. She crashed up against it and the trailer it was placed on. The bullets kept spraying her. She reached above her head without looking, she couldn’t find the lever.
A voice shouted and the shooting stopped. All the soldiers gathered around her and the pod. Guns drawn, hate in their eyes. They wanted to kill her. But their superior pushed his way through to the front. It was Agent Wilcox. She recognized him from the beginning of it all. He was in charge of all of this. The conspiring, the coverup, the killing of innocent civilians.
Her hand found the lever.
“I wanted to see the light go out.” He said. “Alright. Ready, aim—” his eyes wondered, and he saw that she had latched onto the self-destruct. His eyes widened and he panicked, “Shit!” He turned and tried to push his way out of the crowd of soldiers.
With a quick flick of her tail, Selene caught and wrapped his legs up. She jerked him back to her and brought him face-to-face. This was her adversity. The thoughtwave her mother had received was from her, from her very own death. Her mother saw her life story just before she died. She recalled how her mother was in such a good mood when she entered her chambers. She was proud.
All that was left was to choose.
In those two seconds she felt her mother’s warmth. One last time.
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