Short SciFi: Rebirth Of The Hzaighlans - Part II
Time weighed heavily upon her. In the placid solitude she spent days thinking of her family, what could have been happening back home, and whether she would ever see it again. Soon, her mind ceased to busy itself with memories and thoughts. Her existence became a predictable routine of eating, drinking, washing, sleeping. The weather was generally beneficial and static, with the occasional tempest to break up the monotony somewhat. Yet another month came and went. By now, Amanda's mind was virtually a blank. Her memories of home had faded to the point where she could barely remember what her mother and father looked like. That did not scare her. She was accepting her new life of torpid, tranquil boredom. She had finally abandoned the prospect of ever seeing home again. She realized that she would die here. She felt her mind shut down, bit by bit, until there was nothing left but the daily routines. There was no past, no future, just the present picking of fruit and catching of fish. She soon realized that this lack of input, this dearth of challenge had an oddly relaxing, satisfying aspect to it. She felt better about herself and her situation every day as her past life receded into the mists of her mind. She had even lost track of the days and even the moons she had been in her prison paradise.
She had caught an inordinately large fish, and she gorged herself on it until she could barely drag herself back to the shelter. A fine rain began to fall and lasted for days. She had so filled herself with the fish that she did not even have the desire to eat. For three days she just lay on the soft moss floor of the cave, content to digest her huge meal and occasionally slurping up a trickle of fresh rainwater that dripped into the cave. She drifted in and out of sleep until even that barrier seemed to fade and she lay in a peaceful state of semiconsciousness. A soothing, steady hum began to murmur in her mind.
She had not had many dreams lately, but she had just entered into the most vivid dream she had ever had. She saw a great city of buildings taller and more complex than any back home. The inhabitants of this great city were recognizably human, but seemed taller and thinner. Their hair was golden with silver highlights, their faces more delicate and less pronounced. These strange people were constantly engaged in a flurry of activity, building on a large scale and constructing intricate little machines. A few had the tops of their heads cloaked in a red, shiny cloth and usually had their eyes closed. They did not walk around this city, but floated a yard above the ground. Some of them flew around the city in transparent bubbles which floated on the winds. Were they mystical legendary god-creatures? Was she just going insane?
As the dreams grew in intensity, clarity and detail, Amanda began to lose herself in them. She seemed to hear a voice speaking to her. Asking her name, her home, her age. She focussed on this faint voice and it grew louder. The language it was speaking was not English, but she could understand it perfectly. It was like one's own voice inside one's head before it forms words. Now this was no longer asking questions. It seemed to course through her mind, recording her memories and her thoughts. She thought that she would like to know the name of this entity which was inventorying her mind, and the answer came back instantly. His name was Hzhedycha and as far as Amanda could comprehend, he was a form of religious-technocratic practitioner called a Sphere Cleric. Amanda wanted to know where he was from, and Hzhedycha's voice answered that he dwelled in the city of Hzaighla beyond the valleys.
A thousand questions flashed through her mind. Hzhedycha's voice seemed suddenly strained, as if he had been taken aback by the force of the confusion within her mind. Hzhedycha asked her to calm her mind. He said that he was just as surprised by her existence as she was with his. He asked for her patience while he consulted with some other Clerics. Amanda heard scores of other voices conversing with Hzhedycha in an incredibly rapid cacophony of thoughts. Soon Hzhedycha's voice alone spoke to Amanda again. He told her that the Clerics had decided to meet her, as they were as curious about her culture and her homeland. By this time the vividness of this dream had begun to dawn on Amanda. This dream was not a dream, but what was it? She asked Hzhedycha what kind of dream this was. He replied that it was not a dream and that she would soon have proof that it was real.
Amanda opened her eyes and saw herself surrounded by a transparent sphere, glinting in the sunshine. She was suspended in the center of this bubble, thousands of feet above the clouds which sped below. She was momentarily blinded by the brightness of the sun, and then suddenly began to panic. She was higher than the highest mountain and there was nothing holding her except for a gossamer sphere. She heard Hzhedycha in her mind calming her and telling her that there was nothing to be afraid of. She was being brought to Hzaighla to meet the Clerics. A thousand questions flashed through her mind again, and just as before, Hzhedycha begged her to relax her mind and promised her that all of her questions would be answered soon.
Soon the glistening bubble began to descend through the clouds. Amanda caught her first glimpse of the grand city of Hzaighla. The buildings were almost unrecognizable to her. They were not constructed of bricks and concrete as they were in every city she had ever seen, but of a smooth, shiny, unbroken substance that made them look like enormous crystals. They glowed with an interior light that constantly shifted in prismatic hues. The entire city was encased in a barely visible sphere, like a crystal ball made out of waves. Her bubble passed through the sphere sending a few gentle ripples outwards. A few of these slim, beautiful people were floating around the city in spheres just like hers. She flew past the outskirts of the city to one of the largest buildings, where the bubble swept up to the roof and in through an opening onto a large courtyard covered in lush foliage. Her bubble came to a gentle rest on the shiny tiled floor and then just disappeared. A group of these tall people floated towards her a yard above the ground. They all had their eyes closed and wore the shiny red headdress.
The group drifted to the ground, opened their eyes, and walked towards her. The one to the front of the group came within a few feet and raised his left hand to the air. He began to speak to her without opening his mouth. Amanda realized that he was speaking directly to her mind.
She immediately recognized his voice as Hzhedycha. He welcomed her to the central temple of the sphere of Hzaighla. Amanda could barely restrain her excitement and shock. She had never imagined that any place could be as this. Again her mind filled with a hundred questions. Hzhedycha replied that he would answer all her questions, but she must be willing to completely open her mind to their queries as well. It turned out that the Clerics were as curious about Amanda as she was about them.
Amanda was well-rested as she had just done little but sleep for three days, so she wanted to plunge right into the trade of information. The other Clerics' voices were added to Hzhedycha's and they began a lively exchange in Amanda's mind. Amanda sat on the soft, cool floor while the other Clerics alternated standing or floating in air. They gesticulated to each other, sometimes in ritual movements, other times simply out of their exhilaration.
After a few hours, the intensity of the interchange gave Amanda a headache. Hzhedycha noticed it immediately, as he was privy to her own feelings, and he suggested that she rest. The session could be continued the next day. In Amanda's mind, a complete routing to a private room appeared, and the Clerics bade her a pleasant night. She walked through the aisles of the huge building and flawlessly found her room. The floor itself was cushiony to the touch, and was devoid of features save a single black crystal on a wall. As she entered, the crystal spoke to her aloud and announced that if she desired anything at all, she could just command it and it would be provided.
Amanda slumped to the floor and found it marvellously pliant, as if it actually fit itself to the contours of her body. As she rested, her headache began to wane, and she tried to absorb all of the information which the Clerics had given her. The breadth of information she had received would take her days to assimilate, and she wondered whether she would ever really understand it all.
The ancestors of the Sphere Clerics settled on this island more than eight thousand years earlier, but were nearly destroyed by the attacks of marauding primitive human tribes and the large carnivorous reptiles. The first settlers were surprised by the presence of the huge reptiles as this seemed the only place on Earth where they had survived the prehistoric age. Due to the fact that their settlement was in severe peril, their first major project was the establishment of a telepathic communal consciousness which was able to erect a zone of isolation around the city of Hzaighla with the joint powers of their minds. Their external settlements were annihilated by the hostile forces outside, while the city of Hzaighla enjoyed comfort and protection inside a barrier impenetrable to savage tribes and giant reptiles. All the citizens of Hzaighla continually maintained subconscious control over the zone of isolation to assure its impermeability. With all citizens being trained from young to concentrate on this task, the establishment of a communicative communal consciousness became much easier. They were able to create a continual information exchange between all Hzaighlans which served all the needs of their civilization, but to date, they had still failed in achieving their goal of a true communal consciousness, where each individual was still completely autonomous, but indelibly linked as a single unit in an ethereal massive consciousness. The Sphere Clerics had acknowledged centuries ago that they had reached an impasse from which no further progress would be possible.