There came a time in the life of Alpheus when he announced to his friend, “We have to get out of here.” His friend, as usual remained silent. Alpheus was accustomed to voicing all his thoughts with his rather reticent friend, Zebulon. But he did not mind, for he was elated he had someone to talk to.
Every morning, as the sun appeared in the sky, Alpheus hastened to rouse Zebulon from his slumber. Together they paced the high chambers of the vast edifice in which they dwelt. Alpheus, in his habitual manner commenced to communicate his various thoughts to Zebulon, who listened taciturnly.
“Tonight when the stars gather overhead, we will drift in the immense vacuüm of space and float to the constellation of the Centaur. From there we can catch a glimpse of our faraway home. Tonight you shall gaze with me. You too shall feel the bliss that fills me when I behold our planet. Won’t that be delightful?” And Alpheus burst into laughter. But Zebulon neither laughed nor cried, he just listened.
Then tears appeared in Alpheus’ eyes as nostalgic sorrow for his lost home overcame him. Zebulon watched silently and did not reply.
All day long, they wandered together among the massive halls of the grand structure they lived in, and Alpheus talked of the enchanted places they would rove in the far future, and the grim lands they have escaped in the days of yore.
Sometimes Alpheus would dream of celestial drifts and universal eclipses, and the abyss of ancient galaxies yawn open to drown him in their plumbless depths. Whirlpools of nascent matter would encase him in his nightmares, and his journeys would end in eternal entrapment.
The night terrors that descended on Alpheus on certain occasions were the most dreadful. Sudden and monstrous fires would open up in the leaden skies, and his friend Zebulon would combust instantaneously to merge and disappear into empty space. On those nights, Alpheus would keep awake, and rapidly pace the chambers looking for his friend, hoping he was safe, for nothing was visible in the relentless darkness.
But most days and nights, Alpheus would rejoice in the presence of his silent friend Zebulon and dream of the Centaur, and the home that lay beyond.
One day two mysterious beings came to the edifice, and they escorted him to a gigantic moving vehicle. It appeared strangely reminiscent of spaceships to Alpheus.
Before departure, the mysterious beings made the following entry in their transportation log –
“Alpheus – Prisoner J40718
Captured in the Third Great Intergalactic wars, in the vicinity of the solar system.
Astrosoldier from the planet Earth.
Deranged in mind, constantly talks to his invisible friend Zebulon, who was blown up in battle.
Captive being transfered to Center for Combat Damaged Minds, for memory effacement and recruitment into regiment preparing for Earth invasion.
Hostage will be terminated if operation sequence unsuccessful.”
In a corner of the giant spaceship, Alpheus sat with his friend Zebulon, dreaming of home.
An occasional writer but a regular thinker, Beryl sometimes fiddles in speculative fiction. He sees both humour and tragedy in everyday events and is extremely concerned with the fate of other creatures trapped in the monstrous march of 21st-century human civilization.