A boy, the child of a human man and an alien woman, finds himself forcibly removed from his mother's planet and returned to Earth when a war is waged between the races.
Bad dreams were new to him.
For all of his life, he could remember dreaming without feeling fear in the midst of his dreams. They were dreams of tranquility, no doubt spurred on by the nature of his upbringing. Where was fear in his childhood? It was a safe haven, forever surrounded by the love of his parents, who taught him so much. Fear was make-believe, it was an idea that could be correlated with only the ludicrous, and so now, as it struck him, he was overwhelmed by its power.
Mother! he cried out in his mind.
He would come to discover that crying out for one’s mother is a perfectly normal, almost cliched, reaction to startling fear. In this moment, however, he wasn’t calling for his mother because of the fear, but rather, because her absence was the fear.
Stay with me, son, came his father’s voice, trying to be strong but breaking, and Nathaniel could see his father’s thoughts, and he could feel the crushing heartsickness that overruling all other emotions in his father’s mind, yet on the surface he wore a mask. A cheap, flimsy mask, but one of strength. One that he knew couldn’t fool his son, but one he felt he must wear all the same.
I will always love you, the both of you, came his mother’s voice, though not audible. It blared in the forefront of his mind and echoed in the deepest recesses, shaking him to his core and seeming to permeate in the air around him. In time, we will pray for this to change. We will pray for you to return to me. Shadrach, watch over him.And there was more, etched deeply into his mind, words that he knew he would never forget, but then there were men, men from the place called Earth, grabbing him and subduing him, and there was a sting. His father was screaming, and pushing, and someone struck him, but then the world seemed to drain away around him, and his own screams and tears were fading into oblivion.
He opened his mouth to scream, but no sound would come. His eyes shot open, and the edges of his vision was warped, as colors and shapes coalesced into a hodgepodge of insensibility. His eyes focused…refocused, and he blinked. He was looking through a rounded glass, and the images on the other side were distorted due to the bend of the glass, and he breathed relief at not having lost what he knew of as sight.
He was in some type of chamber, and he was standing, but he was tied down. He couldn’t see his hands, but as he wiggled them he felt his fingers rubbing against a rubbery fabric. His toes wiggled against the same thing. He tried to look down, but his head was bound as well, and only his eyes could move. He opened his mouth again, but there was no sound, and he felt something bound to his jaw, keeping his voice inside.
My son, came his mother’s voice. It was a clear, purposeful voice, but Nathaniel remembered it, so it wasn’t her now. Even his mother’s telepathy had limitations.Stay strong. Keep faith. You are loved.
Thank you, mother, Nathaniel thought, and he grew calm. He stopped worrying about his own bondage and focused instead on what he could see. The domed glass made it difficult to concentrate, but he took his time, allowing his eyes to overcome. He could see other chambers with rounded windows, and faces within the glass. He could tell that none of them belonged to his father, and it made him sad. He recognized one of them as his father’s friend Lionel. The short man was sleeping, from the looks of things very fitfully, as his head twitched on occasion.
“We’ve got a lucid one,” said a voice, so muted it sounded as if it was coming from miles away. Nathaniel looked around, and suddenly a shape filled the domed glass, and he tried to shy away from its form. It was a woman, with a severe face and calculating eyes, her hair concealed beneath a pale cap. She was wearing uniform of blinding, sterile white. She tapped the glass irritably. “Sleep, boy.”
Where’s my father? Nathaniel projected, and the woman flinched. He could sense the disgust within her, like a roiling wave of nausea. He pressed forward, knowing it was wrong but also terribly afraid. Why did you take me from my home? I want to go back home! His fear hardened into bitterness, and she flinched away from him, as if slapped across the face. TAKE ME HOME!
“Crank it up!” came another voice, and someone was dragging the stern woman away from the glass, and then a pungent odor filled Nathaniel’s nose, and his vision was twisting away. He tried to focus, and his grip was slipping, and his control washed from him, and he was returned to his dreamworld, where his mother was singing him a lullabye, and promising him her love for all of time.