I want to leave. I have to leave. I need to leave.
I cannot leave.
The final insult came today. I, very humbly and respectfully, asked Authority if I could use the global channel to warn my fellow Earth bound Radiants about the threat I discovered. I promised I would not be alarmist or hysterical, and would only present the facts as they can be established and ask that they draw their own conclusions.
Authority made a big show of deliberating, but the fix was in. They said that it was too early to warrant bothering other Radiants at their important work for what could turn out to nothing and there was no point spreading suspicion and paranoia amongst the faithful and dutiful servants of the Within, especially those on Earth, a notoriously difficult assignment and blah blah blah I stopped listening.
So I can’t even warn the thirty or so (not nearly enough but it’s a big universe) other Radiants working on Earth about the threat of the Void. I expected as much. One thing I have learned from the humans is that once an institution decides it does not like you, nothing can change their mind.
Because they don’t want to. They are quite comfortable with you as an outsider who must be left out in the cold and anything you do to try to win them back only gives them more chances to mistreat you and thus reaffirm their in-group identity. Everyone at Authority can tell themselves “that shows HIM” and pat each other on the back while assuring themselves that of course they would never do a thing like whatever they think you have done.
Every society, even ours, loves having someone to exclude.
Having anticipated this result, I was already prepared for the next phase. I had convinced Frankie that he would like to go on a trip, and I had dipped into our most secret cash reserve to get him some decent clothing so he would not stick out when I had to take him somewhere other than the mean streets of the concrete jungle. I steered him towards the edge of my territory, and braced myself for the transition. I knew there would be a struggle, my newfound resolve versus my training and conditioning screaming at me that leaving my assigned zone was worse than death itself.
But what I didn’t anticipate was that I would lose. Apparently, the “voluntary” conditioning I underwent during my training went a lot deeper than I had been told it would. It took all my willpower (and considerable strain on poor Frankie) to get within a foot of the invisible dividing line between my territory and the rest of the universe, and after a few seconds of that, my resolve crumbled and I withdrew and let Frankie do as he pleased for a little while.
When I regained myself, I found Frankie, quite predictably, on a collision course with alcohol. I very carefully and firmly reminded him of all the problems drinking had caused in his life, including his death, and he sadly agreed.
I reassured him that all the bad times were over now and that I would never put him through what I had just put him through again, and that everything would go back to normal now, with no trips.
So in other words, I lied to him.
Things can never be the same. I have seen the face of evil and can never forget it. For all I know, there’s thousands of Voids roaming Earth now. Or none. I have no way of telling without being able to go look for myself.
I have become hard and cynical and bitter, and the worst part of it is that I don’t even care. I know I should feel bad for how far from the vibration of the Radiance I have drifted, but I don’t. This is what Authority gets for its petty and smallminded attitude towards me. This is what they get for shutting me down and locking me in this cage of animals. This is what happens when you tell everyone the house is on fire and they tell you it’s not a problem.
And the worst part is that I can’t even protest by withdrawing my labour. Since my attempted escape from the cage whose bars I had never seen until today, I have carried out my duties exactly as before.
And I would love to blame that on the conditioning, but the truth is, I can’t abandon my people. Maybe that’s the real reason I couldn’t leave. Conditioning had nothing to do with it. Deep down, I just could not leave my charges to relapse into the sorry state they were in when I first arrived on Earth.
Besides, I have nothing else to do.
I tried being mad at the humans. Stupid filthy humans, I told myself. I was pure before I came here. I was clean before I waded into the cesspool of their hopelessly corrupted minds. I would still be pure, and strong and clean and happy as well, if I had never come to this wretched rock. Let the Voids have them!
But it didn’t stick. I can’t blame them for the trauma I suffered when I watched the Void feed. They are but children, sheep to the Void’s wolf, and deserve only my love and my pity.
So it seems like my prison is complete. I can’t leave. I can’t stop looking after my flock. I can’t return to Node and be cleansed and renewed. And I can’t warn my fellow field Radiants on Earth about the Void threat.
Earlier, I had to laugh, because I found myself wishing there were creatures to aid and comfort us Radiants as we do for the humans and other creatures under our care.
A ridiculous idea… but I took some comfort from it.
If only I could communicate with just one other Earth-assigned Radiant. Tell them what I have seen. Warn them to be on the lookout for the Voids. Find out if they have seen one too.
But without access to the local channel, I can’t do a thing.
Actually…. there might just be a way….