Soul Smith – Prologue

Soulsmith-with-title

Chuck’s doing another random song title story challenge again. ….And the winner is… Prologue, by Loreena McKennitt from her 2014 album, The Book Of Secrets. “Prologue?” I thought to myself, “that’s too vague.” I clicked next, and Bohemian Rhapsody started. Ugh, like that one hasn’t been overdone. Fine, I’ll do ‘prologue,’ and I’ll throw in a line from Bohemian Rhapsody. Here’s 1541 words:

* * *

Skye felt himself being strapped into the interrogation chair, but he couldn’t seem to bring himself to care. Nothing really matters, he thought, nothing really matters to meMy son is dead.

It had been weeks since he received word of Bear’s death, but the wounds were just as fresh today as they were the day their entire world had turned upside-down.

Ha, he thought, their world.

It was a monumental conceit. This was not their world. It never had been. They were the interlopers here. They had chosen to remain blind to the evidence all around them than to face the fact that the society they thought extinct had been anything but. Years of studying the chronicles of these humans; Years of trying to understand their culture. They were a society of extremes. Love, hate, music, art – each disparate part demanded an emotional response. Tales of great wars, great loves and the all-to-common nation-state oppressing those they deemed ‘inferior,’ or simply different.

Was it any wonder that the humans would seek vengeance against Skye and his people? After all, they had unwittingly brought an ice age to the human’s world, displacing millions, perhaps billions of people, all because of a delicate balance. It was a balance of wind and water. Skye closed his eyes, imagining he could comprehend millions and billions of deaths. The planet was so polluted, so violated; surely no species could prosper in such an inhospitable world?

Well, maybe not humans… They were such fragile creatures. The People, thought Skye as he approximated a human smile, The People were made from more robust… The thought died as Sky contemplated the origin myths of The People. Humans had their own myths. Myths that defied logic; Myths that contradicted themselves; Myths that they protected at any cost.

Skye was grateful for one thing:

The humans had destroyed their Heaven. This world would not share the fate of their home world. His lifelong quest was at an end, but at such a terrible cost… Skye had a hard time contemplating millions and billions of human deaths, but Heaven? The humans were but children compared to The People. Their notions of the afterlife were so… pedestrian. There were more souls living their lives in Skye’s Heaven than had ever populated this rock tumbling around a pale main sequence star.

The hood covering his head was yanked off, and a man in a strange outfit, much like the ones that Skye had seen in the human’s many books sat across the small table from him, clacking a couple pieces of paper on the surface to make sure they perfectly overlapped before placing them on the table with exacting slowness. It was an interesting compulsion, and Skye smiled inwardly at the irony of the situation.

“My name is Special Agent Johnson,” the man said slowly, as if speaking to a dimwit. “I’m going to be asking you a couple questions. Do you understand?”

Skye’s eye ridges drew down in annoyance. He pushed air out of his mouth – an action humans used to display annoyance. “The question is not whether I understand or not, but whether your questions are going to be intelligent enough to warrant a response.” Skye focused his eyes on the human. “I understand your language probably much better than you do, Agent Johnson.

“That’s Special Agent,” the man said before throwing up his hands dramatically.

“Special, indeed!” Skye said, unhappy that this dimwit had been assigned to interrogate him. “Let’s just get this over with. I haven’t had my slop today, and I grow weary of your presence.”

“You realize that disrespect of any kind will be construed as an unwillingness to cooperate, and will result in punishment?”

“I said ask your stupid questions, then leave me alone. Your uselessness offends me.”

Special Agent Johnson leaned back in his chair, but proceeded with the interrogation.

“Very well…” Johnson licked his lips. “The first question then. Who… and what… are you?”

Skye sighed and looked up at the ceiling in exasperation, as if pleading a higher power to intervene on his behalf and save him from this idiot.

He had nothing to hide, however, and realized that his answers were likely being recorded. For posterity, no doubt. Skye imagined white-coated doctors and scientists engrossed in the snippets of video and sound from these boring interviews. Sky was tempted to speak in the ageless voice of The People, but as the only one of his kind who had studied human language and history, he was also the only one who could be a voice to his people, and as such, had an obligation to be their voice, and to educate these humans in their own history, so that one day, they might live together in peace.

If peace was even possible anymore, that is.

“Your first question is probably the least relevant one you could possibly ask, and yet, also the most predictable,” Skye said, shaking his head in sadness. “But very well. My name is Skye. I am the eldest of my race. We are much like you, I suppose. Other than the fact that we have a bit more hair on our bodies, that is, and also we are generally much stronger as well, having evolved on a world with much higher gravity, and a colder climate. Does that answer your question, Special Agent Johnson?”

“So you’re not human then?”

Skye wanted to unleash violence upon this idiot, but being shackled as he was, could not do much more than scowl. Humans had so many ways to express their displeasure. If this was a typical human being, then how were they ever able to produce the geniuses he had read about? Were Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Stephen Hawking, and Nicola Tesla nothing but aberrations?

“Of course I’m not, you blundering baboon! When am I going to hear an intelligent question from you?”

Johnson lifted his hands in a placating fashion. “Forgive me. I meant no disrespect.”

“Of course you didn’t! That would require a brain cell, which you obviously do not possess!”

Johnson quickly stood up and looked as if he would strangle Skye to death. Sky morbidly hoped the human would try, but Johnson stopped quickly at a sound from his earpiece.

“Very well,” the man said, forcing himself to calm down. “It seems we have a scientist who wishes to speak with you, and as long as the questions get answered, I don’t care who asks them.”

“Finally,” Skye replied under his breath.

The man marched to the door, and pulled it open with great force, causing it to slam against the wall. The sound echoed in the spartan interrogation room. Then the man stormed out without looking back.

Before the door could close again, a human female wearing a white lab coat rushed inside, and quickly took a seat. She was wearing glasses and a short ponytail. The glasses magnified her eyes. The magnification didn’t make them as big as Skye’s, but it was attractive in a small way.

“Sorry about that,” she said. “I don’t like all these government types either. They’re bred to be stupid. They do their jobs better that way, I suppose. My name’s Marie, by the way.”

Then she giggled.

Skye raised his left eyebrow questioningly. A popular actor portrayed an alien and that was one of his signature facial expressions. This one was young, Skye thought, very young. Perhaps too young. He only hoped she was more intelligent than the buffoon that previously occupied her chair.

“Well, Skye… I have a few questions I am required to ask you, but I’ll try my best to frame them in as intelligent a manner as possible for you.”

“Very well. Carry on.”

“First. Why have you and your people come to our world?”

Skye nodded in appreciation. Finally, he thought, a question worth answering. Aloud, he declared, “we came here as refugees from our dying world. Our ship did not possess the sensory equipment necessary to pick up the existence of …” He paused, searching for a neutral word. “….intelligent life on this world, so when we crash-landed in what you call Montana, we did not know that your world was already inhabited, and that we did not belong here. Your world was merely the closest to our own in both proximity and climate. We had no other choice.”

“Hmmm,” she said, before looking to a one-way mirror on a wall. “Very interesting. May I ask why your world was dying?”

Skye smiled, but not mockingly. He was beginning to like this girl. “Hubris, I suppose. We thought we could bring the injustice of Death itself to an end, but we only succeeded in putting an end to our world, our way of life.”

“Could you please elaborate?”

“Perhaps, but it is a long story.”

“Well, it seems we have time.” The girl smiled and tilted her head slightly. “If you don’t mind, that is.”

Skye laughed. A girl with both humor and respect, he thought. What a wonderfully unexpected combination.

“Starting from the beginning of our recorded history would take far too long, so I will tell you the story of our world’s last days, and of the last living Soul Smith…”

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About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degree in Computer Systems and Applications and is currently attending Northern Arizona University. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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