The Impossible Dream - part 3
By Chakat Bluestripe (a.k.a Joe Prescott)
As I look out of the shuttle window, I feel a sense of release as if I have just walked out of a prison cell. I am relieved to see the dull gray city fade into the distance behind me. That place has forever marked my soul and I never want to return. Tears from a hundred emotions flow as I shut my eyes to the past. Summer and Thunder are next to me and I selfishly draw strength from them, knowing that I may never be able to thank them enough for their support.
I have decided not to use a wheelchair. I can walk if I am very careful and ignore the pain. Summer has reminded me that there are narrow pathways and stairs at the house and a wheel chair would be difficult to use. I don't want to be more of a burden than I already am and it will help my recovery if I start walking.
Crystal is waiting at the concourse as I slowly make my way through the crowd. Shi has no trouble finding us; shi just follows the puzzled expressions on the people's faces. Thunder rushes up to hir and they join in an embrace full of love and pain. Summer stays with me, shi has been helping me make my way through the terminal without getting knocked over. Soon Crystal comes over and gives both of us a big hug. "I'm glad to see that you are walking now" shi says. "You are looking much better than the last time I saw you".
"Thank you Crystal, I'm feeling much better with all of your help," I say. Crystal and I head out to the parking area while Thunder and Summer get their luggage. Crystal helps me into the PTV as the others return. The drive back to the house is uneventful as I dazedly stare out the window.
Their house is located two blocks from the beach and the whole area is accentuated to the beach lifestyle. I am not feeling very well as we pulled up in front of the house. My body has been working overtime trying to heal itself and that has left me feeling exhausted and hungry. As I start to climb out of the car, I notice the people. People everywhere! They are coming from just about every house in sight. They are starting to surround the car and more are still coming. I start to get a little nervous but they seem friendly and I can sense that they are just the neighbors here to welcome me. Everybody is talking to me at the same time and hear none of it. I just want to lie down and rest. Summer can tell that I am tired but there is no graceful escape. Here is a complete mixture of just about everything sentient and they are treating me like some kind of hero. How can I explain my feelings of failure to them? They have gifts and plates of cookies and cakes and get-well wishes and condolences. All I can do is just stand there with no energy and no words. Crystal and Summer are next to me and Thunder is talking to hir friends close by. Everybody there is in an excited state of sorrow and I can empathically sense the level rising as more people keep arriving. Everybody wants to shake my hand or pat me on the back or tell me something. I need to lie down before I fall down. Finally I have had enough and I release one stored up burst of frustration as my strength gives out and I lie down on the sidewalk exhausted. Summer, Crystal, Thunder, and about half of the people in the crowd have an expression of shock as I just lie there. Summer has tears in her eyes as shi and several others help me up and into the house. They show me to the bedroom, Red's old bedroom, and I lie down. It takes a while for the pain in my ribs to subside but soon I am sleeping with a tranquillity that only exhaustion can bring.
The sand is warm and the water is cool as Red and I wade into the surf. It is late summer and we are spending a weekend visiting Red's Parents. Red and I have recently become Denmates and we wanted to celebrate with hir, no, OUR family. We had a party the night before and I am still not hungry. It was a small party, only Thunder, Crystal, Summer and hir mate Leona, and the two of us. As is usual at Chakat parties, there was way too much food for the six of us. We all did our part to clean the plates but there were plenty of leftovers for the next day. Red and I got up early to work out and decided that a swim would be fun. We swam for hours, first over to the pier where we rested for a while then up further to jetty and then out and around the tip of it before heading back home…
I wake up to nature's call with a dull pain called sorrow. My memories haunt me in my dreams where their emotions become refreshed and amplified. I slowly stand and find my way to the bathroom. Thunder greets me as I make my way back out to the living room.
"How do you feel?" shi asks.
"I think I need some more rest but first I am pretty hungry." I answer.
"There's always plenty to eat around here." Thunder says as I follow hir into the kitchen. The kitchen table is covered with plates of cookies and cakes and flowers and cards but Thunder walks right past them and goes to the refrigerator. "Let's see, we have some fish and we have some pork chops and we have some fruit and we have all of the fixin's for a garden salad and… and?… oooOK! And then we have that big chocolate cake that you have already found." This cake is just what I need to fill the void in my stomach. "That cake never had a chance." Thunder says as I eat slice after slice and wash it all down with a glass of water.
"That was GOOOOD!" I say after the last slice. Thunder just stands there smiling as I grab a few cookies and head back to the bedroom.
I wake up fully rested and look out the window. It is dark outside and the clock shows 3:50 am. It's pointless to try to go back to sleep so I decide to go for a short walk. The weather is fine and the stars are shining faintly as I slowly walk down the sidewalk. The smell of the ocean is strong and the sound of the waves is irresistible. It takes me a few minutes to walk down to the beach since my walking speed is directly regulated by pain. The beach is deserted at this time and I enjoy the solitude. Walking through the dry sand is a little more painful but I am soon near the water and the wet sand is firm. I watch as the waves come roaring toward me only to die at my feet. Two forces of nature working against each other; First a small swell in the ocean gaining strength as it heads toward shore. Then growing into a wave to fight the resistance of the sand. And finally tumbling over it's self and dying as the sand ages it's strength away. And such is life; There's always another wave coming.
The water is warm and waves are like old friends calling me out to join them. I start into the waves with the hope to get out past them as painlessly as possible and then just float out in the swells. I head out and my feet are bouncing off the sand when the first big wave comes at me. I brace my self and all is fine. I keep heading out until I am in deep enough that I am swimming. I am not as buoyant as I had hoped and I am in considerable pain trying to stay afloat. I decide that I have had enough and I am about to head back to shore when another big wave starts growing ahead of me. I can only watch as it approaches and grows. I plan to dive under it but it breaks and slams on top of me. My head quickly finds the hard sandy floor as my feet and body swirl around helplessly. A sudden pain in my side causes me to gasp in a lung full of water and I start coughing underwater. Luckily the wave continues spinning me until I am right side up and in shallower water. I sit there in pain and coughing up water until I am able to crawl out on to the sand. I lie therefore a while in amazement at my stupidity and then very slowly head back to the house. "Sometimes my friends play rough," I think to myself.
I arrive at the house mostly dry and very sore. I go straight into the bedroom and slowly lie down. It seems like my whole body aches but worst of all, I got salt water and sand up my nose. I am just lying there wondering why I thought I could swim when Crystal comes in.
"Time to get up Blue, we can't have you sleeping all day!" Shi says cheerfully. I just look at hir glassy-eyed and say nothing. Shi comes a little closer and notices the sand on my legs. "So, you've already been out. Did you go for a swim?"
"Sort of, I guess," I answer feebly. "Well you just take it easy then. I have to leave for work soon. Summer went back home yesterday. Leona needed hir. Thunder is here for you and I will be home in the evening." I reach up and give Crystal a hug as I thank hir. Shi leaves and I decide to just lie there and recover for a while.
The cuckoo clock in the hallway announces 9:00am and I decide that I must get outside again. I need to feel the sun and breathe fresh air. Thunder joins me as I hobble out into the living room, "Good morning Blue, You look a little stiff. How do you feel?"
"I feel the call of the outdoors but first I would like a little something to eat," I say as we head into the kitchen.
"Well give me a moment and I'll fix you up a salad," Thunder says as shi hurries into action. The salad is soon devoured and we head outside for an easy walk.
The day is beautiful and warm with a slight ocean breeze to keep the temperature in check. I decide to follow the boardwalk along the beach and get a look at the area. Thunder is close at my side and offers constant encouragement. I try not to think about my appearance but sometimes an innocent stare from someone makes me feel uncomfortable. My fur is starting to grow back but it still has a long way to go before it will look somewhat normal.
The beach is far from vacant and the boardwalk has constant traffic. Occasionally someone will stop us with greetings and hugs but mostly we just wave or nod as we walk past. I am walking slowly and gazing out over the ocean when Thunder puts a hand on my shoulder and stops me. Without a word I look in the direction of hir stare. A beautiful gray fox vixen is jogging toward us. I can sense Thunder start to tense up as hir fear and sadness increase. The vixen notices us and stops suddenly. I can see her expression change as she pauses and then walks closer. She's in tears as she walks up and hugs Thunder. They both start sobbing as they hug each other. The emotions are strong enough that I can't shut them out and I start tearing up too. After a moment Thunder introduces her as Valorie, One of Path's best friends and classmates. She gives me a strong painful hug and at this moment I absorb enough emotions to make my legs start shaking. She tearfully excuses herself and quickly walks off. I feel like I am in some kind of shock as I make my way over to a grassy area and plop down under a small tree. Thunder follows and does the same. Together, we sit and stare at the waves while lost in our memories.
I remember many happy times with Red. I remember the trust earned from intense training. The ultimate trust to let another person into your mind and share your most private emotions. At this level of closeness we could sense what could only be described as each other's soul. Sometimes when we were in training, we would be placed in a room with no external distractions and meditate. We would then form a link and explore the depths of each other's emotions. On a few occasions we came close to sensing true telepathy but our excitement would always ruin the moment. Being connected that close causes changes in our own personality. We hadn't noticed at first but eventually it was clear that we had started to think and behave the same even when we weren't near each other. We had been told that our differences as well as our similarities made us one of the best linked-pairs in the project. We had even worked with some of the other men on the Team and had some success teaching them to interpret our thoughts. That was a first in the project.
I miss being with Red and the others on the Team. I felt that that was where my home was. I know now that my home was really where Red was and now I have nowhere to go that I would call home. My whole life has been shaped by violence and now here I sit, a half-shaved white and black, stump-tailed, trained-to-kill, shivering, homeless mess. Damn! I can't be that bad off. I still have Thunder here by my side and Crystal and Summer too. So what am I?
I'm realizing more and more that my level of self-pity is up way too high. Red is gone. That's a fact. I'll recover soon and then my life will continue. I loved Red without limits and I always will but I need to turn my pain into ambition and continue with life in a way that would have made hir proud. I miss hir deeply but that pain will energize me to new levels of devotion. I lean over and hug Thunder. Shi returns it unquestioningly.
"Let's walk!" I say as I am already starting to stand up. "Where to?" Shi asks. "Lets walk into the future… A future with happy memories of loved ones lost and hope of better times ahead."
It's late in the afternoon when we finally return to the house. We had walked for quite some distance, stopping here and there for refreshments and rest. Crystal is already home from work and has started making dinner, "I was just about to call you two on the Com to see when you'd be home." Shi smiles as shi walks over to give us a good hug "You look much stronger today, Blue. Did you have a good walk?"
"Thank you, I do feel much better, I just needed to get some sunlight and fresh air so we went out for a little soul-searching I guess."
"I think I could use a little of that too" shi says.
"Fresh air and a long walk with a good friend is the best medicine around," I say with a smile.
Shi notices my smile with happy surprise, "Now that's something that we need more of around here!" shi says while glancing at Thunder. Thunder forces a little smile and then it fades to a distant gaze. Crystal and I are about to give hir another hug when shi looks at us with a faint grin, which slowly grows to an acceptable smile. Crystal smiles even more and hugs hir tenderly. Our pain still shows but now it is time to move on. After some tender moments with Thunder, Crystal looks at me and asks, "I hope that tomorrow you can take me out for some of that same medicine!"
"It works both ways you know." I say still smiling.
Crystal gets back to cooking while Thunder and I head off to get cleaned up.
"Summer called. Shi and Leona will be over a little later to check up on you, Blue," Crystal says from the other room.
"Thank you, I'd like to see Leona, it's been quite some time." As I wash up in the bathroom, I can't help but stare at the strange creature looking back at me from the mirror. My scars are starting to be covered with a short layer of fur and my tail tip has healed and will soon be covered with fur. I flex my left arm showing off my well-developed muscles. I can't quite say the same about my right arm. It is still sore and I can feel that the muscles are in need of a good workout as soon as possible. The same goes for my injured leg. I know that it will take some time before I will be jogging painlessly again. I don't know when it went away but I notice that I don't have a headache anymore. As I gaze into the mirror and the blue eyes looking back at me, I subconsciously try to form a link but instead I just sense Crystal and Thunder. Crystal is feeling a little weighted down and trying to stay focused on cooking and Thunder is feeling kind of hollow. I remember the morning that Red and I were in the Grand Canyon watching the sunrise. We were overwhelmed by the beauty of nature and the sense of togetherness. This feeling is magical and as I focus my memory on the moment, I know that Red is as much a part of that feeling as I am standing here now. We had shared that moment both physically and empathically and together, we created it, and now shi and I will share it again. I close my thoughts to everything but that moment and those feelings. I work them over and over until the feelings are pure emotion and then, as done countless times in training, I project it outward with all of my strength. But this time I'm not focused on any single person but rather a broadcast to the world. I keep this up for as long as I can, swimming in the emotion, until my strength gives out and I lie down on the bathroom floor. As I lie there near sleep, I have a wonderful feeling of satisfaction and closeness to Red. I can almost feel hir in my mind.
It isn't long before Crystal and Thunder come in and help me up. They are a little concerned but my smile reassures them. I can sense in them the emotions that I wanted to share. It has energized them and I can sense that some of the weight has been lifted from their souls. "Have you been playing mind tricks with us again?" Crystal asks as we walk out into the living room. I lie down on some cushions and my smile widens as I remember the first time that Red and I had teamed up on them empathically…
We had been visiting Red's family for a few days and the talk around the dinner table was as lively as ever. Summer was excitedly telling us about Leona. They had only recently met and shi was bubbling over with hir infatuation. After a while the talk had changed toward my direction. The question was presented as to how well Red and I could empathically communicate with other people. I had just sort of brushed off the question much to their dismay. Red and I wanted to have some fun so we empathically decided that a little demonstration was in order. First we started focusing in on Summer. Red and I picked up on hir erotic feelings for Leona. We intensified them and added in a few spicy thoughts of our own and then projected them right back to hir. Soon shi was fidgeting and looking nervous while Crystal and Thunder carried on a one sided conversation with hir. Red and I could see the frustration rising is Summer's expression. "Oh no, I forgot I was supposed to take something over to Leona. I'm late! Goodnight everybody" and with that shi quickly left. Only Red and I noticed hir erection as shi hurried out the side door. "One down" we thought to each other. That had worked so well that we decided to try it on Crystal and Thunder. We continued to eat slowly as we focused in on them. We started sending them the same erotic thoughts that had worked so well on Summer. All conversation soon stopped. Red was working on Thunder and I was sending to Crystal, then we would trade to the other. They innocently scooted a little closer to each other not realizing what we were doing. This went on for only a couple of minutes before Red and I both started sending to Thunder. Shi politely excused hirself and went to hir bedroom. We switched to Crystal and gave hir our full attention. Shi immediately got up and mumbled something about checking on Thunder as shi hurriedly walked out. We announced that we were going for a walk and left them their privacy.
We didn't see them until the next morning. They were radiating happiness like never before but they were a little suspicious of us. We finally "Let the cat out of the bag" so to speak and told them of our little prank. We didn't get the response that we had expected. They were both shocked that we had the ability to affect them like that and it made them feel vulnerable and nervous. We had to promise them several times to never do it again. Summer was a little better about it but still it made hir uncomfortable. Those were the days…
"Mind tricks? No, I was just sharing my thoughts in a pure sort of way… You know… not diluted by words... I hope you don't mind…" My smile never wanes as look into the Thunder's beautiful green eyes.
"Oh we don't mind; it was very pleasant. I wouldn't know how to describe it with words either." Thunder says as shi lies down next to me.
Summer walks in without knocking followed closely by Leona, "Wow! I feel so good all in the sudden! I could just start dancing! How about you Blue? Are you feeling better?"
"I feel much better now, but I will wait a little longer before I join you in a dance. I still remember the last time…" I say to Summer as Leona comes over and gives me a big hug and a quick kiss. I can sense that Leona is very happy to see me but shi is uncomfortable and not sure what to say. "Here Leona, you can sit next to me," I say while motioning to the cushion on my left. Shi smiles and sits down close to me. I put my arms around Leona and Thunder and we enjoy a good long hug. "Hey, what about me?" Summer says as shi joins in with a hug. "Well I better finish making dinner or we will have to order something delivered" Crystal says as shi walks into the kitchen.
Thunder gets up to help Crystal and Summer follows hir into the kitchen. I am alone with Leona. I still have my arm around hir and I can feel hir subdued pain at the loss of Red. There is nothing to say as I hold hir but shi is starting to sink into a pit of sorrow. I know that pit, I own that pit, and I will not allow hir to continue going there. I start sending hir reassuring thoughts and shi is receptive. Shi knows what I am doing and shi welcomes it. I focus on our closeness and send those feelings to hir. Shi moves closer to me and I can feel hir pain subside. Soon I can sense hir excitement growing. I sense our togetherness and I have to stop. Subconscious safeties kick in and the link is broken. If I continue then we would be having sex, if only in the mind's eye. I've been trained to be careful not to influence people into doing something that they wouldn't normally want to do. Even if shi did want to, I would not want to start by implanting the thought in hir mind. This aspect of my talent has been drilled into my brain from day one of special training and I just set off some red flags. I can tell that I have manipulated this moment long enough and I was enjoying it more than I should have.
"C'mon Leo, lets go find some food." I say as I start to stand up. We walk into the kitchen holding hands. I miss that so much.
To be continued in Part 4.
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