The Traveler's song
NOTE: This fan fiction is the first fic of mine that takes place during a point in the books. Like with my colleagues, I chose a particular part of On a Beam of Light that left me wondering: What happened?
"So can you understand what he's saying?" giselle asked me as I looked into the tank. Outside more than a dozen of my fellow patients, and non-patients, awaited my report on what our friend here had to say.
But to be perfectly honest, this was among the first of a few times that I wanted this moment to myself. When I saw the traveler in the tank, swimming about, trying to make the best of its situation I recalled a particular point in my brief time here. When I arrived here after leaving robert at mpi for five years.
The water was cold and salty. Just like most of the water on this PLANET. Like most dremers, I can't swim worth a pile of mot droppings, and because it was in my hand at the time I foolishly dropped my flashlight into the water.
This is it, I thought as I struggled against the powerful currents. But it wasn't it for me. Because as I was about to fall beneath, I could suddenly feel a slippery surface beneath my feet.
Humans of course, refer to this being as a dolphin. They call themselves the travelers. Many beings, both human and non-human, are under the impression that a species couldn't possibly travel through SPACE if it doesn't have an opposable thumb. This is about as logical as assuming one sex is superior to the other. The travelers have been around for as long as dremers, traveling through space the same way we do, only they had the ability to do this naturally for centuries.
Somewhere along the line, however, travelers got stuck here on EARTH, where humans got it into their heads that if it wasn't one of them, it was no sweat of their backs to kill it.
"Hold on to me friend," The traveler spoke to me in its language of clicks and squeals. "I won't let you fall."
"I've no doubt of that," I replied, still shivering and spitting out mouthfuls of seawater as I gently gripped the dorsal fin. "Thank you."
"Silly dremer." The traveler teased good-naturedly. "One would think you lived on Flor all your life."
"FLOR is somewhat more pleasant than EARTH in some ways," I countered pointedly. I hadn't meant to be so argumentative; after all, despite the child-like personality of the travelers, they are a fellow K-class species.
"Then why are you here friend?"
"I have a friend I left in a mental institution five years ago. When I mirror-beamed here I hadn't counted on the ocean facing K-PAX, but I had to return to new york to see if they've been taking care of him properly."
The traveler didn't understand much of this of course. Like us, travelers live for many centuries, violence and sickness not withstanding. He understood the word friend, and the concept of caring for another, and he even understood the complex physics regarding mirror beaming. But the names of cities and the terms for different buildings had no more meaning to the travelers than do many human words have for us.
"You wish to go to land?" The traveler asked me.
"That would be nice, but I lost my flashlight."
"Yes, the little stick like thing I had in my hand. The device that allows my people to mirror beam."
"Let me call to my brothers and sisters." The traveler said. And before I could respond, I heard his song.
Rhythmic and without words, the traveler's song echoed throughout the currents of the ocean. It struck every part of my body like the drops of warm water that spout forth from the showers at a hospital, both shocking and pleasurable at the same time. There was a feeling of disappointment in me when the traveler stopped singing, but it was rushed aside when a second traveler sidled up to us with the flashlight in his mouth.
Surprised that it still worked, I aimed myself for mpi with the help of my two friends, and said good-bye as I beamed back to robert's body.
"Why does your species remain here?" I asked the traveler a few weeks later. It was a different traveler, obviously, but I felt its anguish nonetheless. This one was sad, but its voice was still as child-like and playful as ever.
"We came here to find friends." She explained to me, while giselle, dr. brewer, and the cetologist stood to the side listening eagerly. "We've been all over the universe. To the fast oceans of Flor and the dark swamps of Noll. We've known the Androgelous and the Tersepion, and many many others. But when we came to Earth, we found thousands of friends."
I realized that she meant the other beings in the ocean. Not just the fish and the coral, but the whales and the sea-lions. I once explained to gene that this PLANET had enough life to fill fifty planets. Obviously I wasn't the only visitor to realize this.
"Some humans are our friends too." The traveler told me, with a saddened tone. "But many of them want to hurt my friends. If we could find a world with an ocean large enough to handle all of us, we could take our friends there and save them from the humans. Until we take them with us, we will not leave them."
For a long time I sat there in front of the tank, looking down at my friend, and the sadness she felt. Dremers and travelers weren't so different. For the first time in my life, as if wishing could make it better, I wished there was some way I could help the travelers.
With a solemn gaze I looked to my human friends, giselle and the doctor. They looked at me expectantly, as if I had some great piece of information about the UNIVERSE to report. Humans were not monsters. If my time with these beings has taught me anything, it is that humans are in fact children. But like children, they were willing to hear what I had to say and to try and save themselves from the violent end we were sure they had coming.
"I can't help you with your quest of course," I told the traveler. "But is there anything I could do for you personally. As one friend to another?"
"Yes," The traveler said as if it were the first time anyone had ever cared what she wanted. "I want to be free. If I could only be released back into the open sea with my friends and brothers and sisters, than I would be so happy."
Saying good-bye to my newest friend, I turned to my old ones, and walked with them back outside.