The second Blue Flame novel –
There is a wiki database to reference names, although you can certainly ask me questions as well.The Other Side of Life
Chapter Four: Complete
It bothered me that I could not locate Greg. I do not fly like he does. I almost completely move through unknown passages that simply take me to where I am to be. Those that gain my presence simply have me arriving near them. The appearance of my body alters to fit the expectations of those around me. I then act as I see fit, although knowing my duty I try to move slowly. Most of the time I am some dread apparition with no apparent sex, although I have heard many refer to me using the feminine reference. How they know, I cannot tell. Why I could not simply walk to Greg, I also could not tell, and it bothered me.
Vefillaya stood at the large dining table in their apartment looking at something. She lifted her head, then smiled at me. I knew that she did not see me as Death, although the paleness of my skin and the chill around me still identified my persona. Vefillaya showed no fear, but warmly stated her pleasure in seeing me.
“Calliope, I was just looking at a couple of pictures that Greg will bring to Peace. Do you have any pictures?”
One of the images were of a younger Vefillaya with her brother, sister, and parents. It was of a life that did not exist anymore. An earthquake killed her parents by sending their vehicle into a tree. Strangely, the same situation altered Vefillaya’s life, in that it was also a tree that pierced her body. The brother gained the family estate, and used some of its value to send his younger sister to become the wife of a powerful alien. I really did not know much of the older sister. The other picture was just of Vefillaya and Greg. Seeing the image of the man who I sought, I thought to ask my own question, although I first answered hers.
“No. We did not have the technology. They have it now, but photography is only a hundred or so years old, while I am about a century older.”
“Oh. That could explain the reason why no pictures are in Peace.”
It caught me by surprise, but the statement did make sense. “Yes. I believe that we all accept the presence of the Jubridors, because we accept the presence of servants or slaves to do things for us. Greg however tends to ignore them, as he is used to technology doing mundane things for him.”
“Well, he now has clean sheets for his bed. We decided on blue just to put some masculine appearance to his room, but I chose a bright hue, more teal, to not have it completely masculine. I liked the blankets. I am actually keeping one, although sending this one back. Is it cold in Peace?”
“No, but there is something about a blanket that completes a bed.”
She nodded, then went back to her inventory. “I am going to have him keep the throw pillows. I think the images there are of previous personalities of the Flame. I thus simply made a new one with an image of him on it. Oh, Calliope, there is something that Greg wants you to do.”
I almost never go to my room, so there was no telling when I would have noticed the scythe missing. I thought it cute that Greg took it, but actually felt glad that he did. I did believe that I needed to change my room to make it less businesslike. His room did reflect his persona as Life, but it was a relaxing place to visit. Mine was all instruments of death presenting those who held the before position before me as being all serious agents of finishing life. I felt that I might want to go to my room if it were less gruesome.
It was hard finishing the words. I felt an inner excitement in hearing Greg’s voice. I however stayed working the brush-like pen, then turned to hug him as I released some of my tension in words.
“I was worried. I could not find you. Where were you?”
“Chisel?” I would not say that Greg avoided Chisel, but he did not tend to spend time with him – even when I told him to.
“Yes. I cannot exactly explain what happened, but he claimed it was some type of test. It seems that he is scared of being replaced by someone that will be worse than Bo Drell.”
Eternity did have some strange powers, so I accepted that he could claim privacy even from the sense of other immortals. “Did he want your help?”
“Yes, in a way. He said that those that hold his office tend to be old men. He said that he was old and near death, so if removed from his position he expected his life to be over. I believe that he just wanted some assurance that I would do what I could to make things right, or better.”
I finally broke from my embrace of the man as I said, “Well, he is the only one remaining from those that I met when I first entered Peace. I will thus be sorry to see him go. He will probably be slow to die, Greg, as I will simply try to spend more time speaking with him.”
“Yes. Truthfully, I am surprised that he did not contact you. The task that he had was not something for you, but I still would have expected him to come to you.”
Vefillaya fixed us tea as Greg spoke about what occurred with Chisel. I had spent time with Greg in his early days, so knew about his being able to somehow speak with his persona. There was no inner personality that I knew to Death. I felt a pull, a yearning to do certain things. In a way I guess that I assumed such was what Greg felt with his own personality putting an identity to the urges. There was never a sense that he was holding conversations with himself, but simply partially acting to do certain things while feeling for some conscience giving him an impression on whether it could be done and how it would rate on some moral scale. The fact that Greg simply did pause to consider his actions before acting I believe made his handling of the powers superior to most others, and such were my words as I drank tea with him and his wife.
I felt a tingle, so finished my drink before saying, “I probably would have stayed for a threesome, but I need to be off.” I then thought of what Vefillaya and I originally spoke about, so asked, “Greg, could you bring a camera to Peace?”
“Uh, I guess.”
“I want a picture of me, but I want it of me. I don’t want it of Death. Let me put on my makeup, and get into the dress that I wore when I first became Death, and take a picture. I have my reasons.”
“You don’t need a reason, Calli. If you want the picture, I will do what I can.”
I thanked the couple, then left. People died all the time, but not all required me. I have to be called. When I arrived a person would be close to death, but somehow unable to make the final step. A psychic signal of a longing to terminate their life was what I felt upon arriving upon a scene. Instead of simply doing what needed to be done, I would look around at the situation. There had been times when I felt the call to be wrong, because I felt the person could return to life. Other times the signs of a botched suicide would be apparent, and I would feel a need to let a person suffer. Most of the time family would be around, and I would simply allow the person to say some final words before performing my service. With the release of the soul, I could then leave.
I moved about wondering if what I said was important. Maybe the reason that there were no written records, no pictures, nothing that would definitely identify past people and knowledge of Peace was that we were from societies with low technology. Chemistry was needed for photographs and for paper. Only the later did exist in my time. I knew about it. It was just expensive. I did know how to write, but I wrote on wood. The ink was easy, being made from carbon from the remains of the fire. I however had to plain down my wood block after each writing session. It was bothersome. Other forms of art could however be done. Vefillaya said that she thought the images on the pillows were of past Lifes. I did not think so, as I knew a few. I suspected they were representations of animals that their mothers’ embroidered for them. Of course, that still made them valuable, and possibly useful. I considered speaking more with Greg and looking closer at his pillows while I did so.
When I next got a break, I realized that it was at the proper time for one of my lessons. I never knew when I could make it. The agreement was thus that the lad would keep a certain time of his day open for me. If I did not show, he could then fill it in his office as he thought best. I however had command of the time should I have the time to come.
As expected, he sat as his desk. As usual, he turned and knelt on the floor realizing that I had come. As was proper, he set the agenda for the meeting.
“Honored lady, last time we spoke in English. This time shall be Chinese.”
I had trouble with that language. I honestly had trouble with English as well, but I had spent time with Greg. He spoke English, and I had picked up some words. I also spent time with him, so could use him to help me with that language. I had my memories to help me with Mongolian. I had no one to help me with Chinese.
Using my native language, I said, “First, I hope to have a gift for you. I cannot promise, but I have asked a friend for a camera. He can go where I go. If the camera will work in the place where we can rest, I will get a picture of myself. A normal picture. A picture of who I am.”
“That will be a wonderful gift. How different will it be from the lady I see?”
“Well, it will be in color. My hair is brown. My eyes are blue.”
Yes, that fact was as strange as my name. “Yes.”
“That is wonderful. The girl we think you are could have had blue eyes.”
“I told you to speak of that.”
“Yes, so first we speak Mongolian.”
My mother and grandmother were Mongolian, although my mother less than my grandmother. My father and grandfather were Russian officials sent to keep watch over the territory. I did remember being rich, but I did not actually understand why. While my family were Eastern Orthodox, my fathers brought books of Greek philosophy. Calliope was the muse of epic poetry, and my father felt it would do me well to carry her name. I thus had the wrong type of name, the wrong type of eyes, but I was truly a Mongolian.
After hearing what he said and looking at what he claimed were documents verifying his statements, I said, “There was a great poisoning.”
“Yes. Times were turning hard. The people were revolting, and they sought to kill their old overseers.”
“I knew about it.”
“You were half Mongolian. Maybe you heard from the local people.”
“It is nice having evidence that supports my memories. I will try to recall more.”
He again lifted his hands as if to protect himself from my wrath. “With these facts, and maybe a picture, you are becoming very real to me.”
“A very real, very young, very old girl. Who will want me?”
“I will, and it will not be hard to get others. Many will court you.” I guess that he saw me smile, because he said, “Does that please you?”
“No, but it made me think of my friend. He had many women come to seek him. He chose a very good woman. I like her, and consider her my friend as well. I hope that I can do so well, and in fear that I would not I thought to have him give me advice.”
“Yes, the persona of Life.”
“Oh.” I saw his eyes dart to the clock, then he asked, “Can we talk about him in Chinese?”
“I will try.”