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 Eighteen: Part One
Calliope had actually become interested in the lesson of early Chinese history. The young man put emphasis in the reading that helped have the events come alive. She thus found herself surprised when he interrupted the lesson to ask a question.
“Honored lady, is the food in the realm of the gods better than here?”
The section had moved to the celebration after the victory, so Calliope allowed herself to answer. “I believe that I told you it was bland. The wine and beer are very good. The food is good as well, but not spiced, so I tend to enjoy what food I have with my friends.”
“So, you can eat?”
She did feel a desire to chirp a laugh, but held it back while simply supplying an answer. “Yes. I can eat.”
“My fiancé, she desires to present you with food.”
Calliope had to pause. She was not here to socialize, but this man was supposed to present himself as representing her family. Calliope thus accepted that just as she allowed some casual conversation, she needed to also be willing to share in other ways.
“Not much. I do not come to eat.”
“Yes, but, dear lady, you should remember what the old food tasted like.”
It shocked her to have to acknowledge some more practical concerns in becoming the wife of a man. “Yes, and I was trained to prepare it. I never was good at it however, I guess that I might have to return to such lessons.”
The man lifted his eyes with a hopeful expression as he said, “Yes, dear lady. I cannot teach you everything.”
“No, I guess that you can’t.”
Calliope wondered about cooking in Peace. The Jubridors usually did all the preparations, but some would mix their own drinks or otherwise do things to put some originality in a food or drink request. She then considered asking the denizens of Peace for basic ingredients so she could completely fix her own meal. As she wondered about the success of her requests, some of her concerns bubbled from her mouth.
“I really did not like all the work put into preparing the food. I did not pay the best attention, so do not know how much I remember.”
When I realized the man was looking at me, I set my eyes upon him to hear him say, “You are probably right about not being ready to become a wife.”
“And it is your responsibility to have me prepared. Still, there is presently no rush. Tell your fiancé that I am grateful, and willing.” Remembering who I was, I added, “And let her know not to fear my chill extending to what life she might bear inside her. I have never had to suffer the call from one so young.”
“Certainly, dear lady.”
Calliope felt relief in seeing the man return to the lessons as if all was resolved. She however could only wonder if the life spans with this man and his heirs would truly prepare her for life. While she understood that most girls had basically no experience compared to her, she however felt that her centuries of facing beings at their moment of death had denied her the innocence necessary to face life. With her it would not be the struggle to overcome, but the drudgery of dealing with life’s daily toil in whatever variety it decided to throw at her. Calliope did return to the lessons hoping to gain that youthful mentality of a young lady training to become a wife, but accepting that she had long since matured even if her body had not.
Her dismal attitude continued after the lesson finished. She trudged back into Peace wondering if she should attempt to cook her own food. Luckily, a signal came, and she turned around feeling the weight of her existence bring her some comfort to her thoughts. The responses of those seeking her release helped her attitude, so it did not trouble her when signal after signal kept her active.
Calliope found it hard to determine just what type of body she had. Looking around she could only make out clouds. Wavers of filigrees of cohesive color could be seen among the gases, although not actually physical bodies surrounded her. Feeling that she would have something unusual to speak to Greg about, she advanced toward what she recognized as the source of her call.
“You – you are Death?”
She did not so much turn her head, but change her perspective to see the one that spoke. “Yes. I am Death.”
“Please help. This is my wife.”
“She called, but the reason I came was not truly to help.”
Another voice, not only from the source of her call but feminine in nature, said, “It’s all right, child. Mekatyz, this one is young.”
Calliope turned to the other one speaking, and spoke of what she heard. “Mekatyz? You are Foundation?”
“Yes. How do you know? We have never met.”
“No, but Greg mentioned you. It is your fault for not visiting.”
“Uh, yes, I will accept that. My wife, please. We have had a long life together. My time among the immortals has stopped my pain, but with my wife it has grown. I have some powers, but only enough to stabilize. I cannot heal. I met Greg, Life, and was speaking to my wife about him, but it seems that she called you.”
The strange wavering symbol barely recognized as it distorted the atmosphere beyond, said, “Yes, child, I have had a good life. Mekatyz has been a good husband. It is time to pass on. Maybe if I had a physical body, one with permanence, I could have given my husband more years.”
Calliope said in response, “Physical bodies give out. There are just too many systems that must cooperate to sustain life. I… I have never come to one of your type before.”
Mekatyz replied, “Yes, well, it is usually my job. If I cannot secure and sustain then I must release. This is my wife however… I – I cannot.”
“It’s okay. I cry at times as well. Do not worry. Consider me a friend.” Just trying to act friendly and not just say the word, Calliope added, “What is her name?”
She turned to the strange distortion with what sounded to her as having a feminine voice. “Then, Jeyvoiuz, I will allow you to say any final words. I know nothing of the life that you will pass on to, but I hope to see you there and that we might become eternal friends.”
Jeyvoiuz replied, “There is nothing beyond. Still, this life has been enough. Mekatyz, you stay at your position. It seems that you have more to learn from these physical beings. Maybe, maybe, they can give you enough substance that you might pass on to live more. Now – what is your name, child? Surely you are no more Death than my husband is Foundation.”
“Calliope. My name is Calliope.”
“Then, Calliope, I welcome your presence. It is time for me to pass, so others might have room.”
Calliope advanced while saying, “Jeyvoiuz, thank you for this moment.”
She had to move on to another signal as Mekatyz wailed seeing whatever his wife had been disperse. Calliope found herself connecting with these odd beings in the flow of emotions that she knew as well. Hoping that Mekatyz would indeed prove to be a friend, she moved on to the next signal for her to bring release.
A strong signal had her rush to a scene that she knew would be horrendous. As expected, some technological disaster had wiped out a number of people with many more crying for Death or Life. Calliope turned to where she detected Greg hoping for his usual positive attitude, but found him cursing as seemed to have his focus on things other than those hoping to continue to live.
She went ahead and opened up the discussion by asking, “What’s the problem, Greg?”
“This is in the Suderling Union. I cannot say that they are responsible, but they are definitely attempting to take advantage of the situation. Every available camera up in the sky or in surrounding areas is focused on this.”
“Surely they want a record.”
“Sorry for being cynical, but I believe that they are looking for us.”
Not really understanding his words, she attempted to put them into focus. “But those of the Suderling Union know.”
“Yes, but I am getting suspicious about some things that have been happening and about some of the things I have been hearing.”
Greg did at least continue to work. Calliope accepted that she had a duty as well, and put her private concerns behind her in order to face people in the manner of easing their passage from life. She went around with the hope that Greg’s positive attitude would return, but until then found solace in performing a job that she knew very well.
“Well,” he said when their tasks again brought them together, “at least out here there is no talk of the end times. Back on Earth there is talk of God coming again and such, but I just do not hear it out here. I have been called to help bring new creations into existence, and I know from you and Shetaile that there are places where it all dies.”
Hoping to find that common thread that would again have them speaking, Calliope replied, “Such is my culture, Greg. We believe in endless cycles where everything continues in some fashion.”
“I cannot say that is what I believe, but at the moment I find that train of thought more comforting.”
“I feel that it is the truth.”
“Okay, but I am looking around me and seeing a truth about the problem of the society I now call home. I am thus not exactly wanting to see truth at the moment, but just looking for some comfort. I can deal with the truth when this work is done, and I can return to my occupation as Ambassador of this advanced society.”
She could not help but mumble, “And Vefillaya.”
He must have understood something in the way she spoke. “Do you need me, Calli?”
“I met Mekatyz, Greg. He had me bring release to his wife. He said that it was actually his job – that if he could not sustain then he had to release. The lady – female – was his wife however, and he could not do it. I was thus called. I agree that I cannot say what type of creatures they are, but it was nice speaking with them.”
Some of his usual cheer entered Greg’s voice as he replied, “As grand and diverse as our universe is, I guess that I cannot believe that there is any plan to eradicate it.”
“That is my impression as well.”
“You believe in reincarnation, Calli?”
Not exactly what she wanted to speak about, but the question did actually comfort her. The topic did concern her manner of viewing her place in the cosmic scheme. Allowing the man to see even more inside her, she answered the question.
“It is not a simplistic belief, Greg. People are not simply taken from one life and placed in other. There is a time of introspection, of universal harmony – maybe lecturing, before being returned to another life.”
“Your beliefs should not be simplistic, Calli. Our lives out here should definitely cause you to see a number of complications.”
Considering what she expected him to say, she went ahead and stated a basic conclusion. “I still answered your question with a ‘yes.’”
“No, you didn’t. You answered with a ‘yes, but…’ I can accept that, Calli. The ‘buts’ are important. In this case they have me willing to accept your answer, even though I cannot find myself comforted by the thought that I might have to live through all of this again.”
Definitely wanting to speak to the man, and even approving of the topic, she thought about how to keep the conversation going. “Why not, Greg? I have watched you. You have learned so much in this strange life. You have witnessed the vast range of possibilities for life. Why wouldn’t you want to return to learn even more?”
“Okay. So, Calli, why are you then so determined to quit this life and return to a simple existence as a wife and mother? Are you trying to put those experiences behind you so you can learn something else next time?”
She did not feel angry at his questions, but actually glad that he was so willing to keep the conversation going. “Do you believe being a wife and mother to be so common? The multitude of men out there. The vast variety of people who were once children. Greg, I believe that I could live a thousand lives and never find a life with a man and raising children to be redundant. And maybe, maybe, maybe sometime in the future I could even experience what it would be like to be your wife.” Hoping to provide a framework for him to set his response, she added, “Vefillaya seems so happy as your wife.”
“I tend to feel that I somehow got the right lady for me, Calli. I hope that you one day get the right man for you.”
“As a lady, I know that she works to be the right lady for you, Greg. However, I also see that she feels that her efforts are rewarded. I hope that I gain as much satisfaction from my husband, but I feel that I know it would come from you. If I do meet you on the other side, I feel that I would like to convince you to relive life with me.”
“That is a conversation for the other side, Calli. I cannot say that I will agree with you, but you better know that I will treasure your friendship all through eternity.” I sensed that he felt I would not be happy with the response, so was not surprised when he said more. “I will not darken my memories of this life by suffering through another.”
Calliope knew that Greg did not come from a society that supported a belief in reincarnation. He also had a persona that supported those who sought to continue living instead of putting their faith in a better coming life. She thus was not surprised with his response. Accepting it, Calliope tried to put her own perspective into words. She however found herself agreeing with Greg, and spoke her own thoughts of reincarnation.
“I feel that the extra lives are supposed to improve our relationship with the divine.”
“I cannot believe that what we have gone through will not have the divine wanting to have a relationship with us. In any event, Calli, I am glad to have a relationship with you. I will want your memory, your existence, you to be there through eternity. Yes, us one day having a life together might seem pleasant, but life has its bad side as well. I don’t want more bad memories. No. When I go to the afterlife, I will not be wanting any more bad memories, and definitely will not want such for you either.”