Chapter 13 – To Protect
Though found strange, each lizard’s family heart could tell that these fuzzy little lizards were part of their family. The downy fuzz not only kept the little ones warm, but also those around them; it had great heat retention. Though I could do nothing for the already developed lizards, I set about a task to bring that same layer of fuzz to all the newly fertilized lizards still growing inside their mothers.
The task was so simple, it hardly had any effect on me. I could even continue tending the bipedal and gill developments. It was surprising, but I was glad. With this, the mountain colony could survive. My feelings of relief echoed in the hearts of the mountain colony. Although their children were being born looking strange, they could feel the contentment in their family heart, and were at ease.
Never could I have thought, in my panic to save them, that it could be something so small and simple. I was capable of saving them. I had no body to give them warmth, but I had been able to provide them that needed warmth all the same. A feeling fluttered deep inside me. When I felt isolated, I didn’t think I was capable of saving anyone. There were so many that died before old age could take them, I couldn’t save them all. But just because I couldn’t save them all didn’t mean I couldn’t save some. I didn’t have to be content to be a bystander and simply watch them as the harshness of nature took them. I could still save some of them.
The feeling empowered me and inspired me. I was their Overseer, but now I could also be a protector. I could protect my family, the ones I loved. I was nearly awash with sentiment, but something came to me.
It was a memory. It flooded my vision and other senses, completely engulfing me. It was screams, it was pain. The air was rank with blood and fear. A hand, not unlike the one I had created for my lizards, reached for me, drenched in the dark ichor of blood. A wave of pain was sent through me, physical pain in my body; emotional pain reaching back for that hand. Behind the hand was dark, shadows thrown over everything from bright light surrounding me. There were noises I could not understand, but they were desperate and gut-wrenching. The noises were coming from me.
My lizards were panicked. I was suddenly brought back to reality. The shock of my relived memory had flowed through my family heart and into them. I calmed myself, and the wave of panic ceased in the lizards. They were confused, not understanding where the source of fear had come from. I was just as confused as they were.
All my previous snippets of memory had been short flashes, something visual, emotional, or even just a word, never so much at once. It was a sensory overload in the form of a memory. And I was sure the memory had been of me, not merely the world around me. The pain I felt in my body was real. …I had once had a body, that much was clear. I didn’t know how to feel about that. The glimpses before had never been so solidly identifying. I had a notion that I might have had a body, but not having one now, it had been difficult to imagine; Like telling the blind what colors looked like.
The sensation of feeling, for all its hurt and pain was mystifying. I had felt plenty of emotional pain since awakening as an Overseer, but physical was something different altogether. I could experience a body through my lizards, but I was still very much detached. I actually felt closer to them now than I had before; I could now empathize with their physical pain.
I wanted to see the memory again, but I was afraid of it. I felt myself desiring the physical body, for all its pain, yet I was conflicted as I was currently at peace with myself. Would I desire it too much? Would it cause me to abandon my lizards to try and find a way to achieve a physical body? I didn’t want that. My fear came from myself, afraid of my own potential greed.
Surely if I kept thinking about it by myself I would run around in circles as before. I decided to entrust those feelings to my family heart. The comfort that answered back was so incredibly reassuring, I wondered how I ever thought I might abandon them for such a selfish whim. There were also a few other feelings that responded, something that told me it was okay to be selfish.
I felt through the connections in my family heart to see which lizards felt that way. I had expected it to be from the young, but they were surprisingly mostly from middle-aged adults. With their experience and wisdom, they knew you could not always only act for others, sometimes you must act for yourself. Particularly for the young.
Was I still young? I had lived through so many generations of families, it was hard to think of myself as such, but perhaps I was for an Overseer. I was so worried my selfish actions might negatively impact my lizards, I had forgotten the most important points of family. Acceptance and forgiveness. They would be there for me, no matter what my decision. And should that decision lead to a mistake, I would learn from it, and they would be there to show me back to the right path. Some decisions may not be understood, but families still love each other regardless.
An intense wave of love, contentment, and trust, emotions deep from my core, spread out to all my lizards. It was the same deep love a family held for their child that filled their life with light. How lucky was I to be their Overseer. Although I knew many things, they always taught me more.
I decided to revisit the memory. It was painful, but I was prepared. The physical body that encased me was so familiar, it must have been my own. That hand that reached for me from the dark contrasted room, it was a room I was in, who did it belong to? Something akin to my family heart reached out for them…family, surely that hand belonged to family. The memory was the longest one I’d had, yet it was still so bitterly short. I relived the memory over and over, trying to glean something from it. The bright light that cast the room in such stark contrasting lights and shadows came from fire that washed out most color. Both the hand and I were in pain, the desire to protect blazed through me, stronger than the flames that discolored the memory. There was also a darkness in that heart. The darkness threatened to cast the world asunder all for the sake of that reaching hand.
I wasn’t familiar with that strong, dark emotion. But the more I felt it, the more the words came to mind. Hate. Scorn. Revenge. It was not directed towards the hand, but to whatever had hurt that bleeding hand. The emotions left me cold, a dark pit formed in my essence from it. Had the memory gone on longer, would the me from the memory be consumed by those emotions? I hoped not, but nothing reassured me to the contrary.
I fell away from the memory and indulged in the love of my family heart, seeking their warm embrace from the blazing and cold emotions of the memory. If I hadn’t created the family heart so long ago, would those same emotions have taken over my lizards? I didn’t know, but I was glad they did not have to feel it. I wanted to take on that burden for them, and not let it consume them. I would rescue them from the dark of those cold, bitter emotions, just like they had rescued me from my dark rift. Such emotions were beyond them in their current development, but they would come one day. And thanks to my memory, I would be ready for them.