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Born Again

It began, as it always did, with the sudden, jolting pain.   He was alone.   In the darkness.   Imprisoned.   Helpless.

The remembrance of his peace, which still warmed him, made sharper the bleakness of his prison.   The tenderness of his encounter warmed his spirit.   Remembering the freedom of his world was precious to him.   He clung to each moment as if it were his last.   The gradual loss of control over his life was as painful as the intense discomfort of his prison.   His memory was failing, but the question still burned.   Why?

The pattern of his mind bore the scars of the immobilized, solitary confinement in which he now found himsel   He choked on bitterness and fear, both new feelings for him.

There had been light, so much light, and no loneliness.   Here, the darkness was pervasive.   He reached out into the emptiness to touch someone, anyone.   He had had many friends but could find none of them now.   He tried to clear his thoughts and sense the energy around him but found nothing.

He viewed what lay before him.   There were strange shapes and shadows all visible in the slowly brightening light.   The light, if it could be called that, at least allowed him to discern the shapes of the objects around him, but it did not reveal their true nature.   Surely those things that crowded his vision were still alive.   Certainly, he was not in some strange graveyard.

His attempts at communication were useless and frustrating.   He tried to merge with the energy he felt around him.   He surrendered himself to their foreign natures.   But, still, nothing happened.   No one responded.   They were closed to him, and he could not understand why they did not unify with him.   He had no experience to guide him.   He could not comprehend this place, so alien to all he had ever known.

He could remember his moment of emergence in his world.   He had been welcomed with an intensity and completeness he knew to be a natural consequence of his existence.   He had felt a sense and understanding of belonging to an entity that was, at once, universal and individual.   He had flowed and joined with the countless spirits he encountered.

In his vast experience, for he was quite old, punishment was an alien concept but one he knew had existed in the most ancient of histories.   He knew from his studies that punishment had been the price extracted by culture peers from those who broke the Law.   But his world knew no law beyond natural Law.   There was no crime because there were no crimes.   The breaking of natural law carried with it its own inevitable consequences, but they were not to be feared, merely understood, and respected.   It was contrary to logic to break the Law and, so, no one did.

There was no pain, no cruelty, no fear, none of the emotions so remote in the histories.   Yet, here they all existed, and he was terrified.   Why?

His world had held such sweetness, and his frequent returns to it only served to heighten his frustration and confusion.   He could not control his return to his home world, but he was grateful it happened often.   It began with an odd feeling of losing control and then, suddenly, he was there.

Rejuvenated by the time spent in his home, he began his exercises with renewed strength.   Seeking to remember everything he could about his old life, he hoped to maintain that which defined him, that which he appeared to be slowly losing.   He knew he had to keep his memory if he was to keep his sanity.   Thought was his only defense.   What was it Gah, his teachers, had said?

The lesson had been on soaring.   It had been an early one.   He had been taught his being was more dense than the surrounding atmosphere, and the law of gravity dictated it must remain downbound.   His soul and mind, however, were not ground locked.   He remembered Gah fondly.   Such a cocoon of love.   He missed it sorely.

The lesson, as all lessons, was on being one with nature as it existed.   It lay not in asking nature to change, but in learning to coexist within it, as part of it.

He had learned that although his body was bound, his mind was not.   It was then he had learned to soar.   With great exuberance he made his way into the sky.   His soul had melded with those around him and found a new meaning to life.   It was here he found his second nature.   Although he would later learn of other places and perspectives, none held the grandeur and fulfillment of the air.   It was here he truly belonged.   He was a creature of the air. "Gah," he cried out in his pain.   "Gah."

But now he could no longer recall the feeling of soaring.   He could remember such a thing had existed for him, but he had lost the dearness of the freedom such flight offered.   There were sad gaps in his memory, and this was but one of them.   There were many things he knew had existed but whose memories and feelings he could no longer summon.

He turned his attention to his predicament.   He tried to recall how it had started.   He had been home.   Then, somehow, he had found himself in a place that was unfamiliar but not frightening.   This dark, quiet place had had a rhythm that had soothed him.   When he was not home, he was there.   It had been a time of inner reflection, and he had been content.   It had not occurred to him to question the change in his life.   The lessons of Gah were logical and normal, and he had felt no need.

In an instant, all had changed.   There was a violence he had never before experienced.   There had been a pain and a pressure that were indescribable in their agony.   Without warning, he had been ripped from this peace.   No one had asked him.   He was thrust into this new place.   Alone.

He struggled to understand the boundaries of his prison.   It was a solitary affair that completely prohibited his freedom of movement.   He wondered if there was something he could manipulate or alter.   As time passed, he realized his prison could be moved, and he tried to explore this new possibility.

As he shifted, new objects came into view.   Suddenly, his attention was arrested.   Before his gaze was an entity that moved as he did.   He could not comprehend what he saw.   As he moved that which surrounded him, the thing before him appeared to move as well.   He began to experiment.   He moved, it moved.   He moved, it moved again.   Intuitively, he knew he was looking at his prison.   He did not understand the object that allowed him to do so.   In a moment of panic he struggled against the bonds.   He exhausted himself.

Without warning, the feeling of lethargy signaling a return to his world overcame him.   He did not struggle against it.   He welcomed this all too brief respite from his pain.

When he awoke, he was screaming again.   The affliction of his prison had not diminished.   They were there, as always, the subtle punishments designed to torment him- small, shifting pains that hurt so.   Although he was unaccustomed to the circumstances in which he found himself, he observed that if he lay quietly, the prison did not respond as violently.

As he lay there, he grew aware of a variety of movements within.   He could feel the life and growth.   He surmised the changes had something to do with the sustenance they provided for his prison.   He did not understand how his prison worked, but he now knew it had a life of its own and, although it depended on them for this sustenance, it could function independently.

He marveled at its design.   It was miraculous.   It was compact and relatively efficient although he could identify areas that needed improvement.   He had been an explorer on his birth world, and he now set about to investigate his new environment.   The passage of time had brought some easing of the pain, and he took advantage of that.   He was deeply impressed by the magnificence he found.   He sought to become one with it, as he had been trained to do, to find the inner peace that would enable him to understand.

He soon discovered he could control the movement of the prison.   He could simply will an appendage, and there were four of them, to move, and it did.   He was not very adept, but he noted his skill improved with practice.   There were many exciting things that crowded the increasing time he spent in this new world.   He could see colors were becoming brighter and sounds more distinct.   The variety astounded him.   Although he still missed his birth world, he began to look forward to the time spent in this new place.

Each time he returned, he discovered new things seemed to appear, from nowhere, for his enjoyment.   The pain had all but ceased, and he was becoming more skilled at the manipulation that he seemed born to.   A lifetime of training was bearing fruit.   Upon returning to his birth world he discovered he missed this new place.   The gaps in his memory no longer frightened him.   He was not as concerned as he had once been.   Those who greeted him in his birth world seemed to recognize the distance that grew between them and to accept it as natural.   Some of them were also undergoing the same process, but it was impossible to compare notes and reach any conclusions in the increasingly short time they spent together.   It had become a time and place of leaving.   He would miss them, but the joy he found here was growing.   His prison, no longer a prison, was becoming home.

Now he could sense the approach of one who brought such comfort to his spirit.   There was a softness and a peace more comforting than anything he had ever imagined.   The rhythms of this being were familiar.   The presence he had come to know in this alien world approached him.   This was special, this soul, that was becoming so precious to him.   Here he had found a place of safety.   He reached out and was quickly enveloped by a sweetness that made him forget all questions.   He nestled against the softness and was lost in the gentle fragrance.   He eagerly reached for the nourishment that was offered and reveled in the intimacy.   The rhythm of life lulled him.   He was home.