Linda Allison ~ Six Flags at Midnight

Episode 8: The Last Pockets of Mist Fade

part of: The Shadowed Ones

by Jeff Beardwood

Related by Katia, Twilit Deklamohedrin and Deznahdorean of the Wanderer Fourth Generation

It really was Daegle on the phone. How hard to believe was that? He sounded nervous. I guess that was to be expected. But he was distant, cautious in a way that made me think of the last pockets of mist being burned off by a rising dawn…he was holding on to some fading veil of cover.
Around me, my clan stood in support…and curiosity. My dear K’oja, D’hlea, Windsong, even the children sensed something here required their attention. A thought came to my mind “the army at my back”. Who was it talked about this notion? Someone in the early Wanderer generations used this phrase. T’zirth perhaps. I felt safe surrounded by these people. Did this also leave me closed? Did it give me an excuse to not bear witness to Daegle’s words. I released that feeling immediately, opened up. I wondered if he had his army there with him, at his back. It felt like perhaps he did, though I could sense them in no other way than a tension in his voice.
I took several deep breaths, both to calm my pulse after the run and to center myself.
I’d spent so many hours conjuring imaginary conversations with this man…so much of my meditation time exploring him. How could this silence hang so long between us now?
“They’ve split us up,” he finally offered. It was an accusation, but something about it didn’t ring true. Even though it is what I’d expected, now hearing him say it, I didn’t believe him.
I paused…allowed the silence to linger. I considered letting the lie go unmentioned. Confronting him on it might make him uncomfortable, less open than he was now. But then he would feel free to lie to me again.
“I don’t believe you’ve been split up. It doesn’t sound true to me,” I told him.
As I pictured him in my mind’s eye, he flinched, then paused. I felt something in him shift.
“Ok, you want the truth…you got it,” he spat. This layer felt more real, with no veil of caution between us. “We have one final mission to complete. We are all but disbanded now. While we are still working together, I am no longer able to be with them.”
There was raw sorrow…anger in his voice…“Why couldn’t you have left us alone?”
There was a finality to what he said. A thought came into my mind, “They are your family. You’re going to miss them.”
“I am,” his intense emotion was barely contained in those two tiny words.
There was a new silence, this one born of respect for his loss. Even though I knew what his “work” was, I did regret the deep sadness he felt.
Our conversation was nothing without our fragile trust at this point. I decided, at least for the time being, to squash my curiosity about this last mission. I hoped what ever it was, it would not unfold with any more death or destruction. There was plenty of that all around us. For now, I just wanted to know more about Daegle, the man. I’d had so many countless questions about him. I might not have a better opportunity than this to ask.
“Can I ask you something?” I ventured.
His demeanor softened slightly.
“What’s that?” he wanted to know.
“How did you come to be a Shadowed One?”
“It is as I said,” he told me dismissively. “For generations now it has been a cycle of harm on both sides.”
“I didn’t mean anything so general. I meant you, specifically. How did you become involved? The Shadowed movement was first deeply rooted in the Middle East region. You seem to have no connection to that that I can tell. What brought you to feel passionate enough to fight for this cause?”
He seemed to carefully consider my words. Perhaps he judged them to be sincere, because he tried to formulate an answer.
“First, I no more chose to belong to the Shadowed Elite than you chose to be a Wanderer. While we both have free will, we are also products of our upbringing, influenced by those who are important in our lives.”
“Go on,” I indicated attentively.
“Well I’m sure you know the history as well as I do. The conditions that made western culture a target of hatred. The strikes and counter strikes. The fateful invasions and the resentments that have lingered ever since. Wanderers seem like they would be aware of such history.”
“Indeed. And I share some of your outrage for those events and how they unfolded. The voices of early Wanderers sang out in opposition, I assure you. For me, there is a huge leap from that point to where it gets so personal you will do what you do in retaliation though,” I explained.
“You mean kill?” He wanted me to acknowledge the word, instead of dancing around them.
“Yes, you kill people.”
“You don’t believe killing is ever an option, do you?” he challenged.
“On the contrary…I do indeed. But not without it being personal! Death is pretty final. To be that extreme, you either have to be desensitized beyond my capacity to understand, or you have to believe in something down to the very core of your being. You, Daegle, do not strike me as the desensitized type. So what do you believe in? And why do you believe it so deeply?”
The other end of the phone was quiet for a long time. My clanmates looked from one to the other, wondering what would come next.
“You ask such wonderful questions,” he finally said warmly. “I’m not sure this is the right time or place to answer you. What you’re asking is my story…memories that go to the very heart of who I am.”
“That is exactly what I wanted to know.”
A thought popped into my head and I added, “who hurt you so badly?”
“Ah, now you’re getting to the very heart of the matter. How do you do that?”
“Do what?”
“Make me feel like I could tell you everything about me? Maybe even that I should.”
“I listen,” was my simple answer. “So few truly listen. It’s refreshing when one finds it.”
“Indeed,” he said wistfully.
“Daegle, this is the kind of conversation that needs to happen face to face,” I told him, looking around at the other members of my clan for support…for permission. We would talk about it at some length afterward, but they knew my mind and showed their willingness. “Will you come to dinner Friday night?”
“Impossible,” he said, though his voice told me he didn’t really believe it. There were layers of excitement mixed in with a confusion of fear and guilt and I don’t know what all else.
“You know where I am already. I know where you are. There is no safety in anonymity anymore,” I explained bluntly, showing him our mutual risk.
“Will this be alright with those you live with?” he wanted to know.
“I’m pretty sure, but I’ll get word to you if it’s not so we can make some other plan. I just feel a face to face meeting is what’s called for.”
“Until Friday,” he said. The line went dead.