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[2008: MAR-APR] Amber Stones


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Amber Stones

by Toni Turner

While Commander Jason Graves disliked being away from his ship, he had found he had no choice in the matter. For months he had been hallucinating, and the Head Counselor, had recommended, in no uncertain terms, that he take an extended leave of absence to get intensive therapy, or be removed from the duty roster permanently. So here he sat in his room, staring out the window at the amber stepping stones in the back garden of his home.

“Amber stones, not unlike the golden trail in my visions. That path is so roughly blazed through my depths that it torments me, bringing me to my knees. What do the stones have in common, or do they have any connection at all? Why does the sight of them bedevil me?” He took a sip of coffee, then sent the cup crashing to the floor. He agonized bitterly, "Questions and more questions! Why are there no answers?”

Raking his fingers through his hair, he felt the sweat that beaded on his forehead. "How do I admit to myself that I'm afraid? Wasn't I the one who faced battle with unwavering bravery and fought against the mounting odds and return victoriously? Why do I fear now?”

The Universe - perceived infinite in all directions - had beckoned Jason to Starfleet. He had traveled at warp speed, and made discoveries that went far beyond mere speculation. He had explored the disparity of ideas and concepts from the tiniest molecule of antimatter to the grandest array of entire galaxies. He had unraveled mysteries that had vexed his forefathers. Yet now, he feared the unseen . . . the unmeasurable . . . the unimaginable.

Time seemed eternal. It was as infinite as the Universe to him, but the only moment was now. And now was the time to find the cause of his affliction. He stood, and walked out into the garden, gazing at the amber stones. He was convinced that the answer lay along that golden path and he was destined to find it.

A moment later, the birds stopped singing their songs as the heavens turned dark and forbidding. The warm breeze that kissed his cheek turned cold and a horrific wind began to swirl about him. Thunder rippled its vibrations through his ears and a clash of lightening splattered at his feet, then suddenly . . . silence. The hallucination began again as it had so many times before. He closed his eyes. He would see it to the end this time with no one to stop it.

The amber stones twinkled like the stars in the heavens against a backdrop of endless space, then the whisper, "Come to me, Jason."

He whipped around, "Where are you? Who are you?"

"Come to me."

"Answer me!" He pleaded. "Are you real or imagined?"

"Come to me. I await you."

A chill seized him. He convulsed and his knees buckled. He cried out, lifting his eyes and fists to the heavens, "Why are you doing this to me? Leave me alone!

"Come to me."

Infuriated, he asserted, "No, YOU come to me!"

A long silence passed, then a soft whisper, "I cannot come to you. Come to me, Jason."

Exasperated, he drew in a breath, but determined to see it to the end, he ventured nearer to the first stone.

He had stepped on this stone before, and although a little shaky and unsure of himself, he balanced upon it feeling somehow stronger and at peace. It was a pleasant feeling but short lived when the whisper became more urgent. "Hurry, come to me."

Hopping to the next stone as it began to rise, he bobbled, threatening to fall. Outstretching his arms to distribute his weight evenly, he found stability. Again the soft whisper summoned him, "Come to me, Jason."

Frustrated, he yelled, "Can't you see that I'm trying?

His answer echoed back to him. "Come to me . . . Come to me . . . Come to me."

Spurred on by the whispering plea, he pushed off to the next stone, and the next and the next. He asked, "How much further do I have to go?"

"Let nothing dissuade you. Come to me, Jason."

Leaping to the next stone he loss his footing, but as he fell, he grabbed hold of the stone stopping his plummet to the depths of despair. With his arm muscles quivering, he pulled himself upward, the skin on his fingers bruised and bleeding from his grip. "I'm coming to you no matter what I have to do."

The thunder rumbled again. Lightening flashed, and the unforgiving wind swirled around him, challenging his resolve as he skipped from one stone to the next. And just as he jumped to the last stone, thinking it would be as stable as the rest, it began to quake, then dissolved beneath him. He screamed as he spiraled into the abyss. "Noooooooooo!"

Hours later the warmth of the sun kissed his cheek, awakening him to the sounds of the songbirds. He opened his eyes to the Universe, thankful to be alive. He sat up and glanced around, then shook his head, seeing that nothing had changed. He sobbed into his hands, "Will I never find the answer to why I have these hallucinations? Will it always be like this?"

Hope of reconciling his life to the unknown vanished. Lifting himself from the ground, he wandered aimlessly, trying to come to grips with his fate, but he couldn't. His life as he knew it was over; his career, gone; his existence, nonessential. He was in an everyday Universe with space and time containing matter, galaxies, stars, planets and living beings, but he was a stranger with no purpose, no future, no past. It was bizarre to think the only thing he had to cling to were those amber stones, but he was drawn to them in spite of the mystery they presented to him.

Returning to that pathway, he stood at the end where he had fallen, looking homeward. He shook his head, and rubbed his eyes, unable to believe his vision, thinking he had somehow gotten turned around in his wandering. Realizing he needed rest from his ordeal, he shrugged, and sadly began his walk home. Entering, he went straight to his room but stopped short at the door when he heard soft whispering from within . . . "Come to me. Jason. I cannot come to you. Let nothing dissuade you. Come to me, Jason."

Steeling himself to what he would find, he slowly opened the door. At first he thought that in his absence someone had moved his furniture around, but then he realized that everything was as he had left it. Again he heard the soft whispering, but this time he realized it was mingled with sobs. He followed the sounds to the window and a lovely young woman sitting on the sill. As she gazed outside at the amber stones, she whispered with tears in her eyes. "Come to me, Jason. I miss you."

His heart leaped as he moved closer, knowing the last stone had been the portal back from the Universe that existed side-by-side with his own. Taking her into his arms he whispered, "I'm here, Anna, back in the Universe where I belong."

Edited by Toni
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