Sunday, March 3, 2013
Darkness Falls on a Dark Land, Part 11
Bondquan officially left the job this evening, and I feel betrayed. In a way it was a long time coming, completely inevitable, but I’m still in shock. What’s more, I’ve since been visited by government officials I recognize, people she interacted with during the excavation process, some she seemed overly affectionate with, as far as Omoxians go. I never asked her about it, but it was hard to overlook, especially since I spent so much time ogling her. Now I feel that much worse about it.
It’s entirely possible that I misread my whole relationship with her. The fact is, I had never had any real dealings with an Omoxian before. I didn’t have any context from which to compare my experiences with Bondquan. I just kept telling myself exactly what I wanted to hear, and now everything I’ve worked toward has been thrown away.
I’m collecting the clay statues of that damned Vitell fertility goddess, Modoc. Yes, I’ve resorted to blaming Modoc. Whoever prayed to Modoc for divine intervention, anyway, for anything other than sex and babies? What was I thinking? I kept talking myself into believing nonsense, exactly what everyone was telling me for months. Everyone already knew the truth about Shibal, and no one cared to confirm the truth about Trey or any of the other Alliance of Five. I’ve completely wasted my time. I’ve humiliated myself.
They’re being pushy about it, and all I can do is steal glimpses at the search beams continuing their work in my absence. At first I thought they were a cheat. Someone in my line of work prefers to do it with his own hands, and I’m no exception. It figures that the Omoxians have different ideas about that, too. Who knows what Bondquan was really thinking all that time? That’s what I’m really thinking as I watch the flashes of light erupt from the earth, reminding me that the beam is still functioning. There are reflections, curious ones that shouldn’t happen unless there are obstructions, and a part of me can’t help but hope for vindication, that the ruins of ancient Shibal do exist, that all this hasn’t been a waste and that my reputation can be salvaged. Someone soon clicks the beam off, and my spirits are again crushed. I can feel Bondquan somewhere in the distance, another pair of eyes mocking me.
That’s what I always do, and that’s why my life is a study of failure. I know I’m right but I can never prove it. Definition of insanity, I know, but I swear it’s different in my case. If I’d simply tried harder, been less of a coward, she would have known exactly how I felt, and maybe everything would be different. I always believe one key variable’s difference and everything would turn out in my favor. Sometimes I believe I fail because I sabotage myself. Sometimes I blame every one and every thing else. Sometimes it’s a combination of both.
I know I’ll never see Bondquan again, but I’ll never stop thinking about her. The planet’s receding, and all I see is the outline of the Shibal I was looking for, and her. They’re intermingled. I always mix my passions together. It’s supposed to make everything easier, but I only ever end up with interminable complications. Why do I never learn?
I keep believing that the breakthrough is just over the next horizon, that I shouldn’t feel frustrated because when it finally happens I’ll finally be happy. There’s a part of me that understands that I’ve been miserable all my life, and that this probably won’t change even with success. It’s simply what I’m used to, what I’m comfortable with, whether I admit it or not.
The space is growing between me and Omox, and I can no longer see Shibal at all. Its foundations are lost. My wrist device beeps and I receive the news that the search beam completed its job to typical Omoxian efficiency. Ruins were indeed found, but I will probably never hear about it again until it makes the news cycle. Bondquan sent the transmission. She says nothing personal in it. I can choose to interpret both of these facts any way I choose. It’s the same as it’s always been.
Soon I’ll be reunited with Faneuil. I’m told that it’s odd to have a snake for a pet, but it’s increasingly common, or at least more common than it used to be. I don’t care what anyone thinks.