Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A to Z Lies in Space - Ephraim

It was the greatest day in Zala's history, and it was all thanks to an alien named Ulysses.  I don't know if anyone ever even came up with an adequate reason for how he ended up here in the first place, but the fact is he did, and he defeated the tyrant Reeve, and the whole world celebrated.  I bet you could hear us all the way in the citadel of Wasp.

But there was at least one unhappy person on Zala, and that was Harlow.  My brother.  To understand why requires a little explanation.

Harlow grew up as the golden boy of my family.  I don't know how much jealousy had to do with my telling Ulysses about him, when I finally had the chance, but even if it was that, I can't say I'm ashamed.  Whatever gifts he possessed, my brother let them go to his head.  And it was jealousy that consumed him.  He viewed himself as the one who should have been Zala's savior.  For all intents and purposes, if Ulysses hadn't swooped in, he very well could have been.  We'll never know.  What's not in dispute is that Reeve ran the world with an iron grip for years, and not because he was completely unopposed.  It's just, none of us were good enough to stop him.  That's just fact.

I talked to Harlow about this, many times.  Perhaps too many times.  Eventually, he stopped listening.  He shut himself off, surrounded himself with those who believed everything he said, never questioned him.  And as a result, threatened to become a new kind of tyrant, or at the very least a new threat to Zala.  He saw what Ulysses had done, and his response was hatred.  He felt as if the whole world had, in fact, betrayed him, repudiated him, turned their backs on him.  He didn't even see what Ulysses had done as a good thing, despite the fact that he had dedicated his whole life to the same goal.

So he plotted his revenge, and I couldn't let him do it.  To describe my relationship with Harlow now is more complicated than it ever was.  We started out life as close as brothers can get.  Then, I don't know what happened.  Maybe he let his early successes go to his head.  Maybe, because he was a few years older, he just got sick of hanging out with his kid brother, wanted someone more mature, to spend his time with, which is to say, I guess he began to see me as a waste of his time.  I did notice, by the way.  I carry that like a scar with me.  No doubt it affected the course of my life.  Yet I know I did the right thing, in the end, not because he hurt me, but because I didn't want him to hurt anyone else. 

Do I consider my brother evil?  No.  But evil takes many forms.  Maybe I'm not even the one to be talking to about this.  I'm too close.  I'm not objective.  I grieve for him, for the brother I lost long ago, and the one I lost again, the one who betrayed me.  And the one I betrayed.

I'm sorry, I don't want to continue talking about this.  The fact is, on the happiest day in Zala's history, there were actually two unhappy people.  My brother, and me.  I waited all day for my chance to personally congratulate the great Ulysses, after the long line of well-wishers had shaken his hand, posed for pictures, all the trivial things I couldn't even think about in that moment.  I used it as my chance to warn Ulysses.  That was the day my brother's future ended.  What else can I say?  I spent so much time in the shadow of that future, I don't know anything else.  What do I do now? 

"But this is not the story," says Kindly. 

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