Ashi moved into his new world feeling like an explorer, gauging the lay of the land before setting his sights on his goal. The explorer’s perspective allowed Ashi to detach himself from his immediate surroundings and instead become an observer; but he knew he didn’t want that. He had to be fully and personally involved in whatever he was doing, and that had to be from his perspective. He enjoyed the make-believe but that was given a sell-by. His mission now was to earn a place sitting with those who had become. Nothing was going to stop him now: He suspected that things were not going to be completely cut and dried; and now here he was reinventing the wheel yet again, having had to accept some far-fetched scenario bought to him in some sort of sci-fi alternate reality, penniless, parentless, foodless and mapless; and the only thing he had left to hold on to was a vague aspiration that there was a point to all of this, which would make itself clear to him at some time after now.
The dog came bounding up to him and Ashi met the hound’s erratic playfulness by retrieving the biggest stick that he could find amongst the hedgerow, and launching it as powerfully as he possibly could in the direction of least disturbance. The creature responded with a muffled yelp before charging off to find the booty.
As Ashi sauntered past the little cottage, first a light came on, then the door squeaked open and a man appeared in the doorway. With a cursory glance at Ashi, he turned his attention to the dog which was now engaged in hot pusuit of the object that Ashi had thrown. “Itch,” he barked. Itch immediately froze in mid-enjoyment, crouched down low and lay his ears flat, laying on the ground. Coy strode purposefully toward the dog, crouched down low and whispered in his ear. Itch eyed the man, rose, and at Coy’s command resumed his enjoyment.
Coy turned his attention to the boy who had appeared on the scene. “Hi,” he offered his hand. Ashi took the outstretched hand, studied Coy for a moment, and let go. As tears rolled down his cheeks, Coy opened his arms and Ashi lay his head on the shoulder of the man and closed his tired eyes.
“Who is this little chap,” Leyla moved towards the pair and Ashi immediately knew that he had heard that calm, soft voice before. He opened his eyes as the woman reached down and ruffled his hair. He looked into Leyla’s dark, welcoming eyes and she looked into his, “Did you really believe me when I said that everything would be alright, Ashi.”
A cool breeze swept through the trees as the evening light cast it’s long shadows. Nearby, an unseen bird was chirping merrily, as another, further off, responded. A rodent scurried for cover as Itch gave chase, and through the door of the cottage a fire glimmered in the fireplace welcoming the three of them as Itch, who had forgotten about the stick and given up the pursuit of the errant rodent, followed them into the house.
Steffie wanted to lay down and close her eyes. She had hardly slept since the accident; images and scenarios had played in her mind over and over. She knelt by the side of her bed as she had done when she was a child. Clasping her hands together Steffie cast her eyes upward and beseeched the God of her upbringing that she might be forgiven for her unwillingness to succumb to the dark night of the soul. The mother prayed for her release from the torment of having to see her only son battered in a series of nightmares over which she had no repress. The sinner prayed that she might be reprieved for any wrongs that she had done to others and for their health, wealth, peace, happiness and longevity. The loner prayed for solace and rapture in the loving embrace of another and the child prayed for hope.
As The Brotherhood listened, Steffie had the realization that she was finally going through the transformation that she had so resisted in her formative years.. She was moving into the awareness of a power greater than her or her will. She didn’t want to lay any credence to the fallacy that she was not in control. Steffie believed wholeheartedly in faith in oneself and resisted any philosophy that required her to believe otherwise. In that sense she was narrow minded, but in other ways Steffie was open to whatever came her way. Due to her independence and self-reliance, more than a few people had sought her counsel, and now those who were allowed to see Steffie’s weak side could be counted on the fingers of one hand,, and it was necessary to go through a series of obstacles in order to encounter them, obstacles for which she did not have the necessary fortitude or endurance at this time.
So Steffie revisited the mentor of her youth, which she had been made aware of by the conformity of her parents to a creed whose central tennet was ‘Thou shalt believe in what ye are told;’ and, subconsciously, she knew that this was what she still held to be her mode of survival, despite the fact that her path appeared to be a contrary one. It was only in appearances that her way of life did not adhere to a regular form. She desired separation from that which cast her as just another, and she felt that all knowledge should be granted unto Steffie, but she also knew that her being was just as susceptible and lackadaisical as the next man or woman, and that she should set her parents free.
It was as if being alone and independent had become a sense of wellbeing for Steffie. She knew that if she were to become one of the mainstream she would need to forego the trappings of individualism, and it was this that precluded her acceptance of an existence that could be termed normal. What was given way to was a feeling that all was unenfolding according to the great plan, of which Steffie was only a very minor part.
The Brotherhood likened the scenario to a new born child perceiving the illusion of the world beyond the womb and it was here that all knowledge was given tangible form that necessarily resulted in the development of perspective. The means by which the psyche pursued the goal was by splitting into a myriad of identical forms and then allowing each to have influence over the other thus creating a web of vibrancy that extended beyond the realm of common knowledge.
The Brotherhood regarded perceived knowledge as just a way of expression, and it was in this expression that individuality was built, manifested, given substance. Conforming to this, solitary pawns would become queens and vice versa. The whole was just a game played on a chessboard, and the chance that one should make a wrong move was high. It was here that the winners and the losers were chosen, and here that the highs were contrasted against the lows. Belief was just another tool to mislead the individualists, for there was only the road to believe in, or maybe the weaving as the spider does when it’s spinning it’s home.
A place to feel alone was desired by even the most humble, and it was one of the specifications outlined in the job description of a candidate to become a member of The Brotherhood, that one should be able to fulfill desires. Given the vast number, desires were treated by urgency, whether the individual had the means to survive, and whether survival was on the agenda for the entity involved. For some, it was not on the agenda and it was what to do with these that became another task for the Brotherhood. Ashi fitted into the median and he was given a choice, a luxury to which a very limited number were granted the privilege.
Although young, Ashi had been given the wisdom of many lifetimes through which he had fought to preserve the awareness of his self-sufficiency. He had made some erroneous decisions, and it was these that had led to his being reborn. In this lifetime, in these past six years, Ashi had learned the secret that opened the door to manipulation, the tool that gave him complete control over outcomes. And it was this combination, of bad decisions and knowledge of the secret, that was not acceptable to the Brotherhood
And so, due to the fact that he could not forget what he had learned and there was no way it could be removed from his memory without damage; Ashi had a period of reprogramming ahead of him.
He tried to figure the time and ending upjust wondering, and time did not matter for now anyway.