// THE LABORATORY //
It’s Friday. That means it’s the last day of the week I have to talk to the Doctor Trelaine. It’s been a trying week – my teeth are gone. The gum is red and angry but it’s not inflamed. I still maintain hope.
I’D LIKE TO TELL YOU ABOUT THE PLACE I COME FROM.
IT HEARKENS OF WHAT I’D LIKE TO COME IN THE FUTURE.
WHY DID YOU LEAVE?
I LEFT BECAUSE I HAD NO OPTION BUT TO LEAVE.
MY PEOPLE HAD NO OPTION BUT TO LEAVE.
IT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE THAT WAY.
He puts forth a moment for his assertion to percolate.
YOU KNOW, YOUR UPBRINGING REMINDS ME OF MY OWN.
WE WERE BOTH RAISED BY UNUSUAL FAMILIES AND WERE SOMETHING OF ONLY CHILDREN AMONGST A CLUSTER OF OTHERS.
THEN WE’RE NOT MUCH OF ONLY CHILDREN.
WOULD YOU CONSIDER THE ORPHANS AS YOUR SIBLINGS?
The other children my mother cared for did not seem to welcome me as their equal. But what did I know for certain? For all I knew, the little children may have asked about the quiet, reclusive boy who took all his meals in isolation.
MY MOTHERS CARED FOR OTHER CHILDREN AS WELL.
BUT IN MY CASE, THEY WERE ALL MALE CHILDREN.
MY ELDERS BELIEVE IN STRONG SEGREGATION OF YOUNGLINGS.
I DO NOT KNOW IF I CAN ENDORSE A MIXED-SEX ENVIRONMENT LIKE YOU WERE RAISED INTO.
The gender of the children I shared the school with never had made much difference to me one way or the other. Girl or boy, they were all strangers.
I DON’T SEE WHY IT MATTERS.
YOU DON’T SEE WHY IT MATTERS?
THAT’S ONLY BECAUSE YOU ARE YOUNG.
YOU’LL SEE IN TIME THAT THERE ARE KEY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MALES AND FEMALES THAT CANNOT SIMPLY BE IGNORED.
MY MOTHER IS NO LESS COMPETENT THAN MY FATHER.
I’M SURE THAT IS THE CASE.
I thought of indulging in a historical aside but think better of it. My context didn’t feel well-grounded.
HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED WHY MORE FEMALES THAN MALES EXPRESS TALENT?
The statistic is lost on me, who’d never met another mage in his life. I knew both boy-children and girl-children counted themselves among the ranks of the Orphans. I thought of their voices and longed for the safety of my home.
PERHAPS YOU HAVE NOT LEARNED MUCH OF THE WAYS OF OURS.
OF COURSE WE DON’T HAVE DEFINITIVE NUMBERS BUT BASED ON THE FAMILIES WE KNOW ABOUT, FEMALES OUTNUMBER MALES BY ABOUT TWO TO ONE.
DON’T YOU THINK THAT SUGGESTS SOMETHING?
I DON’T KNOW.
The Doctor Trelaine shifts his attention from the table to mill about the room distractedly.
IN MY COUNTRY, CERTAIN JOBS WERE OPEN TO WOMEN AND CERTAIN JOBS WERE OPEN TO MEN.
I WAS TRAINED IN MY PROFESSION SINCE BEFORE I WAS BORN.
MY MOTHERS PLANNED EVERYTHING FOR ME.
I NEVER HAD A FATHER. WHAT DID I NEED A FATHER FOR?
HOW WELL HAS YOUR FATHER TRULY DONE IN RAISING YOU?
I open my mouth to speak but he interrupts.
I SHOULD SAY ASSIST IN RAISING YOU.
YOUR MOTHER DID MOST OF THE HARD WORK, DID SHE NOT?
He was right that it was Mother who brought me three meals a day, clean clothes, new books. But the scant hours I’d spent with my father were precious to me and I wasn’t ready to concede that it had all been a waste of time.
SOULS ARE NOT SEXED, BUT BODIES ARE.
AND BODIES FORM THE DIRT THROUGH WHICH ALL MAGIC FLOWS.
EVEN SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS DIRT HAS DIFFERENT CHARACTER AND IS SUITED FOR DIFFERENT APPLICATIONS.
LACED WITH PEBBLES IT CAN MAKE AN EXCELLENT FOUNDATION FOR A STRUCTURE.
THE SIEVE OF TIME SENDS TO THE SURFACE A SOFT AND DARK SUBSTANCE THAT NOURISHES THE TULIP.
YOU ONLY DO YOURSELF A DISHONOR BY TRYING TO APPLY LOAM TO A JOB REQUIRING STRENGTH AND RESILIENCE.
AND STILL MORE TRUE IS THAT A FLOWER CAN SIPHON NO NUTRITION FROM STONE.
COULDN’T YOU JUST FILTER OUT THE PEBBLES?
AND THEN THE SOIL WOULD BE USEFUL FOR ONLY ONE THING.
A NOBLE TASK, BUT STILL ONLY ONE CALLING AMONG MANY.
BOTH MALES AND FEMALES HAVE A PART TO PLAY IN THE NEW REGIME.
WE NEED ONLY RECOGNIZE THAT THEIR GIFTS ARE DIFFERENT.
AND PROVIDE THE APPROPRIATE SUPPORT.
IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU’D HAVE MEN FILLING ROLES AS CONSTRUCTION WORKERS AND POLICE OFFICERS.
AMONG OTHER VOCATIONS.
THAT’S NOT THE WAY MORTALS DO THINGS.
NO, IT’S NOT.
BUT IT DOESN’T MEAN THEY CAN’T BE TAUGHT.
THEY’RE NOT MAGICAL.
SO WHY SHOULD YOUR RULES APPLY?
THIS WORLD BELONGS TO MAGIC.
IT ALWAYS HAS AND IT ALWAYS WILL.
I had no particular nostalgia for the Mortal realm except for living adjacent to it. But the way in which the Doctor dismissed their existence was unnerving.
AND WHAT OF VAMPIRES?
VAMPIRES AREN’T MEANT TO EXIST.
NOT HERE, NOT LIKE THIS.
BUT WE’LL FIND A PLACE FOR EACH OF THEM.
MOST WILL TEND THE GARDEN AND ENSURE WE HAVE A HEALTHY CROP OF FLOWERS IN THE SPRING.
THEY HAVE NO NATURAL PLACE BUT WE CAN FIND A USE FOR THEM.
A CERAMIC GOOSE GUARDING THE BULBS FROM SCAVENGERS.
VAMPIRES ARE EVIDENCE OF A WORLD IN PERIL.
I WAS CURSED.
THIS WAS SOMETHING NONE OF US COULD HAVE FORESEEN.
I BELIEVE IN FREE CHOICE BUT THIS ALSO MEANS SOME AMONG US WILL MAKE THE WRONG DECISION.
AND OTHERS WILL SUFFER FOR IT.
MY HOME SUFFERED FOR THE DECISION OF ONE MAN.
OUR UTOPIA CRUMBLED UNDERNEATH THE WEIGHT OF ONE MAN’S CRIMES.
MAYBE HE DIDN’T BELIEVE IN YOUR UTOPIA.
AND YET HE WAS THE PRIMARY BENEFICIARY.
HE WAS LIKE ME, DESTINED FROM BIRTH FOR A PURPOSE – TO SERVE.
IT IS EVERYONE’S DUTY TO SERVE, AND HE SHIRKED THAT RESPONSIBILITY.
SELFISH AND SHORT-SIGHTED.
I HOPE NONE WILL EVER AGAIN STEAL FROM THE INNOCENT AND NEEDY.
IF I AM ABLE TO SEE MY WILL BE DONE IT WILL NEVER AGAIN HAPPEN.
AT LEAST THE MEDITANT DOESN’T POSSESS THE POWER HE ONCE DID.
THAT, THE GODS HAVE TAKEN IN RETRIBUTION.
HE WIELDED MORE POWER THAN ANY SINGLE MAN WAS EVER MEANT TO HOLD.
MY PEOPLE WILL NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE AGAIN.
BLIND FAITH IS NOT AN AFFLICTION OF A PEOPLE THAT HAVE BEEN WRONGED.
SO YOU AIM TO RECREATE YOUR HOMELAND IN PLACE OF WHAT THE MORTALS HAVE CREATED?
EXCEPT THIS TIME I WILL TOLERATE NO SINNERS TO DINE IN THE HALLS OF THE LORD.
I WILL DO WHAT OTHERS BEFORE ME HAVE FAILED TO DO.
I DO NOT KNOW IF THE NATION OF MORTALS WILL ACCEPT YOUR RHETORIC.
THEY VALUE THEIR FREEDOM.
NO ONE IS FREE THAT SUFFERS A CRIMINAL TO LIVE.
I WAS TAUGHT THAT IT IS WRONG TO KILL.
AND WERE I LIVING IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN THEY SO IMAGINE THEMSELVES IN, I MIGHT TOO AIM FOR A WORLD FREE FROM THE BRUTALITY OF DEATH.
BUT THE SCARS OF OUR FAILURE RUN DEEP INTO THE PAST.
IF ALL GOES ACCORDING TO PLAN, MOST ORDINARY MORTALS WILL NEVER HAVE TO MEET OUR GHOSTS FACE TO FACE.
THEY’LL GO ON BELIEVING IN THEIR PARADISE JUST AS I WISH MY PEOPLE COULD DO.
I pause, leaving a palpable gap in the air.
WHY DID YOU BRING ME HERE?
SURELY YOU DIDN’T WANT TO PULL MY TEETH.
I WANT YOU TO JOIN ME, KEVIN.
YOU HAVE AN INCREDIBLE LINEAGE AND…
It was my turn to speak over him.
SO IT’S MY PEDIGREE THAT INTERESTS YOU.
IT IS NOT MERELY YOUR PEDIGREE.
YOU ARE AN INTELLIGENT YOUNG MAN AND I WANTED TO GIVE YOU A CHANCE TO DEFECT FROM THE LOSING SIDE.
YOUR FATHER’S KINGDOM HAS NO PLACE IN OUR FUTURE.
NOT AS IT IS NOW.
WE’LL NEED TO REBUILD IT FROM THE GROUND UP.
SO YOU WANT TO MURDER MY FATHER.
I WOULD BE MORE THAN WILLING TO ACCEPT A PEACEFUL SOLUTION, I SUSPECT, HOWEVER, THAT HE WON’T GO ALONG QUIETLY.
PERHAPS HE HAS GOOD REASON TO REFUSE YOUR VISION.
THEN WE’LL SHOW HIM THE GLORY THAT WILL BE.
AS FAR AS YOU’RE CONCERNED, I’M A PRISONER BEING HELD AGAINST MY WILL.
I TRULY HOPE YOU’LL CHANGE YOUR MIND.
I TRULY DOUBT THAT I WILL.
YOU THINK YOUR FATHER IS COMING TO RESCUE YOU BUT HOW DO YOU EXPECT HIM TO FIND YOU?
WALKING THE PLANES IS MORE DIFFICULT THAN YOU MAY BE AWARE.
YOU ARE IN A DEMI-PLANE, KEVIN.
IT BELONGS TO ME.
I try to stay strong against the opposition but his assertion nags at my doubt.
MY MOTHER IS A POWERFUL WITCH –
WHO HAS EVEN LESS OF A CHANCE OF GETTING HERE.
SHE WAS SOLD THE FALSE GOSPEL EARLY IN HER LIFE AND SHE SUFFERS DUE TO IT.
YOUR MOTHER HAS RAISED THAT SCHOOL SINGLE-HANDEDLY.
WHAT HAS YOUR FATHER DONE EXCEPT SERVE AS A FIGUREHEAD, A MASCOT, FOR THAT PLACE?
I have often wondered why I did not hear Father’s voice among the Orphans’ but the truth seemed self-evident.
HE IS IN A PLACE HE DOES NOT BELONG.
LET US JUST SUPPOSE HIS CLAIM TO ROYALTY IS TRUE.
LET US JUST SUPPOSE.
EVERY DAY HE LAYS IN REST BENEATH THIS SCHOOL WHILE CHILDREN WORK MIRACLES ABOVE HIS HEAD.
WHY DOESN’T HE RETURN TO WHERE HE CAME FROM?
WHAT CRIME COULD HE POSSIBLY BE PAYING PENANCE FOR?