Ghosts of Christmas
Scimitar raced towards Earth, her engines throbbing with enormous
energy. Once in Starlight Drive, the distance between the two focal points
would pass within hours, instead of days. The Starlight Drive was based
partially on ion drive and electromagnetism. Although ion based systems
produced more electricity, the Starlight Drive achieved far greater speeds. A
second drive equalized this difference by handling most of the electrical
systems on the ship.
to Earth: one hour." Mr. Thorpe replied.
you, Mr. Thorpe. I shall be in my quarters until we reach Earth." He
walked to the lift and Mr. Thorpe sat in the command chair.
* * Past * *
sat down at the only musical instrument he could play: the sript. It
was comprised of a motor-operated tube which impaled a score of crystal bowls.
Each bowl was perfect in shape and pitch. Another crystalline bowl contained
pure spring water. The sript was invented by Benjamin Franklin and soon
forgotten. Iffley had discovered and redesigned it, perfecting the beautiful
instrument. Franklin had called it a glass harmonica, but Iffley, who thought
the name was too plain, renamed it in respect for the fine instrument.
turned on the motor, the bowls rotated in unison, and dipped his hands into
the water. He touched the middle bowl; a pierce, howling tone sounded. He
stroked the bowls in a familiar melody: Irving Berlin's classic Christmas song
was well suited for these haunting tones. As he deftly played the instrument,
the memories raced through his mind to a time long ago when he played the same
concluded his Christmas performance for the Ludits. As the last notes echoed
across the hall, the entire crowd stood and applauded. He arose and bowed to
More!" Shouted Adena, who was characteristically jumping up and down and
clapping her hands. He glanced at the Queen who smiled and nodded.
you, Adena." He said and placed her on the bench beside him. "This
song is known as Silver Bells; it was also written Before the Plague." He
winked at Adena and wet his hands. He played with more ease, each note coming
from his heart. He finished, the last tone mixing with the enthusiastic
cheers. Adena shut her eyes and hugged him with all of her might. Embarrassed
by all the attention, he gathered up Adena in his arms and quickly withdrew to
played really good." Adena whispered in his ear.
still think you played real good, because..." She stopped mid-sentence
and stared at Fluffy, the almost hairless guard-dog, who was barking at
something trapped in a corner of the courtyard. Iffley recalled that Adena had
named the dog, much to her parents' chagrin. The pair curiously approached the
dog and saw the object of its vociforous cry. A small blob lay shaking in the
a Quruche. I wonder how it got separated from its pack." Quite suddenly,
the creature attacked the dog with a claw that Iffley couldn't remember seeing
before. The dog, blood flowing from a large cut on its nose, yelped, turned
tail, and ran away.
laughed in amusement. Adena, however, screamed in fright, "Take it away!
Away!" She then hid behind Iffley as he approached the animal.
creature did not seem afraid of the humans, and wobbled toward them. It was
then that he noticed a large lesion on its side. It sloshed into his open
arms. "I will take care of you, little friend."
STILL don't like it!" Adena said violently. Iffley simply ruffled her
hair and laughed...
intercom returned Iffley to reality. He turned off the sript and
answered the hail.
five minutes, Captain." Iffley acknowledged. He patted a small, blue-gray
cube on his desk and left for the bridge.
* * Present * *
Scimitar pulled into a tight orbit around the Earth. Minutes later, a
shuttle soared toward Alarius. Suralio Iffley, the shuttle's only occupant,
set his teeth. Bah humbug! What a rotten Christmas this was turning out to be.
Here it was Christmas Day, and he had left Adena alone. He had never done that
before, and the thought disturbed him.
Shuttle landed at his castle. He transversed the lawn and took a small,
overgrown path to the cemetery. He placed a dozen red roses at the graves
marked Naidis and Ephryre Iffley. He was sure that his mother would have
enjoyed the beautiful flowers. "Mom, Dad," He said to their
tombstones, "I have something to tell you. I have realized my error in
judgement, and I have come to make reconcilliations. I...I am no longer angry
at you, Mother, for leaving me; it was not your fault for dying. I haven't,
although, found forgiveness for myself. It is my fault that you died. Tell
Father I said hello."
smiled meekly and moved down the graveyard. Finally he came across the
tombstone he sought, Camille Wolffe. She had been his first love and had died
over a decade ago. He placed another dozen red roses at her grave and uttered
four simple words, "Camille, please forgive me." He quickly dried
his eyes and raised his Sceptre. The dreary cemetery was replaced with the
lively sounds of the ocean.
Rebellion anchored at the dock, rocked slightly with the wind-swept
waves. The smell of salt hung heavily in the air and the spray from the ocean
washed over the dock. "Merry Christmas, Adena." He touched the huge
ship with the Sceptre and teleported it high into the atmosphere. The
Scimitar would be awaiting it and would tractor it into orbit, as per
his orders. He lifted the Sceptre and transported to the Ludit's castle.
opened the door and let him in, "Master Iffley, how good it is to see
you!" Leffy was emanating, as usual, just plain fun.
I have a couple of questions for you. Adena has returned, and is anxious to
see you. Would you like to return with me to T'mir--Titan, that is--as a late
before he had finished his question, the Jiffle had nodded his head. Iffley,
ignoring the assent, completed his question, Leffy nodding all the way. He was
beginning to wonder if the Jiffle's brains were going to pour out of his
continued, "There's one more favor I have to ask you, Leffy, can you take
me to the twin's room?"
* * Future * *
ordered a separate shuttle to transport Leffy and the better-late-than-never
Christmas presents. He teleported to the cemetery before he left for home.
Once again, he was alone--as alone as Adena must feel. His heart was free from
a heavy burden; somehow he knew that Camille had forgiven him. Her tragic
death was now no longer his responsibility.
sun slowly set, casting bright red beams on the low clouds. Twilight descended
on the land, stars twinkling dimly in the east. This had been Iffley's first
Christmas alone. He wondered if this would be his last, or if there would be
others. But somehow, he knew deep within his heart that he would never spend
Christmas alone. A chill filled his very soul as he heard--no, more felt than
heard--someone whisper 'Merry Christmas' to him. He glanced around the
cemetery, as if expecting ghosts appear before him. "Merry
Christmas," he said softly to the graveyard."Merry Christmas,"
he whispered to the stars.
| ||© 1985, ||K. Blaire, L. Charles, D. Conrad, Enad the Great, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft|