Memoir: And Then You Wake Up

And then you wake up.

The stars are more than bright, they're vibrant, rolling through the black sky and rushing past the wavelengths of their own colors, leaving flickering trails of physics behind them as they go. The humming of the spheres is overtaken by the familiar lap of short waves against the white sands of the Bay of Columella, and high on a precipice on the other side of the bay the sillhouette of the temple of Aphrodite is black against black, but too present to remain unseen. A field of grasses is just beginning to sweat with the dew of the oncoming dawn, and you rise, unwilling, from where you lie with the cherished boy. If only you could stay. But there's work that has to be done.

You check your helmet one more time, wading hip-deep through the bay in full flight gear and pulling your boots one at a time from the gripping sand. You can't be late. Your Raptor is waiting for you on the sandy embankment out in the bay, the hatch is open for you, the instruments inside producing a faint grey glow. Systems green, front seat and back. Clearance obtained. Lift-off for CAP in three… two…

And then you wake up.

Were you asleep at the wheel? You look down to the console to try to gain your bearings, but your eyes won't focus. None of the letters make sense. There's a throbbing in your head like the beating of a giant heart, lopsided and wavering, and your helmet is choking you as you claw at it, trying to take it off.

You go for your pills. You break the cap in two, snapping it in your effort to remove it from the bottle. Your pills are one step ahead of you— the moment the cap snaps free they all rush out on a skittery of tinny mechanical legs like so many spiders, rushing up your arm and down your suit, pouring out as you try to get out of the cockpit, trapped by the straps once meant to keep you safe. You look into the bottle— one pill at the bottom is looking back with one red eye, and its legs tense before it jumps straight out, fangs extended, toward your face, landing on your cheek as you try to turn aside. Venom slips into your veins, and a stiffness overtakes your limbs, and by the time the pill is climbing up your nose and drilling into your brain you cannot move at all.

And then you wake up.

Your wings outstretched, but not in flight. Each white, feathery appendage riveted through with a thick pin into a steel beam in the gory halls of Rutger Tower. Your head is heavy, and from somewhere behind your eyes the darkness of the room is lit up by a flickering, sputtering red light. The pounding in your head is so loud that you can't even hear yourself screaming.

Your mother is there, and she bends the heel of her hand backward, putting the cool skin of her inner wrist against your forehead. She turns, and in the rosy glow of her neck, in her ambrosial scent you recognize the Goddess. She beckons her husband, your father, who comes, limping, axe in both hands, and the pounding in your head yurns metallic, the clatter of arms and armor raucously endeavoring to announce the birth of the heir to the house of Ikarias. Metal strikes against metal somewhere between the hemispheres of your brain, and the sound waves nearly tear your head in two. Clank. Clank. Clank. Clank. Clank.

The axe arcs downward like the sun through heaven, diving into the sea of your hair and splitting open your forehead, skull and brain with one easy blow. And Hephaestus' gauntleted arm reaches into the crevasse, only to be grasped by the spider-like fingers of blood-spattered metal. And one by one the Cylons are birthed from your forehead, filling the room and forming their battle-lines, ready for conquest.

And then you wake up.

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