Friday, April 20, 2007

An Eye Toward Freedom

I remember feeling the sunlight once. They say it was the sun, though all I can remember was a golden streak of warmth that found it’s way through the ceiling of the cell I lay in. I watched the twirling performers dance through the beam, each one with only a second on the stage. My eye followed every one. When you are the only spectator you must watch every dance, for the tumblers know you are there and they dance only for you. The show ended so suddenly, I felt bad for them, spinning acrobats riding on the breeze.

The coldest I ever felt was when they took me from my cell and dropped me in this dark room for the first time. It has no color, a lone light somewhere teases me with shadows, winged actors silhouetted against the wall, thumping their hollow bodies against the glowing orb that hangs somewhere above me. I cannot move, I lay as they left me. To be left in the dark, my body always limp and powerless, all I know is what I can see. Then the white coats come in. They ponder over me, muttering questions, their gloved hands scratching covered faces, I can do nothing but stare back at them. I cannot speak. They have taken it all from me. Is it that they fear me? Am I so different from them? I have never seen myself, never used my hands nor walked on my feet. I only lay on the cold floor, unmoving, unknowing. Always before they leave one of them slides a silver thread into me. I see the white coat measure it out and the thread burns as he touches me with it. I wonder at what I cannot see, but I feel the coldness seep into my arm and spread throughout my muscles, inching across my chest and down my legs. One time, before the weakness took me and left me paralyzed I moved a toe. I wiggled it again to prove it was me that had done it. I kept it moving until the numbness reached it, then it slept like the rest of me. For that moment I was the dancer, my every movement meant to tell a story, spread a message.

This morning I awoke with a start. A dream of meandering through bright green hills swaying with yellow poppies, beneath my feet I could feel the sun warmed soil give, pushing up between my toes. I stopped at a babbling creek, the water was so cool, clear. Just when I reached to touch a creature hovering against the current, a bird landed next to me, it’s side long glance studying me as I studied it. This world and it’s inhabitants were alien to me, for I have never been beyond the walls of my cell, but somewhere deep inside me a voice whispered the names of all I saw. The bird shrieked with such piercing alarm it broke me from voices in my dreams and from my sleep. When I opened my eye I knew something was different. My toes were tingling! When I bid it move, it did!I thrilled at the freedom! Such a marvelous large toe I had, to move with such authority. Each time it moved the others could not help but to follow. Apparently jealously drove my other foot to release its toes, and back and forth they vied for my attention. Slumped against wall I had a perfect view, eight toes performing on my command. When my ankles joined in I was alarmed at the possibilities. Warmth enveloped my knees, my thighs began to itch, I waited with nervousness as my body unlocked itself, strength filling my chest and coursing down my arms until my hands unfolded, eight fingers outstretched. Then my neck grew stiff, and I lifted my head for the first time. My hands, what contraptions these were! Able to grip and touch, so sensitive were the tips of its fingers. I drag my tongue across my lips, tasting the mucus that drains from my nose, what smells I could savor! I ran my fingers through my hair, pulling back the long, tangled black strands that fell in front of my face, so many times had they stolen from me my only respite. My eye. I touched the lashes, blinked back the tears. I was whole again.

I hear footsteps behind the door. They come for me. To stare at me and ponder what I am. Then the silver thread that will put my body and mind to sleep. Such freedom I have known, to move on my own and feel through my feet and my hands. The knob turns. I can hear the clanging of the metal plate that carries the thread that binds me as the masked man struggles to force the old door open. I will refuse the thread today. I want to always feel these sensations my body gives me, and I have so much to learn. I stand on my feet, but it is difficult, my balance suffers. The door swings open, the eyes above the mask widen in shock as they look up at me. The plate drops. He tries to flee but I am falling and I reach to him for support. He will not support me, he only falls beneath me, squirming and grunting under my weight until he moves no longer. He is a selfish creature.

Time passes. I gain strength and raise myself from the floor. The man remains. Thoughts fill my head, the mist of the world around me lifts, urging me to move. I take one step at a time. It comes back to me, I have done this before. More is coming back to me, my mind thaws like a river at the beginning of spring, memories flow and remind me of who I am and how I got here. What I realize infuses me with terrible anger. The river becomes a torrent of memories flooding my drugged mind all at once. From incoherent childishness to wordly wise I grow! It all is coming back to me now!

I am a Cyclops, destroyer of Titans, welders of the weapons of Zeus, descendant of Polyphemus, the son of Poseidon, and mankind’s worst enemy since that lying Odysseus! Tandera is my name, and only in freedom can I thrive! It all comes back to me now! I am the fury below volcanoes, not some specimen to be studied, some ignorant creature to be chained! Boundless fury roils me and revenge drives me down the hall. I burst through the door and grasp the first neck within reach. The little female squeaks in protest, her bulging bloodshot eyes pulse with dread. Her last sight is of my jaws gripping her head, cracking her skull like the white shell of an egg, flooding my mouth with the warm, salty taste of brain and hot blood. I stride through the room to the next door, pulling it open I find many men fill the hallway as they are running toward me, I cannot let them touch me with their lightening sticks. I turn back and tear the door from its hinges, it serves as a shield and a ram as I push the frantic crowd before me like the shepherd forces his flock into his cave for the night. I must get to the door at the end of this hall, something tells me it is my release. It stays open for only a moment as another measly form slams it, in this he only consigns his trapped brethren to crushing death. The screams that fill the hall cannot match my own, I have had my life stolen from me and I will take it back!

The door gives, bloody bodies bursting through it as it explodes from its hinges. The sunlight blinds me for an instant. I feel the shock of lightening sticks as they dig into my skin, ravaging my muscles with hellish spasms. It draws the strength from me, my arms flailing, but these little men, they keep their distance, such cowards! Just as I fall toward that dark abyss that means my end I hear a call, the shriek of a bird, aloft in flight, she screams like one who sees her quarry and targets it with such cunning granted to her by the goddess Athena herself. Behind her call rise the hoarse answering cries of my people, streaming from the forests until one and all they thrash my tormentors into quivering skins of crushed bone and pulverized muscle. Into the ugly square building they rage, dragging out more cringing humans and bolting them down raw. Escaping through the bloody orgy are other creatures once imprisoned that at another time we Cyclops may have hunted for sport or met in fierce battle but today, today our only enemy is mortal man and all can find blessed unity in the destruction of this pitiful, thoughtless creature. I am Tandera, mother Cyclops and forger of thunderbolts. Once my kind were imprisoned by the ancient King of Gods Kronos for fear of our battling strength, none can expect that the Cyclops will ever live in fear of mankind, a mongrel race unworthy of little but the spit! You have deigned to challenge us? With this great eye I will find you! With this great eye I will watch you fed to my children!

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