For weeks we lived day to day, moment to moment, in a state of bliss. With the attraction acknowledged, and alien-human relations consummated, the remaining barriers were down. I was less extraterrestrial and more Chan’s lover. She was less species to be researched and more my reason to exist. I began to talk, and talk, and with each word came more recollection of the planet I had left. Whether I had left by choice or involuntarily I still did not know, but my memories took wing as I told Chan of the endless forests and sudden mountainous verticals out of which we had hewn our dwellings, once life among the trees began to be thought of as overly primitive. I told her of being young and flying alone for the first time through these ancient forests that were once our habitat and now were our playground. The trees there that grew on a scale whose greatness was in equivalent ratio to us as the average tree to bird size here on earth. I told her in a voice of sorrow and shame that there were no other winged species – archaeological records showed that there had been once, and among evolutionary biologists arguments still raged as to whether we or some other natural force had killed off these potential rivals. Secretly we all knew in our hearts what the answer was; the wars we had fought with our interplanetary neighbours told us all we needed to know about our natural bellicosity.
I told Chan of flying through the tops of those trees and meandering beneath them; of tight spots with beasts of prey whose earthbound heaviness we would dare ourselves against, risking our limbs were we to find ourselves trapped from skywards escape by a web of criss-crossing low-hanging branches. I told her of the tribes that still lived in the trees, preferring the freedom and the light, suspicious of us cave dwellers and how far we had dug ourselves into the mountainous massed of rock that was the contrasting inorganic substance of our planet. The young were excepted in this regard, for curiosity on both tree- and cave-dwelling sides had not yet been quite extinguished. Unlikely friendships blossomed across this divide like a vast forest of flower-vines, and secret courtships were warily undertaken despite that each such instance of love was doomed and in all senses finite. How blessed was I now to feel that this new love of mine and Chan’s had no restrictions, was seemingly without end; but I did not speak my happiness out loud for fear of ill-fortune or hearing from Chan in reply a note of contradiction, however small.
I told her of flying above the crystal plains of the mountainous regions, eyes part-shielded from the glare produced by the sun reflecting off the quartz slopes, their semi-translucence smoothed into waving rolls by prehistoric geological forces of unimaginable magnitude; of how our wings caught flashes of purple and green as we swooped low across them. When she asked me who I had flown with, I made light of the fact that I could not remember, returning to the question only when the spirit of Eden we had found became the everyday state in which we lived and I began again to wonder about the purpose that had brought me to earth. What was it? Surely I had not been sent to Earth just to please one of its inhabitants.
Finally I told her of the cathedrals of light we had built by tunnelling into the dominions of quartz and in so doing creating vast rooms separated from the sky, the sun and the moons only by a thin thickness of translucent roof. These rooms, their expanses bathed in light tinged with grey, green or violet were where those of us with an inclination to do so worshipped, or governed, or performed, or lived, if you were rich or powerful or both. I could not recall that I was well-off or that I possessed any kind of authority; increasingly I began to feel that I was here on earth because I was expendable.
It was when I could not imagine life without Chan that the nightmares began, waking me each night with what became habitual and disorienting terror. In the quiet before dawn, once she had soothed me, I told her what had caused me to wake clutching at my shoulders and screaming in pain.
‘I dreamt of the severance of my wings. There was a blade – a sharp one – wielded by the claws of my own kind – strong they would have to be to cleave through the muscle and tendon which connects wing to body. Their faces betrayed no emotion, no concern or malice – just a strength whose violence was concentrated on one end – the ultimate crime for and against us, short of taking a life. To take the wings of a fellow Badezon – that’s not how we are at all, not now…’ I shuddered, and made as if to shelter myself beneath the wings that I no longer had.