I find myself with Skuuinja, a Norchan, who also happens to be my daughter. She now works for the Confederation and wants to move in with me and Yal-hune. Her personality is far more human-like - which I suppose is not surprising - since humanity, unwillingly, assumes Norchanian personality characteristics when being overshadowed. I keep thinking Yal-hune must think this gives me a second chance with someone I let down. My life as a Norchan is vague, but there is an undercurrent there, a whole can of worms I don't really want to open up. I don't know if I am ready to see my life in the context of a series of lives. It is tough enough to deal with one life at a time.
While Yal-hune can pass for human with her pinkish hue, Skuuinja, with her bluish caste, could not. I also realize I am constantly running away from those I love. Kepra-la and now Skuuinja. Before the night is over I half expect the 3rd extraterrestrial will be some woman who I owe 50,000 years worth of alimony payments and whom I left in the lurch with 4 kids. It's funny, I don't picture myself as emotionally distant or isolated. Quite the reverse is true, I feel I am quite close to those I care about and share things at a deep level. Even now, part of me wants to get to know Skuuinja all over again and another resents the idea of being burdened by all she knows about me from our previous life together. I'm constantly being pulled apart by conflicting desires. I don't want to lose who I am now - by being reminded of all I was then, yet I can't run away from things that get uncomfortable either.
Skuuinja clearly has some telepathic abilities and unlike Yal-hune sees nothing wrong with reading thoughts - even those marked private. I watch her adjust her garment and remove some sort of device from her belt. It is Confederation technology as I saw similar devices on Tho-rey's vessel.
"I've been waiting for the extraterrestrial of Christmas present to teach me some compassion. Let's go."
Skuuinja smiles a smile that seems extremely familiar. Her blue lips arch and the corners extend and then reverse arch again to create a unique and quite appealing smile.
She depresses a button on the handheld device and we are being transported. In the blink of an eye we are outside a home, somewhere where it is snowing. Skuuinja has suddenly on a fur-lined parka which has a hood that covers her head and reveals only her face. She also seems less blue, and I don't know why. Make-up? Apparently as people are transported from place to place, clothes and make-up can be applied. Who knew? I also have on a thick lined wool trench coat.
"You ready to see Tiny Tim?"
"See that boy there? His name is Justin. He wrote a lot of science fiction stories and drew pictures to go along with them. He wrote a story for his 4th grade teacher that talked about aliens, Orkans, that lived on another world having a 'brain radio' that could speak into people's heads and control them. His parents didn't notice or bother to read the story. They were being overshadowed. The teacher thought it was not all that good and gave him a C plus. That story drew attention of the Norchan Overshadowing Supervisory Centre which tracked down who this child was, if he had an assigned overshadower and assigned one to him. They had his parents buy a Wii, and even went so far as to get one of his siblings to tell him his 'stories are stupid and a waste of time' - word for word what the overshadower whispered into her mind. Justin now has a full time overshadower whose job is to try to dissuade him every time he wants to do something creative, like write a story or work on his art. They even keep him from reading books. Justin hasn't written a story in 5 months. He used to write 3 a week.
"Why show me this? I can't do anything. And Yal-hune already showed me that everyone is always receiving feedback anyway. Justin is not going to be an exception."
"You might find it interesting that his 'brain radio' story included a man who knows about it and finds a way to sabotage the 'brain radio' transmissions - freeing the people."
"His name was 'Guy Tekk' and he works for IDSA - International Development Space Alliance"
"Surely a coincidence?"
"No, young Justin is quite inspired - or was quite inspired. This is just one example of how the global overshadowing manifests. The best an brightest are identified, monitored and overshadowed. Those around them are equally targeted and work to suppress them from expressing in a way that might change the status quo on Earth."
"Okay. What am I supposed to do about it?"
"Than why the trip?"
"You dislike things. YOUR overshadowers try to translate that into hate and even more biases. When you look around at the masses and feel they are acting like vegetables or worse - you fail to take into account that many of them are functioning while being suppressed. You never look at the masses and see them as they really are - masses carrying a gigantic burden on their shoulders!"
"Okay, so I forget that sometimes."
"Sometimes? Try almost all the time. Wit each person you meet, see, read about or hear about - you fail to remember this all important fact. You fail to see yourself as the byproduct of overshadowing. Even now, I converse with you - and your overshadowers who fight me and maneuver circumstances to thwart constructive progress."
"You're right. I don't see things as they truly are often enough. I do know that I fight the overshadowers who try to exploit emotions to get their way. Fighting those impulses is difficult."
"Yes. It is. However you know about them. Poor Justin there has no clue as to why his life is changing, why those around him don't appreciate his work and why he is being give 'good' feelings when he wastes time on the Wii or watching television. And Justin there was picked upon just a bit more because he seemed to intuitively know about whats going on."
"Did his story have a happy ending?"
"Actually it did. Guy Tekk and the IDSA jam the 'brain radio' and free the people."
"I can't jam the 'brain radio' though."
"What do you mean? Yal-hune already told me she wouldn't share that technology and that the technology was dangerous, because it could be used to do the same things here."
"You don't need to jam the signals with technology. The overshadowing signals simply add more 'thoughts' to the consciousness field. The person overshadowed can choose to reject those thoughts and act on their own better impulses. When one closely monitors ones consciousness and weighs the constructive impulses versus the destructive ones - one has effectively shut out the overshadowers."
"Each person has to do that on their own - I can't help them."
"Can't you? By putting this information out there, even just on your blog, you help inform many. Whether they believe you or not is unimportant, they have been exposed to the information and their consciousness knows its validity. And if you succeed in publishing a novel, even more will have this information - and be able to fight their own battles against the overshadowing forces."
"You know the Norchans better than anyone - why can't they be reasoned with? Why don't they just quit and leave humanity in piece?"
"Why do people continue to smoke even though they know it is harming them? Addiction. Why do the tobacco companies exploit the masses and promote death and suffering when they know that is what use of their products results in? They are selfish. Selfish people fundamentally express in destructive ways. The Norchans are both addicted to overshadowing others and are selfish. They care not a whit about humans, other than the pleasure they get from overshadowing them."
"Okay. So I should step up the promotional activities. Go full court press on the novel? Make this information available to as many people as possible all over the Earth?"
"Something like that. Use your consciousness and follow your own mind - it knows what it wants to do and if you act on these natural impulses, everything will work out fine."
"What about the overshadowers? Won't they try and make things more difficult, the more I publicize these things? Isn't it dangerous?"
"Don't forget, there are other forces at play. Whenever a Norchan crosses over the line they are stopped internally by both the Norchan governmental structures and other forces that constantly monitor this from other worlds."
"Norchans have internal limitations on what they can do?"
"Yes. Anyone who tries to seriously hurt the human they overshadow is immediately shut down. The overshadowers have supervisors and machines that restrict overtly malicious acts."
"Why? It certainly can't be because they care?"
"No. The Norchan government fears feedback and retaliation if they act in such overt manners. Not from Earth - but from other worlds that also overshadow, but regulate it. Our world itself is shielded somewhat from overshadowing signals. But like all technologies, new ways to bypass the shields are always being discovered. When you overshadow others, naturally, you fear others overshadowing you. This is the reason for the regulations. If you cross the line, other worlds feel you are fair game. Most average developed planets feel the same way about the Earth. They see overshadowing here as par for the human course. No one really feels for Earth, in the same manner your world never feels for North Koreans starving. If they support their government - they seem to deserve the outcome of that support."
As we watch, Justin picks up a paper pad from the small shelf in his room, where it had been stuffed between a pair of books, and starts to draw. Skuuinja looks at me and says nothing, but her black eyes can't conceal her joy. My eyes return to her this joy and she is now clearly thinking about something else. Something personal and more painful.
"I think you've seen enough."
Skuuinja depresses some buttons on her device and I find myself back in my bed, as if the trip hadn't happened. Skuuinja is nowhere to be found. The clock reads 2:01 which tells me time and space are clearly being manipulated this night.
I say aloud hoping she can hear it wherever she has returned to, "Thank you Skuuinja. I love you."