Batresh and David look for an apartment at Lafayette Square
David paid for her breakfast, “I have to lavish you with gifts so you let me decorate your apartment,” he teased her.
They found a newspaper at the restaurant and located three apartments. The one she liked most was located in a neighborhood called, Lafayette Square. There were houses from the 19th century, some crumbling, but others restored. A group of century old houses with Mansard roofs, arched windows and brightly painted exteriors looked promising. One of the houses had an upper floor that was for rent.
She tried to pay attention to the route he took. St. Louis was much bigger than Tupelo, and infinitely larger than Sekhem. After a short time, she gave up. Finally, he drove onto a wide highway. She wondered at the complex layout of streets here. How would she ever remember how to get from one place to another? Thinking of driving on these highways frightened her. They had taken an exit to Jefferson Avenue, turned right on Lafayette, then suddenly they were there.
Batresh was nervous. “Maybe we should have called first.” She stated.
“Naaaah, come’on, I’ll handle them.” He responded. She waited for him to come around and open the door for her, as Jerry had always done in Mississippi, but David simply walked up to the house. She opened the car door herself and followed him. He was ringing the bottom doorbell by the time she caught up with him. They stood there together.
He rang the doorbell a second time. She looked at the yard, evidence of flowers, now brown and dormant. She had not considered that winter would kill almost all plant life. She turned and looked behind her at a park. It was manicured, although she knew she could not see much now. There were clumps of trees and meandering sidewalks. Then, she heard the door open.
At the entrance stood a short, elderly woman who spoke in an accent Batresh could not identify. “We have come to look at the apartment,” David told her.
The old woman looked down at the sidewalk, then at David. She ignored Batresh. “Are you married?” she asked.
David laughed, “No Ma’am,” he turned and looked at Batresh. “My friend Miriam here, is looking for an apartment. She is a student at Wash U.” He turned and looked at the woman again. “She just arrived from the hinterlands.”
The woman looked annoyed. “From where?” She looked at Batresh. “Can she talk?” the old woman asked.
Batresh walked up to her and extended her hand. “I’m sorry,” she looked at David scoldingly, “I don’t quite know the streets and highways around here, and my friend is driving me around.” The old woman took Batresh’s hand. Batresh continued, “I’m Miriam Kaplan.”
“Ah,” the old woman said, looking into Batresh’s face, “a Jew.”
Batresh looked concerned, “Is that a problem?”
“Oh no,” the woman began to turn to the stairway leading upstairs, “At least you can pay the rent,” Batresh looked at David questioningly. David blushed deeply. “Come on upstairs.”
The woman made her way up the stairs to the second floor. Batresh and David followed her. Reaching the landing, the woman felt in her apron pocket for keys. She was grunting, breathing heavily. “Ah,” she groaned, bringing a key to the doorknob. She opened the door into a freshly painted room with shiny wood floors. She walked in. “It’s the whole floor,” she pointed down a hallway, “two bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen.”
David walked in, examining details. “I like this color,” he turned to Batresh, “What is it? Sage?”
“Green,” the old woman corrected.
David pouted and turned. Batresh followed behind him. The bedrooms were freshly painted. One was small and the other much larger. “I can use the small bedroom as an office,” Batresh said.
“Smart girl!” David responded.
David went into the bathroom and gasped. Batresh hurried in, afraid he had hurt himself. “Real, 1950s, pink and green tiles!” He sounded as if he were going to weep with excitement. Batresh did not get the reference.
“I’ll take it!” Batresh told him.
“What?” he responded. “Oh no you won’t, not yet! We have more apartments to look at.”
“But, I like this one,” Batresh looked at him with concern.
“You’ll take what I tell you to take!” He ordered, mockingly. She had a moment of recognition again, familiarity, bordering on insolence, combined with trust, a deep level of trust. She felt affection for him, the affection for a dear friend.
The old woman walked back to the entrance to the apartment.
“She will call you tomorrow,” David said to the woman.
“I hope it will still be available,” she responded.
Batresh looked at David with irritation. “I will call you this afternoon,” Batresh corrected.
They both walked out of the apartment and descended the stairway. “You have got this dominatrix thing down,” he said laughing. “On to Arsenal!” he commanded, referring to Arsenal Street.
They got in his car, “Remember,” Batresh said, “I have to buy a car too.”
David sighed and looked at her, “You are SOOOOOOOO demanding!” he laughed. Even though he could not remember her as he lived this life, she wondered if he sensed their former, friendship at 3800 BCE.
A short time later, they were pulling up across the street from a row of houses that faced Tower Grove Park. “Isn’t the park divine?” David asserted.
“It looks lovely,” Batresh said, beginning to grow weary of his constant, although familiar, desire to entertain.
They looked at the bottom floor apartment. The hardwood floors were scuffed, the wallpaper, old and stained. The only redeeming quality was the park across the street. Disappointed, they both thanked the aproned woman, and walked onto the porch. Batresh looked across the street towards the park. She saw someone jogging down a pathway in the distance. “I just love those gazebos,” David offered, looking towards a copper roofed structure in the distance. “You know, they used to hold band concerts there.” Batresh admired the red painted columns supporting the weathered roof.
“Now, to Soulard,” he stated. Batresh sighed, and looked at him as he drove. He continued ahead as if he knew exactly where to go.
“Are you from St. Louis?” Batresh asked him.
He nodded, but kept his eyes on the street ahead of them. “I grew up in the county.” He looked at her and could tell she didn’t understand. “That means the suburbs,” he laughed, looking back at the road. “But, I just finished a master’s program in Chicago.”
Batresh looked ahead of her, wishing she had insisted on taking the first apartment. “What did you study?” she asked.
“Piano,” he responded.
She knew of this instrument. In the memories implanted by downloads were many voice lessons, with various coaches in different cities. The instructors all played the piano during vocal exercises.
“Will you play for me, sometimes?”
“It’ll cost ya!” He responded, then looked at her guiltily. “Sorry, I know, I should get off the stage now.” He continued driving to an area where the streets were paved with brick cobblestone rather than asphalt. He parked and they walked up to the house. There was no doorbell, so he knocked. Batresh could see her breath now. It was getting cooler. They stood there for a minute or two, and he knocked again. “You know, there is an open air market over there.” He pointed northwards.
The door opened, and an older man, with no shirt stood there. David began, “We are here to see the apartment.” Then, Batresh and David smelled an odor of unwashed humans and urine.
The old man turned around and yelled into the house, “Dorthee?” He turned away from them, facing a stairway that led upwards. “Dorthee?” he yelled again.
David looked at Batresh, feigning fear. Apparently, Dorthee appeared at the top of the stairs. The old, shirtless man continued, “These two kids wanna see the apartment.”
They didn’t hear her say anything, but, the man turned back to them, sighed, licked the lips surrounding his toothless mouth, and stated, “Come on in.”
David hesitated, but, Batresh walked in.
“Ya’ll married?” he asked.
Batresh answered, “No.”
David shook his head negatively.
“Well, we are Christians here,” he looked at them disapprovingly. Batresh saw a cross wrapped in cobwebs above the opening to the living room. “We don’t allow no shackin’!”
We are just friends, “Batresh continued, as she began to walk up the stairs. She could smell urine, and there was another unpleasant odor she couldn’t quite place. She wanted to turn around and leave. But, she thought to herself mischievously, that she would make David walk through this unpleasant house as punishment for not allowing her to take the first apartment. She ascended the stairs, feeling the soles of her shoes stick to linoleum that was torn, stained, and curling. She hesitated to put her hands on the railing. She glanced back at David, and saw he held his hand over his face, trying to dilute the smell.
“Come on in,” they heard a woman at the top of the stairs tell them. Batresh reached the top. There, a middle-aged woman, wearing a bright yellow tank top and jeans stood in a small living room. The afternoon sunlight streamed through dusty, stained windows. Batresh looked into the woman’s face. She wore a foundation that was a few shades darker than her skin, blue eyeshadow, orange rouge, and red lipstick. Batresh could smell vinegar. The woman had been wiping the surfaces in this room with it. Several house flies flew around, feasting on the chemical. David came into the room behind Batresh. The woman continued, “They’s one bedroom, and a bathroom. The kitchen ain’t ready yet.”
Batresh nodded her head. David interjected, “Thank you so much. I think we have seen enough.” He took Batresh’s hand. “We will call you when we’ve made a decision.”
Batresh smiled, gleeful to have annoyed him. David brought his hand back over his face, and led her to the stairway.
Once there, he moved his face close to hers and whispered, “I’m going to throw up.”
Batresh laughed, as they descended.
After they left the house, David looked at Batresh squarely in the face, “I need a drink. And, I think you do too.” Batresh was silent, she was growing tired and annoyed. It was afternoon, and she didn’t feel like looking for a car. “Let’s go to Herbie’s.” He backed out of the parking space, and turned the car. “How will I ever get that stench out of my nostrils?”
Batresh was not looking at him or speaking. He turned on the radio. A man with a low voice was talking with a saxophone playing in the background, saying “Let’s just kiss and say goodbye.”
“I love this song,” David said, tired of being the entertainer all day himself. “I’m sorry,” he looked at Batresh.
She looked back at him and gave him a weary smile.
“I have this effect on people,” he continued.
Batresh looked out the window. It was midafternoon, traffic was increasing.
“I’ll be good, I promise.”
“I’ll bet you like classical music, don’t you?” he suggested. Batresh didn’t really know what he meant. He switched to a radio station where an orchestral piece was playing. “I bet you like this.”
Batresh noted mathematical rhythms and intervals. She enjoyed the convoluted patterns, repeated, turned upside down, and rearranged. She closed her eyes and fell asleep. She awoke when David switched off the car. He leaned over to her, very close and whispered, “Let’s have one little drink, then I will take you back to your dorm room.”
The sky was clouding over, it was even colder now. They walked across the street, and down a sidewalk, saying nothing. Batresh pulled her jacket tightly over her chest, trying to stay warm. She noticed a wig shop across the street. Chipped, plaster heads wearing blonde and brunette wigs were attached to unrealistically long necks. David opened a shiny, gray door, with a large rectangular window. Inside was a vestibule where a blonde woman wearing a tailored blue suit greeted them. Beside her sat another woman wearing a tight black leather jacket and skirt. She sat, cross legged in a wicker, fan backed chair. The seated woman stood, “Welcome back, David.” She kissed him on each cheek in the European manner.
“This is my new friend, Miriam,” David said.
The blonde woman shook her hand gracefully, “I’m Adelaid, Welcome to Herbie’s.”
They walked inside the club. Across from them was a gray, curved bar, dimly lit from above. Patrons nurtured drinks resting on a glass surface, lit from beneath. Five men and one woman sat at the bar, smoking cigarettes in a manner Batresh remembered from downloads. She saw memories of movies, Bette Davis holding a long cigarette in a gloved hand.
David pulled her to the bar. He leaned his left arm on the glass surface, and looked into her face. “Will you ever forgive me for that last apartment?”
Batresh looked back at David, “I will try,” she smiled.
The bartender, a handsome, tanned man with a blonde, closely trimmed beard approached them. “What can I do for you?” he asked David.
“You know what you can do for me,” David smiled and blushed. “But, in the meantime, we will have a bottle of champagne, the good stuff.”
“Shall I bring it to your table?” the bartender asked, smiling, entertained by David’s flirtatiousness.
Batresh looked around. At the front of the club, facing Maryland Avenue, was a bank of seats, covered with gray velour. Round, chrome tables were placed in front of a bank of seats. At the tables, were small, white and green rattan chairs. A male couple sat at a table, drinking and smoking. She saw a marble stairway leading upstairs to a dance floor. On the outer side of the stairway, was a chrome railing with geometric patterns. David took her left hand and led her back to the restaurant portion of the club. They walked up steps to a carpeted area. She remembered seeing the lighted, 19th century paintings of men from the street.
David sat on a benched seat. “We might as well have an early dinner. How does that sound?”
Batresh nodded. David stretched out his hands on the table in front of him. “So what brings you to St. Louis, from such a distant star system?” he joked.
She reached her hands out towards him, placing them on top of his. “I’ll tell you one day,” she replied with a smile both knowing and intense. She sent him an image of Denny from the rehearsal the night before.
David quickly withdrew his hands. Gasping, he moved away from her, against the back of the bench seat. “What,” he tried to speak. “What was that?” He seemed to know that the image came from her.
Batresh drew in a breath deeply and looked through the large, plate glass windows to her right. “The young man I am here to protect.”
David placed his hands on the seat, as if he was going to get up. His instinct was to stand, turn, and leave, right now.
“You asked,” Batresh offered.
“How did you,” he began, realizing he couldn’t leave, not without knowing what was happening.
Thinking of how it felt to receive the message, he recalled the image again. It seemed to be a short film clip, of a young man, sitting on, “…the stage of Powell Hall?” he asked incredulously.
“So, you know that building?” she responded. Now, she sent him a few words, telling him, “I can send words and images to you, but you can’t send them back to me.”
He sat there, looking into her blue eyes, asking himself whether this was really happening. He realized he was holding his breath. He let out a big sigh, and breathed in deeply, as if he were underwater and would have to hold his breath for an extended period.
Batresh leaned forward, reaching her fingers towards him. She sent another message, “You don’t have to be afraid.” She said, trying to be comforting. “Take my hand,” she told him.
Hesitantly, slowly, he reached his hand forward. She took his hand gently in her own. Now, she spoke aloud. “You have told me a lot about yourself,” she began. “I trust you, I know you,” she continued. She sighed again, a sigh of wisdom, “I know you better than you suspect.”
Tears rose to David’s eyes. He was stunned. He looked around to see if anyone else witnessed their exchange. But, why? Why were these images, and this woman’s words bringing tears to his eyes? What was happening?
Batresh held onto his hand, gently. “Don’t worry,” she whispered. “Don’t worry.” She stroked his hand with her own. “Everything is OK.”
A waitress walked up to their table, holding a silver bucket of ice. In her other hand, she held a bottle of champagne. She brought the bottle to David, so he could approve. As he looked up at her, a tear spilled from his left eye onto his cheek.
“Is everything OK?” the waitress asked.
“Everything is just fine,” Batresh said softly, comfortingly. “Everything is just fine.”
The waitress, young and masculine, with black hair tied behind her head, placed a white cloth napkin over the top of the bottle of champagne, and began to twist the cork. They heard a “pouf” and she withdrew the napkin and cork, pouring a small portion of the clear, bubbling liquid into the glass in front of David. He, with his hands in Batresh’s hands, was not aware of what was happening. He realized he was waiting for another message from her, from Batresh.
“Sir?” the young woman asked.
David looked up at her. He was far way, Batresh sent him comforting messages, telling him not to worry, telling him that he was good, telling him that everything will be OK. He felt as if he was dreaming.
“Sir?” the young woman asked again.
Finally, he realized she was waiting for him. He whispered, “Just pour.”
The waitress placed the bottle within the bucket of ice on the table, turned and walked away.
David reached over and took the bottle of champagne, filling his glass completely. Then, he took the glass in his hand, and drank it all in one gulp.
Batresh chuckled. “I’ll explain things to you,” she paused, then added, “slowly.” She smiled at him mischievously. “You need time to adjust.” She took the glass of champagne in front of her, and clinked it against his. “Cheers!” she offered. Then, she took her handbag, and prepared to stand, “I am going to call the landlord at the first apartment we saw today.”
“There’s a pay phone at the top of the stairs,” he whispered. “I’ll order a second bottle.”
Batresh stood, wondering whether she’d done the right thing. She clearly recognized him, recognized his Ka. She shook her head with wonder. The Hathors were amazing. They saw into the future, they knew where to place spirits, the Kas, of those who passed. She didn’t understand, but she knew it was arranged. It must be the increasing amounts of Tayamni DNA appearing in humans that allowed the Hathors to do this.
She stepped down onto the main level of the club and looked towards the stairway. She could see through the windows at the front, the sun was lower in the sky. The day was fading. More people were having drinks, waiting for dinner companions. She reached the stairway and looked up. There, descending was a tall, thin young man who could have easily stood in for Joan Crawford in her early years. He held a long, pink cigarette, in an even longer cigarette holder. He wore flared tan trousers and a beige shirt with a large collar, but he could as well have been wearing a satin gown from the 1920s. He saw her and looked away, regarding the other customers at the bar as if they were his audience, or his subjects, she thought. She stopped at the bottom of the stairs, allowing him to glide past her.
“I must know him,” she said to herself. Then, she turned, and ascended the stairway, making her way to the pay-telephone.
When she returned to their table, she saw David ordering another bottle of champagne from the waitress. “I think I just saw a film star from the 20s,” she offered.
David looked at her and pressed his lips together, “Oh, you saw Victor,” he responded.
She turned to look behind her, to see if she could still see him. “I called the landlord, the apartment is already taken.”
“So, who are you, anyway?” he managed to blurt out.
“You’ll see,” she responded, “Who is Victor?”
“Oh,” David answered, “She’s a mess!” referring to the young man as she.
Batresh could see there was a history between them. She looked up as the waitress brought over dinner menus.
“Our special tonight is boeuf tournedos,” the waitress began, “served with a red wine and mustard sauce,” Batresh looked into David’s eyes as the waitress continued describing the evening’s specials. She saw him look at her with fear.
Hyperventilating, David could feel his heartbeat in his neck. The restaurant swirled around him. He wanted to leave. But, he was afraid to stand, afraid to move. He was sitting as far away from Batresh as he could, pushing himself against the back of the bench seat.
“Do you mind if I smoke?” he asked.
Batresh noticed that someone was standing at their table. Looking up, she saw it was the apparition of the 1920s-film star.
“Gimme a cigarette doll,” David said nervously.
“I didn’t know you smoked,” Victor responded in a high-pitched voice. He reached into the handbag hanging at his shoulder and withdrew a chromed cigarette holder. It opened with a soft click. He withdrew a long, powder-pink cigarette with a gold foil filter.
“I don’t,” David responded, as he took the cigarette. Their new guest leaned over the table, and flicked a matching chromed lighter. “Have you met Miriam?” David asked, as he inhaled cigarette smoke.
“Why no, I haven’t,” Victor responded, with artificial formality. He bent at the waist, and took Batresh’s right hand in his, bringing it to his lips, as if to kiss it. He brought her hand to within an inch of his lips, and made a kissing sound. Then, he returned her hand. “Enchanted,” he continued.
At that moment, Batresh sent David a command, telepathically, warning him not to tell anyone what she revealed to him. David’s eyes widened.
“Are you having dinner?” Victor asked.
Batresh looked up at Victor, and noticed the stain of foundation on the inside of his collar. “Yes we are, she responded.” David looked at her, his eyes still open wide. He seemed to be frozen mid-gesture. “Would you like to join us?
Victor looked at the loose, art-deco women’s wrist watch on his arm, and responded, “My last bus leaves in just a few minutes, I had better go, or one of you will have to drive me home.”
Batresh looked at David, who still seemed unable to move. Victor sighed, “I see, my Prince Charming is not here tonight.” He smiled, turned and began to walk away, but then turned back to them, “I turn into a pumpkin in exactly ten minutes.”
Batresh sent David another message, telling him not to be afraid. Then, she reached her hand over his gently. “I will not hurt you.”
“Why do I get the feeling you are used to issuing commands, and being obeyed?”
Batresh stifled a laugh, remembering their relationship at Sekhem. “You are perceptive,” she responded.
David filled his champagne glass and downed it quickly.
“You are going to get drunk if you keep that up,” she told him.
“That’s the point!” he responded.
She remembered those same gestures, and the same look of surprise in his eyes, when she had forcefully given him a command at Sekhem. It was as if their close friendship had vanished, and he suddenly became her Vizier, serving at the whim of the royal family.
“I will tell you more,” she said. She felt compassion, but also mischievousness at her ability to frighten him. When they were children at the palace, he teased her mercilessly. As Princess, she enjoyed paying him back for the aggravation he had caused her. But, she loved him. It was she who insisted he be appointed Vizier.
The waitress brought over a dish of bread and softened butter.
“Could you help me choose a car tomorrow?”
“What about the apartment?” he asked.
“The apartment that you lost for me?” she teased, looking into his face with a smile to assure he didn’t feel threatened. She continued, “I might just stay at the dorm.”
“At Wash U?” he asked.
“I’m staying at Fontainebleau,” she responded.
He sat up straighter and leaned in slightly, “How boring!” He tried to regain his previous demeanor. “All women!”
She sighed, feeling both sorry for frightening him, and exasperated with his quips. “Back to purchasing a car,” she stated. “Will you help me find one tomorrow?”
David looked at her, regaining control, “Is that an order?” he asked.
She smiled enjoying teasing her old friend, “You may consider it to be.”
“Yes, your majesty,” David said, trying to assume his former campy manner. Then, he looked at her with a flash of recognition, as if he was accustomed to calling her Your Majesty. Not wanting to betray these feelings, he reached over and tore off a piece of warm bread. He thought it odd that following her command seemed natural.
He took a knife from beside his plate and spread butter on the bread. He simply looked at her, and stated, “You already know that I will, don’t you?”
Batresh couldn’t help herself, she threw back her head and laughed. Then, looked into his eyes, “Of course I do,” she responded, feeling the comfort of their old friendship.
David sighed, feeling less afraid. He put a piece of bread in his mouth. “Oh, do you expect me to spread butter on the bread for you too?”
She looked at him with authority and responded, “That isn’t necessary.” She took a piece of bread herself, “We wouldn’t want people to believe that you were beholden to me, now would we?”
David looked at her with fear again, feeling that in some way, he was beholden to her, and that he must obey. Then, he shook his head, telling himself that this was crazy. Looking at her face again as he chewed another piece of bread, he thought there was something familiar about. But he couldn’t quite remember.
“Have I seen you before today?” he asked.
Batresh withdrew a deep breath, “It was a very long time ago.” She looked to her right, through the plate glass window. She saw a small gray car stopping at the intersection in front of the club. “You would not remember.”
“Try me,” David responded sarcastically.
Batresh sent him another telepathic message, stating, “Do not try me.” She arched her left eyebrow, in the authoritative manner she had used when issuing him an order as Princess. “I will tell you, in time.”
David’s eyes grew large again, and he sat back. At that moment, the waitress brought their dinner.
“Let’s eat,” Batresh commanded. She had to work to refrain from calling him by his ancient name. She smiled at him confidently.
David narrowed his eyes, “Why do I feel like a mouse, being played with by a cat with very large claws.”
She looked into his eyes directly, “You don’t know how accurate you are.” She smiled wickedly.
After dinner, Batresh looked at David and thought she would until later to reveal their history. David paid the bill, and Batresh looked up at him, “You may drive me to the car I am using.”
Without saying a word, David stood, and offered his hand. She took it. Now, he offered her his elbow, to escort her to the car. He looked at her mournfully, and stated, “You know I can’t have a romantic relationship with you.”
She looked back playfully, “Do you think that is what I expect?”
“I have no idea!” he said, opening the passenger side car door for her.
“I am already mated, as you well know,” she responded.
“But, you told me you didn’t have a boyfriend.”
“I don’t,” she looked at him as he shut the car door.
When he entered the car from the driver’s side, he looked at her questioningly, as if he wanted her to continue.
“My Prince is not here now. But, you will meet him.”
David shook his head and quoted a line from a movie, “You sure are one crazy dame!”
He only had to drive a couple of blocks to her car. “What time shall I arrive in the morning, m’Lady?” he asked part obediently and, in part, sarcastically.
“Why don’t you pick me up at 9:00 AM at the Fontainebleau dorms.” She smiled, reached over to him, and kissed him on the cheek. “I do adore you, you know.”
David smiled at her and responded, “That’s comforting.”
As Batresh walked to the station wagon, she felt a vibration in her hand bag. She knew she was receiving a message from either the Lunar Base, or a Temporal Station. Once inside her room, she removed the bracelet from her bag, and put it on her wrist. “Yes?” she responded.
An unfamiliar voice, answered her in the Ancient Kemetic language she had learned as a child. She had never heard anyone use this language to communicate this way. Then, she recognized the voice. It was the Matriarch’s voice, but younger. A display appeared above the bracelet, showing the Matriarch in an environmental suit at the Solar Temporal-Portal. She was delivering a recorded message from the time before she died.
“My daughter,” the message began, “you are now on your second assignment, and have traveled to a time, wisely chosen by the Seven, that will allow me to continue my work. You have, no doubt, discovered, that your sister has been working many years longer than yourself, on more dangerous missions.” The Matriarch paused, looking at workers behind her.
She moved away from people standing near an 18th century pianoforte. Looking back at the recorder, the Matriarch continued, “You know you are twins, you and Namazu. You were created together, at the same ritual, from the same offerings, the same vibrations. But, you diverged as you came into being.” Batresh wondered when she had recorded this message.
Her Matriarch continued, “Namazu is, in some ways, stronger than you. She is a warrior. She can and will defend those she loves with wildness and determination. She will not fail.
“But, she will need you. Being so strong externally will leave an emptiness within her, an emptiness that will fill with loneliness and desperation. Your strength is internal. Your love will help her fill that emptiness. And, you will need her strength to protect you. In this way, you are each half of one whole. You need each other for completion. What you lack, she has in abundance. And, what she needs, you are able to give her, from a bottomless well of love and compassion.
Batresh noticed that the Matriarch looked more youthful than she had in the years before she grew ill, and realized that this message must have been recorded while Batresh and Namazu were children. The message resumed, “You were created to be my heirs. One day, you will be Matriarch of the Terran Mission, my dear one.”
Batresh looked at her reflection in the rear-view mirror of the car. The Matriarch continued, “Our house, the House of Uanna, was constructed for this purpose. We have been at Terra since humanity began, and we will be here until we are no longer needed. The purpose we serve is to bring humans to Genetic Compatibility, allowing them to develop their own, separate, and unique cultural characteristics.” She stopped and smiled at the recorder, picturing in her mind, her daughter, an adult now, hearing this message. “Their journey will be painful, full of glorious accomplishments, and horrendous failures. But, we will be here, the entire time, to help them, to guide them. To bring them to Compatibility.” Batresh nodded her head, as though her Matriarch were with her, here now, in this behemoth of a vehicle.
“Where ever the Seven have placed me, in which ever body, I will use what I have learned during thousands of millennia here at Terra. There are others like me, other Tayamni, who have allowed themselves to die, so that they can pass on to other bodies, at other times, and bring humanity to Compatibility, to the sacred force of Love.” The Matriarch paused and moved to a chair. She sat down and continued, “We will be placed in the bodies of those who are despised at the times they live; those who are considered to be loathsome; those who are oppressed, and hated. Through our actions, and our ability to love in the face of hatred, we will demonstrate the power, the transformative, healing force of Love.” Batresh drew a breath in deeply, thinking of Denny, and his father’s attempt to kill him. “Humans are capable of the highest forms of love we hold to be holy, while at the same time, capable of such incredible cruelty and hatred that you will be astonished.
“You will find, in your early missions, there are other races who wish to take this system as their own. They will work to destroy everything we have done. They hope to prevent humanity from progressing, so that whichever races come at First Contact will eliminate humanity. They hope the omnipotent creatures who will arrive at that future time, will view humanity as too corrupted to be salvaged. They will use First Contact as an opportunity to rid the Multiverse of us and to destroy humanity.
“Our warriors,” the Matriarch continued, “Tayamni like your sister, will defeat them. We will be successful. We are an older race. Our technologies, and our experience will defeat these enemies. But, it will be challenging. There will be failures. Some of us will die.
Her voice grew quieter, and she moved her face closer to the recorder, “In my next body, I will not know you. I will not remember our sweet family life together. But, there will be a spark of recognition. When I see you, I will, on some level, recognize that I love you and that you are important to me. When that life ends, I will return to you, as I am now, my beloved daughter.
“I encourage you to be strong, to have confidence, to believe in the goodness of humanity. We ourselves were once where humanity is now. Those we consider to be our Gods brought us to the Compatibility we now enjoy.
Batresh whispered the word aloud, to herself, “Compatibility.”
Her Matriarch continued, “Humanity will one day be where we are now. They will have missions, and strive to bring Love to other races in the Multiverse. This work will continue and continue, without end. All beings will come to know the blessings of Love.
“Until I see you again, my beloved child, take care of your sister. Help her to know she is not alone. Stay beside her. She will need you,” the transmission ended.
Batresh sat there, in a station wagon parked on Lindell Boulevard, still looking at the jeweled wrist band. She was stunned. She did not expect to receive a message from her mother. Did Namazu receive a similar message? Where was Namazu now in 1977? She had not known the Matriarch had planned these missions. How many missions would there be? She thought of the image of her mother, younger and healthier. She caressed the bracelet, as if it were the mother she missed so desperately.
“So,” she whispered to herself, “I will see her again, as she was?” She turned looking at the window, facing north. It was snowing again. The wind was stronger. She held her braceleted wrist up to her chest, closing her eyes. Tears stung at the corners. Now, she allowed herself to weep. She missed her mother, her sweet comforting voice. She missed her sister, who was who knows where? Her beloved mate, Amun. She didn’t even know where he was. Was he safe? Was he fighting an enemy somewhere? She didn’t know where Jerry was. Suddenly, she felt alone, cold, and afraid. But, then, she remembered Denny. “Yes,” she whispered, “yes.” She shifted in the seat, wiping tears from her eyes. She whispered to the wrist band. “Where is Denny?” she asked.
A pale blue display materialized above her wrist, resolving into an image of Denny, sitting on a sofa with Bob. Above the sofa was a drawing humans at this time would consider to be modernist. It consisted of thick, black curving lines, connecting with each other via horizontal bars, almost like the DNA double helix.
Bob was talking, “Queen Victoria herself attended a Gilbert and Sullivan opera,” he held Denny’s left hand in his. “When she realized that they were ridiculing the upper classes, she stood, famously announcing, ‘We are not amused!’ and walked out, with her entourage.” Bob and Denny both laughed. Batresh recognized her mother’s laugh, the way her eyes closed, her crooked smile. Batresh sighed with relief, realizing that she was right here, right now. And, she would see her at rehearsal again in a few days.
Batresh lay in bed. Her eyes were closed. She kept seeing the image of her younger mother. She wondered why she had been at the Solar Temporal-Portal. And, why was she wearing an environmental suit? How long ago was this message recorded? Had she just brought them as infants, from Mussara? She opened her eyes and saw snow falling outside. The window was large, and it was getting colder. The steam-radiator pinged delicately. Closing her eyes again, she saw David, as he had appeared at dinner tonight. She smiled, remembering that she had almost called him his ancient name, Rekhmire. She imagined him as he appeared now, wearing a miter, yellow robes, carrying a staff, but sitting at the booth at the restaurant. She laughed softly. She thought she would get up to look out the window to see if the snow was accumulating. She opened her eyes again, and gasped. There, bending over her, was the same middle aged woman she had seen a few nights before. This time, the apparition was not as transparent. The older woman wore a uniform. Batresh was stunned! It was her Matriarch’s sister, the woman who was executed at Kiev. She sat up in the bed, half expecting the apparition to vanish. But, she did not. She remained standing in front of her.
“My Matriarch,” Batresh whispered. Now, the woman, moved closer, and looked at Batresh curiously, as though she were trying to remember something. “You are our Matriarch,” she said. Now, the woman looked at her with astonishment. Her mouth opened, as if she were surprised. Then, she vanished. Batresh sat up in the bed, and swung her feet over the edge. She stood, and walked to the dresser to the suit case. “Contact the Elders,” she ordered. The display appeared, and an image of a woman in an environmental suit materialized. “I have seen the Matriarch,” Batresh whispered.
“Which Matriarch?” the Elder asked. “Is this Batresh?”
“My Aunt. My mother’s sister, the one the Tlalocs executed.”
“Where?” the Elder asked directly.
“Here, in my dorm room.”
“Have you seen her only once?” the Elder continued.
“I saw her last night as well, but I thought it was a dream.”
“You are her family,” the young elder pressed a disk on the platform in front of her. “It makes sense she would be drawn to you.” The Elder was looking at a corner of her display, apparently communicating with others. “Place sensors around your room. Let us know if you see anything more.” She looked up, above the screen, as if she was communicating with someone standing in front of her. “We will be there tomorrow, since it is the middle of the night for you.”
Batresh nodded, and the communication ended. The Matriarch was not dead. The Tlaloc weapon had damaged her Ka, but not destroyed her. Batresh sighed with relief.
She went back to her bed and sat down. She brought her right hand to her forehead, and pushed her hair away from her face. “Two Matriarchs in one night,” she said to herself, remarking on both her mother’s communication, and her Aunt’s appearance. She sighed, and lay back onto the bed, closing her eyes.
The next morning she was awakened by the phone on the nightstand next to her bed. “Hello?” she said, wondering who would contact her.
“Your majesty?” David’s voice asked sarcastically.
Batresh sighed, and chuckled, “Yes, Vizier?”
David was silent on the other line for a moment, feeling awkward at having recognized her voice from a time he could not remember.
“I’m standing downstairs with two other women who say they know you.”