The Last Days of Coloc
by Oonah V. Joslin
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3, 4
Part 3: The Day of Onsy
Coloc, Grald and a few other Tellers were present early on the third day, Onsy. It was every youngster's favourite, because it was told how Tegral and the Companion travelled to the uplands through forests where electric arachnids scuttled amongst the trees, constructing strong shiny nets between branches to trap unsuspecting Polymorphs and drain their energy. What they did not ingest was left for the Graaagh.
And Tegral made his home near the dam and established this sacred place. Here the Companion and he hid their eggs amongst reeds that grew along the margins of the dam and watched them until a pair of small pincers broke through a shell. And then another, and Tegral named the offspring Onsy and Temsin.
The Tellers greeted the young Polymorphs in person and inspected their Onsy or Temsin masks. There were prizes for the best. It was a good way of keeping up with the groups, and they recorded genealogies for the data stream.
Later, mock battles would be fought against mechanical spiders. It was all for fun because co-operation was valued much more highly than competition. Actors dressed as exaggerated Graaagh. In reality it was difficult to tell a Graagh from a Polymorph until you got close enough for it to attack you.
There was however a deadness about the eyes, a lack of purposeful expression and clumsiness of movement that betrayed their lack of sentience. And there was a kind of translucence of the skin that distinguished the intelligent Polymorph from the baser Graagh.
Temsin had been the stronger, and his mask was full of eyes, for he had possessed the special ability to see beyond the visible spectrum into radiant darkness, X-rays, microwaves, infra-red and ultraviolet. And yet Temsin masks were ugly.
Onsy masks had a poor visual array but they were covered in bright, shiny things. Temsin had always been greedy and won most of the fights but, at the festival, offspring were allowed to compete honestly, and the winners in each category were awarded golden Onsy masks, for co-operation was valued above competition amongst Polymorphs.
Actors Ocat and Yste took to the stage as Teller Ide narrated the story of how Onsy grew weaker and weaker, “for Onsy did not see well, and Temsin was selfish and would not help his brother.”
Enter Onsy. They all cheered.
Enter Temsin, all eyes. Everyone booed.
“So weak he became that Tegral and Companion were concerned Onsy might die, like the early creatures who could not adapt. Tegral could not bear the thought of it.”
Dat, reprising his role as Tegral, hung his head in sorrow.
“So he spoke to Temsin.”
Yste took that part. “Temsin, you see better than any and have more eyes than most.”
“That is not my fault. I was born like it.”
“But might you not give Onsy an eye? Truly we fear for him. Give him your back eye.”
“But Temsin turned from his father,” said Teller Ide.
“Then who will see behind for me?” asked Temsin.
“We will all see behind, each for the other,” said Tegral.
“I like to see behind for myself,” said Temsin.
Again the audience booed.
“Come, only your back eye,” urged Tegral.
“Why should I do this?”
Dat wooed his audience. “Why should he do this, little ones?”
“Trust. Love. Friendship. Kin,” came the loud reply.
“I don't think he heard you!” called Dat.
“TRUST, LOVE, FRIENDSHIP AND KIN!” they yelled.
“You give me mere words,” Temsin hissed, turning towards the audience.
“He's not listening...” shouted Ide to the audience, who yelled the words even louder.
“But Temsin's eye glowed green with anger,” Ide narrated, and the whole stage was back-lit green.
Temsin, green-eyed and evil looking, took centre stage defiantly, and they all booed him.
Then Onsy entered, and a cheer went up. The actor had to settle them down to speak. “Father, I would not take Temsin's eye if he is in the least unwilling to give it.”
“There, you see? He doesn't want it!” said Temsin, and they booed again.
Onsy now took centre stage and spoke as if to the audience, though the speech was directed at Temsin, for this was his great moment. “You always interpret everything in your own favour, Temsin, but it may be that after all you do not see as well as I, for you only see what is round about you, but you never look within, where lies truth.”
The crowd went wild at Onsy's most famous speech.
Tegral raised a pincer for silence. “I see both my sons with new eyes now,” he said. “Temsin, if you cannot do this for love or kin, then leave my sight. You offend me. I'll see you no more.” Tegral pointed away with a great pincer and lowered his gaze.
“OFF OFF OFF OFF...” they all cried. And as Temsin slunk off, a Graaagh appeared from the wings and gave him chase.
“Those who live like Graaagh shall die like Graaagh,” said Tegral. “Come, Onsy, you shall have one of my own eyes and one of your mother's eyes, and we will watch over each other as one. Your brother has used you ill, but for the last time.”
Ide took up the story once again. “Temsin kept his back eye but spent all the rest of his days looking back, it is said, for he had lost everything that is of value. Yet Onsy the Meek's words were passed down through all generations, even to us and have become the first rule of all Technopolymorphs: Back-Eye Wisdom.”
The actors bowed deeply, and shouts of “ON-SY, ON-SY!” and great clacking of pincers followed them off.
Grald and Coloc took the stage for the Onsy Mask presentations. Adults cheered loudly as their offspring took the prizes.
“In second place, Alda son of Atab,” Grald announced, and the youngster came and took a silvery Onsy Mask from Coloc and bowed low to the crowd.
“And winner of the golden Onsy mask is Taba, son of Olo, son of Basew.”
The small figure stood before Coloc. “You are the grandson of Basew?”
“You have done well.”
“Thank you, Teller.”
“And Basew is well?”
“Yes, Teller, she is in the audience.” But when he turned to indicate the place, he could not see her.
“Ah, she is gone,” said Coloc. “I should have liked to see her again. You will tell her.”
“As you wish, Teller,” said Taba, and he took his mask and bowed.
“What was that?” asked Grald.
“A story from long ago that shall remain in the past,” replied Coloc. “Son of Olo,” repeated Coloc, “son of Olo...” And he searched amongst the faces and thoughts in the crowd but he could not find her.
Copyright © 2015 by Oonah V. Joslin