Write On!

The Transfer

In Responses on January 26, 2012 at 5:27 am

 by Tara Wiley

Corazonians always get a little uneasy this time of year. The lavender air unique to their  planet seems to crystallize in the cooler temperatures, making it a bit difficult to breathe despite their highly developed respiratory systems. They compensate with special masks made to fit snugly around their large, heart-shaped noses. The masks gently warm the air before it reaches their pale, soft skin. This complex, heavy air then winds through their nostrils lined with unique filtering capabilities, reaching deep into their large lungs which wrap protectively around their hearts. Each individual breathes a bit deeper, a bit more slowly. Indeed, the entire planet seems to slow in anticipation of The Transfer.

Corazonians are a highly evolved species in many ways. Their strong, dense bone structure and thickly sinewed musculature gives them an advantage over their many enemies on Lapilandra. Groupings of clans can reach into the thousands, particularly along the more mild equatorial regions. The social constructs within these clans are diverse and far-reaching, creating a strong sense of community and protectiveness which makes assimilation of outsiders quite difficult. Along with each clan’s own complex language, they have a unique ability to discern language patterns unlike their own and are usually fluent in several languages before reaching full maturity. This means, despite their tendency to group together, they are quite knowledgeable about other species on Lapilandra. Their intelligence, coupled with their strength, has raised them to a level far superior to any species, and they do, in a sense, rule the planet entirely.

Their one heavily guarded secret, the reason for their close-knit community, is their one great weakness: their fragile hearts.

A Lapilandrian year is the equivalent of 70 Earth years. It is also the average life expectancy of each Corazonian, if his or her heart lasts that long. This means that few Corazonians live through all the seasons of Lapilandra. No Corazonian commoner has ever lived through two Transfers.

Royal Corazonians, on the other hand, live at least four Lapilandrian years. The reasons given for this are as varied as the number of clans, but all stories hold one thing in common: at some point, a clan of Corazonians intermarried with another species, now nonexistent, which had superbly powerful hearts, able to withstand many more months, even years, of life. This new mixed species became the Royals, because their power extended through generations and created a continuity among the clans. They are judges, considered wise because of their experience. They are historians. They are teachers. They are kings and queens, parliamentarians, clan leaders. They are demigods.

And only one Royal knows the full truth about The Transfer.

The commoners know three things: The Transfer is a time of leadership change. It is a time to mourn. It is a time to celebrate. Each of these aspects is honored on three separate occasions over the course of 30 days. The Transfer season  begins when the current Supreme Ruler announces his or her successor, always a Royal substantially younger.  Curiously enough, the Chosen One is rarely the current Ruler’s offspring.

An elaborate ceremony accompanies this announcement, to which all Corazonians are invited. The Capitol City swells beyond its capacity, spilling out into the countryside. Food is provided free of charge for all attendees, and the events are broadcast across the lavender sky for all to witness. No one but the Supreme Ruler knows who will be chosen, not even the other Royals. Possibles line up across a highly decorated platform. Hours of public interviews, deliberations, and demonstrations of ability play out for all to see, until just as the Suns begin their setting, the Supreme Royal rises to place a bouquet of approval in the selectee’s arms. The next hours involve partying that will only be outdone by Celebration Day, when the Chosen will take the position of Supreme Royal.
Between these two celebrations comes three weeks of mourning. Any artificial light or music of any kind is forbidden. All Corazonians remain indoors, fasting during daylight hours, then breaking fast in the evening with heavily salted bread and water. They never see their current Supreme Ruler again.

The week of celebration breaking the fast is loud and extreme. Brilliant fireworks light the sky day and night, a rainbow declaring a new era. No one works except the Hosts who provide entertainment, food, and endless opportunities to party. A special drink, offered only during this week, fills the Corazonians with a boost of energy that makes sleeping unnecessary, so that no one misses a single moment of revelry. The new Supreme Ruler appears on the final day of celebration with a commencement address, again broadcast for all to see across the sky.

The party ends, and  all common Corazonians return to life as usual, blissfully unaware of the sacrifice that has been made for the continuation of peaceful Rule.

******

Brescencia could not sleep. She tossed and turned in her palatial bed. She tried resting in the silk hammock, under the myriad stars, but they seemed to be pressing down upon her, the weight of their millions of years of existence crushing her. Sleep would not come. She would swim instead.

On this longest night, she requested to be alone – as alone as a Supreme Ruler can be. Her attendants kept a respectful distance, but she was aware of them nonetheless. At least, in the water, their presence would be muted. She would not hear their struggling breaths as the crystalline atmosphere caused them to labor. She covered herself in a full-body Crutan suit to shield her from the dropping temperatures and slipped into the glittering crimson pool.

Long, slow, fluid strokes belied the fierce battle that raged within her spirit. Generations of Transfer memories, sealed in her heart, bombarded her every thought. Somehow her spirit knew to keep these locked away until the time came when they would be necessary. Now she saw them against the lids of her eyes at all times day and night. When she first saw what was to come, she took to her bed and barely moved from a tight fetal position for days. The attendants murmured concern, but she gave no reason for her behavior. It was hers, and hers alone, to bear this revelation.

Until the memories came, she had been planning to choose her brilliant son Luracas as her successor. He was the obvious choice. The current generation of Royals left a bit to be desired in her opinion. Each Possible held a glaring flaw, a weakness she could not ignore. Porentia was bold – and with her boldness came rashness that would not do. Creagan was wise, but slow to act. He would not bring the strength and swiftness needed should calamity arise. And she felt in her bones that danger was near. Gracina was most like Brescencia, and it was that very alikeness that made Brescencia doubt her. She knew her flaws like the veins lining the back of her aging hands. No, Luracas was the one her species needed.

The truth hit her again so hard that she choked on a sudden inhale of water. Instantly attendants were by her side, drawing her from the pool, striking her back as she spewed  water and phlegm from her mouth. Instantly the bile was cleaned away, and she quietly requested a return to her quarters, where she quickly dressed, then gathered up writing utensils.

Dear Luracas, my only son, my heart,

I cannot bear what tomorrow holds. I know in your spirit you know you will be chosen. There is no other choice. You are called to this mission. A time of trouble is coming to our people, and they will need you desperately. They will need your strength, your tenacity, your problem-solving. They will need your charisma, the way you charm an angry group of dissenters into agreeing with your wisdom. They will need your love.

Oh Luracas, I am breaking inside from the weight of all I will place in your hands tomorrow. We will have some time to talk, to prepare, before The Transfer is complete. I am glad. There is much to say.

I have one request of you, my love. When we enter the Transfer Room, no tears. I willingly accepted my calling as Supreme Ruler. I willingly give my heart to you. You do not understand now what I am saying, but you will one day. Thankfully, you will be spared the memory of this until the time is right for you, as it is for me this night.

My great comfort is this: You will outdo me. You will take on this burden as a light cloak. You will find joy in bearing the history, the weight of it all, as you find joy in all things.


Read this, and know my love for you exceeds my life itself. Then burn this letter, my love, and prepare for Choosing Day. You will be radiant.

With all my heart,

Your Mother

Brescencia drew a shuddering breath, kissed the vellum paper as though kissing her own son’s soft cheek, and gave it to an attendant to deliver.

Then she lay on her bed and allowed the painful memory to saturate her once again:

The second week of mourning. The Supreme Rulers of generations past paraded in front of her, each with a chosen successor walking alongside in the corridor leading to the Transfer Room. Inside, the two stripped and lay on parallel stone tables. They placed sheets over their bodies, one covering all below the heart, one covering all above, even their heads. This was to protect the Attending Surgeons from knowing who they were, what was really happening. As far as the surgeons would know, they were completing the transfer common between an excelling surgeon and his apprentice, again unknown to commoners.

Then, the Surgeons entered. He and his apprentice, and only two other royal attendants, would complete the Transfer. The head Surgeon made the first incision, while the apprentice did the same at the second table. No words were spoken as the Head Surgeon took the ancient heart, filled with the Supreme Ruler’s spirit and all the memories of all before, and placed it, beating still, into the chest of the Chosen One. The Supreme Ruler lived no more. The Chosen One’s heart was extracted, the new ancient heart taking on the veins and arteries, pumping a new life through the body of the new Ruler, filling that One with a changed perspective, calling, being.

*****

The Transfer was complete.

Luracas saved his tears until after, when he requested to be left alone for the Burning. He wept over his mother’s body, wept like a small child lost in the dark. Then, as the blood continued to flow and the memories began to fill him, the calling began to fill him, and he found his center. A giving and receiving of the highest form, a life for a life, and his mother gave hers for him. For their people. He would honor her as she requested.

He poured the oil over her body, lit the sheet, then turned and walked away, away from this past and forward into this new ancient future as Supreme Ruler.

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  1. A dark side! Tara has a dark side! And I was riveted. It reminds me of Sparrow but different, just as meaninful and now I want lavender air!!! Loved it 🙂

  2. I love this, Tara! Love it! You introduced me to C.S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet, you know, way back in high school. 🙂

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