I wish to tell you of the dream I had one afternoon while sleeping after a most grueling period of writing computer codes. It was the most peculiar dream I ever had. While I slept I dreamt; and in my dream I saw myself resting against the low bough of a mango tree and staring at my sleeping self. As I stared at my sleeping self I was a little startled to see a little boy on a big pony come riding out of a large gorse bush beside me. The little boy was going to ride past me but I reached out and took the pony’s rein. The pony stopped, raised its left front hoof and stomped hard on my feet. I let out a cry of pain but did not let go of the rein. The pony lifted its hoof for another blow but the little boy suddenly leaned forward and whispered into the pony’s ear. The pony raised its brow in surprise and looked at me with great interest, turned to glance at my sleeping self and then looked at me again. It shook its silver mane in wonder, gave a short whinny and was silent. Then the little boy looked straight at me with brow raised in question.
“What are you doing in my dream?” I inquired of the child. “I know my sleeping self over there is not dreaming of you but only of me, but here you are! You have no right!” I said a bit reproachfully.
“Both you and he,” the child said pointing sideways to my sleeping self, “are in my world. I choose to come and go as I please when it is most appropriate. So be kind enough to release me because I have more places to visit and I really must be on my way now.”
“I will do no such thing,” I said firmly, fastening the pony’s rein around my hands and holding on tightly. “I have a deep inexplicable feeling about you and I fear I may never see you again.”
“So you intend to keep me here forever?”
I suddenly began to feel dizzy and willed myself to think clearly but my mind was becoming more and more sluggish as though I had been tranquilized. But I refused to give in to the incredible lethargy that tried to pull me into blackness. I did not really understand what was happening or why I did what I did, I only had the gut feeling that it was the best action to take. I thought the pony gave me a seeming look of approval or encouragement.
“So what do you want?” the child demanded looking now at my sleeping self. The phone in my sleeping self’s pocket was ringing and vibrating, and my sleeping self was beginning to stir. I became dizzier and fought harder to keep awake. The child spoke in a terrible language I did not understand. The pony lifted its hoof and stamped on the ground and the ground trembled, not violently but deeply and gently, like the purr of a tiger. My head cleared and I saw my sleeping self smile in sleep.
“What do you want from me?” the child inquired gently the third time.
“Give me something, anything.” I blurted out not knowing what to ask at that curious moment but rightly suspecting that anything that strange and wonderful child gave me would be good.
“I have nothing to give you now except my story,” the child said. “Will you like to know it?”
Anything was better than nothing, so I said “Why not,” and then “Yes, please,” when I saw his look of disapproval. I stood waiting to hear the story and the child sat as though in deep thought, occasionally stroking the silver mane of the pony. Then he beckoned on me to come nearer and touched my forehead with the tip of his fingers. Then as sudden as a flash of lightning or switching on of a light bulb in a dark room, the whole story came to me.
There is a planet in the Abell galaxy of another world that is home to a colony of human like beings. The place they call home has many similarities to the planet earth such as one sun, one moon, and several planets in their solar system. There is both plant and animal life, although the plants and animals there are completely different from what we know on earth. But by far the major difference was that the people of that strange planet breathed only once a year.
At the appointed time a comet would fly above the land at tree level and wherever the comet passed it left oxygen in its wake. The lowest point the comet reached had become the city square and at the coming of the comet the whole people gathered there. The wake of oxygen from the comet lasted for about half a day and at such times the people took really deep breadths without breathing out in return. They simply continued breathing until all the oxygen was depleted, and then each of them returned to his home and his business. They called the coming of the comet and the ritual of breathing Qurous.
Just before each Qurous the people came together, cut down Xihi trees and roasted and ate the sweet fibrous matter of the trees - a restricted delicacy due to their few numbers. It was at these festivals that communication was at its peak for each one could safely use up their stock of oxygen to make place for the new. Then they sang and told jokes to each other. But after the Qurous everyone immediately became silent and went about their various businesses. This was due to the fact that the more they spoke the faster depleted their store of oxygen. Those who were completely depleted were in danger of turning into a heap of ashes. The only remedy from certain death according to legend was catching a Lyonette and performing the required ritual with it in order to obtain its oxygen. The Lyonette was a rare and elusive sheep like creature with two deceptively small wings. They were said to fly faster and higher than any eagle and were wiser than any other creature. They seemed to fully understand the role they played in the people’s lives and avoided them.
There was a farmer who was one of the few that cultivated the Xihi tree. About three months before the next Qurous his third son had spoken at length to the city elders and guards after the use of the normal signs and gestures had failed and time was running out. What had happened was that a Bagama bird had carried a child to the mud bank and was digging its hole. If the child was not saved within the hour he would be gone forever, devoured by that most loathsome man eating bird of prey. The farmer’s son had described the location of the mud bank to the elders and guards; they acted immediately and the child was saved. But now the farmer’s son lay on his bed staring bleakly at the ceiling. In his eagerness to see the child saved he had used up most of his store of oxygen. The next Qurous was three months away but he had oxygen to last only seven days. His mother wept because her son was as good as dead and only a miracle could save him.
“Oh! That we should get a Lyonette,” she cried.
“Dear you know that is as good as impossible,” the farmer communicated using hand signs and staring sadly at his son. He shook his head and sacrificed some oxygen to curse the Bagama birds. “The last time a Lyonette was seen I was still a boy and you were not yet even born. Sometimes I question the existence of these creatures. Could there really be a creature like the Lyonette? Are those legendary tales true? I remember clearly that the man who claimed he saw the Lyonette said he had seen it grazing on his farm from a distance. But by the time he sneaked to the spot the creature had vanished.”
“I know they exist.” His wife communicated.
On the night of the sixth day the boy lay panting for breadth, his body becoming hot like with a severe fever. He thought over all that had happened and knew he had done the right thing. If he had not explained the way he had to the elders and guards the child would have been killed. But he didn’t want to die. With tears in his eyes he whispered into the night “Oh Lyonette, if you are out there I wish for you.” Then he smiled bitterly at his wish because he foolishly imagined that a Lyonette, if it even existed, would somehow come into his room and offer itself in sacrifice so he could live. Still crying he fell asleep.
It was midnight when he suddenly awoke and felt there was a presence in the room with him. It was dark and he could see nothing.
“Who is there?” the boy asked, his heart pounding wildly.
“It is I.” a voice replied.
The boy sat up and saw two golden eyes at the foot of the bed regarding him. He fumbled furiously for his torch and lit it. And there it was.
The Lyonette said nothing for a moment and stared at the boy as his look of terror gave way to bewilderment, then fascination and back again to terror. Then it said,
“You did well in wanting to help the child. I place before you two options. The first is your mothers wish that the ritual be performed with me so that you can live. The second is that a ritual I will instruct you on how to perform will be done with me so that all your people will no longer depend on Qurous for life. But note that if you choose the latter I cannot guarantee you survival personally. Whatever choice you make I will be here tomorrow to hear it. But I advise you to choose to choose the latter. Consider that you may save others who may otherwise be destroyed. And do not be afraid you will not live until I return for I have kept something for you under your bed.”
Then the Lyonette leapt into the air, flapped its wings and flew out the window. The boy looked under his bed and saw a leather pouch. He opened it and saw a small black rock. He sniffed at it and immediately breathed in some oxygen. Then the rock crumbled into dust. “Maybe I am only dreaming,” the boy murmured to himself, “maybe it’s only a dream.” He fell asleep after a moment.
When the boy awoke the next morning he wondered if it had all been a dream until he saw the leather pouch beside him. When he told his father and mother they incredulous at first, and then full of hope and joy. His mother hugged him weeping for joy. “So you will live after all,” she whispered.
“But which choice do I make?” the boy said remembering the solemn advice of the Lyonette that he choose the latter and having that deep feeling that though the Lyonette would do either, if he chose to save himself alone it would rob the whole people of a chance to live more fully, and many more may perish over time for lack of oxygen. What was more, he would be dishonored, and if the people ever found out they may despise him.
“You will get everything ready for the sacrifice according to the folklore?” the mother communicated to the father. The man said nothing but stared out the window in silence for a long time. Finally he turned around and communicated to the boy,
“I am proud of what you did saving that child. Not many would have done what you did knowing the risks involved. The parents of that child have not ceased to show us appreciation because of what you did. They are also worried about you.
“I believe the Lyonette is much more than folklore has made it out to be and it knows of many things which we know nothing of. But the decision you have to make is your very own decision. You have to choose for yourself the way that you think is best. Neither your mother nor I can or should do that for you.”
The mother protested, but when the boy finally said he would honour the Lyonette’s wish, weeping, she accepted his decision.
The boy was just falling asleep that night when the Lyonette flew into his room.
“What is your decision?” it asked as soon as it alighted at the foot of the bed.
“I think it will be fair to help the people,” the boy said.
“Very good,” the Lyonette said. “You have chosen wisely. Now listen! You must meet me at mount Sher tomorrow before noon. Come with a sharpened knife, a bowl of live coals and a length of strong rope. Check under your bed for another rock that will sustain you. That will be the last.”
The next day, while it was still early the boy got everything ready and started out for mount Sher. Mount Sher was the highest mountain in the place and it would take a long time to climb up to its top. By now the news of the unfolding events had spread around the community and many people followed the boy as he went along with his parents to the mountain.
When the boy alone got to the top of the mountain just before noon, he sat down in exhaustion on a rock and panted for breadth.
“Well done.” A voice said suddenly. He turned around and saw the Lyonette beside a bush. “The time is short and we must perform the ritual before noon, so hurry!”
The boy forced himself up and followed the Lyonette through an opening in the rock, and then through a maze-like passage until they suddenly burst out onto a flat surface at the mountains very peak. There neatly arranged was a bed made of the branches of the Xihi tree and a small gourd.
“First we must have a meal together,” the Lyonette said. It brought out a tray from underneath the bed and uncorked the gourd. It beckoned to the boy to join it, and the boy feasted with it on delicious flat cakes and honeyed wine.
“Now you must tie me atop the bed with the cords as tightly as you can,” the Lyonette said as soon as they finished eating. “After that you will spread the coals under the bed. Then once the sun is in the middle of the sky slay me without hesitation and kindle the bed with the live coals you brought.”
The boy was horrified and pointedly refused to do it. Then the Lyonette said,
“Listen little boy, what do you wish for most for yourself, your family and your people?” The boy thought for a while and replied “A happy life.” Then the Lyonette said, “Believe me when I tell you that this is the best thing you will ever do for them. And remember that I give myself freely. If you refuse to do it many more people will be destroyed. I have already ordered the stars and meteorites to follow new courses for the sake of you people and this is the only thing that is left.”
“But who… what are you?” the boy stammered.
“I am the Lyonette.” It replied. “Now do as I have instructed you.”
Then, with manifest reluctance and great sadness, the boy did as the Lyonette instructed and tied it firmly on top the bed. Then he arranged the live coals under the bed. When the sun got to the middle of the sky, weeping with averted gaze the boy drove the knife into the heart of the Lyonette.
The Lyonette roared and the whole country shook. Everyone below fled to their homes and locked themselves in. Then, after a moment during with the boy sat weeping close to the burning bed, the air became increasingly sweeter as it always did during the Qurous. Then the Quroia, the comet that brought the life giving air to the people began its final decent. It descended and came to rest at the top of the mountain at the foot of the burning bed.
That night as the boy was falling asleep he heard movement in his room again. He lit his torch and saw a little boy about his age but slightly older than him standing at the foot of his bed and staring at him. The boy was surprised.
“Who are you? And what are you doing here? And how did you get into my room?” the boy queried
“I am the Lyonette,” The boy said. (This was the same boy I saw riding a pony in my dream.)
“I thought I killed you. And how come you are a boy now?” the boy asked in awe.
“I really died,” the Lyonette replied solemnly, and then smiled. “But now I am alive. I have come to tell you that you will live. And we are now friends. Whenever you wish to see me just call me and I will come.” Then the Lyonette kissed the boy on his forehead, transformed into its former shape and flew out the window.
“So you are the Lyonette?” I asked the little boy. He smiled and nodded, then said
“That is the name by which I am known in that world.”
“And in other worlds?” I asked, not able to quell my curiosity.
“There is a world where I am known as Jesus Christ or Jesus the savior,” the Lyonette said.
“Well, that would be this world, isn’t it?” I asked
“Yes,” the Lyonette replied. “You know, we can be friends too, you and I.”
“Oh, I would love that. How?” I asked.
“Simple,” the Lyonette said. “Just say the story is true – and mean it.”
I stared into his eyes for a moment and said, “Well, it’s true.”
The Lyonette smiled and said, “This is good. We are friends now.” He dismounted from the pony, stood on his toes and kissed my forehead. Then he took my hand and I walked slowly with him towards my sleeping self.
We sat on a fallen log just before my sleeping self and he began to tell me many wonderful things. When he finished speaking he reached into my sleeping self’s pocket, took out the phone and started tapping at it.
“What are you doing?” I asked, astonished by the fact that he could actually physically take the phone – and I knew I still was not dreaming about him. In my dream I saw myself as I was doing what I was doing, saying what I was saying, but somehow the little boy was not in my dream.
“I went through your files and saw many files you do not need,” he said and looked disapprovingly at me, and I felt ashamed. Then he smiled at me and said, “I have to go now, so you should awake.” He bent and tapped my sleeping self’s shoulder.
I awoke abruptly and sat up. It was noon, but the sun was gentle and a cool wind blew. Everything looked exactly as like it did in my dream; the mango tree, the fallen log, even my sleeping position. But of the little boy and the pony there was no trace.