Lilith’s Choice

October 3, 2015 § 1 Comment

Kahguyaht was already kneeling beside Nikanj, speaking to it low-voiced. It fell silent as she knelt on Nikanj’s opposite side. She saw Nikanj’s wound at once. Its left sensory arm had been hacked almost off. The arm seemed to be hanging by little more than a length of tough gray skin. Clear fluid and blood spurted from the wound.

“My god!” Lilith said. “Can it … can it heal?”

“Perhaps,” Kahguyaht answered in its insanely calm voice. She hated their voices. “But you must help it.”

Lilith froze. Help it. Help Nikanj. Help the ooloi. Her ooloi.

She felt them all observing her, waiting to see what she would do. The ooloi calmly moved among their humans, tending to wounds and collecting discarded weapons. They seemed unfazed by the bloodshed surrounding them. Could nothing break their stoic composure? Did they feel no emotion?

A feeling of otherness suddenly overwhelmed her. Every fiber of her being was consumed by emotion. Anguish for Joseph. Rage for Curt. Betrayal for Tate. Pity for Allison. Perhaps even concern for Nikanj. But she knew that the ooloi felt none of this. They were too methodical, too composed to let themselves succumb to such impulsive feelings. That was purely a human condition.

Despite hundreds of years spend studying humans, the ooloi still could not comprehend the essence of humanity. She believed Nikanj when it told her that they had not expected the humans to kill each other. Lilith had known better, she saw the tension building. As the humans grew restless, spurred on by Curt, the confrontation was unavoidable. The ooloi should’ve known that. But they hadn’t understood, and they never truly would.

She glanced out at the humans surrounding her, and again, she felt that same feeling of otherness. She was no longer purely human. Her time with the ooloi had changed her, more so than any of the others. Perhaps that’s what the ooloi had intended. Here she was, caught between two worlds, two cultures. She would never feel at ease among the ooloi, and now that Joseph was gone, she would never be safe among the humans.

For the first time since her many Awakenings, she felt completely and utterly alone. She wanted nothing to do with any of these beings. She was tired of serving as a pawn for the ooloi’s plans, and she had lost any semblance of allegiance to the sad band of humans around her as soon as they had killed Joseph.

Suddenly, she heard Nikanj gasp.

“Come to it, Lilith. Lie with it. I feel the pain, too. I am lost. Together we will find a new way.”

Nikanj. The nasty gash in its sensory arm still oozed. Her eyes drifted to the machete lying on the ground, coated with Nikanj’s blood. She stared as Nikanj lay there, helpless. It needed her. Perhaps she needed it too, now more than ever.

“Lilith, I know what you think you have become, but it is not so. You belong with the ooloi. You belong with it. Our children will be better than either of us.

A sense of revulsion coursed through her veins. Visions of hybrids, unnatural monsters, danced before her eyes. The thought of such a creation, an alien thing, nauseated her. And Nikanj wanted to place it inside of her. She thought of her son, her beautiful, human son from many years ago, and she could not bear it any longer. No, Nikanj was just like the rest of the ooloi after all. It would never understand.

“You’re wrong, Nikanj. I’m sorry.”

She grabbed the machete, and plunged it into Nikanj’s chest.

-Rose

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§ One Response to Lilith’s Choice

  • Ouch. This hurts, but I love it.

    This alternative ending captured my attention from the second I started reading it, drawing me in to see how this take on Lilith’s mindset would affect her actions, and ultimately the last sentence hurt. Even though I could see it coming, I cringed and felt my own chest constrict in response. Why? Truthfully, because I sympathized with the aliens, no matter their strangeness. The author of the novel just did too well highlighting their human characteristics and making Nikanj such an easy character to empathize with, or at least empathize with to the point that one can empathize with an alien incapable of human feeling. I saw a kind of love between Nikanj and Lilith, as much of a caring relationship that they could have in their positions at least. When I read this scene in the novel, I knew she would go to it (I feel like I should note that I say it simply because the author made it clear it would be improper to refer to the Ooloi with a gender specific pronoun, though I see Nikanj as “he” rather than it). In my own opinion, the aliens seemed simply to not understand human nature and could not be blamed for their “otherness” as it was simply their own nature to understand only biology. The aliens seemed to be only slowly learning human nature and while doing so becoming more human themselves, seeming to pick up more human emotion and capability as the book went on. At the point when this scene occured, the relationship between Nikanj and Lilith seemed too strong for her to simply allow him to die, let alone kill him, but this alternative ending does just that and highlights the characteristics of Lilith’s own personality and mindset made known throughout the novel that could have caused such an ending to occur. I absolutely love this take on this scene, though it disturbs me to read it and I am very glad it was not the case in the actual novel!

    Like

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