My Dearest Sister
I hope that this letter finds you in good health, and that your family are well and thriving. At the time of this writing, I myself am of ill health, but I hope that by the time this letter reaches you, my condition will have fully improved.
This letter is to say goodbye, dear sister. I regret that I cannot stay and watch your children grow up, and spend more time in the company of you and your wife. But do not fear for my safety, sister, I do not seek to leave this world of life. Indeed, I hope to find a life that has been long denied me.
I have found my soul mate, my dear, and even now, the marks on my arms burn like fire, demanding that I seek out the one who will quench my desire. I am sure that you are shocked that I, a man of more than forty, unbound these long years, has finally been bound. I assure you, I was just as shocked. We all know it is unheard of for anyone past thirty to find their bonded, and yet, I prove to be an exception to the known rule. And I assure you also, that it is a true finding. The pain can be nothing else.
I have told no-one else this, and I would implore you not to share. I have no wish to be scrutinised by science wishing to understand why I did not bond between the usual ages. And the circumstances of my finding are strange enough to be considered madness by most. But I cannot conceal this from you. So to you, and your family, I bequeath the truth, no matter how ludicrous it sounds.
My tale starts some time ago, over two months. The Company, knowing and appreciating my abilities, had sent me to a remote island to deal with a thorny issue with the locals. Such was the urgency, they had gone to great expense to charter a plane expressly for my needs, and instructed the captain and the crew to attend immediately to my every need.
The captain seemed relieved to discover that I was a man of good sense and responsibility, who would not take advantage of their orders. I used the flight out to read the documentation that I was provided, and consulted with the crew, who I discovered had often flown to this remote island on other diverse business.
Thus armed with knowledge, I landed on the island. I will not bore you with the details, sister, and indeed, confidentiality binds my pen. Let it be said that the thorny issue was of the Company’s own making, and upon this reveal, I was loathe to do what I was intended to do. Thankfully the islanders were amenable to a new agreement, and while the Company were unhappy at my solution, they were grateful that I had come up with a solution that negated the need for bloodshed, which was indeed threatened.
Barely a scant hour after the ink had dried on the papers, the Captain summoned me back to the aircraft, to depart in haste. He had been informed that I was needed elsewhere urgently, and must be ferried there without delay. My notification had conveniently gone missing, and I suspected then that I would be subjected to such minor indignations and inconveniences for the foreseeable future. At least until my slight act of dissension against the Company was forgotten.
In a hurry, I gathered my belongings and boarded the plane.
Here I pause in my retelling to explain. We were truly in a rush, sister. The crew had been rousted from their beds, and I had scarcely gathered my important possessions. The plane had been only partially refueled, and a few safety checks had been neglected in the rush for haste. It was because of this haste that the captain made a choice that he would not have made in the serene calm of day.
He chose to take a direct route to our next refueling stop. This route took us straight through the patch of sky that the islanders below called ‘The Devil Triangle’. I knew nothing of this at the time, but it explains much that comes later.
I was writing up my report for the company as we flew, half listening to the conversation of the pilot, co-pilot, and four crew members. The hour was late, but my rude awakening from the very edge of sleep prevented me from falling asleep. The view out the window showed nothing but water. Everything passed normally, save for a brief moment when all power seemed to flicker off within the plane. Investigation showed nothing wrong, and we flew on. Outside, clouds had rolled in, concealing the ocean.
I had finished my report, and was recalling what information I could for my new assignment, when one of the crew paused to inform me that we were shortly to begin our approach to our refueling point. I left my seat at her invitation, and walked upfront to the cockpit. I have always enjoyed watching men of skill at their work, and it was indeed a thing of beauty to watch the pilot, his hands sure on the controls.
The co-pilot was on the radio, and he was frowning as he toggled switches. The buzzing of static came from the machine, and irately, the co-pilot thumped it with the side of his hand. He tried again, and still there was nothing but static. While this was bothersome, it was not troubling, yet.
We could not get a message through, but the pilot assured us that we were on the right flight path, and that all his instruments were reading correctly. Still, dear sister, I will admit that I was uneasy. Something did not seem right with our situation, and my instincts have not failed me yet.
We were on descent through the cloud cover, and still the radio was silent. When we broke through into the clear skies, that was when we knew that we were in trouble. Where there should have been the bright lights of cities, of highways, of life, there was nothing. Our plane flew over an empty country where there should have been people.
The pilot turned white, but kept his hands on the controls. The co-pilot spat obscenities into the unresponsive radio, entreating someone to turn on the lights. The crew tried to remain calm, but I could see in their faces that they were anything but. One woman clutched her bonding marks, as if to reach out across the distance to her partner for support.
Our fuel situation was low, and we could not land the plane by the scant light of the moon. There were no lights to guide us down, no sign of life. I will admit to you here, my sister, that I was afraid. Afraid of never seeing you again, of never walking through the rain of our hometown again. There were things that I wished that I could have done, words that should have been spoken.
My arms itched, a strange tingling such as I had never felt before. So strange, that it quite took my mind off our predicament. I stepped back into the cabin for privacy, and henceforth saw a sight that I had long given up hope of seeing when I rolled up my shirtsleeves.
My soul marks were red and inflamed, starting to glow with power. Such colours they were, sister. Vibrant scarlet, like the heart of a fire on a cold day. Rich brown like aged whiskey. Green, like the summertime grass on which we used to play. They slowly flickered into life, and the pain of their burning was as nothing to the realisation that my bonded was near. I could feel them, as if they were an extension of my own body. The pain of their own soul marks became my own, and I shared mine with them. I could hear their heart beating, and feel their lungs heaving with every breath they took.
And it was glorious. For the first time in my life I was complete, a whole man, finally realising what I had been missing. Like a blind man given sight, like a deaf man hearing a symphony, I finally understood the marvel of the world.
I staggered to the window, staring out into the dark night.
There was another plane in the air. It was like, and yet not alike our own. The materials were strange, and it was of subdued hue. It flew, wingtip to wingtip with our own, and in the window, I could see a face looking back at me. It was my bonded, and I felt their thrill at the sight. We two were strangers in the night, drawn together by our marks, meant for each other.
We were so close, and yet so far away. What happened next comes only in fits and starts, so lost was I in the bonding. I remember the plane lurching violently, throwing me from my feet. I remember the pilot uttering his first and only curse. I remember the pain of my arms as I tried to reach out, to breach the gap and claim my beloved.
We ascended again, and the newly formed bond stretched and extended, trying to keep us connected even as we were drawn further apart. And then my world was nothing but pain as our fragile bond was shattered.
The rest you know, sister. I woke up in hospital three days later. The Company and the airline both tried to pass off what we had seen as a technical issue with the radio, and some form of gas leakage causing hallucinations. Rational explanations for a not so rational event. The pilot, co-pilot and crew believed them. I did not. I do not blame the airline for seeking to rationalise the event. They would likely suffer if it came out that our world was not as singular and self-contained as we thought. Considering the nature of some of the work I have engaged in for the Company, I expected better of them. But I suppose they must be as determined as the rest of the world to think ourselves alone and superior.
But, unlike them, I had my marks as a reminder. They were faded from their glory, but were not stark black against white anymore. I had found my soul, wherever we had been, and I could feel the yearning pull at me.
In the time since, I have been researching all that I could. You know how I can be. Everything that I am, every resource that I could command, I threw into this search. And yet, I turned up very little. Stories told by the peoples of the area. Rumours, fact and fiction. There was nothing that could be pointed to as solid evidence. Nothing to tell the world what we had experienced.
My research met with scorn among the academics I consulted. The Company have me on leave until my mental aberration passes. I have been mocked from all sides, and found nothing but dead ends.
And so, I have chartered a plane of my own. I will fly back to the Devil Triangle, and I will course the sea looking for my mate, and the entry into that strange, dark world. If this world will not believe me, or help me, then I will do things myself, as I should have done from the moment I awoke in that hospital.
My bonded waits for me. I will find them, and I will be reunited with them.
Farewell, my dear sister. I love you. May we both have peace.