The party was glamorous, beyond anything I had expected on this journey. I had become an Intergalactic celebrity. Broadcasts upon broadcasts around the Confederation was about me, with a lot of mentions about my father too.
The quadrophonic music in the hall reverberated around us as we gyrated with joy. Then the music stopped suddenly. Commander Roon had an announcement to to make:
“By the powers conferred on me by the InterGalactic Confederation, I am happy to announce that Shoram El Nuk has been honoured with the title, ‘Member of the Brotherhood of Unicorns’! Henceforth his name will be preceded by the title ‘Sir’.”
There was a loud ovation and shouts of “Sir Shoram, Sir Shoram…”
Then I broke down and wept.
My anxious father rushed to my side as the curious crowd looked on.
“What is it, son?” he asked.
“Mum should have been here to see all this”, I said, and I could perceive the deep empathy from the crowd…
”Aw, how touching”, said an elderly woman, “but be assured, she’s here. She is not in oblivion. She knows and she is as happy as we are…”
“Yes! She is with us!” shouted another section of the crowd, “let the party go on…!”
Later that evening Akhenaton 1 landed at the colony where it was to spend the night and recharge. My father and I went into our joint cabin, had a shower and sat on the couches. We did not go to the restaurant for dinner but rather ordered for room service which was promptly provided.
We ate silently. For some reasons I felt guilty about arousing my father’s emotions by mentioning my late mother.
“Do not be hard on yourself, Sir Shoram. It was a mutual thought. She should have been here.
“Sometimes I blame myself for not spending time with her. I loved my job as Fleet Commander so much I was always spending most of many years in space. I was not with her throughout the duration of her pregnancy. I came rushing back after I got the news that you were born. That was when I applied for leave and spent three months with her…. and with you. One night she called me to our room and solemnly implored me to get some time for her. She told me how lonely she felt without me.
“‘Most of your trips are voluntary. You dont apply for leave when you should. I have a heart, you know. I have a heart…’ she kept on weeping and I could not bear it. I realised how much she loved and needed me so I made up my mind to take my last trip to Plaeides in order to supply some cargo on behalf of the Government and then retire voluntarily on my return.
“On the way to Plaeides, we encountered ten pirate ships that attacked us with powerful missiles forcing my ship to deviate from our space track. We fought back with all the powers in our arsenal. We sent for reinforcements but before they arrived the ten monstrous ships had forced us to land at Planet Bingoten.
“The pirate ships surrounded mine and I had to order the cabin crew to land. We were track-lost and the ship’s engines were all knocked down badly. The crew were not in the mood for psycho-manoevering. It was a hard, hard day.
“When we surrendered and came out of our ships we found the bandits to be outlandish insectoid creatures with strange, powerful weapons far beyond ours. They had no name.
“I was separated from my crew members and taken to a cave by seven insectoids who, in more peaceful times, I could have laughed at as being ungamely in appearance, like giant mantises. By the entrance of the cave were two swaying trees. They had beautiful brown leaves. Even in danger I could not fail to notice that.
“The insectoids tied my hands and feet and walked away leaving me in the cave.
That night I thought of escaping. The two moons of the planet illuminated the mountainous area in which the cave were situated and I noticed that a small sound like that of a cricket came from the midst of the two swaying trees.
“I easily untied the rather weak ropes and edged my way to the entrance.
Suddenly a tentacle from one of the trees reached out and coiled itself around my waist. That was when I realised my true situation. I was being guarded by the Horma, the infamous carnivorous trees!
“I had always dismissed such stories as fables but this taught me never to discountenance anything without verification. Anything dreamed up by people can exist physically. Legends are thoughts, and can manifest.
“I struggled, but my weapons had been surrendered to the insectoids. Another tentacle entangled me around my chest region, pinning my right arm to my body. With my left arm I grabbed the first tentacle but a third one hovered around my head as the two dragged me. It seemed they were trying to tear me apart and share me between themselves…”
I listened as my father recounted his story and shuddered. He has gone through a lot of dangers joyfully just to bring home the daily meal of his family.
As he spoke in the dim light, I recognised him for who he really was. A loving husband and a caring father. He would forever remain my role-model.