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My Name is Tau
When Emily opened her eyes, she was lying at the water’s edge. She coughed a couple of times feeling a slight pain in her chest. The whiteness of the room made her hesitate and think, maybe she’d died and this was heaven.
She looked around, and to her relief, didn’t see any angels standing around. Looking to her right, she noticed a giant bot sitting next to her with its elbows resting on its knees. It was the same one who had rescued her.
It was looking down at her.
Still a little shaken, the only thing she could think to say was, “You saved me.”
The bot put his hands to the ground and said, “Yep.”
Emily took a second to pull herself together. She looked back toward the water and, suddenly, the image of her foot caught on the piece of metal flashed into her head. She thought how terrible this might have been if he hadn’t been there to save her.
She turned to him again and said, “Thank you.”
Emily pushed herself up, unconsciously mimicking his posture then another thought came to her. “You’re not like the other bots.” Hoping she hadn’t offended him she added. “Not that it makes any difference or anything.”
“No offense taken.”
“Good and, thank you, again. By the way, my name’s Emily”
“Nice to meet you, Emily. My name is Tau.”
Emily thought to herself. “Tau? How do I know that name?
Tau shifted his weight slightly and extended his right hand towards her. She extended hers, but stopped short because his was so much bigger than hers she wasn’t sure what to do.
Recognizing her dilemma, he gently grasped her whole hand in his and shook it gently
Emily looked up at him and realized for the first time that she had never seen a robot this color before. He was so black, like the color of an ebony piano key. Then she realized it wasn’t so much the color, it was how shiny the black was! It looked as if she she could reach into it with her hand.
Looking closer at his head, she saw that it was in two parts, split in half down the center. She could see right through the center of his head!! How in the world is it held together? She leaned forward to get a better view…
Tau raised his hand to where his mouth would have been if he had one, made a fist and coughed into it.
The sound brought her out of her trance. “Oh my gosh, That was so rude of me. I’m sorry about that.”
“That’s okay. I get that kind of response all the time.”
“Do you really or are you just saying that to make me feel better?”
Her face turned red and she looked away in embarrassment. It was then that she noticed she was missing her shoe.
“My shoe. It must still be in down there.” She went to get up but Tau stopped her.
“You stay here, I’ll get it. You stay here.”
Before Emily could say anything, he drew his long slender legs up underneath him and pushed his body up with his long arms, his hands flat on the floor. The motion brought his head quickly towards her and, just when she thought he was going to clunk her in the head, he raised himself up. She watched as it seemed to take forever for him to stand all the way up. His head stopped a couple of inches from the ceiling.
Emily said, “Wow!”
He walked back toward the pool and, without hesitation, jumped in. The water surged over the edge and moved towards her in a wave, like a miniature tsunami. It broke over her, soaking her completely, again.
Emily wiped the water from her face and moved closer to the water to see if she could see him. She couldn’t make anything out, so she bent down closer to the water and put her hands above her eyes to try and block out the glare. Suddenly, right next to her head, Tau’s hand shot out of the water with her shoe held tightly in it’s grasp. She jumped back and watched as Tau’s upper half popped out of the water. He tossed it next to her. It landed on the concrete with a wet slap.
“You found it!”
Instead if climbing out, Tau grabbed onto the edge of the pool with one hand and with the other lifted something else out and laid it Emily’s feet.
To her complete surprise, there lay the cat shaped sculpture!
“You got it! How did you know I was trying to get it? Oh man, it’s so cool! How did you know it was there?”
Tau climbed out of the water and stood there for a moment dripping copious amounts of water onto the floor. He shrugged his shoulders, looked at her and after a moment said, “I’m going to have to answer that at another time.” Avoiding her stare, he bent down on one knee and looked at the cat.
Emily gave him a confused look then, but she was too engrossed by the cat lying in front of her to give it another thought. She dropped to her knees to get a better look and ran her hands over a smooth section of its rump. It almost looked as if it was jointed and could move. She tried pushing on one of its legs, but it didn’t budge. She then tried to lift the whole sculpture, but it was way too heavy. She then noticed something that looked like a name plate on the left shoulder. She used her fingers to wipe off the dirt and grime that, over time, had completely covered the writing. As she wiped, individual letters started to appear. “An “A”, said Emily. As she rubbed harder more letters appeared. T, H, E, N, and an A again. “Athena, it spells Athena.”
Suddenly, Emily heard, very clearly, something say Keeper, we are together again.
Let’s Hope She’s in a Good Mood
Emily snapped her hands back like she had been electrocuted. She suddenly remembered the voice she had heard before.
“Everything okay?” asked Tau.
“Did you hear that?” whispered Emily, expecting him to say no and afraid that he might think she was crazy.
“You did?” Emily said with surprise. She was relieved and confused at the same time. “I heard it before, when I put my hand in the water and then again when my foot was caught. I remember now that when I was caught the voice said she was radioing for help. Then I saw you jump into the water.” Emily’s mind was racing. “Did… did she call you?”
“Not exactly. It seemed like it was a message to anyone. I was already in the room when I heard her priority call.”
“It’s a military term. Kind of like, “This is a very important message.”
“She said “we’re together again.” What’s that mean, “Again?”
He shrugged his shoulders again and said, “I think you’re going to have to do some major work on her to find out what she’s all about.”
Looking back down to the cat she said, “So we can we keep her?”
Tau just shrugged his shoulders. “Umm, I don’t think you have a choice.”
“What does that mean…?”
Tau leaned forward and was about to explain when Uncle Dave came running into the room
“Emily! You’re okay!”
“Uncle Dave! She ran over to him and gave him a quick hug. You’ll never believe what happened! Look at what we found!” Before he could say anything, she pulled him toward the cat.
“I’m sorry I’m late.” he said as he was almost dragged off his feet by Emily. Looking at Tau then towards her he said, “I see you two have, met?”
Tau and Emily looked at each other. Emily really didn’t want her uncle to know about her getting her foot caught so she quickly gave Tau a please don’t tell him look hoping that he wouldn’t say anything. Tau returned Emily’s gaze, and without looking at David said, “Looks that way.”
Uncle Dave, a little confused by the awkwardness of the moment, allowed himself to be pulled over to the cat.
“You found it”, he said.
Emily stopped dead in her tracks, turned around and said, “You know about her?” Her uncle looked at Tau then at Emily and was just about to say something when Emily blurted out, “Wait a second, you two know each other?” Emily turned to look at Tau and then back to her uncle, her face wrinkled with confusion.
Her uncle said, “Wellll…..”.
Getting a little annoyed that her uncle had not mentioned any of this before, she turned and gazed at Tau. She stared for a second and then from out of nowhere remembered where she had seen his name before. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the piece of wallboard she had put in her pocket. “Have you been following me?” She threw him the piece and said, “It’s really good.”
Tau caught it before it could hit the floor and said, “Yes, and umm, thank you”.
Looking down at the cat lying at floor she turned to her uncle and said, with some exhaustion in her voice, “Can you please tell me what’s going on?”
Her uncle put his hand on her shoulder, looked her in the eye and said, “Of course. But not here. Let’s go somewhere a little more comfortable where we can get you dried off and have something to eat. Tau, can you please bring Athena?”
Tau picked up the heavy metal cat as if it was made from Paper Mache and threw it over his shoulder. Emily looked up at him and said again, “That drawing is very cool.”
Tau just shrugged his shoulders
“You do that a lot you know”, Emily said, shrugging her shoulders to demonstrate what she meant.
Tau said nothing, just shrugged his shoulders and turned for the door. Her uncle took her hand and together they followed Tau. As they walked past the pool Emily noticed that the water was starting to overflow onto the floor. She asked out loud, “High tide?”
Before Dave or Tau could answer the water started bubbling and rolling like hot water in a pot. Emily was getting concerned but Dave and Tau seemed calm.
Tau said, “Too early for that.”
Then Dave and Tau looked at each as if they both had the same thought. In unison they said, “Uh oh.”
“She’s earlier than usual,” said Tau bringing his arm up like he was checking his watch even though he didn’t have one.
“Yep, let’s hope she’s in a good mood,” answered Dave.
“Who’s early” asked Emily, growing more concerned.
“It’s more like a what than a who,” replied Tau.
Emily opened her mouth to say something else but before she could get a word out the water roared out of the pool like a geyser. It had so much force behind it that it crashed into the ceiling and sprayed everywhere, drenching them head to toe. The noise was deafening. Then, just as suddenly as it had started, the geyser stopped. Water seemed to hang in the air before it fell to the floor.
You’ve Got Some Explaining to Do
Wiping the water from her face, she noticed something else rising from the pool. It was a huge dark shape that paused just below the surface. Then, very slowly, it rose up from under the water.
Emily was mesmerized by the shape rising from the pool. She wanted to scream but all the air seemed to have emptied from her lungs. She couldn’t take her eyes off whatever it was. Instead of shutting down, her brain was working hard to figure it out. Images of what it might be flashed in her head. She could make it out now, it was a head, a huge head. An alligator? No way an alligator could be this big. The whole head was out of the water now and its neck followed. It’s a dragon’s head! But it doesn’t look right. She looked down at the neck. It kept coming. It’s so long, like what? Where has she seen pictures of this before. The Lock Ness monster! Yes, that’s it. It’s a serpent, that’s what it is. Not a dragon, a sea serpent!
She looked back up to the head just as it reached the ceiling. It had to bend its neck to get all of itself into the room. Her uncle, slowly bent down to one knee, pulling Emily into the same position. “We can’t be sure if she is angry or not. Don’t look directly at it”, he whispered to her. Tau, copying the movement of Uncle Dave, gently laid Athena in front of Emily.
A familiar voice said, “Keeper, do not be afraid. She means you no harm.”
Emily glanced down at Athena and said, “I’m not afraid.”
Looking back at the serpent, she watched as its long, slender body continued to ascend from the pool. Eventually, two legs, each with a set of nasty looking claws appeared and gripped the edge of the pool. Using its legs for additional leverage, it pulled more of its long, slender, scale covered body from the water. A third leg appeared, one of its rear legs, it also gripped the concrete. When it had a good purchase on the concrete it released its front claws allowing them to rise along with the rest of its body.
It paused for a second to allow the other rear leg time to join the other one. Staring at them from above, balanced on its rear legs, it opened its mouth slightly and let out a gentle hiss. Then slowly extended a beautiful plume of colorful feathers from its head. At the same time, it unfolded a pair of feathered wings, stretching them wide. They were just as beautiful as the head dress. Emily could not remember seeing something so big, so beautiful and so scary all at the same time. The feathers shimmered with the colors of an opal. For some reason the word “iridescent” popped into her head.
The dragon just stood there, looking at them. Emily couldn’t take her eyes off her. She thought, yes, it’s a female, Tau said earlier that she’s early.
Without warning, it shook the water from its head and wings, showering their soaked bodies with more water. Emily couldn’t help but smile. It slowly dropped its head and refolded its wings.
Emily was able to notice details that, in her fright, she had missed before. Its head was more of a combination of a bird and a dragon. It seemed to have a beak at the end of its long, tooth filled mouth. What she thought was scales were a combination of scales and feathers. The scales started out thick along her body then slowly tapered becoming the quill of the feathers.
While keeping her head in the same position, she dropped her front legs to the floor. The claws made a loud click as they contacted the cement floor. Slowly she started to move around the room encircling the group. As she moved behind them, more of her body continued to slither from the pool.
“How big is she?” thought Emily.
Her head came back around to the front of the group and finally, her tail emerged from the, now calm, surface of the pool. Emily expected it to have another plume of feathers at the tip, but, instead, it ended bluntly. She almost felt disappointed. The serpent let out a rumble that seemed to come from somewhere deep inside, like it had been offended by Emily’s thought. It stopped, lowered its head, and stared at Emily.
Emily stared back.
“Emily don’t look at it!”, warned her uncle. She could feel his hand grip hers tighter.
Keeper, open your mind to her. Stand.
Her uncle must have heard the cat as well as he gripped her hand even harder. “No!”, he whispered. “We can’t be sure!”
Tau replied, “She has to Dave. She needs to know.”
Emily looked at her uncle. She could see the conflict in his eyes. She knew he was torn between him keeping her safe and her need to know more. After a few more seconds, he came to a decision. He sighed, looked her in the eyes, gave her a slight nod and released her hand. She smiled at him, stood, and turned back toward the great serpent. A calmness came over her. The dragon’s head dropped level with her head, they were eye to eye.
Emily expected to see anger and fear but instead she saw worry and longing.
“She’s looking for something. She needs my help.”
Emily brought her hand up slowly and placed her hand on the side of the dragon’s snout. She closed her eyes.
“I see her and another serpent. A larger one. We’re on a beach, by the water. There’s a woman in a military uniform and Athena is sitting at her feet. There’s a man as well. It looks like he is wearing a hat and has round glasses. He has his hand on Athena’s head, like he’s petting her. The woman and the man are both looking at the larger serpent, they seem to be communicating with it. The man is gesturing towards something to the right. The serpent turns to look at where he is pointing then back to her. She’s, his mate! They rub muzzles. The man walks in front of the larger one towards where he pointed. He keeps on walking like he’s leaving, but stops, turns and motions to the serpents, like he wants them to follow. He takes another step forward and…. He’s disappearing! Emily’s face is wrinkled with confusion. I can see one side of his body, but the other side is gone. It was like he stepped into an invisible hole or something. He doesn’t seem to be hurt. The larger serpent walks over to him, and they both disappear into the hole. The smaller one starts to follow him, but something happens! There’s shouting from somewhere I can’t see. Gun shots? The woman falls to the ground. Athena runs toward where the shot came from. The serpent is confused, it runs toward where the other disappeared, but nothing happens, it doesn’t disappear. I can hear Athena barking and someone screaming. The serpent, my serpent, doesn’t know what to do, she can’t find the hole. She’s turning back and forth trying to find it but can’t! She’s so confused and scared! She doesn’t know what to do! She looks behind me, towards the water and breaks into a run past me and towards the sea.”
Emily opened her eyes; tears ran down her cheeks. “I have to help her.”
The serpent pulled back her head and let out a gentle rumble as if she was relieved to know that Emily could be trusted. It switched its attention to Athena, still lying at Emily’s feet. Gently picking her up with her front legs, she brought her close to her mouth and pursed her lips like she was about to give her a kiss. Instead, a veil of fine, transparent, blue flame gently blew across Athena’s head.
Emily, startled at first, watched as Athena’s eyes start to glow a dull yellow then slowly become a brilliant gold.
The serpent, with a look of motherly love in her eyes, gently blew the cleansing flame across Athena’s entire body. The years of dirt and tarnish were magically washed away and replaced with the shine of polished aluminum. Athena’s tail twitched and she stretched her legs. She raised her head and looked into the serpent’s eyes. Emily can hear what sounds like a purr come from Athena. She turned to look at Emily.
Then very carefully, the serpent placed Athena onto the water-soaked floor. This time she could stand on her own. She moved to Emily’s side, sat, and looked up at her.
Emily gently stroked her head.
The serpent raised herself on her hind legs. She unfolded her wings and displayed her stunning plumage. Instead of a gentle rumble or hiss she let out a roar that echoes through the room. In that roar, Emily senses hope, not despair. Then, in an instant she turned, and gracefully slid back into the pool with hardly a splash.
Emily turned to her uncle and said, “I think you’ve got some explaining to do.”