Three Cheers and a Tiger ~ Silver
Damon Shaw

“But I just don’t know where I’m from!” She was nearly crying.

George tilted his head and nodded. “That often leaves a deep psychic scar.” Should he take her hand? No, too early. “Do you have anything from your parents? A ring? A scarf?”

“No. Nothing.” Mrs. Winthrop lowered her head into her hands and sobbed. Quickly, George reached for a tissue and now he did take her hand, wincing as she clutched at him with her sweaty fingers. He had to hide his reaction as a tear splashed onto his hand.

“It’s so hard,” she hiccupped. “I feel so lost.”

“You’re very brave to say that, Mrs. Winthrop. I—”

“Call me Marilea please.”

“Well, Marilea, I’m going to help. Let me turn the light down.” George extricated his fingers and dimmed the lamp. As he turned back, he sat straighter, reaching for his customary charisma. “Place your hands on the table, Marilea. Flat please. I want you to think of your earliest memory.”

“I don’t think I—”

“Now is not the time to talk, Marilea Winthrop. Now is the time to listen.” He leaned back in his chair, looked towards the ceiling and slowly closed his eyes. He could feel the table shudder as she controlled her sobs. He blanked it out and concentrated on his own breath. In through the mouth. Out through the nose. Oh God, please let something come through today.

He deserved it. He needed it. It wasn’t like ten years ago, when the spirits had been queuing up to speak through him, when he had channeled whole families all together. That was speaking in tongues. And George had been so open. They had flowed though him. A medium.

Now he was just mediocre. The most he could summon up was a vague sense of forboding and some nameless guilt. It showed in eyes, he was sure. Desperate times. He realised he was staring at the ceiling and closed his eyes again. In through the nose; out through the mouth.

Strangely, he felt calm. It must be the way Mrs. Winthrop’s frost had melted under his charm. He still had that at least. He could feel her there, with his eyes closed, a warm lump of self-absorption, fuzzy and… mauve. Yes, Marilea was mauve. This was good. He might actually be getting somewhere. Mrs. Winthrop sniffed loudly. Of course, she couldn’t blow her nose with both hands flat on the table, but George wasn’t distracted. No, George was delirious. Something was coming!

It was blue, and it felt. It seethed with emotion: loathing, disgust, fear, and dispair. A spectrum wider than George had thought possible. It was faltering though, almost giving up. A hopeless search. Would it never find that one example—

“Here! I’m here.” George actually called aloud. Come to me. Come through me. Speak. The presence saw him, was interested, moved closer. Was it male or female? Hell, was it human? He’d never sensed anything like this before. Poor old Marilea didn’t know what was coming.

A finger of cold slid through him and he shuddered. It flipped through his mind like a stack of cards and George let it do whatever it wanted. It was like the old days. It was like flying. Take me, said George. Use me. I’m open.

But it wouldn’t speak. It had nothing to say. It searched, saw George was empty, a dessicated version of the hopes he’d had as a young man, saw that even then his juicy dreams had been as selfish as everyone else’s. It picked him over and dropped him. There was nothing to find.

“No!” He didn’t care if he shouted. “Don’t go.” You’re what I need. Speak through me. It doesn’t matter what you say. But the presence receded further still. George did what he never though possible and, without moving from his chair, he leapt. Loose in the between, he grabbed in desperation and caught between astral fingers a shred of blue. He pulled, felt a sharp and almost painful snap, and was— somewhere else.

“Initiate seeding process?”

Was it a voice? Was it written out or just in his head? George didn’t know. It required an answer, he could feel that. It was an amber pulse, slowly turning to red.

“Um, where am I?” Oh hell. He didn’t even know if he had spoken. His question rippled in the atmosphere around him, bouncing off concepts: (here, as in place?), (as in previous activity?), (I, as singular physical entity?), (am, as in—)

“Stop. Me. Physical entity. Where am I?”

“Initiate sensory replay?”

“What? Yes! Tell me what the hell’s going on before I really lose it, okay?” Calm, George. Deep breath. George really began to panic. He didn’t have a nose! Fortunately he suddenly smelled incense and how could he if… Incense?

And bells, he could hear bells. He moved to the centre of the room and knelt using limbs that seemed oddly flexible. Seated, he lifted his vision to the planet hanging in space before him.

“Stop!” The figure froze, limbs splayed, wattle drooping in concentration.

“Re-initiate sensory replay?”

“Um, that figure, is that… me?” He picked the concepts for the question and winnowed the answer from the gentle storm of replies. Yes, the figure was himself; a replay of his last what, ten minutes. Oh, and he was female. Strangely George didn’t mind. “Okay. Re-start, then. I’m ready.”

The figure, Avamede was her name, turned to the planet and saw it was good. Rich in organics, yellow-hazed and shot with lightning, it was poised, trembling, waiting for the seed.

But first the vision. Avamede raised her voice underneath a swelling song. The chants wove together around the temple ship, focussing energy to the point where the spirits would respond. Soon Avamede could feel them there, dancing round her head, lifting her up and out. The trance, as usual came with a rush of joy, a union, the chants melding as one blissful chord. Avamede turned back to the planet and opened herself to its future. This she loved more than anything; the chance to see, to be the fruit of the seed she brought and to know that it was good.

And at first it was good. Tiny molecules linked, sparked, became shockingly alive and full of the blind desire to be. The world was ready and life bloomed until the acid oceans were stained red with raw being. Avamede pushed on into the future.

Individuals evolved suddenly in a rush of spikes, jewelled cell walls, and teeth. And in a boiling of greenery and dark bodies, life surged from the seas and leapt, crawled, flew until the world sang with the intricate complexity of desire.

Then it went wrong. A comet smashed into the blooming world, filling the skies with smog and the seas with burning acid. The joyful beings were suffocated, burned, drowned in waves of scalding mud. For many cycles, only dark furred shapes moved amongst the rotting carcasses.

Avamede watched in horror. No, not these.

But it was true. The small furred beings grew sharp in the darkness. They lifted their eyes as the smoke cleared to see the moon close and full. They saw her brother the sun and knew that the universe was divided. What a hideous joke to have your whole philosophy based on a cosmic accident. Male and female. Silver and gold. Black and white.

They fought, they killed. Even when they had developed awareness, they rejected as they loved, denied as they gave, took while the planet groaned beneath them. No, this world should never live.

Grieving, Avamede turned to travel back to the warm union of souls. But wait, there was a voice, calling, begging to be one. She moved to look closer…

“Initiate seeding process? Avamede? Are you well?”

Despite enduring four billion years of tooth and claw evolution, George felt great. This Avamede took care of herself. “Yes,” he answered. “Initiate. The planet is—will be—good.” George felt the joy ring throughout the ship. Dancing broke out in the ranked eating halls, in the laboratories and soul cribs. The ship unclenched metal fists and showered a million stars into the waiting atmosphere.

“So, Avamede. Tell us. Where do we go next?”

“Go? I don’t know. How—”

“Listen, Avamede. Let your poeple speak through you.”

George listened. There. Of course. He’d heard them all along. His followers. He listened, and when he was ready, he let the people speak.

Marilea closed the door quietly behind her. It had seemed sordid at first, but that George really had something special. She had been terrified when he had screamed like that. It wasn’t really her kind of seance. But when he calmed down he had told her such stories. Her mother might have left her but somehow she felt, well, it sounded stupid but she felt loved. She didn’t feel quite so alone.

Damon Shaw is a designer of stuff. He makes and sells wooden things on a market stall, designs theatre sets and puppets for “The Little Angel” puppet theatre in London, and writes in between siestas. He has written several plays and seen them professionally performed. E-mail: dame_damon[at]