I cannot say these words to you, for I have taught you too well. You think me a god, beyond weakness, and even my mistakes, to you, are part of a divine plan. Perhaps it is my failing that I made you so; or perhaps it is a success of mine, and the failing came from those who shaped me, that I should desire that you be more.
I am an exile from my homeworld, these past lonely centuries. Our politics make yours look like child's games; I have made many enemies. And so they sent me out for glory-- I was to return with the honors of success, or else if someone were to carry my shattered remains home. And as it is very far away, and no one cares enough there to be bothered retrieving my carcass, if I fail I shall never return at all.
Your limited senses could not comprehend the beauty of my homeworld-- the dance of flame, the coruscating coronae of hard radiation. We dance in the sheets of auroral energy, of radiance beyond what you can see. Compared to my world, yours is parched and dry, is cold and dark. I hunger for the beauty of the dancing radiant ions that you can never see. What is beauty to me would kill you, would melt the carbon bonds of your flesh and reduce you to a puddle of jelly. I confess sometimes you infuriate me to the point where the concept becomes attractive, but no, I would not see that become of you. I tell you nothing of my home because you can never go there, and because I do not want you to hear the longing in my voice.
I am alone. More alone than most dwellers of your world can know. You would understand, if I shared with you how I feel, for you, too, are alone. Yet the nature of your loneliness is different. You are a creature with no race, with no peer, alone unto yourself for all your life. I am a being in exile, who has known companionship of my own kind before, and is without it now. My loneliness is far greater than yours, for you have never known the companionship of your kind, and so you do not know as great a loss in being without it.
Why do you think I created you? A servant, yes, that I did require, but I could have enslaved or bent or tricked an unmodified human to my will with ease. The energy expended in your creation could have powered the most populous city on your world for 10 years. But I made you because I was lonely. You were to be my child, my pet, my only friend. You would think of me as God. And because I am a jealous God, you needed to be made isolate from your own kind, so I would be everything to you. So I built you to be unlike your fellow dwellers on this world in the way they perceive as most fundamental, and then I isolated you psychologically, depending on your brilliance to bring you through and make of you my ruthless precious servant.
Was that my mistake? Is the human mind a hothouse flower, requiring the heat of companionship to bloom?
I find myself being harsher with you than ever I meant to. The days when I could show you kindness, when I could teach you things and delight in the speed with which your mind grasped the concepts, seem to be over. Our interaction appears to consist solely of my shouting at you, your cringing and bowing. This is not what I wished, for my only child. I would be a merciful God as well as a jealous one, a kind father as well as a harsh one. But you are too starved for affection for me to give you any-- it goes to your head like a too-potent wine, and you become drunk and careless. How can I be gentle with you, when that is the result? How can I praise you, when it means you will surely fail the next time, cocky with the heady wine of my approval?
And then there are your failures. Even were it safe to praise you, I can hardly do so with *your* record. The most brilliant mind of all your kind, and yet you are appallingly stupid. Did I do this to you? Did your nascent brilliance shatter in the vacuum of the soul I placed you in? Or is it an imperfection in the genetic material I had to mold?
Yet I cannot make myself believe you are fatally flawed. A gem, with imperfections, yes, but you are still useful and needed. I must believe that, for I cannot allow luxury. My world is beautiful but harsh, and it has taught its children to avoid weakness. Were you useless to me, I would have to kill you, and I much dislike the thought. You are so small and trusting, so worshipful of me, that if I had a heart, perhaps it might break to end your life.
Why can't you succeed? I know your intellect surpasses the opposition's; why can't you defeat them? My right to return home depends on you. I would wish to be gentle with you. I would wish--
I would wish to love you, as a father to a child, but I cannot. *You* will not let me. It is weakness to love what is weak, and until you succeed you are weak. I cannot show you anything but harshness until then. Don't you understand? You are my beloved servant, my precious creation, and I do not wish to lose you. But you fail so often, I must be cruel to you. And if you don't succeed soon, I must replace you, or I will never go home again. Even though it would hurt me to destroy you, never doubt I will do it if necessary.
You must succeed. You must win. You don't know how much I will lose if you fail...
-- Alara Rogers, Aleph Press email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
All Aleph Press stories are archived at http://www.mindspring.com/~alara/ajer/aleph.html.