(Copyright) 1997 - 2006 G. Dallman
March 14, 1997 Version 3.0
Revision Date: 05/21/2006
Howard awoke slowly. Vast, slow waves of well-being enveloped him, generating a feeling of love so profound it defied words. As he basked in sensations he'd hungered for, for so many years, Howard felt himself radiating love in return and was rewarded with another tsunami of tenderness. He sighed, wanting to lay forever, eyes closed, his Soul floating, soaring, in an ecstasy he never dreamed existed.
As he came fully awake, Howard knew he'd either successfully forged his Portal, or was dead. With only one way to be sure, he cautiously opened his eyes.
His first impression was of a large room, with pale blue walls rising about six meters to a ceiling spanned by dark wooden beams. A window was open and a warm, pleasantly scented breeze blew through gossamer curtains and across his bed. Howard slowly looked to his left seeing his father, slouched in a large, ornate armchair, snoring lustily. It was then that he noticed his left hand was entrapped between two huge, warm, Gashka paws. The human looked up into large brown eyes, set to either side of a big Ursine muzzle, smiling down at him. Strangely, he felt no shock or surprise. The near infinite love that washed over him was total and unconditional, and without hesitation, he returned it in kind.
A name came into his mind: Orrunn.
Howard felt as though he'd known her for years, which in reality, was true. Their mutual bond had been forged across forty-two light-years and through eleven long years of agony. As he thought the name, a single tear welled up and rolled down the Ursine's brown muzzle. The Human carefully wriggled a hand free of the larger Gashka ones and reaching up, he wiped it away with a gentle caress. Orrunn recaptured his hand, licking it tenderly. Howard felt that his heart would burst with joy. The long, dark night of his soul was finally over. Through pain and effort beyond measure, he'd achieved his Soul's Desire.
Suddenly it occurred to Howard that Orrunn too shared this same release from her own prison of desperate loneliness. Over the tenuous link they shared, he could sense the sickening residue of the Orrunn's pain, as surely as though it was his own.
As Howard drifted off to sleep, his last conscious thought was a paraphrased line from an old hymn: 'Alone… Never alone again! I promise never to leave you alone!'
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