Meira mentally detached herself from the world about her as she was bundled, dragged, and occasionally struck by her captors. She was traveling Aleppo’s bomb-blasted roads and alleyways under a cacophony of threats and curses that could do little to speed the progress of the injured, frightened, and hysterical who formed the majority of the phalanx in which she found herself. Painfully they progressed through the narrow streets until they were directed into derelict building where people lay on the cement floor. Stepping through the stench of rotting humanity she saw fear and helplessness in the eyes and filthy clothes falling from the skinny bodies. She moved on as she was shoved, finally sitting beside hopeless bundles against a long wall. Closing her eyes she let her memory take control and immediately they returned: Fiona, Absolom, Catherine, all returned and memories came flooding in. The power though was coming not from the building – this was a relatively new construction – but from the people around her. She had switched off from her captors but her new-found companions, her fellow prisoners, were a rich source of psychic energy. She could drift now, long and deep, for hours and hours because she, and the lost souls around her, would be left to starve and dehydrate in the abundance of excrement and urine.
It was a long journey, the longest she had ever experience, but it was a rich one. It was rich in images and calls for help, declarations, lectures, screams, whimpers, sobs and occasional laughter. Absolom, dear father, how good to see you my darling Papa, faded away as did Mama when Catherine gained control, taking her on, and on, as never before. It wasn’t coherent. Her memories were not in chronological order, nor were they consistent in any particular period. As in dreams they jumped over images and were connected by links she could not identify. Twice she saw the young Alexander, and soldiers of the crusades, and she saw massacres. Massacres came back many times. Catherine had many massacres in her memories – not so Anima. Anima was distant at first – her images faint. Catherine’s were powerful – overwhelming and frightening. She had to fight with herself to continue when horrors came floating by because her modern, sheltered, mind had yet to immunize itself from the physical horrors – from the pain of mutilations, torture, amputations . . . all on such an enormous scale.
Anima’s memories kept peeking through the flood from Catherine, and another, she could see whose, but each time a little clearer, a little more certain. They were not memories of the horrors so deep in the minds of Catherine and whoever; they were benign memories. Soft memories of sunlight and smiles were emanating from Anima. Were they fainter because they were less graphic, less painful, or because they were older, because they came down a longer chain? Meira couldn’t tell but she wouldn’t let that interrupt the flow. This was a unique journey. Maybe there would be more – maybe not. She had to keep going; she had go with the flow.
Sun images clearly dominated Anima’s mind as Meira found herself looking once more at the temple mountains she had seen in the Karakoram Mountains, and the solar cooking chambers she had seen there, and in India, and Cambodia. Anima must have lived a long time because the memories were prodigious – not just for the sheer quantity, but for the constant theme of learning and, to Meira’s delight, the consistent absence of conflict.
Something disturbed her. Something was happening. There was noise and movement all around her. Gunfire! There was gunfire.