Be brave and be strong. You have not been forgotten. Memorize these words like you memorized The Fifty Chronicles of Humanity in primary school. Recite them each time you lose your way. They traveled great distances and changed many times before they reached you.
Tonight, after you arrive at the fortress, when the one who is called master asks you, say yes. If you refuse, the pain will be much greater. When he finishes, lie still, wait for him to sleep, then go. Wash everything away. Make this your practice. Despite appearances to the contrary, your species is compatible with his, and you must live on this planet unencumbered.
When you’re done bathing, you will be curious. You will walk down the hall and see a child’s quarters. There is a dollhouse, and you will wish to play with it. The master’s offspring will not stir; take this opportunity and play. When you grow tired, reach inside the dollhouse fireplace; a key is hidden for you.
Take it. One day in the future, it will be of use. The fortress doors will remain locked throughout your captivity.
Go to sleep. Try not to think of what happened. Try never to think of it. The next time will always arrive before you are ready.
Speak Lagarian when you’re alone. Speak it out loud so you will remember how it caresses your ears and how it tastes in your mouth like candy.
The master will doubt your intelligence. Let him. He will not view you as a threat, and your freedom will be much greater. When alone, write down all the stories and poems you can remember. Later, you will have need of them. Chronicle every event that occurs during your captivity. This record will save many lives.
The years pass slowly, but they do pass. One fall night, you will stand at an open window, overcome with loneliness. You will yearn to jump. The air will steam like dry ice and smell of apples, even though there are no apples on this planet. You will believe it is your imagination, as you have imagined apples before. But remember this letter and don’t jump. Your life is important.
Months later, when you smell apples again, you will be waiting for him to fall asleep. This time is real.
This time, wash nothing away. Retrieve your writings and the key. Use the kitchen door. It’s the only lock they have not changed. Hurry to the clearing where the ship landed when you first arrived.
I will be waiting there. You will recognize me from your earliest days on Saturn. I am the traveler who handed you this letter and smelled of apples.
The journey to rescue you was more difficult than I imagined. I tried and failed many times. I will remember nothing, not even who I am. I will need your help to find our craft. It is hidden deep in a forest of trees that look almost human, beside a green sea that bubbles. The craft is programmed to take us home.
Once we board, collect all traces of the master from your body. Submit them to the computer for our scientists to study. Then you may bathe in the healing waters I carried from home.
When you have finished, you will lock yourself in your quarters. You will be afraid. I promise, I will not disturb you. Go to sleep. You’re very tired.
The following day, submit your observations about Saturn into the computer. By the time we arrive home, the enemy will be destroyed. The master can never hurt you again.
During our long return, read to me from your compilation of poems and stories. These days with you on the ship will be my first memories. You will teach me to speak, and to read, and to laugh. You will be my first teacher and my first friend.
When we arrive home, you will be celebrated as a hero. I will be a hero also, but I won’t understand why until I travel again through space and time to where I left clues. Princess Sorah was taken prisoner during a Saturian raid on Lagaria in 6458 when she was eleven. She sacrificed herself to save her family. Exactly fifty years later, her hybrid son attacked Outer Lagaria with a fleet of warships and slaughtered half the planet’s population in three days time. This began the Saturian occupation of Lagaria.
I will not understand who I was before I met you until I locate my personal journal. 12/3/6600: I am leaving today on the first of a projected four leaps through dimensional space and time to change the lifeline of Princess Sorah Tijah. Her line is the key to saving Lagaria from future annihilation. A small ship has been prepared for me. Dried apples and crystallized water will sustain me during the dark days that follow a leap. I regret I cannot rescue the princess yet. She has tasks to complete before the future of Lagaria will be secure. I hope my words to her will be sufficient.
In the years that follow our return, you will confide in me, and I will be an avid listener. You will teach and I will travel time once again. A day will arrive when your nightmares retreat and never return. When they do, I will be honored that you wish to marry me.
I will tell you I loved you from the moment I read of you in a history book when I was a young boy. Rescuing you became my life’s purpose. You will tell me, during your captivity, these words are the only thing that kept you alive.
Wait for me, Sorah. I will come.
Von Rupert lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. where she homeschools her children and carries far too many books home from the library. On the web, she’s a writing mentor at Writer’s Village University and F2K.