In memory of all the young inhabitants of Yale Park, Albuquerque, NM, during the early '70s, who chose to tune in, turn on, and drop out. I wonder whatever became of them.
His screams still echoed in his ears. The light--it just wouldn't stop! It flashed faster and faster and faster. They wouldn't let him close his eyes to shut out the terrible flashing light. His body ached for sleep and relief from that torturous light.
Come on, Iolaus. Get a grip. Don't succumb to this. Think of something else, something wonderful and peaceful and restful. Think of that last time you went with Herc to visit Alcmene and Jason. Remember that wonderful meal Alcmene prepared? Lovely Alcmene--her smile and her embrace--she always treated you as one of her own sons. She truly cares for you. And Hercules--he's more than a best friend. He's the brother you never had. Think of Hercules, Iolaus, draw on his strength. And his love. They're your family; think of them and they'll get you through this. Think of Hercules...concentrate on your friend and the good times you've shared with him...Hercules....
Sweet music filled his ears. He felt as if he were floating. Floating on a sea of softness. Sweet scents reached his nostrils. His tired body was resting, finally. He could feel gentle hands massaging his sore muscles. Someone was stroking his hair. "Come, Brother Iolaus, drink more of this cool water. It'll refresh your soul and your body."
He tentatively cracked his eyes open. No more flashing light! He fully opened his eyes. He gazed upon the beautiful face of a young woman he'd never seen before. She helped him hold up his head and let the refreshing, cool water trickle down his throat. It was so good. He began to gulp it down.
"No, Brother Iolaus, drink slowly. No one is going to take it away from you again. You are among your new brothers and sisters. Nothing evil or painful will ever reach you here. All here is peace. Relax, and feel the peace surround you. Yes, that's it, just relax, and let us help you find complete peace and love."
The girl had lowered his head back into the soft pillows on which he lay. She went back to stroking his hair and humming along with the harp being played somewhere in this room. Two other young women, barely out of their teens, were massaging his taut muscles with scented oils. They smiled at him as their hands traveled up and down his body, releasing all the tensions withheld in his legs and arms. It felt so good.
"See, isn't that the way we all should feel, dear brother," the girl who had given him drink continued on in her soothing, seductive voice. She continued stroking his hair. He could feel himself getting sleepy. "You'll find no cares or worries down here, Brother Iolaus. Only wonderful peace, and love. It's a perfect place." The girl waved away the two masseuses. They smiled longingly at the blond warrior as they left.
The other woman gently turned Iolaus' head to face her. She smiled so sweetly. He watched as she untied her chemise, letting it drop from her beautiful, soft shoulders. She climbed into the bed with him, stroking his hair and moving her hands down to his chest. She put her lips close to his ear. "The perfect place. Perfect peace. Perfect love."
Iolaus woke with a start. Where was he? He sat up in the lush bed he was occupying and heard a soft sound beside him. It was a beautiful girl. He stared at her in disbelief, until foggy memories started to come back to him. She was the one who had stroked his hair and chest, and had shared herself with him. And he didn't even know her name.
He looked around the room. There were other couples there, in varying degrees of intimacy. Couples softly talking, couples kissing, couples lying together. He turned again to the sleeping girl at his side. He gently pushed her hair away from her face. She couldn't be any older than his cousin, Regina. Did Regina visit this room? If so, did she know--really know--the person she came with?
Iolaus felt a sadness descend upon him. Here were people of many different ages and histories, and they didn't realize what they were really doing, or what was being done to them. They walked around and acted in a lotus-induced bliss that hid the real world from them. He could see it their eyes--the absence of reality.
It saddened him. The ideals of true peace and love existed, but not as experienced here in Kamaros' drug-induced slave society. All of these people were really just living out lies. This was no life!
I have to get these people out of here, Iolaus thought to himself. I can't bear the idea of Regina living like this anymore. And what about the child, Lorel? What did the future hold for her, under Kamaros' twisted control? The thought make Iolaus ill.
He looked around for his clothes, and couldn't find them. All he could find were some wildly-colored garments at the foot of the bed. He went ahead and put them on. Really, they felt pretty good--nice and soft next to his skin. He shook himself. He couldn't let himself like anything having to do with this falsehood of a life.
He was startled by a gentle touch on his arm. It was another of the many blank-faced young girls living down in this hole.
"Can I help you, Brother? You seem distressed about something. There should be nothing to trouble you down here." She reached out and stroked his cheek.
"I, uh, I was wondering about the clothes I was wearing when I came here. What happened to them? There was something I really wanted to keep."
"Oh, all our clothes and worldly belongings are taken and given to the neighboring villages. We don't need them anymore. All our needs are taken care of, right here. We give our other things to the villages, for the use of their poor and needy. Whatever you had that you wanted to keep couldn't have been so important, now that you're here with us..." She smiled beatifically.
"Yes, you're right, Sister. I was just wondering, that's all." He had to keep up the front that he had been "re-educated" if he was to bring an end to Kamaros' control over these people. Now, he just needed to find Moriah.
"Well, Brother Iolaus, I see you've finally begun to see the light." It was all Iolaus could do to keep himself from whirling around and planting a fist in the middle of the snide face that had just uttered those words. Kamaros!
Slowly he turned to face his torturer. "Yes, Master Kamaros, I was so foolish. I understand, now." He spread out his hands to include all that surrounded him. "This is paradise. This is true peace and love. I want to embrace it!"
Kamaros smiled his sickly smile down on the man he believed was his most recent convert. "Then come, Brother, and let me lead you out into your new life. We are worshipping our god, and I know you'll want to join us, and pay her your own respects. Come, join me." He put his arm around Iolaus' shoulders. It sickened the warrior to play this game, but it was the only way he could see a way out for himself and all these others who needed his help.
Kamaros led him out into the large cavern, where the followers were adoring their child god. Iolaus slowly walked into the group, and began to follow suit. He could do this. He just needed to keep up the charade until he found a way to rescue these people. Moriah would help him. Somehow, when he knew it was safe to do so, he'd let her in on his plan. Irritating as she was, she could be depended on when things got sticky. Now, where was she?
He found her quite soon. He heard Kamaros chuckle behind him, and turned to see him conversing with one of his honchos. Then, the madman behind this whole scheme took Iolaus by the shoulders again. "Come, I want you to meet someone," was all he said as he led Iolaus toward the back of the room.
There stood Moriah, Regina, and Aurora, huddled together. As he and Kamaros approached, Iolaus heard Aurora utter, "Oh, no." He steeled himself for this first meeting under these new conditions. Come on Iolaus, you can do this. Play-act like you've never done before. The lives of all these people depend on you, and you alone.
"Greetings, friends. Peace and love, sister."
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