Warmth. Softness. The sound of someone moving quietly, trying not to disturb him. What was that smell? Was that what a body smelled like? A strange new sensory world beckoned beyond closed eyelids. He was wary of opening his eyes. There seemed to be so much to take in after being in the void for so long.
“He’s awake?” A woman’s voice, Ekaterina he guessed, he hoped. It was reminiscent of the sound of her mind but obscured by the mechanics of speech.
“Yes, and he hears us. We’ve given him something of a shock in bringing him back to himself. Give him time. He will join us when he is ready.” The shadow voice again. The voice spoke in the same language as the people but it was not native to the speaker. How did he know that?
The warmth was a comfort. It was easier just to give in to it and sleep again.
Something cool against his brow. Moisture across his lips. He hadn’t realised he was thirsty. Up to the point of feeling the wetness he hadn’t understood thirst. How many more differences between the world of the body and what he had perceived from the void? He opened his mouth to the moisture, savouring the feeling of the cold liquid being dribbled across his tongue. The sensation stopped and he felt warm breath across his face. Another face close to his, another mouth close to his. That meant something, but he wasn’t sure what. He was sure he used to know.
“He says I shouldn’t give you too much at first.” Ah, that was Ekaterina again. “He’s gone out to listen for God. He says I’m to look after you but I shouldn’t give you too much of anything.” He felt the muscles in his face contract but he wasn’t sure why. “There’s only the two of us here, I’ve put most of the lights out so you won’t hurt your eyes again if you want to open them.”
There she was. Soft features in pale candlelight, eyes wide in amazement as he looked at her and continued to smile. Yes, smile was the word. It felt good to look at her. It felt good to be able to look at anyone. He tried to sit up but couldn’t quite seem to co-ordinate the order of limbs and joints. She understood what he was trying to do and came to his assistance with pillows, holding him close, making sure he felt safe on the bed.
The action disturbed the covers. He looked down at skin that was a different shade to the woman’s. He didn’t have the right words in his head and he couldn’t pick any from hers. He didn’t know why but he thought of fields of wheat ripened in the sun. This was skin, flesh. A body that could feel. She drew the covers back around him. The touch of her hand brushing against his skin was a strange sensation, almost painful in its immediacy. He couldn’t feel her mind. He hoped new pleasures would make up for the loss of the one sense that he’d had before.
“This is my room. He carried you here. You had many wounds. We cleaned you and made sure you would be comfortable. Don’t worry if you can’t speak. Don’t try to force things. He said it may take some time for everything to come back to you.” The bed creaked as she eased herself next to him and put her arms around his shoulders. “Don’t you worry. Ekaterina will keep her angel safe.”
He slept again.
Different sounds. A new smell. He opened his eyes again. He saw Ekaterina and a taller figure, their backs to him, talking in low voices. The taller figure turned – a man, thin body, thin face. Eyes, unguarded, that looked as old as eternity and then he blinked and the impression passed. Mykhail recognised the shadow in the ancient gaze.
“Greetings Mykhail, it has taken me many years to find you. I understand if you don’t recognise me in this body after so long.” He smiled. “It’s me … Gabriel.” Even as the name was formed he knew it was a lie. He looked from the thin man to Ekaterina. She was happy with the name so that was the name he would use when he spoke to Adam Kadmon. “Would you care to try some food? Not much, just enough while you get used to the body you have.”
Ekaterina came over and began to feed him tiny pieces of food, carefully following each morsel with sips of water. ‘Gabriel’ took a seat in the corner, saying nothing more, letting the woman fuss over her charge. Each mouthful was easier than the one before. He enjoyed the sensation of texture and flavour even though he guessed that the food was relatively bland. The woman seemed very pleased with his progress and let him rest back on the pillows when he had finally finished the last item off the plate. He turned his attention to the tall figure folded into a small chair, sat in the shadows as if hoping not to be noticed.
Why not admit that he was Adam Kadmon? Mykhail realised he would have recognised the first of his kind anywhere. Only, he had no idea who Adam Kadmon was, or who were his kind. He was certain he’d never picked the name out of a stray mind. The name felt the wrong shape to have come from the people of this land. It was something that had come from within. And then, looking at the shadow man again he knew that that might not even be a name but some kind of title.
He slept again.
When he woke the room was darker than before. Night time he guessed. And, like other night times, there were two intertwined bodies naked on the floor. They moved rhythmically against each other, the ghostly shape of the thin man connected at mouth and hip with Ekaterina. This was what he had experienced from inside other people. Seeing it, hearing their heavy breathing and the stifled moans of the woman, and above all smelling the sharp tang of sex in the air excited his new senses.
The woman’s eyes were closed but the man – not a man, not an angel either – was aware that they were being watched. He lifted his face from the woman below him and maintained eye contact with their entranced witness as he changed the timing of his movements. The change was enough to trigger something in the woman and she arched herself against the skinny body above her. Eternal eyes staring at him suddenly seem to burn briefly with their own light as the man, whatever he was, let out an almost inaudible sigh and relaxed onto the woman.
They all slept.