THE MASTER OF PAUSIAS BY JEAN LOUP
The following short story by Jean Loup was published in the fourth issue, February 1980, pp. 10-13, of Pan, a magazine about boy-love, published by Spartacus in Amsterdam.
The illustrations, apart from the magazine cover, appeared with the story.
CLARITY, MYSTERY, ENCHANTMENT — impressions which well out of one’s primordial awareness when first entering the world of Pausias, Galaxy M38 Centarius….
How should I describe this planet at the end of the Universe — in poetry or through the abstract elegance of space mathematics? No matter: here the two are fabulously interwoven — the passions with the concrete. Thus the love of a real man (long forgotten, presumed dead) with a child of dreams....
There what is seen, touched, breathed is transfigured by the most tender plays of imagination, ignited with the spark of the Magi. The mind is drawn like the wind through vast mountain forests to enchanted clearings and allowed to linger there over feasts for all the senses....
Who but I can bear witness to this world? Only I have set foot on Pausias.
I AM DISPATCHING my space ship to track automatically negative vector 58 ZM 08 (spiral space dynamic) in the hope that this message will be intercepted and believed. In so doing I am following, if you will, the customs of another era, when shipwrecked mariners on Sun-planet Earth confided their plight to a note and sealed it in a bottle and set both upon the waters of Earth-ocean in the hope of being rescued. In my case, however, the message is one of good cheer, telling of my happiness and saying that I have no need of rescue, nor use for it.
It is impossible to describe this happiness: it is very much a personal matter and cannot in its particulars be a model for another man. Yet I feel a very moral need to communicate my great good fortune so all this can enter the retained consciousness of our species. Knowing that Pausias is indestructible I can safely tell of the Being who is the source of my ecstasy.
He is a young boy: let me call him, for the present, ‘The Prince of the Universe’. My happiness, paradoxically, was born of some major troubles I experienced an indeterminable time ago aboard this very space craft....
LET ME RECALL the state of our knowledge in the year 22, Second Cycle, in the event that this message travels an immense span of time before it is intercepted.
It had long been known that in the Galaxy M39 Centarius there was a star nearly identical to the Sun with a similar planetary system. It was also known that one of these planets had a suitable environment for human life. But it had always been impossible to make a landing upon it. Approaching space craft encountered a sort of magnetic barrier which did not permit them to advance any farther. Yet this planet appeared to be a paradise, a magnificent place with enchanted lakes, lush and flower-decked vegetation, great seas, a marvellous climate. Why it remained so inaccessible was one of the great riddles of the Universe. It was baptised Pausias, in honour of the ancient Greek painter of delicate scenes of temple dwellings, floral motifs in which danced the little Eros, the musical Eros, Eros mounted on chariots -scenes which enchanted the art lovers of Hellenic times and which, millennia later, inspired our own spaciographs.
I was piloting a cargo liner toward several of the colonised planets of M39 Centarius — Valerius, Esmerald, Conglomer — when one day my power generator failed; I knew I must soon reach a base able to handle emergencies. But the planet closest to me was Pausias and I was faced with the unhappy choice of either attempting some sort of landing upon it or following my present trajectory endlessly and eternally through interstellar space. I let my cruising speed decay and the craft lodged gently into the expected magnetic cushion. We glided to a stop upon this invisible surface, a glare-ice skating rink of some incomprehensible force field. 2,000 kilometres beneath me the lovely surface of Pausias slowly turned. And there for days I sat, immobilised, transmitting call after call of distress on all my frequencies but knowing that the impulses which carried them were dying out a mere million kilometres away, reaching the ears of no one.
It was then that I decided to dictate a record of my life and present misadventures. I alternated the recording of these thoughts with continuing and weakening calls for help.
That is how I occupied my time, praying, but without much hope, that I would somehow not be abandoned to the lonely death all intergalactic vagabonds most dread. My cargo, a thousand tons of fulminium, enough to supply the energy requirements of most of the space craft in the Universe, was infuriating in its present uselessness.
THE OXIDE REDUCER began to fail. Panting, in a high voice, I started dictating, through the fever which was beginning to kill me, my record of what I felt was essential in my life, the fire of my loves. Beatific images surged through my dimming consciousness. I saw again the two magnificent children (a boy and a girl) I had once had by a noble and generous woman. Especially I saw the face of my most beloved, a young boy named Qoor who drowned one day accidentally upon Earth … and sent me on my lonely career of space pilotage — it is well that our Organization finds use for damaged souls.
Despair … euphoria … death, that of old and the one now approaching ... the last limits of perception, insane warmth, the recapture of joys shared with a divine, spontaneous, intelligent child…
I was about to die, sweetly, in final resignation, when I realised that something extraordinary was taking place. My space craft had changed course; the deadly monotony of its orbit was interrupted. I glanced at my altimeter: yes, we were descending slowly toward the surface of Pausias. We had lost 300 kilometres while I was unburdening my soul.
What had happened to the barrier? Had the force field finally yielded to the persistent pressure of my ship?
Could it be that I was fated to live, or even live through death, on this idyllic planet? The joy which surged through my veins (like new blood flowing) displaced all fears of landing on an unknown terrain.
WE CAME GENTLY to rest and I stepped out into a small glade surrounded by deep green shrubbery and flowers which cast into the soft atmosphere a perfume of strange delight. Then came a vision which nearly stopped my heart: a child, beautiful beyond description, appeared from the forest. At first I thought he must be part of the narcosis of the air I breathed. But no — I pinched myself — he was alive and real, a young adolescent, a boy with golden hair and a body clad only in harmony. He was 12, 13, 14 — I couldn't really tell. His eyes, two sparkling and limpid diamonds, looked at me with infinite goodwill and sweetness.
He took my hand and squeezed it gently and I was filled with a wild, delicious confusion. “I know what you are feeling,” he said, in the language and accent of my people. “I think we love each other.”
I realised then that I was saved, although there was much I could not comprehend. His speech (more melody than voice) found deep resonance in my own memory traces. It confused me and filled me with comfort. How could this boy see so deeply into my soul and supplant my thoughts with his own? Tears rolled down my cheeks and spilled onto my chest like so many playing insects. As I came to myself again I had the sense of being deliberately chosen….
“I know of your torment, your loneliness,” the gentle boy continued. “I have heard your recorded message and understood it. It was I who willed that you come.”
There was so much that I wanted to ask but didn't dare, because I wasn't willing to risk breaking the dream I found myself living. It was all I could do to ask him why he had allowed me, and no others, to visit Pausias.
“Because you need me,” he said, then added after a long pause, “and I need you.”
I knew then my future. As I became conscious of the love I felt for the little master, for the young prince of this planet, I knew that I would for evermore live with him among these serene orchards, these pastures, forests inundated with musical light, where golden waves break in the air, where nothing ends and decays but the torments of man, where in a profusion of leaf and petal (greens, turquoise, ochre, the greys and purples of distance climbing into the immaculate azure of the Pausanian sky) love takes up residence in the tender flesh and spirit of a young boy, there where that boy has his home.
What a quest it had been. It had led me away from our conventional worlds — barren fields of bitterness — out past the meteorites along intergalactic vectors into the vastness of space. I saw now how necessary the risks had been, and how great the reward. I beg you, unknown souls listening to this electronic trace of my pilgrimage, to see beyond your known world, into your private hearts, to follow me, drinking in the hypnotic scents of the flowers of Pausias, along the footpath leading to the home of its Master.
I LISTENED THERE without end to his gentle voice, soft as the breeze in our orchards. He whispered to me such simple things: ‘Relinquish your burdens…. Give your heart and your time…. Sow peace about you.” Slowly we dismembered my life; we plunged back and back, toward that sunny afternoon on another world . . . the lake, the boat, the floating oar …
“Why,” I asked one day, when we had long become accustomed to one another, “why was it you alone who inhabited this planet? Why have you so fiercely guarded it, and what is its secret?”
“The powers which so astonish you I simply cannot describe,” he sang to me sweetly. “As for my solitude, it has always been with me, yet I knew that I was somehow tied to another being, the only one who could interrupt and disturb the patterns of my existence. Then you came. I heard your message and, of course, I knew….”
I felt vaguely unworthy of all this beauty, this happiness, but I was quickly becoming accustomed to it. What we did on Pausias, I and my gentle master, was love. We loved with the heart, with the blood, with the flesh. I came to know the deepest recesses of beauty ... and of myself. For now I can reveal the greatest miracle of all, the name of my lover, my master, my gentle prince. I learned it just the other day. It is Qoor.
I am only a man and I cannot understand the mechanics of this transfer of existence. It matters little. What is important is that I carry my message of hope back home to those troubled worlds from which I came, and to do that I risk the loss of everything.
LEAVING, STEPPING into my space craft, I kissed the lips of my young Master of Pausias.
“Qoor, I love you. I love you Qoor.”
“I love you,” he replied. “I love you, now and for eternity.”
ONE DAY on trajectory 58 ZM 08 (spiral dynamic space) a shipwrecked fulminium space transport was encountered. In it was the dead body of its sole pilot and, beside him, instructions to listen to a long recorded message….
The existence of a small house on the magnificent but still inaccessible planet of Pausias has been confirmed. It seems to be inhabited by two people…