Dem’s parents work in the harvesting of the highly valued power crystals, but they often harvest crystals which are burned out. When they are burned out they are good only for costume jewelry and there is almost no market for those. Many of the burned out crystals are thrown away, so Dem’s father brings him some from time to time. Dem loves the way the crystals make him feel and has a collection of the burned out ones. Here is the first installment of this great story….
Dem looked up as his father came home from the factory. He could feel his father was in a bad mood so he quickly swept his collection of crystals into the drawer and hustled over to prepare a caf for his father.
“Five today! Five of them damn dead crystals. Another day like this and I will be demoted back to crystal polisher. How the hell could they bring me five?”
“I’m sorry father. Did others have that many too?”
“Others? Oh, yes I suppose so. The whole damn batch was bad near as I can tell. Means a bad pay period for both your mother and I.”
“Here. Here’s a couple more for your collection. Don’t know why you want them, they are useless.”
Dem could not believe it. His father handed him three crystals two were pink and one was clear. He had never seen a clear one before. They were said to be the most valuable of all crystals. Key crystals is what he had heard them called.
“Thank you father. But a clear one? Won’t you get in trouble?”
“No they had so many today they were throwing them out in the trash. The call for that costume jewelry has never been significant, and this many all at once would have driven the price even lower. Besides, the boss thinks it is funny that I have a son who likes the dead ones.
Now get cleaned up. Your mother will be home shortly and she will want to eat dinner. They worked extra today to try and make up for the lost batch.”
Dem hurried over to his drawer and placed the three new crystals in it, being careful to wrap the clear one in a rag and separate it from the others. Then he closed the drawer and hustled over to the refresh station as he heard his mother announced at the door.
“Oh my god! What a horrid day! We lost everything out of the new shaft! Everything! I have to do a double back and then work a double tomorrow to try to get through to the next cache. We are so far behind production goals now we will be lucky to get minimum rate this pay period.”
“We’re in the same boat, believe me dear. I cut 5 of those crystals before they pulled the batch.”
“Five? Oh no. That will put you on notice won’t it?”
“Yes, I’m sure of it. Need a full year of good production to overcome a day with five.”
“How do they expect you to know? That’s so unfair. They don’t allow anyone who can feel those damn crystals to work in either of our jobs, but we get a bad batch and we both get put on notice. They need to put the planner on notice not us.”
“No, it’s not fair, but what can we do? At least both of us have jobs. Several of the cutters have spouses who don’t work. And Shell has five dependents. I can’t imagine what they are going through right now.”
“Yes, that’s true. I guess we should count our blessings.
Dem, come here, I have a couple for you. They dumped the whole load in the tailings so I picked out a couple of the prettiest one’s for you.”
Dem smiled and nearly ran over to his mother who was holding out her lunch box. He went over and looked in and could not believe his eyes. A yellow, a blue and a very large black crystal. They were uncut and the black was still attached to the stone they formed in, but they were beautiful.
“Thank you mom, they are beautiful. Dad brought me two pinks and a clear one. This is really going to improve my collection.”
“Alright, put them away and let’s eat. I have to hit the sack as soon as possible since I have to be back for first shift.”
Dem rushed over and put the three new crystals into his drawer and stared at them for a moment before sliding the drawer closed and hustling back to join his parents for dinner.
…Dem looked up from the cutter and smiled as he saw the look of approval on his father’s face.
“That’s a perfect cut son. Too bad that black is a dead crystal. It would have brought top credits with a clean cut like that. That’s the one from that bad load we hit five years ago isn’t it?”
“Yes, mom brought it home in her lunch box that day. I’ve found several more blacks on the tailings since then, but nothing as large and perfect as this one. That’s why I saved it for last. I wanted a perfect cut on that perfect crystal.”
“It doesn’t matter son. That crystal is useless and consequently worthless. But is sure is pretty with that double tip cut you did. You will be a very good cutter. Need to get your application in this month. They will be hiring new cutters right after graduation and you have to be at the top of the list to get a look.”
“I already did dad. Completed the application this morning.”
“Excellent. Now we can’t be on the same team, so you will be trying to get on with one of the other three crews. Remember if you get an interview, these guys have big egos. Tell them how much you admire them and how you hope to be as good as they are someday. Lay it on thick and make them believe it or you won’t get hired.”
“Got it dad. You have been telling me that since I was 5. Got me through school pretty easily too. One boss is not much different from another and teachers and administrators are bosses too.”
“I guess so, but these guys are real ego maniacs. Put forward your best effort and you will be fine. I’m proud of you son.”
“Thanks dad. Gotta run, Lessa is supposed to meet me at the gym.”
“Lessa this week, huh? Well just be careful, son. That could mess things up too.”
“Give me break dad, we are just friends. See ya later!”
Dem could hear his father laughing as he headed for the gym.
…Dem pulled open the drawer that held his collection of crystals. Over 100 of them now, varying in size from the small yellow that was less than a centimeter in diameter and only about two and a half centimeters long all the way up to the black double pointed crystal that was half a meter long with a diameter of nine centimeters. Had that black crystal been pure, it would have been worth more than his parents had made in their whole careers combined. One that large and perfect would be used by a team of masters to move starships. Only the greatest of masters could handle the level of power colors a black of that size could focus.
Dem ran his hand across it feeling its smooth cold surface as he thought about the interview he would have in a few hours at the factory. Cutting one like this would be trusted to only the most skilled of cutters like his father. Dem could only hope to be that good one day. He reached for the clear crystal he had been given the same day as he got the black. That had been a bad day for his parents as the whole lot of crystals from the new shaft had all been declared waste. Neither parent got payed for that entire week of work because the company lost the week’s profits throwing out that many crystals.
But for Dem, it had been a very good day. He had gotten his two most prized crystals that day. The key crystal and the black. Both were crystals that he would not be trusted to cut for many years, assuming he got the position today.
He picked up the clear crystal and held it close to his heart. It always had a calming effect on him when he held it so.
If only I knew how to make you whole once more. If I could take all that is stored in you into me, what would I learn? Could I then call on your powers and know what to do with them?
Oh how I wish I could know what you know.
Dem felt his mind clear and a focus he had never felt before, even when cutting crystals, settled over him. He saw centuries melt into one another and felt thousands of people dream and wish and draw on the crystal. And suddenly he knew why the crystal was unusable. It was too charged from too many people with the talent drawing on it and the other crystals it could connect to.
Some of those who had drawn on the crystal, especially in the early years, had known how to use the power colors and were surprised at how freely they came on this hill. Dem could see the weaves they formed with the colors drawn through the key crystal and its children. Yes, this one was to heal, and this to teleport. This one was to see the future, and this to see the past. There were hundreds of combinations, and they all made sense to Dem somehow.
I need to free you of these memories, so that you can be free to do what god intended. Give them to me, let them go.
Dem felt the visions flow into him, and he knew he needed to filter and discard those that were meaningless or he would become like the crystal. He focused on the weaves, storing one of each and then letting all the rest of the memories flow through him and out into the ether. This was right, he did not know how he knew it, but he was certain that was what needed to be done.
He moved through the memories as they flowed at him faster and faster. Keep this one, discard that one, move on to the next. He would never know how long the process took, but he missed his interview and did not care. Eventually, the crystal quit sending him memories, and he felt elation at the success. Then he collapsed and slept until his father awoke him the next day.
“Son! You missed the interview? How could you miss that? I spent all morning convincing them to give you another chance. Hurry, you need to be clean and presentable in thirty minutes.”
“What? Missed the in… Oh my god. I got so distracted. Sorry dad. Thank you for getting me another chance. I’ll be ready.”
Dem nearly ran into the refresh unit. Fifteen minutes later he was dressed in his nicest suit and standing in front of the mirror making sure everything was perfect.
Time to go. I will have a lot of making up to do. Now what do I tell them about missing the first interview? Can’t tell them about the memories from the crystal, they would never believe me. I got the day wrong. Bad excuse, but better than nothing. If I fall all over myself telling them how grateful I am that they are giving me another chance and how much I admire them and the incredible job they do. It might work. I can’t let dad down after all he did to get me the interview.
Dem arrived at the factory five minutes before the interview as he had been drilled to do. He walked in and pressed his palm to the ident plate next to the interview room and the door opened immediately.
Okay, focus. Absolute calm. It will be a couple of minutes before they start the interview, but someone will be watching already.
Dem walked in and took the seat designated for the applicant facing the glass wall that appeared to be a mirror right now, but would turn clear when the interview began. His dad had briefed him over and over on the process and what to expect. There would be between three and five people on the other side of that glass wall, each with a different specialty. The first task would be to figure out who the cutter was and focus the answers to win that person over. Then watch for the reactions of the others and win each over based on what they reacted positively to.
No problem, I’ve got this.
Dem cleared his mind and attempted to achieve the level of focus he had been able to achieve when working with the crystal. As he thought of the crystal, he felt the surge in energy. It was as though he held it in his hand, but it was back in the drawer where it always stayed. Still he reveled in the energy and calm it gave him.
They are going to love me. I will be offered a job before I leave today.
Dem saw the glass wall clear. There were five interviewers, two older women, one woman that had to be just a couple years older than him, and two older men.
Odds are the young woman is HR. One of the older people will be the master cutter here. There that man with the scars on his hands. He will be a miner. One of the other three then will be the cutter.
The young woman spoke first.
“Applicant Dem. You are being allowed a second chance at the interview because your father is a highly respected manager here and we do not wish to lose him over your lack of courtesy.