Victoria and the Ancient Evil
A walk before Midnight
with Author TC Phillips
TC Phillips, author of the story “60 Seconds to Midnight,” gave me a bone-chilling interview with his character, Victoria.
. . . or, is it his character Ylana?
To be honest, I was sure that I spoke to two young ladies during this walk. It was obvious that one body held two souls. However, the conversation was a delicate one. Not only two souls, but two worlds unite in this poor creature. She was a mess when I saw her, pale and worn. She looked to be no older than her late teens, but her eyes held centuries of pain. Abandoned by her family in our Terran reality, Victoria met Ylana inside her own head, while struggling for survival on the streets of Cardiff. Soon after that, she languished in a mental institution, fighting the pain that came from suppressing Ylana’s voice.
But that’s the story of Victoria, not Ylana. Ylana was chased into our sphere by ancient, terrifying daimons. These eyeless monsters are all mouth and no face. They flow like black smoke, and devour the souls of everyone that they touch. As old as time, they were once imprisoned by Ylana’s people, but they broke their prison walls and now they have begun to spread throughout the galaxy. Ylana’s world was destroyed by them, and her parents murdered. As a final effort at survival, her grandfather transported her to our world, along with himself. Only their souls came to us, though; their bodies stayed behind in stasis. Ylana earnestly seeks her grandfather, and hopes to find him someday.
Meanwhile, Victoria and Ylana must conquer an impending invasion of daimon hordes while both occupying the body of one teenage girl. What’s more terrifying than that? The invasion is taking place right now, on our very own planet earth.
It was my privilege to walk just a few steps down the halls of a hospital with Victoria, where she was recovering from her latest hand-to-hand combat with a legendary daimon. It is important to note that she is a skilled warrior, but everything comes with a price. Victoria may have won some battles, but I cannot say whether or not she will win this war.
Me: What is your earliest memory?
Victoria: My memories, or should I say our memories, are becoming increasingly entangled. When I think back I can see things from Ylana’s world where I know I’ve never been, but they are perhaps more real, more vivid, than those things which I saw for myself. At once I can remember being a small child brought into a harsh life on the streets of Cardiff and growing up amongst the wonders of a civilisation far beyond that of the one here on earth.
The earliest moment I can recall is of a gentle afternoon spent amongst the tall grasses with my mother, though I know she could not be mine – as my own mother passed in childbirth, as my own drunken father so often felt the need remind me. I take comfort in Ylana’s childhood, and though it is now lost to her, it was something I never truly had.
Me: How old are you?
Victoria: I cannot truly say, I have never had the chance to celebrate a birthday nor do I even know when it is. My father had little time for me, before abandoning me completely to raise myself. I would guess that I am nearing my seventeenth or eighteenth year, due to my similarity to girls on the street whom I once knew before being committed to the asylum and the passing of years since my coming into my own womanhood.
Ylana insists that she is twenty-six cycles in age, though she explains that the way her own world marks the passage of time is different to ours. As far as I can understand, one of her cycles is almost twice as fast as a year here on earth and she would be almost fourteen or fifteen earth years, but like me she has seen much which has matured her beyond our years.
Me: Who is (or was) your most trusted person?
Victoria: Trust is a fickle thing, it can take a lifetime to build but can be shattered in an instant. Before Ylana came into my life, the only person I could trust was myself. Knowing what I do about Ylana, and sharing her own thoughts and dreams, I would now say she is the only person apart from myself I fully trust.
Ylana is more open than me, however, and is far more willing to place her faith in others. Despite the many things he has kept from her, Ylana still insists her grandfather can be trusted and she is desperate to find him.
Me. Is there a place where you feel safe and happy?
Victoria: I truly wish there was such a place, but I am still yet to find it. I take comfort, like Ylana, in her memories of her world before the coming of the Daimons. But here and now, there is no real safety to be found anywhere on this world.
Me: I am only a creature of one world. Would I know a daimon if I saw one?
Victoria: I pray you never do, to see one in their true form is to see a nightmare made flesh. There would be no mistaking what you saw before you, the sight of one alone is enough to freeze your very soul. To see them in hordes numbering tens of thousands, as I have seen in Ylana’s own memories of her world’s destruction, it is enough to send one to the brink of madness. . . I suppose I should know that better than anyone.
Me: What is your most memorable trip, and where did you go?
Victoria: When I was young, before my father left me to the streets, he once took me on a trip to London to look for work. I’m not sure if there was no work available, or if my father just merely spent most of his time and moneys in the gambling halls and taverns, but I remember being struck by the sheer size of it.
Now, being able to see Ylana’s memories of her homeworld, London seems little more than a small village.
Me: Is Ylana able to speak to us herself? If she is, then, Ylana, here’s a question just for you: Do you feel the same things (pain, heat, cold, etc.) that Victoria feels? If you do, what is it like for you when she has her headaches?
Victoria: Ylana says to tell you that she does indeed feel the same as I, not only physical sensations like pain and cold, but also my emotions like fear and joy. I suppose it works both ways, I too feel her own sense of loss and despair. Most of all though, I share her sense of hope – that is a gift I have never truly had before.
Thankfully my headaches have all but gone now, they were a result of Ylana trying to break free of the mental walls I had built up around her very existence. For so long I had thought her voice little more than the symptom of my own madness, and tried very hard to supress her consciousness within my own mind. I wish I had known better much earlier, it would have spared us both a great deal of pain.
Me: I see that Ylana talks only to you, Victoria. Who did you first tell about her, and what was the outcome?
Victoria: When Ylana’s voice first appeared in my mind, it did so painfully. I screamed for days and my eyes felt as though they were on fire. I’m not entirely sure who had my committed to the asylum, those first days are hard to recall.
I do remember the first Doctor I told about Ylana’s voice promptly had me subjected to all manner of tortures in a bid to “cure” me. I quickly learnt that mentioning her voice often resulted in being subjected to an ice bath or electro-convulsive therapy, so I tried my best to silence her for as long as I could.
Me: Was it important, that the spear killed the first daimon at midnight?
Victoria: To be truthful, I am still unsure of what it means to be the spear of Rion and even if I am able to repeat what I did that night in Prague. Ylana insists that her grandfather will be able to explain it all, that there is some grand plan or prophecy behind it all. Maybe it was destined to happen at that time, or perhaps it was a matter of happenstance.
I am not so sure, but I trust in Ylana and will do what I can to reunite her with her grandfather and find out the truth behind all that is happening to us both. What I am sure of though, is that we cannot have happen to our world what happened to Ylana’s, and if I can help prevent that in some way I will.
Me: That sounds terrifying, and I hope we never see what you have both seen, Victoria and Ylana. What will you both do when, or if, this is all over?
Victoria: That day seems so far away, though we both pray it will come. Ylana does not know what will or can become of her, she has no home to return to and it would seem we are now intended to be joined.
All I hope for is to be able to put an end to all this fear.
TC Phillips hails from tropical central Queensland in Australia, where he currently lives with his loving wife, three young children, a spoilt cat, and an overactive imagination. An avid reader from a young age, he has held a long standing attraction for the written word and is excited to able to make his own contributions to the vibrant and ever shifting world of storytelling. Holding degrees in both Theatre Studies and Education, he is also currently completing his Master of Arts (writing) through Swinburne University of Technology.