A Biblical Epic in Six Parts (4-6)
1 None of the kids determinately knew if the adults allowed them to peek onto the Inheritance Floor or not.
2 No adult would admit to having done so before their time, but that didn’t mean they weren’t lying. How could you resist the temptation your entire life? With the floor so near and accessible?
3 Some people’s parents lived a long time and you wouldn’t get to see your Inheritance Floor until your were too old to make use of it. Or until everything that it could tell you about life had happened or you knew already.
4 Weighing the options, Lorenz decided that looking was better than not.
5 The not-knowing would trouble him for life, and after all, his parents were fit and healthy.
6 What could be so bad in your future that knowing it would ruin your life? Terminal illness? Some horribly early demise? And if you knew, then maybe you could prevent it or act differently.
7 Lorenz spoke his plans to friends at the dinner table. It was his little brother Marco’s birthday, but Lorenz was allowed to have friends over as well. He spoke plainly to all, but none of the adults could understand or keep up with the slang adopted by the kids these days. And all the kids kept quiet about it, even though few, if any approved.
8 “They have to know that it could happen,” said Lorenz, when his brother confronted him after dinner. “The room isn’t guarded at all.”
“You gonna let anyone else see?” asked Marco.
“I dunno,” said Lorenz. “There’s gotta be something in it for me if I do, though.
9 One of the other dads walked by, coming back from the bathroom. Had he actually taken his beer in there with him?
10 “Don’t you kids go outside and play anymore?” he asked. “Looks like a . . . Parliamentary meeting in here. Let’s see some action.” And he wandered off to sit in the living room.
11 “It’s now or never,” said Marco. “They’ll get suspicious the more we huddle up like this.”
“Do you think we need anyone to run distraction?” asked Lorenz.
“Nah,” said Marco. “We just need to disappear.”
12 Lorenz kept the question to himself as to why his brother was now suddenly into this idea whereas before he had sensed nearly universal dissent. Maybe because Marco felt there was nothing at stake for him and would gain some cheap excitement.
13 To make small talk while walking along outside the house, Lorenz asked the other boys where their Inheritance Floors were.
14 I think mine’s in the attic.
Under the pool.
The door next to the bathroom medicine cabinet.
Somewhere in the garage. Haven’t really looked because there’s so much junk. Could be behind any number of piles of boxes.
15 Lorenz’s was in the basement. A side door which lead beneath the lawn. The front area had a dim lightbulb which illuminated gardening tools and pieces of old lawn equipment.
16 An innocuous door, the same dirt color as the wall, lay in the only corner where the light failed to reach. You could almost think it was just an old door that someone propped in a corner, and didn’t actually lead anywhere.
17 As a single unit, the group took steps forward like they were exploring an ancient pyramid. Lorenz put his hand on the knob and gave one last glance to his brother and his social group.
18 The knob turned easily and Lorenz took a deep breath and glanced in with one eye. Then the rest of his face, and then his entire head. The group had collectively stopped breathing behind him.
19 After a few moments he leaned back out and looked at them.
“What is it, what did you see?” asked Marco.
20 Lorenz’s expression gave no indication of his future. Instead, he slithered around into the Inheritance Room and slammed the door shut behind him.
21 Marco rushed forward, but the knob wouldn’t budge. He banged on the door and yelled for his brother as all his friends scattered, but there was no answer.
Roses and Flame
22 One way to rid the disease was by smell.
23 While germ theories of old ridiculed this notion, it was an indisputable fact that within the town square, where the pink flames were kept lit, no one caught the illness, and those who had symptoms found them abated.
24 The rose rocks which generated the flames had been collected by Tlalli for her grandmother’s jewelry shop, merely for their aesthetic value. They were particularly popular with athletes, for the rocks responded to body heat, and gave off a pleasant odor.
25 Any who attributed actual health benefits to the rocks were derided in the mainstream. But Tlalli’s family remained okay, those who stayed near the rocks.
26 It was her idea to burn them indoors, and when the sick got better, she and a small group collected more rocks and burned them in the town square, taking advantage of the breeze that bottlenecked through alleys leading to widespread dispersal of the smell.
27 Most of the town had fled due to the plague. It is mankind’s nature to leave areas where great danger is perceived rather than find a solution to that danger. Most danger is more powerful than us, despite all our accomplishments.
28 A general premise of Tlalli’s grandmother was that solutions to problems are found either around or within the problems themselves. Like is with like, and nature is not thrown together as a hodge-podge with related things spread unconnected to each other.
29 Tlalli knew that as long as she could keep the flames burning, she would not get sick. Even if the rest of the town deserted her she would stay here and tend to the fire.
30 She had it pretty good what with being able to go outside. There were many shelters around her. The rocks burned long and she knew where to find more.
31 Even with more villagers heading out. Some to seek the feral children and join them, some to seek the hunters of the feral children and join them.
32 Eventually, a traveller would come to her. Maybe a band of them, sick and dying and she could cure them with the flower-fire. And news of a possible end to the plague would blossom.
33 Even with the strange machines flying overhead going toward the distant castle, Tlalli would stay well as the rest of the world went collectively mad.
Timepiece’s Whispering Blight
34 This one has to be the best I’ve ever done, thought the puppet-maker.
33 Are we sometimes too unique for our own good? Despite increasing evidence to the contrary, I believed that the world would remain somewhat similar throughout the years as I practiced and perfected my craft. That by the sheer singularity of my direction, all eyes could not help but focus upon me in wonder.
34 But no one cares. And why should they? I resent their normalcy and they resent my difference. They resent my lack of attention and I resent theirs.
35 No one wants reminders of how easily controlled they are. Such reminders are dubbed archaic and cumbersome. And those doing the reminding are derided as being controlled themselves by the very thing they claim to be acting against.
36 I’ve gotten rid of clocks if you must know. Sure, most of them don’t audibly tick anymore, but some do, and they were the first to go. The ticking is there, whether you can hear it or not.
37 I wonder if time itself is the cause of all the rot in the world. When did we notice this happening? The notion is so insidious it must have snuck in before language.
38 Maybe that’s why people instinctively give up on puppet shows. The mechanisms are too obvious. In fact, the only reason puppet performances ever get praised is due to the artistry of the operator.
39 We’re just so damned clever that we have to appreciate how it’s done rather than what it is. Because ‘how it’s done’ has an end, and ‘what it is’ is eternal. Hence the very particular tense.
40 I’ve become so relentlessly hypnotized by the concept of linear change, and its reflexive perception as ‘decay’ that even the absence of reminders of time are unable to totally clear my vision.
41 The day itself seems to expand indefinitely, but all the external trappings are still there.
42 Anyone can experience this at night, when the anxieties disturb one out of sleep, and the very notion of time seems fearful. We can make use of that in a positive way during the day, but does anyone want to hear about that? No. Because it reminds them too much of the existential night terrors.
43 No coincidence that many fears in darkness and sleep involve dolls and puppets and clowns and such. Ultimately, the fear of your fears ravaging you. Strip that away to what it really is and you’ve got the fear of being buried alive, which is really the fear of death. Like death somehow is like being awake, only trapped in a dreamless sleep forever. Awake with the echoes of your own thoughts. This is of course, irrational madness because your thoughts end and do not exist in eternity. If time applied to you after death . . . that’s the real worry.
44 But ultimately, there is no such thing as death. It’s an arbitrary line between two states, when in fact, everything is fluid. Is the leaf dead when it loses its color? Or when it falls from the tree? Well, which is it?
45 Many leaves remain on the ground carpeting it in vibrant autumn flare. An artwork in itself. That’s a leaf fulfilling its being, and we would have declared it dead months ago!
46 Dry leaves sit for fucking ever, and then slowly turn back into the dirt to be transformed into other things. And the cycle of a leaf is nothing compared to the cycle of a person.
47 So where does its ‘leafness’ go? It’s always there. Whatever we determine to be its ‘leafness’ was there before it and there after it. It’s eternal. Timeless. We just named it wrong.
48 The puppet maker glanced back over the preceding pages in which he meant to document his latest and last creation.
49 Blast! he thought. This entire journal has been nothing but a cleverly disguised paean to the notion of time. All the materials gathered, how I fashioned them and put them together. Experiments in their use. But all is not lost. For the world is ending and maybe within this problem is its solution.
50 Perhaps the family/friends/neighbors are right and I just need to get out more.
51 Me and my puppet (I’ve spent my life making them, who really controls who here?) we shall trek north, to the most timeless place I can imagine. And maybe the world will continue changing, but not us.
52 Because you make deals when you work with dolls, and they say more than you think. And their deep dead eyes share secrets when they get bored just sitting on a shelf.
53 I shall dismantle this shed and take it with me. Set it up in the frozen north, a final home for my puppet, and he will point me in the new direction.