Happy Canada Day and more updates! Ash and Dust Part 6
July 1, 2011 § Leave a comment
Here in beaverland, we are celebrating the 144th birthday of our Queen Beaver, Canada. In her infinite wisdom she settled herself in this frigid wasteland so many years ago, that we might celebrate her bounty with gifts of maple syrup and moose, while praising her through the ancient blood-sport of “hoc-key”. We long for the day that we will be taken up into her Heavenly Dam, where everyone will be polite, unassuming, and slightly chilly no matter the season, for all the years to come.
In other words, Happy Canada everyone!
I’ve also got some more reading for you. I know it’s not the weekend, but considering that I work now and this is a public holiday, I decided to be productive. I know. What next, I’ll start working ahead? Shock and awe.
Chapter 6: Truth is a Stone Cold Bitch
“Doctor, he’s awake!”
“-ode Blue, code Blue, he’s non-responsive.”
“What’s going on? Is he waking up?”
“Ma’am, you have to leave right now. Now.”
Lights. Too bright for my eyes.
People rushing back and forth over me.
It hurt. It hurthurthurthurthurthurthurt
It kept playing again and again in my head, like a record with a broken needle. It even started rewinding. The truck would zoom ahead and smash into my car before invisible hands pulled it back, invisible mechanics fixed my car, and invisible gods brought my children back to life. And then Guilt laughed and it did it all over again. I could zoom in on the crash in exquisite detail while time slowed so that I could experience every second of it. I burned.
“Oh oh, I like this part. See how the side door buckles? That’s the primary impact. Shock waves are running through the vehicle, most of which would be absorbed by the frame, but you see that one?” The door rippled like it was made of water. “That one kills Sam. See? See the back bench rock while the door gives way? Too much for the frame to take. Door comes off, truck goes in, baby dies. Action. Reaction. Physics.”
I couldn’t stand anymore. Neither could I take my eyes off the scene, as though the tragedy in front of me exerted magnetic force. It sucked me up inside it, swallowing me until I didn’t know where I was anymore. I was the crash. The crash was me.
And Guilt played it again.
“Now considering how Melissa’s death is so much more, acrobatic, I expected a little more fun from her, to be honest. It’s a little disappointing how, well, clean it is. Until her face explodes on the pavement….now. That’s not clean.”
I recognized my girl now. My darling little girl, my angel. Melissa. I had wanted to name her after my mother, but She had insisted we name her something unique because that’s what she is: our precious snowflake. There are many daughters like this, but this one is mine.
“Umm, was Ryan. Was. I know you mortals have some strange difficulty acknowledging that death is a part of everything, but let’s not kid ourselves. Dead daughters, well, aren’t.”
I remembered how happily she smiled whenever she saw a cat. Cats were her favourite things in the world, moreso, we suspected darkly, than us. But it was alright, because every night she wanted us to read to her from Mr. Mittens and fell asleep not in his paws, but in my arms. And I remembered how small and fragile she felt but how beautiful she looked in the light, her wet hair curling from her bath and her face angelic in sleep.
And I saw her body crumple into nothingness before my eyes, again and again. My eyes were red and tears flowed but they couldn’t stop me from seeing her die again and again and again.
“Uh oh Ryan, let’s not play favourites. Sam dies too, remember? I know you didn’t have as much time to get attached to him, but don’t embarrass yourself now. Chin up, eh? His is quicker. I’ll speed it up for you.”
Back and forth. Back and forth. His neck wobbled like an accordion, his head like it was made of Jell-O. Like my son, who I was planning to teach how to play hockey, how to drive, how to deal with girls (or boys, She had insisted we not pre-determine), how to laugh and play and win and lose, was made of smoke. Of wishes that I would never get to see come true.
Back and forth. The truck came again.
I tried to get up but my legs wouldn’t work. I tried to shout, but blood and oil filled my mouth. I tried to wave, or motion, do something to attract my attention, to try and stop the damn car, so I wouldn’t have to see them die. But I couldn’t. It was too much just to keep my eyes open.
Necks wobbled. Angels flew.
Guilt laughed and darkness came again.
I woke up on the stone floor, once again in pain. I wanted to laugh out loud but instead coughed up a screw. I was always in pain.
Praetix stood over me, her innumerable hands wrung themselves as worry painted itself across her arachnid brow. Spiders have eyebrows?
“Are you alright, dearie? Oh I warned you. I never should have let you in there. Never. It’s never worth it, dearie.” A claw reached out and stroked my face. “It’s what you mortals do when it’s too hard to remember. You paste over the past like you’re putting up wallpaper and it works. You don’t see it as clearly, don’t feel it as sharply and eventually, it goes away. Oh dearie, just let it go away, or else you get trapped like them.” A silk-wrapped object the size of an airplane shivered. Praetix shushed it with a claw to her spider lips.
Nunc’s hand lifted me off the ground and dropped me into a waiting chair. A little brick fireplace, not actually connected to anything, merrily burned and warmed me a little. He snapped his fingers and a steaming cup of tea appeared in my lap. I nodded and tried to make a show of sipping it, but the memories were too fresh. I had a feeling they would never go away. Relica lay in a giant white clamshell, watching me intently. I was too whacked to feel aroused at the sight of her in a tiny bikini that clung, shone, and stretched in all the right places. But I did notice that they were all waiting for me, waiting on me to say something to them. I said the only thing that seemed to make sense to me.
“I’m dead, aren’t I?”
Nunc chuckled as he slipped into an armchair across from me. The firelight didn’t reflect off his featureless face. “Dead? You’re not dead, Lord. We don’t deal with the dead here. They do have very, very long memories, but they aren’t allowed in here.”
“Then where am I? I got into that accident, but if I didn’t die, I have to be somewhere. This place, what I’ve seen…it’s not Toronto. Hell, it’s not earth.”
Nunc smiled a gambler’s smile. “Define “I”.”
“Don’t play any goddamned games with me.” My voice could not carry anger. It could carry nothing but words, and even those weakly. “I just want to figure out what’s going on.”
“Oh I fully understand the actual meaning behind your question, but this raises a fundamental question about who you are. Are you your body? Because if so, you are not sitting across from me. Instead, you’re lying in the intensive care unit at Mt. Sinai hospital. Room 414. It’s a nice room, all things considered.”
“No windows though,” Praetix chimed in, eager to please, “most people who go through there don’t care about seeing what’s outside.”
“Thank you, Praetix. So if you are your body, you cannot be here right now…and yet you are. But if you are your mind, Lord, then you are sitting in Memnos, home of all Remembering, beside a charming fire while the Guardians of the Past, Present, and Future watch you. Rather too eagerly, in Relica’s case.” She frowned and splashed water at him. The droplets of water just ran off him like oil. “So, Lord, which are you? Once you have decided that, then I can tell you where you are.”
“Wait, what? Home of remembering…what the hell are you talking about?”
Praetix was combing through a strand of web. “He’s never heard of the Spirit realm before, have you dearie? Where spirits, souls, and dreams truly walk the world? No? How dreadful for you! You don’t even know where you go when you die!”
My mind, though battered to hell and back, was picking up the pieces. When it wanted to, it worked fast. “So my mind is in this, whatever, Spirit realm, while my body is back in Toronto?”
Nunc took a deep puff on his cigar before answering. “Back” in Toronto is incorrect. Your body never left, and, truly, your mind always exists in some facet on the spirit realm. It just so happens that they have become more separate separated. Not truly separated in space or time, but,” He waved an arm to indicate the room they were in, “enough that I imagine you understand the situation you’re in.”
I thought back to the last episode of House that I could remember. “So I’m brain-dead.”
Nunc shrugged. “Soul dead is probably the more accurate term, but neither convey the actual nature of the problem.”
“Brother, you are going to have to work a little harder to convince me that I’m not just hallucinating all this while my brain slowly dies. A Spirit realm isn’t exactly scientifically rational.”
“And yet it exists. I am surprised and a little disappointed, Lord, that you would try to dismiss us out of hand as being “scientifically impossible”. Of course we are. Science doesn’t work in the Spirit realm, and your brain may be hallucinating all this simultaneously. But unless you want to think of how to prove to yourself that that cup isn’t in your hands, and that you are not sitting in a chair by a fire, then I would suggest you take it as it comes. You can die here, in ways that would make you faint back on your realm.”
He did have a point. The cup felt real, as much as the chair and the fire did, and I couldn’t remember the principles of the scientific method right now. My children were dead. My throat closed up and tears sprung to the corners of my eyes. It hit me, then and there, that my children were dead and gone, and I would never get them back. Something nagged at the back of my memory, but I couldn’t focus through the pain.
“So,” I choked out, my voice heavy, “what happens now?” I asked.
“I don’t know. You haven’t decided, and until you do, the possibilities exist only in the future.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “That’s her portfolio, but she isn’t exactly talkative. I can guess that you have two options.” Relica frowned and tried to splash Nunc again, but Praetix had perched herself on the back of his chair, her blindfolded eyes all directed at me, and took the splash on her back. Somehow the chair bore her immense weight, and somehow her neck would bend to focus on me. Spiders have necks?
“You don’t belong here.” I went to interrupt, but he held out his hand. “Yes, mortals can touch this plane and sometimes willingly walk on it, but you were thrust here by accident. The longer your soul stays here, the more difficult it will be to go back. If you stay too long, then you’ll grow weaker and weaker, and some Hor-ghast or equally horrifying creature will devour your for your essence, trapping you here forever as a lonely, hungry ghost. So you can stay here and risk being turned into a ghost while your body rots in a hospital bed, or you can rejoin your body, and go on living again.”
I collapsed into myself, depression welling over me, dragging me down somewhere. “So I can stay here and disappear, or get back to life without my children. Lose-lose, Nunc. They were my everything, and, and…”I choked up, but the words played themselves back in my head, Guilt’s mocking tones echoing in my brain.
I killed them.
How could I go back? How could I function again? My kids were dead and it was my fault. I was in the driver’s seat. I was there. I screwed up. I killed them.
Nunc cleared his throat. “Well, the choice is yours, but I feel I should also tell you this. The accident was two of your weeks ago. Your wife has remained at your side almost every moment of those days.”
I blinked and waves of unfamiliar feeling rolled over me. Memories bubbled to the surface of my mind, thousands of them, but were unable to pierce the surface. My entire being reacted to that sentence, but was unable to tell me how to respond in kind.
“My what? What’s a wife?”
Nunc frowned, Praetix moaned, and Relica giggled.
“Oh dear,” Nunc said, “That’s not good.”