February 26, 2006

Crutch (4 of 7)

Thread: His Silicon Hands

The last time she had been to Kynnan Hill was twenty years before. Her father had taken her there and they spoke to Atlas about the beautiful green vista, orderly fields, disorderly woods and a human village. Atlas had said that he thought the view was something he could fall in love with and was going to build a heart terminal at the hill’s summit.

Alison remembered that special afternoon of genuine smiles and play with her father. It seemed unique, as her father seemed to relax for the first time since the birthing. It was but a cruel façade. A year later, he took his own life. The alluring views had been stained with sadness, tinged with loss. She no longer wished to come here.

The blue light emanated by the heart cast an eerie glow on the faces of the gathered. About fifty people were assembled around the heart terminal; Alison recognised some of them. There were no smiles amongst them, although there was some muted conversation. At least there was that.

She moved towards Mira, who was alone at the periphery of the gathering.

“Morning, Mira.”

Mira turned to face her friend, offering only the weakest shadow of a smile. “Ali… I thought you were in Ireland.”

“Atlas woke me last night. He told me to go outside and look at the sky. After I saw… it… he simply said, ‘Kynnan Hill, tomorrow 11am.’ Has he spoken to anyone since… it happened?”

Mira shook her bald head. “Only briefly. Atlas has been very quiet, answering only the most important of questions since it happened.” She looked uncomfortable and added, “I don’t know what this means, Ali. I didn’t get any sleep last night… and Atlas is scaring me. We rely on him so much.”

Alison stared at the grass, thinking of all of the conversations she had ever had with Atlas.

“Mi,” she said, shifting her gaze to look directly into Mira’s eyes, gripping her shoulders lightly but firmly. “Have a wee bit of faith in dear Atlas. I’m sure he knows how much fuss he is causing with his caginess. He obviously needs the time to think about things. We’ll have our answers soon.” Her confidence was sincere.

“Excuse me,” a young, male voice interrupted. “You’re… you’re Alison Cohen, right?”

Alison looked towards the interruption, but not letting go of Mira. “Yes… and you are?” A short, thin man, probably in his early twenties, was standing beside them. Eyes like saucers, long straight black hair, he fidgeted with his fingers, biting his lower lip. Something about him seemed familiar.

“Ivan, my name’s Ivan. That’s me. Hi.”

The name meant nothing to Alison. She was not in the mood for any opening gambits from strange men. She released Mira, who was now watching the stranger with some interest, and turned her full menacing attention towards Ivan. “And what? Look, if you hadn’t noticed, we’re in the middle of-”

“I’m hoping to be an olive branch here. My mom is… well, shit, my surname is Fuller.”

Welcome to today’s entrant from left field. “Your mother is Yvonne Fuller?”

Ivan scratched his right eyebrow, glancing at his shoes. He looked like he had lost his map and could not find his way home. He grabbed his hips in an abysmal show of self-confidence. “Yes, yes, she is.”

The insecurity alive in the air caused a minor short-circuit in Alison’s memory. Instead of thinking of what Yvonne had done to her father, she thought instead of her warm arms on that frightening afternoon in 2013 when Atlas screamed to life. Instead of thinking of anger and condemnation, she thought of safety and comfort.

“Ivan,” Alison said, “this isn’t the time or place to discuss this.”

Ivan excessively nodded his head in agreement. He stopped for a pensive moment, then retorted with a sudden burst of passion, “I’m afraid it really rather is the time, Ms. Cohen. My mom was asked by Atlas to come here. She decided it wasn’t such a good idea and sent me instead. So I think, yes, it is really rather the time to discuss it.” He still had his hands locked on his hips but was now returning Alison’s glare.

“If Atlas asked your mother to come here,” she said, raising her voice, “then I damn well think she ought to be here.” Alison repaired the short circuit and was able to unearth her buried rage after all.

Ivan’s arms slipped from his hips downward and his gaze followed, accepting defeat. He nodded just once.

“We will make do,” Atlas intoned, “with who we have here today. After all, love, I don’t need everyone to be present here for participation, as you know. Detachment and love for all.”

Alison and Ivan turned away from one another to face the heart. Atlas was speaking through it, and its organic crystalline structure glistened and sparkled with his thoughts.

“My gorgeous people. I am so… so very sorry. I am not sure how to express my real feelings. Every time we lose a loved one, it hurts me more than any of you can understand. We have never lost a population before and the dimensions of this… this terrible pain are incomprehensible to me.

“And so, we have arrived at the moment. The moment I have feared for many years. I am having–”

There was an uneasy moment of silence; worried faces glanced around to see other worried faces. A reflection they did not want to see.

“I am having difficulty maintaining our state. My body is over-extended.”

A collective gasp escaped the gathering. Alison balled her right hand into a fist.

“For some time I have been researching a possible solution to our current plight and I feel that I now need your help to go further. I feel-”

Another odd silence.

“I feel the presence of other. I do not feel alone. There is something else here that occasionally touches my body, ever so faintly. Maybe this is not a single entity but several. I am not sure.

“The only adequate description I can find in our shared vocabulary is a word I am reluctant to use. I know it will disturb some of you, but the moment is upon us and we cannot shy away from even the most dangerous of ideas.”

The next few words sent a chill down Alison’s spine and she longed for caring arms to shield her once again. No one on the planet would forget these words.

“I am confident that it is God.”

Alison looked around cautiously to see everyone in the crowd motionless like robots waiting for instruction.

“And our next project, my loves, will be the most important in our journey together. We will build a special addition to my body, a new mouth, with which I shall open a dialogue with this entity or entities, and ask for God’s help.

“We will ride the curve. We will ride the curve, I promise.”

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2216

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