On the Third Day, Boulder (barrier)

VI.iii.

..

— Three.

The cobblestone pathway to the old stables was wailing and crying, each paver a unique sorrowful plaint expressed as a sobbing prayer about the hardships of common life. Milo realized he was close to his goal. He only had to enter Fission City’s disrepaired factory nexus and upload his secret functional code to the host.

Photo by Nagara Oyodo on Unsplash

And that’s where the plan ends. Everything after that moment has not been seen, the function will have collapsed, and if anything persists after The End it will most likely look somewhat similar to what it’s been. It’s the same core codebase. His hope is for a higher wrapper controller.

He stood up in his mind to press onward, promptly and rudely reminded by reality of his recent mobility constraints. Phantasmannie, cuddling his chest, pointed to the Factory entrance, barred with now rotting planks that Milo might reckon would crumble at the merest touch. But instead of lending opinion, he was crawling forearm length by forearm length across the empty parking lot, paying strict attention to identify and follow the path of least resistance through the minefield of the crumbling pot holes, undergrowth bursting through pavement, and smoking plane remainders.

Smoke rises from an ice factory
On the edge, on the edge of a city
That exists in perpetual gloom

I snatch a note from the basket of a passing bicycle
It says, “Go to the flour factory
There’s something waiting there for you.”

— Rasputina, In Old Yellowcake

As he passed through the outer factory gates laced with Virginia Creepers and grape vines, littered with fallen buds, the cheerless and dismal moans of the stones wailed louder in chaotic symphonic counterpoint. The somber sounds of sheer devoted sadness squat heavy on Milo’s heart.

He crawled over to the first stone, smooth and nearly hidden by growth, which bawled inconsolably.

{

Milo’s mother grasped both of his legs as she sat up, but she could neither guide nor dominate the spasms. She brought a trembling hand to her temple to subdue the panic. Inside, she was vibrating in concert with her son’s affliction, yet she needed to conquer the fright if she were to reach solutions. She braced herself on the patient platform and stood up, which alarmed the technician. She thought she might need something from her handbag, so, regaining composure, reaches down and grabs it by the clasp.

“You, Annie, what are you two going to do, help me, my baby is dying!”

}

— What’s wrong with you, my lovely living stone?

`Stone? Can you not see that I am your mother, my son?`

— My mother was a long time ago, but I am here with you now.

`My baby is dying!`

Milo’s torso pulled itself closer, and he caressed the stone mostly buried now under weather. — The card of Death is nothing to cry wolf about, dear sentience. It can throw a man into paroxysms and a boy into deluded confusion of idealism. Is your baby dying of your own hands? If not, then I say that every instant lived is a self-triumph against the abject terror of nothingness and that, as these moments concretize to become the bedrock of the moral soul, the beginning of the age of adulthood is marked.

He stroked her dome, gray and smooth. — Your baby is not dying, your baby is adapting. And you must adapt to understand your wing will not always cover their growing frame. Let them see the light. Set them down to set them free.

The stone, so soothed by Milo’s words, quieted until it spoke nor cried any longer. He crawled over to the second stone, oddly shaped with crooked painful edges, which bawled inconsolably.

{

The technician left her monitor, which never had much insight to Milo’s condition. His blood pressure was no more elevated than one would expect with minor physical activity, his heart rate remained unaltered until one of the electrodes popped off his chest. Today her ill-forgotten son would have been twenty. She teemed with regret that she had let her husband at the time convince her to terminate the pregnancy when late-stage tests confirmed afflictive chromosomal disorder. She’s since seen so much suffering and need breed such devoted love and kindness that she wished she could have not been the person watching herself move towards the sprite-faced anesthetist in the reflection of the monitoring glass, but instead the person who spent her life watching her little boy, Ian, who had Down Syndrome, grow up. To be holding him as he chortled, or ran to her in fear of loud noises, spoke his heart with his small vocabulary, told her just as often as she needed it that he loves her this much, with arms spread wide, but still not wide enough to leave the berth of her protective wingspan…

}

— What’s wrong with you, my lovely living stone?

`Stone? Can you not see that I am your mother, my son?`

— My mother was a long time ago, but I am here with you now.

`My baby is dead!`

Milo pulled himself closer to the jagged stone, and stroked its spines, sweeping away some dessicated soil from its crags. — It may look like the card of Loss, but it is instead the card of Illusions. These memories you fabricate and torture yourself with are somewhere else alive, real, and so rich with sorrow and grief that they are begging desperately to live the life you lead here, now. We are all jelly, and when we are pressed here, he placed his hand on her stony head, we end up here, he placed his hand on her stony heart. — and the opposite as well.

The stone, so soothed by Milo’s words, quieted until it spoke nor cried any longer. Milo pulled himself closer to the next stone, cracked and split open and bawling, small blades of grass arching out from a cleaved crevice.

— What’s wrong with you, my lovely living stone?

`My baby, baby, baby, is that you? I’ve been so worred!`

— I’m not your baby although I’ve been absent from my home for some time, but I am here with you now.

`My baby is missing!`

{

Ignoring the bustle brewing in the MRI room, Annie snapped on fumbled latex gloves as she grabbed a thick Carbamazepine suppository pill she’d found in the wrong neighboring compartment.

She threw open Milo’s legs, his johnny riding unseemly up his stomach. He was unresponsive by this point in his ether stupor. She could already see the muscle atrophy in his dead leg, shorter, thinner and hairless. She was momentarily glad that his living leg was closer to her, which she grabbed and held by the knee in the crook of her elbow as his limb paddled and cocked involuntarily.

“What the hell are you doing to him?” His mother, enraged, demanded.

Annie responded, clinically monotone, “He’s not dying. I’ve got an anticonvulsant that I’m going to administer rectally.” She had forgotten to lubricate the glove, so she placed the horse pill on the shaking vinyl of the patient platform, but couldn’t reach her cart from where she was standing.

“June, please get me the Vaseline,” she directed with her head and free hand, “it’s on the second… the second, um, shelf. Right there.”

The technician hurried over to the anesthesia cart, sifting through objects. “I don’t see it.”

“It’s in…”

“Can I help? What do you need? I might have it here,” Milo’s mother interrupted, running the zipper open on her handbag.

Annie reflected her interruption and spoke over her to the technician, “It’s not a jar, it’s not Vaseline, it’s a silver tube with a red diamond logo, crumpled up, about as long as…”

“Got it.” The technician unscrewed the red plastic hexagonal cap and passed the lubricant to Annie.

“Actually, just spread a… yup, right on the tip of my finger there,” as she held out her rubbered index. “Thanks.” But as she turned to administer, the boy’s flailing kicks had disturbed the mat enough to knock the pill to the ground, on a roll towards the MRI casing.

“Shit.”

}

Milo drug himself along the rocky pathway, encountering each cobble one individually — a thousand and one stones a thousand and one times over, balming their immortal emotional wounds with his touch and his words, treating each with unique dignity and empathy.

Upon hearing and embracing all these prayers, he felt he understood over half the world.

--

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Of The Osiris Foundation

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Erik Jespersen

Erik Jespersen

Of The Osiris Foundation

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