Fiberglass Baby by Tom Milsom (Explorers 6)
So you’ve had a nightmare
And a nightmare of such slow burning blood poison that you don’t even realise it’s a nightmare at first.
The memories in your head chased the next night by the memories in your gut.
Like a physical grinding inside you, like something stuck to your stomach lining. Like the memory of something you ate that day or memories of girls that make the walls of your thudding muffled heart grow tight, hidden for years and greeting you at night and now you realise what nightmare it was even though at the time you thought it was fine. And that’s the part that troubles you most. It was fine at the time. Not a single switch flicked in your somniferous state to your usual paranoid reaction to such transparent hurt or hate or crime.
No recognition that anyone in your prefrontal cortal phosphene sphere had made a mortal overstep of any major mark or crossed a line. It was totally fine at the time.
And so again, your slowly overtaking subconscious takes you for a ride while you lie, dark, devoid of sight and sound, through the experiences of last night. Up from the ground where there stands your heir, a boy so pale the blood inside him makes him shimmer, translucent and afloat. And both of you bathed in amniotic light you kind of try communicating. But this is the future you’re referring to, a fantasy that fades and leaves you half aware in the half light, alone.
You’re present now, and correct.
You start walking, fast and mathematically perfect. Almost insect-like, but just ectomorphic and slightly panicked, unable to connect the fantasy you just experienced to your current predicament.
You need to find your child, that’s the bottom line. But then in this crepuscular place it’s very hard to see the bottom of anything, much less get there without risk of falling in the thick of it.
Light is dispersed and dies before conclusions can be made. And so you keep on wandering, and making your decisions based on half blind faith, and moving, where possible, away from shade.
This next bit seems fast-forwarded for you, as though observing it on tape and not being in there exploring toward this unknown cause, but safe to say, phantasmic coexisting frames of narrative aside, you wander for quite an extensive uneventful while, until every direction you decide to take, bearing in mind your almost phobic aversion to shade, has to be based on which is the less dark of the available sides. Eventually you find an open space awash with the same amniotic half light you began in, blinding now in the context of the last few hours, tentatively fumbling through passages barely lit at all, so you blink and let your pupils find their balance.
And there’s your fiberglass baby, paint white and flaky in the air, tensile and watertight and every seamless ridge familiar to you with reeling clarity. The tiny pulse of something inside, keeping its unmoving inconclusive form alive for its selfish self and nothing more. You take it to your body as of habit. Clutch it. Let off small asbestos puffs from pressure applied to its opaque and dusty plaster body.
It occurs to you that you don’t know where its head is. And you look for its face, try to find its eyes, but they’re nowhere to be seen, just constant soundless circular white. You rotate the baby in your hands, agitated, and uncertain which way is up until it slips from your inquisitive grip and hits the floor, frozen a split second after impact, and a hundred stony chunks skittery and chalk dry and terrifyingly unalive. Sinking resignedly down, you staring after it until it sails so far into the nighttime darkness, even this light can’t land upon its stark whiteness.
And you’re left focusing on the black where it was, eyes as good as closed, lying in the dark where your memories left you, trailing off into a clean and relatively definite morning, overwriting last night’s excitement with present realities that may or may not soon need remembering, but overwritten or otherwise, hardwired into you are these feelings, the easily swallowed specifics of the story wrapped in something indigestible. A decaying clock that waits for you to reach next night’s carbon dark half life to take the time to tell you with a subverbal strike how unfine times can be. lying there still unopened watching imagined light dance geometric over your eyes recalling how it hits a hundred sinking stones before they get forgotten by the darkness and you sleep.