The Fallowing – The Fourth, Part X
by Steppen Sawicki
Atsel talking here.
Novel: Occult Adventure
“I was born normal enough. This was back when the land was green, when deserts were dust instead of snow. When the sun rose and fell unshrouded and dazzling on the horizon. Fruit fell from the trees and greens grew in the earth without aid, and nothing was wanted for. I had no need for any watch. I moved and spoke and thought as quickly as anyone.
“I had a sister. She was older than me, and sad. So very sad. And everyone she came into contact with would drink in all that sadness and experience some sadness of their own. Just seeing her bedewed eyes and downturned mouth and hearing her hopeless words sent people reeling. But it was different for me. I could feel what my sister felt. It wasn’t a look or word or bit of sympathy. Some terrible link had been established between us that ran in one way only. Whenever she came near me I would be nearly immobilized by the most overpowering misery, and the only way I could even begin to escape it was to put some distance between us. At a young age I would go wandering into the wilderness, finding only a small slackening of hopelessness, finding in the woods or the open spaces some small solace.
“I would tell my mother and she would call me her sensitive little boy and say that everyone felt that way around my sister. But she didn’t understand. This wasn’t an outward impression. My sister was in my head like a worm wriggling inside of an apple, separate but a part.
“There were more pressing concerns anyway, ones even my mother could perceive. As I grew my movements became sluggish, my speech slowed, even my cognition seemed impaired. At first it was barely noticeable – something handed me would slip through my fingers, conversation would imperceptibly slow when I spoke. But after a while my pauses were taken for indecision or stupidity, my movements or lack thereof taken for a lack of balance or sense of space. I couldn’t keep up with anything – my mother had to carry me should we walk. And I told her in slurred words that everything was moving too fast around me, that others’ words were sped-up squeaks and my sister running past me was like lightning.
“My sister’s continual sadness even had a frenetic quicksilver intensity. It shivered and convulsed in my mind like my head was a rattle and she shook it madly whenever she came near. This was emotion sped up. Her despair had been unbearable before; now it was Hell.
“Even if my mother couldn’t understand this hideous sort of empathy, she could tell I was slowing, that the world was passing me by somehow. She began to search for a cure. We traveled those green forests and dust deserts until I was nearly immobile, until I had to be carried from town to town in the back of a cart. I didn’t have the sense of mind to be ashamed. I only saw the world speed by in flashes of colors and emotion, saw the stars speed past in the sky at night, watched the moon and sun race along their tracks. Only my mother occasionally sat before me and looked into my eyes for hours at a time, and though to me she seemed to look at me for only minutes, I was grateful to her.
“Except that she asked my sister to do the same. She still didn’t understand, and I had to undergo those miserable eyes boring into mine, that terrible wretchedness clawing at my mind.
“Aside from this, my mother found a solution. An old man who spoke to the angels had learned from them a singular craft that wouldn’t be widely practiced for a thousand years – he made clocks of gears and hairsprings in a time of tracing the sun by monuments. I see your disbelief, but have not galvanic cell batteries and metal discs with genetic information been found in ancient pots? Heaven has all inventions before they are conceived of on Earth.
“But more important than this man’s hobby of clockmaking was his propensity for what you would call magic, but what the angels would call just another matter of physics. He had discussed much with the angels, and must have given something grand in return though I never found out what it was. He knew how to imbue a watch with ways of counteracting my perception of time, could pull gravity to speed me to normal movement and beyond. You’d probably say he went too far, but he was proud of his abilities. He not only gave me the gift of being normal – inasmuch as one of us can be normal – but he also made me supernatural – more so than one of us is supernatural.
“By the time I was pulled from my apparent stupor with that watch, my sister had gone her own way. But even across distances I could still feel her dimly, as I could feel the others I hadn’t yet met. As I could feel even humans – to a much lesser extent – as the years had honed my inner sight. And I hated her fiercely. And I finally had the means to be rid of her from my mind.
“The centuries in between would be a hundred other stories. I need only say I found her and I killed her. That blade is not the only way to kill our kind. When the others discovered what I had done, they tricked me and took the watch from me. Sam was charged with the holding of it, if you can imagine.
“And can you imagine centuries more lost in a blur of sight and sound and all sense, moving yet faster and faster and reaching into me deeper and deeper and that damned Cain always beside me, always in my head. If only I could have killed him, but Sam took that from me too, just as he took all those centuries – the trains and the cars and the bombs and the waste. While I was covered with a sheet and forgotten in the corners of apartments.”