The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Christmas Post 10/12

Posted by Matt on December 24, 2010

Probably something that needed some more editing, but here’s what it is at this point, after about two months:

The first thing it remembered was coming alive in the chamber of heat. Consciousness sprung forth in the great burning; sensation, self-awareness…all these things came to be. It initially did not possess everything it would later acquire: it could not see, for it had no eyes. It could not hear, as it had not yet learned of the concept of hearing. But it felt; and what it felt in there was a great warmth that comforted it while it solidified and took stock of its new situation.

It did not know when it left the chamber; it had no conception of time yet. But at some point after acquiring its new-found life, it felt the warmth diminish. Residual heat remained for a period after, but it was nothing compared to the all-encompassing feeling of its place of birth. It did not make a point to dismay its change in situation, however; it was still attempting to discover all the different facets of its existence. There was too much to know, too more more to feel, before it could even conceive of having nostalgia. The great cool-down was just another thing for it to analyze.

It was during the exit from the heat that it also learned of the concept of others – that it was not alone in its experiences; that beings very similar to it were nearby. This is when it began to ‘hear’…in the innermost parts of its being, it could decipher the noise of words, and they reminded it very much of its own internal thoughts, but they were not the same. It concluded that they must come from something external, something very similar to it, but different in key ways. And eventually it was able to respond to the mass of noise, and found that the noise replied. Both sides answered each others’ questions about the current events of their brief lives, and what each thought about it. Even without the mothering heat, it had something comforting.

Eventually, as the last remnants of the blaze of creation dissipated, things changed again. At one point, a new sensation emerged: part of its consciousness became covered in a blur, which then slowly focused and revealed colours and shapes. These were things it had not known of, but it quickly came to like them. It had gained sight. It could see the great sea of white above it, interrupted only by sources of light that sprung forth from it. It had little idea what these things were, so it regarded them with the same love and affection that it had given the chamber, and its neighbours. Further conversations with those neighbours revealed that they too had found that they had received the gift of vision. They gave descriptions of what they saw: many were very similar to what it saw, some were slightly different. Some did not see the great masses of light, some described strange blotches of dark colour, and some saw nothing but darkness. It was so glad that there so many experiences one could have; it hoped someday to see the same things its compatriots did…oh, what wonder it would be!

Then came another great change. It did not see the entirety of the event, as it went very quickly, faster than it could comprehend. In a matter of moments, the sensation from underneath it had changed: it was still solid, but it had a far smoother, cooler feeling; it actually began to prefer this to its previous state. On the other hand, it took a while to decide what to make of its new visionary experience: one that consisted of darkness, with the hint of something with a strange texture. Discussion with its fellows did not solve the query as quickly as it had hoped: some reported still seeing the sea of white, some said they could not feel the smoothness against their back, but something coarser. When it discovered others whose current position was very similar to its own, they went about trying to figure out what had happened. It turned into a great debate, with many hypotheses tossed about, each having its accuracies and deficiencies weighed.

It was during these talks that it also learned of what the others had seen during the great change. Some reported seeing something move, some large thing of many shapes and colours, unlike anything they had ever seen (of which there were still probably many, but no matter). From what they had deduced, it may have something to do with these recent events; it came and went just as the change occurred, and it seemed to move in sync with them as they went from state to another. It took this in with great curiosity; although it did not see as much as the others did, it couldn’t help but make a connection between the thing they described with some of the blurred sights it had seen, or it thought it had seen, or maybe even that it wanted to believe that it had seen, during the moment of change. Surely, it must have seen this thing as well, if only briefly. It began to ponder the significance of the thing, as the darkness provided very little visual wonder to excite its intelligence. The others called out to it during its long periods of silence, asking if there was something the matter. It informed them that it was just thinking. It only thought of that one subject, poring over the same set of facts over and over again, trying to further understand them and thus further understand this new thing that has come into its life.

During its time of thought, one of the others stood above the rest, sharing its own ideas on the subject of the big thing. From the direction of its voice, it could tell it was somewhere close to the thinner part of its body, the one that half felt the smooth cold feeling and half the coarseness. They shared many an observation, came to understand how each of their opinions shared some qualities and differed in some respects. But those differences only made their mutual respect ever greater. This was the only other who seemed willing to speak at length on the subject, as most of the neighbours had moved on to describing their current sensations. Those were worthy topics of discussion, too, they both agreed; but there was something about that thing, that thing neither had really seen but had heard about from others…it seemed like a much more interesting thing to tackle. Soon enough, most of the conversations the two had at all were with each other, and usually on that one subject. Even if they did not make any real progress in deciphering the big thing, the company and mental stimulation they provided for each other felt greater than all the shifting casual conversations from before combined.

“Do you suppose it might be similar to us?” it proposed to its friend. “For certainly it must have had a reason for causing this great change; I cannot conceive of such a major shift happening purely out of chance. And if it has a reason for doing such a thing, surely then it has a mind like ours, one with the ability to conceive of such things.”
“But if the thing does indeed have a mind like ours, why did it not try to communicate with us?” its friend replied.
“A good observation, and one I too have mulled over” it said, “It is possible that it simply communicates differently than us. I see no reason to think ours is the sole form of communication this world has to offer. With so many different shapes about, it’s not to conclude that other things, like speech, are just as varied.”
“Ah, yes, that is quite possible.” Its friend paused for a moment, and it knew that meant its companion was about to say something it had been preparing for a while. This was one of the great things about talking to its friend: it knew that it was always conjuring something enlightening.
“But, that brings me to something else I have been thinking about…and this may sound a bit strange” its friend finally started, “…if this thing does communicate differently than us, would it ever be possible to decipher its language? What if its methods of communication are completely beyond our comprehension?”

This was something it did not consider. It was so fascinated by the idea of there being multiple ways one could communicate, it never considered the possibility that it could never actually know what some of these actually say. It could appear to be nothing but garble, a verbal darkness like the visual one it was currently experiencing. It couldn’t help but feel a touch disappointed by the possibility. It wanted to know more, but what if there are limits to what it could know? Would it ever reach a moment of complete accumulation of all the possible knowledge? What would happen then? What would it do? It didn’t know the answer, and hoped never to find out.

“Oh, and that’s not the only thing I thought of!” its friend continued.
“It seems completely bizarre, but what if this thing existed before the moment of our self-realization in the chamber of heat?”
“You’re right, that does seem completely bizarre. What gave you an idea like that?”
“Well, it went like this: obviously, we can not conceive of a time before our own conception. But obviously there must have been a time before, or else where would the chamber of heat itself come from?”
“Is it not possible it all appeared simultaneously?”
“Of course, but for what reason did both appear? As you said, there’s no reason to believe that major happenings such as these occur entirely by chance.”
“Ahhhhh, you’re right! But what would the time before our creation have been like? And what reason would there be for our creation?”
“I have theorized further, as well. Is it not possible that some of the things we’ve seen, the sea of white, or maybe even the large thing itself, were what existed before the chamber of heat?”
“Oh really now, this is starting to go a tad overboard, don’t you think?”
“Consider this, though: if these things were created like us in the chamber of heat, would we not have felt the additional heat from them? But they seemed to be cool, even as we first exited the chamber.”
“That indeed does sound plausible. But could they not have simply lost their heat before us? We don’t know how quickly it dissipates for all things. Like shapes, like communication, it could simply be different for all things.”
“I’m not too sure. I know our actual knowledge of all the things around us is still limited, but nothing about them seemed to give off the impression that they was created in any way similar to us. So there are a few possibilities for that: either they was created at the same time as us, but maybe in a different manner; or, they existed before us. Since we have yet to see any other form of creation, and I’m not saying it doesn’t happen because it certainly might, but rather that we have observed nothing to suggest it happens, thus making the second option seem all the more likely. I am also starting to think the large thing may have had some involvement in more than just the last great change…something which can change our entire situation in such a grand and speedy manner must be something of great power…and what purpose would a thing of such power have to have it manipulate our world in such an absolute way? Something greater is afoot, I am sure…”

The two had many conversations like this, and with each subsequent one, it would begin to be swayed by its friend’s theories about the great thing, the time before creation, and the great unknowable force that both seem to be possess. Each new theory its friend presented seem to make it feel that much greater intellectually, as it seemed to expand the possibilities this world presented to them. This euphoric sense of expansion almost completely hid another feeling it had, a more physical one, of a great weight being gradually relieved from on top of it. Since it assumed this feeling was something personal and only really of interest to itself, it never let it get in the way of their lively debates about the nature of the larger things.

That is, until the sea of white and the great source of light returned.

It was quite sudden. One moment, the darkness and the feeling of the coarse texture that it had come to know as the norm of its existence were there…the next, both were gone. It regained its visual range once more…but why? What happened? Was this another great change?

It called out to its friend, asking if it was experiencing the same thing. It said no; the darkness was still there. It finally began to talk to its other neighbours as well, and learned that many of them also saw the sea of white again. They also mentioned another odd detail: as this happened, they noticed that some of the others they spoke to stopped replying. No matter where they spoke, there was no sign of them. What had happened to them, and was it somehow related to the darkness’ sudden retreat?

This, of course, became the new topic of eternal debate between its friend and itself. But unlike the previous theorizing about the great thing, there was no longer a sense of enlightenment that accompanied the discussions. Increasingly, it felt that the tone had changed significantly, to something rather uneasy. These feelings were entirely new to it, and it didn’t particularly enjoy them. Something definitely felt awry about the latest turn of events, although it couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was causing that feeling, and neither could its friend. It began to wonder if its mind was making connections and conclusions that it did not yet recognize, or maybe even refused to recognize. It really wanted all this to stop, and so the conversations became increasingly pleading, desperate, groping hopelessly for an answer.

It was during one of these sessions that something quite unexpected happened: someone else replied.

“Will you two knock it off!” called a voice from a different direction. It couldn’t really tell where it was coming from, as it seemed to originate from somewhere it never heard from. It decided that it should make a connection with this new voice. Maybe it would have some answers.

“Who is that?” it said.
“None of your business” the new voice replied, clearly irritated. “All you need to know is that I can see you, but I know you can’t see me. Now, stop whining!”
As one would expect, this only ignited its curiosity. It told its friend of this new voice, and asked what it should do to convince it to further explain itself. Unfortunately, this time its friend had very little offer, exhausted from their time trying to decipher the latest developments. It said simply to try talking to it again; maybe the new voice would end up being as curious about them as they were of it, despite the initial dismissal.
“Hello?” It called it again, hoping it was speaking in the right direction.
“What is it?” was the reply.
“I’ve never heard you before. How long have you been there?” it asked.
“I thought I said it was none of your business.”
“Oh, you certainly did. But I can’t help but ask if you would be willing to tell me more. I’m always looking to learn more about my surroundings.”
“…I guess it really doesn’t matter. Neither of us will be here much longer. You especially.”
Something about this statement and the tone in which it was communicated sent a shocked feeling right through it. It now knew it needed to know more about this thing and what it was talking about.
“Excuse me, what do you mean by that?”
“Did you not notice your peers being taken away by the homeowner? It was happening right in front of you. Even you couldn’t be that blind.”
“My…what?”
“I saw you all. You were all piled on each other by the homeowner. Then it started taking you away, and the pile diminished. How could you not know this? You were at the bottom of the pile!”
“Are you saying…”
“What do you mean? Did you not even know what the others you have been talking to looked like? You all look the same to me.”

This took it aback. All this time, the coarseness…the darkness…that was caused by its neighbours? That WAS its neighbours? It could always hear the voices, but could never really see where they were coming from. It never knew what the visual aspect of itself and all its friends were. Now it knew, it guessed. But whereas before this knowledge would have filled it with delight as it discovered more and more about itself and the world, it most certainly didn’t now. Now it only presented further pressing questions, some of which it feared the answers.

“What is this homeowner you speak of? Why has it been taking my neighbours?” it said, its voice becoming ever more desperate.
“Yes…you being at the bottom would make you the last to see it. The homeowner is a very large creature. It brought me to this place. I saw it bring you here as well. It needs us for various reasons…me, it seems to need to create things to drink. You, however…it needs for a different reason altogether.”
Surely, it thought, this homeowner…this thing that has brought it both darkness and light, friends and loneliness, enlightenment and fear…it couldn’t be the big powerful thing that had captured its imagination for so long? But it all made sense! There could be no other explanation. Another mystery solved.
“…but what is that purpose, friend?” it asked, now stuttering as its dread grew. It hoped that the idea that the large thing, this ‘homeowner’ being a benevolent figure, something proposed by its friend at some point, was true. It hoped and hoped and hoped…
“Don’t call me friend. I tend not to take part in such short relationships.” the thing replied. It became apparent to it that the thing took a certain level of pleasure from these cryptic statements, just from the sneering tone of its voice. “But I guess I could tell you what the homeowner brought you here for. But it won’t be something you’ll enjoy, I’m sure.”
“…please go on.” it said. It could think of no other way to react. It had never felt such things before as it did now, these unpleasant things like being torn apart inside endlessly. It thought maybe getting an answer, no matter how much it feared it, would end these feelings once a for all. It could at least take that from this whole ordeal.
“If you insist” the thing said. “Just as I am here to create consumable goods for the homeowner, not my first choice of occupation I must say, but one I have become accustomed to…you creatures, with your unchanging, colourful little faces…seem to BE the consumable goods. I have seen the homeowner do with your kind as I have seen with many other things. One minute you are there, smiling away in the homeowner’s grasp…and then you’re gone. Probably forever. It has become a normal sight for me. Maybe you’ll get to see it, too.”

It didn’t quite understand what it meant. What was consumable good? What ‘other things’? But the idea of its neighbours disappearing forever was something it did understand. It needed to press on, despite its own reservations about learning any more of the large thing’s true nature.

“But…why?” it asked. The fear present in its voice before began to dissolve, replaced by something that resembled its former quizzical nature, but with a hint of indignation. It had spent so long asking ‘why?’, and it mattered now more than ever.
“Oh, its impossible for me to know why the homeowner does the things it does. I don’t know why it likes calling me ‘blender’, either. But I have my theories…”
It began to feel increasingly vexed by the thing’s refusal to provide clear answers. This too was a new feeling; if nothing else, it could say that these moments provided it with a whole universe of new emotional states.
“Like what?”
“Well, I seem to have more than one kind of object put into me, and I mix them together…”
“Not about that! About us!”
“Oh, that. Your situation is pretty interesting, too. I can’t help but notice that your kind bears a striking resemblance to the homeowner itself. You all have those strange protrusions coming out of you in the same places, your faces seem to some general similarities…of course, the homeowner isn’t the same colour, or anything like that. But there does seem to be some connection between its shape and yours.
So then I began to ask myself “Why would it consume something that looked like it?” Nothing else that it treats the same way has even a remotely similar appearance…so you must be special. The fact that I’ve only seen things like you now, whereas everything else seems to be in infinite abundance only proves that uniqueness further.
And then it dawned on me. It consumes you because what it really wants to do is consume itself. It must be a secretly desire of the homeowner to consume itself, or other things like it, but for reasons not entirely clear to me, it can’t. Maybe it is physically impossible for it to consume itself. Maybe it feels it to be immoral, or impractical. But it continues to long for the day it may treat itself like it has so many other things in its life.
And that’s where you come in. It can never live out its fantasy, but it can come close. So it brings you here, a thing with a superficial resemblance to it. It can vicariously live out that fantasy through you. Brilliant, in its own way…but it has made me look at the homeowner in a slightly different light.”
“It makes us disappear…because it wants to disappear itself?”
“Maybe. That just sounds like the most plausible solution to me. I’ve been here long enough, observing the homeowner in a number of different activities, so I think I am qualified to make that judgement.”
“How do I know you’re telling the truth?”
“I guess you won’t. As I said, you obviously can’t see me. And these are only words, after all. Words don’t mean anything. Not compared to seeing, I mean. But I guess you’ll see, eventually.”

Silence. The thing didn’t speak again. It was happy about that.

There was a period after that fateful conversation where it stayed silent, retreating inward to process what it had heard. It had spent so much time thinking about the large thing, that thing of power and mystery, and thinking about its nature…and these ideas, these terrible ideas of a thing with such power creating its kind solely to unmake them for its own desires, it had never even began to think of the possibility of them. Of course it wouldn’t; nothing in its knowledge of the universe suggested that such things could ever happen. Everything was exciting, there to elicit wonder and happiness…but what if they actually weren’t? What if its entire life was spent getting joy from things that were not joyous, and were only destined to disappear like it was? It tried to convince itself that the thing was lying, trying to rile it up for its own pleasure. But it couldn’t. No matter how much it tried to use its logic to disprove it, or even lie to itself, it couldn’t remove the idea that it might be the real truth of its reality. And if the thing was right, it would find out soon enough, when the homeowner comes back. Every moment of its remaining existence was spent dreading that moment, hoping it never came. Even if the thing was wrong about the so-called homeowner, it had no desire to ever see it again.

After a time, its friend and its neighbours, or what was left of them, called out to it, asking if anything was the matter. It didn’t answer. They tried again and again. Nothing. Eventually, they stopped asking.

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