The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

(Chapter II)

Posted by Matt on January 6, 2011

Chapter 1

Despite the events of that night, Aia promptly fell asleep as soon as she got home. She didn’t even bother to check on Pearl, something she would feel guilty about later. What kind of big sister would leave her alone for so long without even providing an explanation? What would Brother Sal think? But she was exhausted, and decided she would simply delay the self-flogging.

Pearl woke her up the next morning at the usual time. Shafts of light streamed from their two windows, located at the very front of their small, rectangular flat. In the first groggy moments of the day, Aia could barely remember what had happened, and cherished them. When the memories slowly crept back into her mind, she first hoped the whole ordeal was just a nightmare. The realist in her was constantly gnawing away at the back of her mind, reminding her that it wasn’t, but she tried to ignore it.

“Morning, morning!” was Pearl’s cheery greeting, “You look awful! I hope you didn’t run yourself ragged trying to get back home in time just for me. I was fine all by myself. Want something to eat before you go to work?”

Aia was able to break through her internal discord and reply with a warm smile and a nod.

Pearl hovered to the low wooden table and continued on.

“I was at the store the other day, and I got more tablets. I know how much you like the orange ones, so I made sure to get more of those. It’s okay, I like them too.”

Oh Pearl, you precious little thing, Aia thought. If there was one part of Aia’s life that kept her going, that brought real joy to alleviate the day-to-day drudgery, it was Pearl. She was perfect, a shining example of what life was capable of. Kind, sweet, gentle, generous…Aia went through it all just to see Pearl live in the level of comfort she deserved.

Pearl’s creation was a bit of an event. It was Aia’s designated time to create a new citizen to keep the park’s population numbers in balance, which was not long after Brother Sal’s passing. No one expected much from it, even Aia herself. Everyone seemed to multiply after themselves; little things changed every new generation, but a worker was still clearly a worker, and a councillors tended to make others who looked, rather eerily at times, similar to themselves. Aia looked at how she compared to Brother Sal: she was smaller, thinner, of an elongated shape with tiny limbs, a slick complexion and coal-black eyes; he was taller and more upright, much rougher-looking, with a rocky complexion and long set of jaws and his famous teeth that made him the most expressive individual in the neighbourhood. Despite these differences, everyone could tell that Aia was derived from Sal just from their skin colours, long tails, and their curious lack of ears.

She expected the tradition to continue with her. As a good citizen, she promptly went to park central to the site of The Maker, which would produce a new person from her genetic material. Everyone knew what the Maker did, although they knew nothing of how it did it, not even the doting staff of operators and security. It had been there longer than anyone, always in the same place, always doing the same thing. It was assumed that it was built by the Poster People, but one could only guess for what purpose. It was as mysterious and omnipresent as the Poster People themselves; however, unlike them, at least it was still there, a thing they could touch and know. Its creators existed solely as flat, cheery visuals on papers strewn about the park, accompanied by strings of nonsense, an alien language the people of the park had long given up trying to decipher, with the exception of a few cranks and intellectuals.

Everyone had been educated early on about how they would eventually multiply: simply put your hand on the little console that jutted out from the dome of The Maker. Watched with keen unblinking intensity by the guards, the maintenance team, and the census officer who would promptly register the new arrival, Aia did exactly as she had been told. She didn’t think much about what this meant; she had decided early on that she would simply do the best she could to make the life of her spawn as pleasant as possible, just as Brother Sal did for her. The Maker was turned on, whirring and buzzing and exuding a subtle, comfortable heat. Each second felt like an hour as the workers and Aia waited to see what would emerge from the dome. Eventually, the whirring and buzzing stopped, the heat dissipated, and they all could hear the sliding door at the northern peak of the machine open. They all stomped off to see the results.

It was a surprise, to say the least. From The Maker came something unlike anything they had ever seen. There stood, well, floated, a slight creature, with a body that seemed to be made of a most polished crystalline material and reflected light upon all of them. It had tiny protuberances on its sides , which looked like angelic wings. It’s eyes were large and expressive and seemed to engender immediate sympathy, and were the most prominent part of its orb-like head, which jutted from a more conical body. There was a beautiful simplicity to it, and a sense of warmth and elegance that no other person in the park had known before now. The workers were definitely in shock, which one could make out even through their dark goggles. Aia was in awe. This astonishing thing came from her? It was a miracle. And that was how Pearl was introduced to the world.

Aia was convinced from that moment on that this was a sign from some unseen force. This was a chance for her to redeem herself for abandoning Brother Sal in his final moments, gifted to her by a fair and benevolent supernatural something. She was a terrible Little Sister to someone who treated her better than she felt she deserved, and now she would be able to make up for it by devoting her life to her own Little Sister. From then on, everything Aia endured, every ounce of sweat and blood shed, was all for Pearl.

Not that Aia really needed to provide much for her on her own: her creation was followed by much fanfare, as curiosity took hold of the park’s citizenry. Many, especially the blue-bloods who made up the council, wanted to see this unusual creature that came from a lowly worker. Some of the more superstitious people, the ones who often read cards on the street corners for pennies, said that The Maker was beginning to produce a superior race, one that would lead them to a golden age. The more rational lot dismissed them, but it was easy to tell that they too were enraptured by the possibility, and carefully monitored all subsequent trips to The Maker to see if there would be a trend. Nothing came of it, however, and the whole thing was eventually considered a fluke. Some sense of that initial curiosity remained, however, as Pearl was offered many a generous gift, including entrance to the halls of the Glass Chamber, an institution that was the exclusive haunt of the councillor’s progeny. Pearl couldn’t possibly turn down such an offer, and Aia encouraged her to take advantage of these things. However, despite being fellow to the greatest of the great in the park, it all seemed to wash over her. She regarded their little box as home, was perfectly happy living on a worker’s wage, and did everything in her own power to serve others, especially Aia. There was nothing either of them would not do for each other.

Aia was knocked from her stupor when Pearl began another of her conversations.

“I was talking to Jenny and Benny the other day during recess, and you know what they told me?” she said.

Aia never really needed to say anything to let Pearl know she wanted her to continue. She just had her gentle, motherly smile and nodded.

“They told me the leeches live on the streets because they’re weird in the head. They said they could live in houses like everyone else, but they choose not to. Is that true?”

Something about the way she talked set off something in Aia’s mind, but she ignored it for now.

“I don’t know” she replied.

“Oh. That’s okay, I don’t think anyone does. Maybe the leeches do, but whenever I ask them they always want to talk about something else.”

“Oh, I don’t want to make you late for work! I’ll stop now. I just wanted to see what you think.” she continued. “Better get going!”

Aia smiled and nodded. Soon she was out the door. She couldn’t help but look back at their home, the little box with two windows like every other box around them, until it slipped from view. She thought of Pearl. Then she thought what Pearl would think of what she did the other night. A sick feeling overcame her.

She can’t let anyone know what happened. It wouldn’t ever happen again; she was determined to make that so. But even that one incident is unforgivable. Aia had no idea what she could do about it. The best solution was to simply go back to the routine and forget about it. It would be difficult, yes, but as Brother Sal used to say, you just have to suck it up. She did it with everything else.

But it persisted throughout the day, not just the self-loathing for that moment of weakness, but just the idea that she what she might be capable of. What if she can’t stop it? What if it comes back? She didn’t even have time to think about the gang that appeared afterwards; they meant nothing in the long run. She wasn’t even afraid of being found out at that point. She was just afraid of what the whole thing showed her about herself. And what poor Pearl would think. She doesn’t deserve that. She would die before she would ever let Pearl know her beloved Big Sister is a monster. It’s one thing to stop breathing; it’s quite another to be a disappointment to another loved one. Never again, she promised herself.


4 Responses to “(Chapter II)”

  1. […] Need to read Invisibles, Filth, Flex Mentallo, Vimanarama, Zenith, New X-Men, and a some other stuff. So, the majority of his work. 2 days ago « (Chapter II) […]

  2. […] by icymatt on January 11, 2011 Prologue Chapter I Chapter II Chapter […]

  3. […] Chapter I Chapter II Chapter III Chapter […]

  4. […] Chapter I Chapter II Chapter III Chapter IV Chapter […]

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