The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

(Chapter XXIII) AKA the last one

Posted by Matt on February 23, 2011

Previously

In her sleep, Aia came up with the best-case scenario for what will happen after she dies. She begun rehearsing it in her head so frequently, she became convinced that it was going to happen. She clung to it like she had done to Brother Sal’s personal philosophy, a source that could not possibly mislead or lie to her. Maybe it was because she was going insane after all, as her connection with The Maker, the supposed source of all her thoughts, became weak and scrambled. Or maybe she just needed something to hold on to. In any case, her beloved idea goes like this:

One morning, Pearl will wake up, the sounds of the flowing water and the shrieking fliers there to show the world was still intact, and look over to greet her Big Sister. But she wouldn’t be awake as she normally would. Upon further inspection, Pearl would be terrified to find that she was no longer breathing, passing away quietly in the night. She would, of course, be devastated by this news, spending quite a bit of time sobbing, throwing fits, asking no one in particular why over and over again, just as Aia herself had when she lost a loved one. This was to be expected, and as painful an image as it was to Aia, she knew it she had to face the inevitable.

Pearl would eventually recover, remembering what her Big Sister told her about the inevitability of death, and how she was to find her own happiness when she was gone. Pearl, the sweet thing, would not be one to ignore the request of a loved one, so she would take to the concrete soon after. Maybe she would give Aia a proper burial, not wanting her body to be picked apart by the local wildlife as they were wont to do, and Aia hoped she would simply move her lifeless non-self into the vast blueness of the water and let her be carried away by it. But there was certainly no guarantee, which was understandable. Why should Aia expect poor Pearl to even want to be near her after that? It would be nice, but it wasn’t essential.

Pearl would get back to the grey ruins, and would there make a decision. Would she go back to the park? The hotel? Maybe she would think they weren’t so bad after all. Aia was sure she could find them again on her own, no matter how far out they had wandered; she was resourceful and persistent, and was not in thrall to the same survival instincts her (former) Big Sister was. All her solar powered energy would indeed come in handy here, and she had probably picked up enough of the basics of survival from Aia that were needed: hiding out inside from the intense weather, not touching anything if she didn’t know exactly what it was, things like that. She might be out there for a few days, and may even feel a little lost for a while, but she would pull through in the end. Aia knew she would.

In one variation of the best case scenario, Aia imagined that Pearl would not initially go back to one of their old haunts, but would instead happen upon the old man again, also wandering the ruins looking for nothing in particular. Aia had a hard time forgiving him for filling her Little Sister’s head with (possible) paranoid fantasies, but what did it matter when she was gone? She at least knew Pearl knew and liked him, and it seemed that he might know the land well. He could be the figure she could look up to who wouldn’t be a total disappointment. He could lead her down a better road, better than their directionless life on the beach. He might even be able to convince her to go back to the park. He didn’t seem to have much against it (aside from the cameras), so it could happen. She could even imagine their first words upon finding each other:

“Hey there, young ‘un. I see you talk my advice and hightailed it out of there”

“Yes, we did. Thanks for telling us about it. I didn’t like it there”

“Yeah, me neither. Hey, where’s the bigger one you were living with? Your Big Sister, or whatever?”

“She’s gone. She died”

“Sorry to hear that. She go out okay? I’ve seen quite a few deaths of our types, and some of it ain’t pretty”

“No, I think it was peaceful, during the night. Nothing too bad, I hope”

“You gonna be alright?”

“Yes, she told me about it before, told me to go find a good home when she was gone”

“Well, ya’ always gotta be lookin’ for a good home, I guess. I think I can remember where one of the other hotels are, if ya’ wanna try that. There’s people there, too, but nothin’ big and organized and polished like that wacko’s place. But it’ll probably do, I think. Wasn’t plannin’ on staying there myself, but you don’t want to be walkin’ out here for the rest of your life like I would, do you?”

“I think I’ll go there. Thanks for your help”

“No problem, Miss”

And the two would go off into the broken world, having their own adventures, and Pearl would soon forget to grieve Aia’s passing. That would be the best thing that could happen; Aia wished for nothing more than to no longer be dead weight her Little Sister had to unfortunately carry around with her. The sooner she could shed her past and move on, the better. Aia couldn’t help but feel a little distraught over the idea of being but a distant memory, but it was for the best.

The old man would, during the parts of the journey where they would rest, regale Pearl with more stories about the Poster People and what the world was like before. Considering all she had seen, she would probably be full of questions. ‘What were all these buildings for?’, ‘Were these creatures I keep seeing all there before?’, ‘What did the Poster People do at the beaches?’, and stuff like that. Maybe she would bring up the dripping black thing, asking him if he knew what it was, where it came from, and then tell him how brave her Big Sister was (she would be willing to bring her back up when discussing such positive things) when she confronted it. The old man would have answers for all this; if he’s as old as he says and knows as much as he seems to think he does, he’ll give her the answers; if he was lying the whole time, he’ll have an answer for it anyway. In either case, Pearl gets some kind of answer.

They would eventually find the hotel, which was still quite intact. It would also have a moderately-sized population of castaways; nothing compared to the other hotel, but still enough to be considered a community. They would welcome her with open arms, being a supportive group of self-exiled folks who were simply looking for something new in life. The old man wouldn’t go with her, accepting of his own eventual end, and telling her that she was obviously mature enough to look after herself at that point. She would have a moment of self-reflection, going over everything she had seen and heard and done and felt, and she would realize that it was true. And she would finally cast off everything, the troubles, the worries, the anger, the fear, the sadness, so she could finally be able to make a life for herself, and utilize all the great gifts she had bestowed upon her. She’d finally be able to live the life she deserved, with people who won’t let her down, and with all the best things her Big Sister could have taught her, with none of the drawbacks.

This was the greatest gift she could give her, the one thing that would redeem her after all her time as a failure, a freak, and completely undeserving of such a miraculous thing as Pearl. She could finally live up to the promise she made after she failed Brother Sal, to never bring someone else down again.

This fantasy comforted Aia. What did it matter if it actually happened or not? As far as she could tell, there was no reason to believe it impossible. Besides, by the time it could happen, or not, she won’t be there to see it. It will be out of her control at that point. But at that moment, it still was. So she chose to fantasize and hope for the best. What was the point of doing anything else?

She based the remainder of her life to a single idea: that she could give her loved ones more in death than she ever could in life. Now all that was left to do was wait for the day it would be made right again.

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