Sunday, June 14, 2015

Day Eight-Seventy-Three: The needs of the many

Grayson was living in heaven.

He’d already been living in heaven, of course. He’d constructed his mother’s paradise to be heaven. It was as orderly and lovely a place as a nature lover like Libby could want - and whatever Libby liked, Grayson liked. To give his mother everything she could possibly desire was Grayson’s idea of heaven. It had simply been lacking an element he’d craved from the first moment he’d conjured a conscious thought.

Now he had that thing. His mother’s love.

They were in a bounteous garden at the moment, surrounded by lilacs and bathed in moonlight. Libby sat in the middle of a cluster of Graysons, almost one hundred children thick. She was reading them a story, the book in her hands lit by a candle held by one of her sons. To a boy, the Graysons gave Libby their undivided attention.

“‘Bring me the diamond!’ the old man hissed, his voice hoarse and angry.’” Libby frowned, tipping the book away. “I don’t get it. I thought he had a diamond already. He had one in the last chapter.”

“Keep going, mom, you’ll see,” the nearest Grayson insisted. He was shoved so close to his mother that his hair was tickling her armpit. She didn’t seem to mind. “C’mon. It’ll be answered.”

“‘I’ll do no such thing,’ the guardsman yelled back. He pointed his spear at Reginald’s chest, the tip drawing a bead of blood. But Reginald did not move, did not yield, and did not even grunt as a thin stream of crimson slid between his chest hairs.’”

The Graysons sighed, contented. Each was considering the villainy of guards. They knew what was coming next.

“This’s dumb,” Libby grunted. She snapped the book closed and glared at the title. “‘Rock Eyes?’ The hell is that even supposed t’mean?”

“It’s a metaphor,” one Grayson called out.

“The old man only has eyes for diamonds, you see,” said another Grayson, nearer to the back. “He wants more than the magic they offer, mom.”

“Yep,” the Grayson massaging Libby’s shoulders confirmed. “It’s true, mom. We love that book.”

“Well, I don’t.” Libby tossed the book into the crowd. It vanished. “S’dumb. You should be reading smart books. Like technical manuals, or somethin’.”

The Graysons nodded. She was right, of course. She had to be. She was their mother.

Libby stood. The Graysons stood with her. Libby walked, and the crowd remained on all sides, moving in silent tandem. The moon gave way to the sun to better illuminate Libby’s path, and she offered one of the Graysons a warm smile. The tingle of happiness in the one went to the rest, and they beamed with singular pride. The pride grew to outright ecstasy when Libby patted another Grayson on the head.

Through some grand coincidence, or perhaps the hand of an actual god, Libby managed to time the pat with the crumbling of the tower beneath their feet. It was sufficient to distract Grayson from the apocalypse.

It took Grayson almost five minutes of quiet walking in a long, almost elegant meadow before the first signs of trouble clicked into place, and even then only one of the Graysons noticed the abrupt loss of sight in one eye. Yet even this Grayson was so bewitched by Libby’s presence that he failed to register his partial blindness as a problem, and he only cried foul on the situation when his other eye failed, too.

The blind Grayson almost immediately tripped on a rock and collapsed in a heap. The others nearby turned to laugh at him. 

“Hey, what are you laughing at?” one of the nearest Graysons said. He cupped his ears. “Wait, I can’t hear you. What’s happening?”

The Grayson on the ground got to his knees. “I can’t… mom, I can’t see!” He clutched his hands over his eyes, frowning deeply.

“You’re both screwed up,” a haughty Grayson commented, rolling his eyes. “Obviously there’s some sort…”

“What?” Grayson said.

The third Grayson mouthed several more words, then clutched his throat. His eyes went wide as he tried, quite literally, to cough out conversation, but nothing emerged save harsh rasping.

“Oh, shit,” Libby murmured. She stepped away from her sons, who now seemed rather preoccupied. “This is it, innit? After a fuckin’ week of waiting…”

Only one of the Graysons stepped with her. He had faint scars on his face. He had his hands over his throat and feigned panic, but spoke all the same. “Aye. Keep quiet.”

The Graysons were staring at one another, each suffering from sensory problems that seemed to be spreading like a virus. A Grayson here could not see. A Grayson there patted the ground, stared at his fingers, and patted again. A trio of Graysons attempted to yell at one another with no success. One Grayson, clutching his chest, appeared to drop dead on the spot, and he was shortly joined by several more. The glee of mere moments earlier turned to horror, fear, and confusion.

“Mom!” a Grayson groaned, clawing at Libby’s leg as he thrashed about in the grass. His limbs twitched unnaturally, and his skin seemed to be slowly oozing off of his bones. “H… help…”

Libby pulled away. She felt a simultaneous compulsion to kneel down and help her son… and to stomp his hand into jelly. The neutral stance seemed the wisest choice.

Only one of Graysons seemed to be unaffected. He glowed more brightly than the rest, an aura of white surrounding his body. He stepped from clone to clone, shaking them, hitting them, cursing them, and, eventually, absorbing them, his hands plunging into their chests and pulling their essences into himself. Each time he destroyed another squealing Grayson the aura grew stronger, brighter, and more distinct - and his face grew older, tenser, and angrier.

“I… need… am… coming… apart…” Grayson hissed. He looked as old as he had the last time Libby had encountered him in life, his blonde hair cascading down his back, and wrinkles were beginning to sprout on his cheeks and around his nose. “I… come… together… PHILIP… FAILED…

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