The Father

The Clubhouse

Daisy Ironfield first heard the voice of The Father when she was nine years old.

It was a sweltering hot afternoon in the middle of June and Daisy was sitting on the concrete walkway by the pond up the street from her house feeding bread to a family of mallards. There was a mommy and a daddy and seven little ducklings quacking around that day; there were nine the last time she came up here, but there’s a big ol’ catfish who lives in this pond, a big ol’ catfish who swims quick as a water snake. That’s just life, honey, her father would tell her when he was sober enough to speak clearly. Birds usually eat fish, but sometimes the fish get ‘em back. Life is ironic that way.

Yes, life is very ironic, especially for Miss Daisy Ironfield – most of the kids she went to school with who had a single parent had a mother, but Daisy had a father. For most kids with single parents, their fathers left because they went to fight in the war; for Daisy, her mother left to protest. Most protesters were hippies who liked to smoke pot; Daisy’s mother was a hardcore conservative republican businesswoman (who still opposed the war, go figure), and her drink of choice was whiskey, a stark opposite to her easygoing father and the six joints he would smoke every day. Most pot smokers got happy and creative when they smoked pot; Daisy’s father got borderline catatonic and had trouble speaking when he was high. Life is ironic that way, and so Daisy Ironfield spent a lot of her time by the pond at the end of her street, unlike most kids who hung out at the ball field on the other side of Stonetown. That didn’t bother Daisy though; while most kids wanted to fit in with everyone else, Daisy preferred to be alone. She always had, because life is ironic that way.

Daisy’s hand scraped the bottom of her brown paper bag. “Uh oh,” she said. “Sorry duckies, you ate all the bread!” The duckies quacked a few times and wiggled their tail feathers, then began to swim away as Daisy got up. She looked over her shoulder at the mouth of the woods as she walked back towards the street, wondering where that old trail might lead to. She’d asked her father to take her back there a few times at that point, and he always said he would, but it still hadn’t happened. It’s not that he was lying, or that he didn’t love his daughter – Daisy knew better than to think that silly nonsense – he just always forgot. He always remembered to buy himself more pot, but he forgot to take his daughter for walks in the woods. Life is just ironic that way, and that’s okay.

‘But is it okay?’

Daisy stopped at the end of the walkway and turned around, but there was nobody there. “Who said that?” she asked, but nobody answered. So, she kept walking, and made it about halfway across the lawn before she heard the voice again.

‘Would you like to go for a stroll through the woods, Daisy Ironfield?’

“Who’s there?!” Daisy squealed as she whipped around so fast the hem of her skirt flew up to her kneecaps. But there was nobody there. She looked back and forth and took a step backwards, then whispered, “What’s going on… I don’t like this…” to herself.

‘Do not be afraid, Daisy Ironfield,’ the voice said in its soothing way. ‘Don’t you know who I am?’

“No…” Daisy mumbled, crumpling up the empty paper bag and squeezing it. “Who are you?”

‘You can call me The Father, Daisy,’ said the voice, and how ironic was it that The Father spoke in the voice of a woman?

“But… but I already have a father,” Daisy said to the voice in her head.

‘That you do, little one, but I am not he; nor am I a he, nor am I a she. That’s not important though; would you like to go for a stroll through the woods with me?’

“Um…” Daisy said, looking around. There’s nobody up here, nobody driving by on Fricker or Barnstatter; there’s just Daisy, The Father and the duckies in the pond. “Okay… but we can’t be gone long. My father’s gonna be worried.”

‘Fret not, Daisy Ironfield; we won’t be gone long at all,’ replied the voice, and they weren’t gone very long. Only for an hour, maybe two. The Father guided Daisy along the wide trail – The Father told her it was used to cart logs and lumber when folk used to have farms back here in the eighteen’hundreds – through the shallow woods and down a very rocky hill, then took her right along the trail that leads to the Wanaque Reservoir, which was going through a terrible dry spell during this particular June. At the triangular junction that will be degraded into a pit of muddy water by quads in the decades to come, The Father had her go right again, and together they followed the old logging road until it came to an end in a grassy little clearing where all the trees had been chopped down. Sunlight poured down through the hole in the canopy, giving the clearing an otherworldly glow.

“What is this place?” Daisy asked, in awe of this sunbaked oasis hidden deep within this dark forest.

‘This is a very special place, Daisy Ironfield. Almost as special as you.’

“I’m… you think I’m special?”

‘I know you’re special – you’re going to come back here, Daisy Ironfield, but I will not be with you.’

“But… how will I find my way here?”

‘Worry not, little one; you shall remember the way,’ assures the voice of The Father. ‘Tomorrow you’ll come, and you’ll bring your father. When you get here, you’ll tell him you want to build a little clubhouse together, and he’ll absolutely love the idea.’

“He will? How do you kno–”

‘Because I am The Father, and all are my children. I must go soon, Daisy Ironfield. Can you get back home on your own?’

A deep sadness washes over Daisy, a sadness she cannot explain but a sadness she feels nonetheless. “Why do you have to go?”

‘Because I have many children, little one, but not all of them can hear me like you can.’

“They… can’t?”

‘No, they can’t,’ says The Father, without explaining why. ‘You have a beautiful mind, Daisy Ironfield, you stand out to those like me. That’s what makes you special, but be warned: not all those like me are quite the same as me.’

“What do you mean?” Daisy asked, tears flowing down her face.

‘You may find out in due time, little one, but only if you choose to listen.’

“What does that mean?” Daisy asked, but she got no reply; The Father had gone away.

Daisy turned away from the clearing and started to walk back along the trail, but something caught her foot in the grass and spilled her out. Daisy didn’t cry when she fell – she’s a tough one, rugged, as her father liked to call her. She simply got back up and brushed the foresty bits off her knees, then went looking for what she fell over. It was a rock, but not any normal rock – Daisy tripped over a crystal that day, a big hunk of white quartz shaped sort of like an egg that had a bit of lichen growing out of it. There was something about the crystal, it spoke to her – not in the same way The Father spoke to her, mind you, but she felt that it was special. No – she knew it was special, just like The Father knew Daisy was special.

Daisy carried the crystal all the way back to her house with her that day, and that night she slept with it cuddled in her arms. A few weeks later, after her and her father finished building her clubhouse, her father found a cut section of a log that someone cleared away from the trail and stood it up in the middle of the clubhouse. He even donated an old red tablecloth from the basement to Daisy’s clubhouse, and it was upon that clothed log that Daisy’s crystal found its home. Daisy spoke to the crystal occasionally when she found herself back here in her clubhouse her father built for her in the clearing, sometimes for hours at a time, even, but it never spoke back like the voices in her head. It simply listened, which is all Daisy wanted. Someone to listen.

Daisy would come and go from the clubhouse many times over the next few years of her life, but the crystal never left its sacred space on the clothed log. Not until a stormy day many years later when Daisy’s first son would wander back here and find it, along with a decapitated body lying at the base of the pillar. But don’t worry, the body had nothing to do with the crystal; it was simply a pair of conveniently coinciding circumstances that, when looked at right next to each other, appeared to be linked.

The Vessel

The second time Daisy heard The Father talking to her, it didn’t speak in the same voice.

Nor was Daisy’s last name Ironfield; she had gotten married to a man named Chester Williamson and they had a baby together, a baby which Daisy named Hilter Odolf for reasons she firmly believed in at the time but could no longer remember. But that’s all right, life is ironic that way; besides, she wrote her first baby a letter explaining it all, a letter he wasn’t to open until he turned eighteen, which was about fourteen and a half years from the day The Father spoke to her again.

She was at the beach with Chester, Sandy Hook specifically, as it was the only beach Daisy’s father ever took her to as a little girl. The Williamsons lived down in Piscataway at the time, and the drive wasn’t terribly far so they hired a babysitter to look after Hilter and they took themselves a day trip. The Williamsons didn’t just want to get away from their baby though – Daisy had some very important news to tell her husband. It seemed that the condom broke… again. Daisy was pregnant, Hilter would have a little brother, and Daisy wanted to take her husband somewhere special to tell him. So there they sat on a pair of towels as the waves crashed against the shore. Daisy took Chester’s hand, turned to him, opened her mouth and said…

Nothing. Daisy said nothing, because she heard a voice in her head. A deep voice, course like dried lava, a frighteningly masculine voice. A voice which called itself The Father.

‘You don’t sound like The Father,’ Daisy thought back to the voice. She had dealt with many voices speaking to her from within the confines of her skull by that time, and she had learned how to talk back without moving her lips. She had gotten quite good at it, in fact; sometimes, talking to the voices in her head felt more natural than talking to other humans.

‘And yet I am The Father nonetheless,’ the voice growled. ‘Leave that man and take a walk, Miss Daisy. I have a favor to ask you.’

Daisy didn’t realize Chester had been looking at her. She closed her mouth and dropped his hand, then got up.

“What’s wrong, darling?” Chester asked as he prepared to get up himself. “You looked like you were about to say something.”

“I… I need to go take a walk,” Daisy said nervously as her left hand absently started playing with the end of her hair. “Alone. I’ll be right back, just… just stay here please.”

Chester looked concerned – not half as concerned as he felt, for he knew when his wife, bless her soul, was hearing the voices – but he respected her wishes, nonetheless. There was nothing stopping him from keeping an eye on her though, and that’s exactly what he did.

Daisy fought the urge to sprint away from her husband. She wanted to get away from him, from all the other folk laying out on their towels today; she wanted to be alone so she could talk to The Father again. She hadn’t spoken to The Father since she was a child, she missed The Father. The Father was the first one to tell Daisy that she was special, Daisy loved The Father. Lots of her friends and lovers had told her she was special over the years, but none of them meant it like The Father meant it. The Father saw her for who she truly is; she couldn’t quite explain it, but she knew The Father saw her differently than everyone else saw her. Even if The Father sounded differently then, it was still The Father speaking to her. And she wanted privacy when she spoke back.

There was nobody blanketed out by the jetty, so the jetty is where Daisy stopped walking. She turned back and saw Chester sitting up rather than laying down. She knew he was looking at her, keeping an eye on her, and she thought it was fine. As long as he stayed there, she didn’t care what he did. She was now alone with The Father, and that’s all that mattered.

‘Are you there?’ Daisy asked. She sat down on a large black rock to look out at the ocean. She saw a fishing boat out in the distance, and a flock of seagulls floating past where the waves started, but she didn’t get an answer. Not until she got up to start walking back.

‘I’m always here, Miss Daisy; ah, how convenient that you came to the very spot I wanted you to go.’

Daisy froze in place, then sat right back down. ‘What do you mean? And where have you been all these years? I’ve been calling out to you ever since you showed me the clearing in the woods by my old house. Why didn’t you ever answer?’

The Father scoffed rudely in Daisy’s mind. ‘The laws of time’s passage do not apply to those like me, Miss Daisy. I have many children, some of whom are more important and deserving of my attention than you. I am here now, is that not good enough for you?’

‘No, it is,’ Daisy assured the voice, her heart pounding out of her chest. ‘I just… I missed you, I… I love you.’

‘Then you will do the favor I ask of you, won’t you, Miss Daisy?’

‘Yes,’ she told The Father without a moment of hesitation. ‘Yes, I’ll do anything you want, please just… please don’t leave me again.’

The Father said, ‘Climb up on the jetty and walk out to the end.’

‘What’s at the end of the jetty?’ Daisy asked, but she got no answers. She began to weep but then straightened herself up and climbed onto the jetty. Keeping her head pointed to her feet, Daisy walked down the row of slippery rocks, totally unaware that Chester had gotten up and started away from their camp.

Salty green ocean water sprayed up and wetted Daisy’s face when she reached the end of the slick jetty. She wiped it off with the bottom of her tee-shirt, taking the tears with it. ‘Okay, I’m here. What should I do?’

The Father did not answer.

‘Hello? The Father? Are… are you there?’ She sighed, and the tears began to spill anew. “Were you ever there…?”

‘I am always here, Miss Daisy. I see every move you make, I hear every twisted thought to spin through your mind. You talk to voices, Miss Daisy, you speak to beings who aren’t really there. You are sick, you are broken. But I can fix you.’

The breath escaped Daisy’s lungs. She felt a terrible tightness in her chest. Something was wrong, The Father would never say those things to her. The Father said she was special, not sick. The Father–

‘You’ve done well to come out here. Look between your feet, Miss Daisy.’

But Daisy didn’t look down. ‘Why do you keep calling me that? You didn’t call me that the last time we spoke.’

Daisy’s mind was quiet for a moment. Then, ‘Do you doubt me, Miss Daisy? You dare cast doubt upon The Great Father, the One as Old as Earth Itself? Perhaps I was wrong about you, Miss Daisy. Perhaps you’re not one of the special ones.’

“No!” Daisy shouted at the ocean, then threw her hands up to her mouth. She didn’t bother turning around; she knew the others were probably looking at her now, wondering what’s wrong with her. But they were just upset because The Father hadn’t spoken to them; they had a void in their hearts, a gaping chasm they didn’t know how to fill, that they didn’t even know was there because they’d never spoken to The Father. Or, more accurately, The Father had never spoken to them. ‘No, I… I’m sorry. I’ll do as you say, The Father. Whatever you want.’

‘Then look down between your feet and tell me what you see.’

Daisy looked down. Her feet were planted firmly on two different rocks, and wedged in the crevice between those rocks was what appeared to be a glass bottle. Daisy bent down and picked it out. It was a glass bottle, all right, one you would put a message in, but this bottle was empty. It had an old piece of cork stuffed in its mouth, and on the side there was a painting of a little boy. No… it was a clown, and he was saying Oh Noooo.

‘Is… is this what you wanted me to find?’

‘Yes,’ said the ugly, drooling voice which called itself The Father. ‘Now open it, Miss Daisy.’

‘Why do you wan–’

‘Open the vessel, Miss Daisy, and all shall be revealed.’

So Daisy opened the bottle, and suddenly, the ocean disappeared. The jetty disappeared. The sky, the clouds, the shining sun, the sounds of playing children, the smell of salt on the air – Sandy Hook was gone. Daisy Williamson was alone, floating in a black miasma of darkness, holding the vessel in her hands.

‘Well, Miss Daisy, it seems that we’re at an impasse.’

“What do you mean?” Daisy screamed defiantly into the darkness. “Where am I, what’s going on?!”

‘You are with me now, Miss Daisy. All alone in the darkness.’

“You’re not The Father! Who the fuck are you?!”

‘I am the Great Old One, Miss Daisy. I am the darkness under your bed, the shadows which consume your shack in the forest of your youth when the sun falls and the moon refuses to rise. I am everything you fear, mortal woman, and I am here for your soul.’

“I fear nothing!” Daisy shouted, and felt the words scrape against the inside of her throat. It burned but it felt good, like the bruise you walked away with when you finally stood up to the bully who made fun of you for laughing when nobody told a joke. “I’m rugged, just like my father told me! And I’m special, just like The Father told me! You can’t have my soul, you terrible thing! You’re not even real!”

‘Oh I’m real, you sniveling little shit; my true form is putrid, ghastly, horrifying, the bane of all innocence; what I truly am cannot be described by the words of mere mortals, but you cannot see me. You refuse to see me, because you are not afraid, and that is very noble. But look around you, Miss Daisy, you of the glimmering mind; you are lost in darkness and the darkness is me. I have you, Miss Daisy, and I will not let you go with hunger in my stomach. You will stay here in limbo until you surrender to me that which I crave.’

“I refuse!” Daisy challenged, or rather heard herself challenge; those words were not her own. Those words were that of The Father, The Father had come back to her at long last. The Father had come back to save her! “I refuse you this soul, you vile, pathetic demon! Go back to The Void! Go back to Godspace for your inevitable rejection! Go back to The Fucking Sandbox and be sent back to nonExistence where you belong!”

‘Silence!’ bellowed the Great Old One, and the darkness around Daisy trembled. She was alone again, with no memory of The Father’s presence in her being. She only knew the Great Old One was angry, that He was angry at her. That His darkness was beginning to swallow her physical form. That it hurt terribly to be here in His darkness, and that the pain would only grow more severe until there was nothing left of her. The Great Old One might not get her soul, but her life would end in a blink, and in the back of her mind, she saw a vision of young Hilter Odolf growing up without a mother. His life would be ruined. Unless…

“Listen to me, demon!” Daisy screamed as she began to sob. “I will die before I give in to you, Great Old One! You may not have my soul… but…” she trailed off, afraid of her own intentions. Was she really going to do this?

‘Yes, yes you are, Miss Daisy. I may not have your soul, but…’

“But… I cannot leave my child without a mother. I grew up with only a father and I don’t wish the same on my Hilter, I couldn’t. I am carrying his brother, Great Old One, I am in possession of another soul. A soul…” She almost couldn’t get the words out, but that was okay. She didn’t have to say them alone. The Great Old One would help. The Great Old One would pull them out of her. “A soul you may have if you release me from your hold and never approach me again.”

Sunlight eviscerated the darkness. The bottle – the vessel – now full of the purest, whitest sand, fell from Daisy’s grasp and disappeared between the rocks. Daisy’s legs were wobbling. She felt weak, she felt a gaping hole in her stomach like something hadd been stolen from her. And she fell.

And Chester Williamson caught her, pulling her back up on the rocks.

“Daisy!” he shouted. “Daisy, wake up!”

Daisy drifted somewhere between awake and asleep, unable to answer.

Chester checked her pulse. She was alive; her pulse was slow, but she was alive. As he approached from the shore, Chester called her name many times, but Daisy didn’t answer. She acted like she didn’t even hear him, like she slipped into a coma or something while she was standing out on these slippery rocks that nobody should be walking on in the first place. Carefully Chester manages to carry his fainted wife back to shore, and when a troupe of lifeguards came up to question him, he gave them an earful about how there should be warning signs, that his wife nearly fell into the ocean and broke her neck! And the lifeguards did put up signs, signs that will be ignored by many humans, children and adults alike, for years to come. They will be especially ignored by one child specifically: a boy named Tad, Tad Flannigan, the boy who will find the bottle with the clown painted on the side when his family is vacationing here many years in the future, and that family will be consumed by the Great Old One just like Hilter’s unborn baby brother, because not all those like The Father are quite the same as The Father, something Daisy found out on that fateful day, and only because she chose to listen.

Daisy Williamson

Daisy Williamson gave birth to a dead baby six months later. She didn’t speak a word to anybody for a full year after that; not to her husband, not to her living child, not to her dying father. Only to The Father, but those words were spoken in her head, and they fell on deaf ears.

For a long time Daisy believed she was silently ignored by The Father; that her pleas for an explanation, for some kind of understanding of why her life had spiraled out of control were outright refused. For a long time Daisy stayed inside her house, not speaking to anyone, hardly eating anything, hardly drinking anything. She did not take care of herself but she stayed healthy, though her family began to fall apart. Her husband lost his patience with her, her son Hilter stopped knocking on her door to check on her. For a long time, Daisy let her world crumble around her and did nothing about it.

Then, she decided to stop asking after The Father. She decided to do something to get his attention, to force his hand, to give him no other choice but to save her.

Daisy Williamson murdered her husband in cold blood when her son was at school one day, and she hid his body in the meat locker in the basement.

In the days that followed, she came out of her room and took care of her son. She made him his breakfast, his lunch, his dinner. She made sure he bathed, and brushed his teeth, and did his homework, all of which he would have done without her. She ignored him when he asked where his father went, she pretended she didn’t hear a word out of his mouth. And one day, when Hilter was at school, she took up all of his stuffed animals and gutted them, using the fluff to stuff her husband like a taxidermy animal, and after burying the felt carcasses in the backyard, she set Chester up on the couch for her son to find.

But still The Father didn’t speak to her. So Daist decided to start taking care of herself, to show The Father that she loved herself as much as The Father loved her; she started eating well and going for runs to get exercise, and she was fast. Daisy hardly weighed more than one hundred pounds at that point in her life and she ran like the wind, or at least, she ran faster than the neighborhood pets. The very neighborhood pets that began to disappear shortly after she picked up her running habit.

When the neighbors started to complain about how their pets went missing after she ran by their houses, she told them to fuck off and call the cops.

When the cops came and questioned her, she told them to fuck off and stop harassing her.

When the cops brought dogs into her backyard and found all the dead animals, she let them in the house and showed them her husband.

When the cops threatened to lock her away, she convinced them that her son Hilter was the culprit, that he was a psychopath, that he was holding her here as a prisoner, that she ran all the time to train so she could escape him one day. The cops believed her and Hilter was taken away, and she hoped that The Father would see that she did it all to prove to The Father that she loved herself, but The Father still didn’t speak to her.

When the neighborhood pets continued to disappear after Hilter was taken away, the cops took Daisy Williamson away, and she stayed away for a very long time. She made lots of friends at her facility, but one day she slipped deep into a catatonic semi-comatose state, and her son – who had been released from his own facility and grew up to be a world-renowned expert on schizophrenia spectrum disorders – took her out of her facility and into his own care.

Now, Daisy Williamson lives alone in the basement of the house she grew up in, that old house on Fricker Drive. Her son Hilter owns the house – Hilter Odolf Williamson owns all the houses on this street, probably because The Father loves Hilter OdolfWilliamson. The Father does not love Daisy Williamson, though. Daisy’s hospice nurse – a woman who will one day give birth to a boy named Marty who will follow in her footsteps and become a hospice nurse himself – loves Daisy Williamson, but The Father does not love Daisy Williamson.

That’s what Daisy Williamson tells herself every morning, afternoon and night as her consciousness floats just behind her eyes, patiently waiting for death: that The Father doesn’t love her anymore. And she starts to believe it, too.

Until she’s given a reason not to.

The Crystal

The Father speaks to Daisy Williamson for the last time on the night before she dies. This time The Father speaks to her in that same soothing, feminine voice she heard when she was a little girl feeding the ducks at the pond at the end of Fricker.

‘Hello, Daisy Williamson,’ Daisy hears, and her eyes snap open. She sits bolt upright and her wispy gray hair flies in front of her eyes, blinding her.

“Hello?” she asks as she claws the locks away from her face. “The Father, is that you? Are you there?”

‘It is me, Daisy Williamson. I have always been here.’ But The Father does not sound happy. The Father does not sound angry, nor disappointed; The Father sounds sad. The Father sounds very, very sad. ‘I have been with you all along, Daisy Williamson, as I am with all my children.’

Daisy scoffs. As she speaks, her voice sounds high and creaky like that of a witch. “You were not there that day at the beach when I lost my second child. You would not have let that happen, you failed me! And you lie to me now!”

‘I do not lie to you, Daisy Williamson; I was there. I saved your soul, but I could not save your unborn child; you chose to listen to the Great Old One. You did not listen to me, but you listened to Him.’

“What are you talking about?!”

‘I told you a long time ago, little one: not all those like me are quite the same as me. And you asked what I meant. And I answered that you may find out in due time, but only if you chose to listen.’

“And… I chose to listen…” whispers Daisy as her head falls back to her pillow. “I listened to Him… but not you…”

‘You were afraid, little one; I do not blame you, and you should not blame yourself. I shed a tear as I speak to you, Daisy Williamson, for it was all meant to happen just as it had.’

Daisy too sheds a tear, but not for herself. Daisy weeps for The Father, because she finally understands; The Father truly is The Father, The Father of Existence, the one who bears witness to all events, the one upon whose shoulders the weight of those events fall. The Father cannot control these events, The Father cannot change their course; The Father can only speak as things transpire and hope his children change their ways, but they never do. The Father must watch as his children commit atrocities unto one another, The Father must sit by and allow it all to happen, for The Father has no other choice. The Father of Existence gave birth to all of reality, and he must let it spiral all on its own. And so Daisy Williamson weeps for The Father, she weeps until her tear ducts are dry.

‘My child,’ The Father says in that sad, sad voice.

“Yes, The Father?”

‘You are going to die soon, Daisy Williamson, and there is something you must do before your time comes.’

“What must I do? Anything, The Father. Please, just speak the words.”

‘The crystal, Daisy Williamson. Your son has found the crystal you left in your clubhouse. You must take the crystal and come back here; in the morning he will come to find it, and you shall tell him the truth.’

“The truth?” Daisy asks. “What truth should I tell him, The Father?”

But The Father speaks no more.

The Voice of Existence

Hilter Odolf Williamson wakes up from a sound, dreamless sleep to find his nightstand empty. Before he went to bed last night, he put the crystal that called to him in the ratty wooden shack  right on that nightstand, but now it’s gone. And for some reason, he knows exactly where he’ll find it.

“No…” Hilter says to himself as he gets dressed in his best slacks and button-down. “No, that’s not possible. She’s hardly even alive, the woman doesn’t have the strength to get out of bed. I had to hire a hospice nurse for God’s sake, it’s not possible.”

But he knows it is, and so Hilter walks down the road to what used to be the Johnson’s house, the very first house he bought on Fricker Drive, the same house Daisy grew up in – not that Hilter knew that when he bought it. No, it simply spoke to him, called out to him in a metaphysical sort of way. He goes in through the garage and walks through the basement, then pauses at the door to his mother’s private apartment.

“Do you really believe your catatonic mother got up in the middle of the night, broke into the one house on this road you happened to be sleeping in – a detail she would never be able to know regardless of the higher state of consciousness her schizophrenia allows her to access because I blocked the information from her and her specifically – and stole that quartz crystal off your nightstand? Without waking you? Come on Hilter, you must be fucking daft.”

And he almost walks away. But then he doesn’t. Hilter opens the door and sees the crystal lying on his mother’s stomach, slowly rising and falling as she breathes.

“How in the hell did you manage it, woman?” Hilter asks, walking into the gloomy apartment and slamming the door behind him. “How is it even possible?”

Daisy opens her eyes, then turns her head slightly to face Hilter. “Hello, my beautiful son.”

“Hello, Mother,” Hilter says through clenched teeth. “Answer my Goddamned question. How did you get that rock off my nightstand last night?”

“I… I don’t remember, son. I wasn’t carried by my will alone.”

“What?!” Hilter shouts, exasperated.

“It was The Father of Existence, child. The Father spoke to me last night, for the first time since I was a little girl… The Father told me what I need to do.”

“Oh? And what’s that? Do you need to murder me like you did my father? Do you need to have me locked up again? WHAT?!” he screams, the veins bursting from his throat.

Daisy only smiles. “I love you, Hilter, and I’m sorry for everything that’s happened. But I’m not long for this world, and I must ask you to listen.”

A scowl of rage and disgust makes itself perfectly present on Hilter’s face. “Fine. Fine, I’m listening. What do you have to say, you psychotic old bird? And make it quick, before I do you in myself.”

“If that’s how it’s meant to happen, that’s how it will go… but I do not think…” she trails off, then lets the air hang silent. Then, “I must tell you the truth, Hilter. The truth about reality.”

“The truth?” Hilter barks. “I know the truth, Mother. The truth is that everything is conscious, that everything vibrates at a certain level on the spectrum of consciousness. The truth is that some humans, like you and myself, are schizophrenic, and that we are quite literally higher than the majority of those around us. We are special, our minds are more powerful. That’s how you so easily got away with killing my father and all those animals, that’s how you were able to convince everybody that it was me and not you. Because you’re psychic, because you can look into the mind of another human being and bend and twist it to your liking.”

Daisy smiles at her son. Her son hates her for that smile.

“It’s the only thing that makes sense! I’m the same way! I’m the world’s greatest expert on the schizophrenia spectrum and I have the disease, I know firsthand how it works! How else can you explain my success, how else can all the convenient little coinciding incidents that happened to bring me here this morning? How else can you explain the fact that I was brought to that old ratty shack in the woods by the Universe itself, huh? How else can you explain anything that happens in this fucked up world?!”

Daisy can only smile. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be the one to show you my clubhouse, Hilter.”

The color drops out of Hilter’s face.

“Did you know I grew up in this house? And now I’m going to die here – it all comes around eventually, son. Unless it doesn’t, in which case… well, in which case it didn’t need to. Your theories are fun to think about Hilter, they’re fun thought experiments to run, but believing them will bring you no further in life. Can I tell you the truth now?”

Hilter says nothing; he can’t speak, he’s too busy trying to understand how his Mother’s voice just changed, how she sounds so young and healthy all of the sudden. How her voice is so soothing to his ears.

“The truth, Hilter, is that there is no the truth.” Daisy Williamson, holding the crystal in her hands now, levitates out of her bed, phasing through the blankets that once covered her while, at the same time, keeping her nightgown on. She floats in front of Hilter and stands on the air, meeting him at eye level. “Existence is a living thing, Hilter, and you’re right – some things are more conscious than others – but nothing living inside of Existence lives under its own free will. Everything that happens, from the formation of planets down to the thoughts which pop into your head, happens because that’s how Existence wants it to happen. There are no forces above Existence that can alter Her course of action, none that dare to, at least. There are merely forces who help facilitate Her creations as they embark on their journeys inside of Her: they are The Mongrel, which gives life to the others; The Perception, which gives life to the I; and The Father of Existence, who speaks to all that will hear, whether or not they’re capable of listening. And guess what, Hilter? Sometimes, Existence doesn’t even work like that. Sometimes, Existence breaks the rules She sets up for Herself, if for no other reason than the fact that She can. And that’s just what it is. And the wind continues to blow. And that’s enough; for you, Hilter, and for Existence Herself, that’s enough.

“You will never understand Existence, Hilter. You will never understand how consciousness really works. You will never be able to grasp reality in your hands, Hilter Odolf Williamson, because it is not your purpose to do so.”

Hilter takes a step back, refusing to listen. “No, that’s… that’s bullshit! I am a psychologist, the world-renown–”

“Human psychology is a pseudoscience, you arrogant fool,” says Daisy in the voice of The Father. “You are on this Earth to help those in need, those like Scotty Mells and Dallas Hinton and Gill Milligan, whose dream journal you still have yet to read. You’re here for those like the boy Cooper, the one with no last name, a fact you never once questioned during your interactions with him. You own all the houses on this street so you can give troubled souls like your mother Daisy a safe place to rest so they can move on, so you can talk to them and help them level out. That is your purpose; you are special, Hilter, but not for the reason you think.”

“Then why?!” Hilter shouts, but he doesn’t choose to. He merely feels the words fly out of his mouth, and in that moment he understands that none of his actions are his. None of them ever have been and none of them ever will be, because there is no him. There is merely Existence and all of Her creations, which are just reflections of Herself.

“Because Existence decided you should be. Because Existence Herself decided that you have a very special role to play, and you shall play it until Existence Herself dies.”

A feeling of bliss and love washes over Hilter. He forgets about his past, he forgets about his anger, his confusion, all the convenient incidents that have brought him to his mother’s apartment in the basement of the first house he brought on Fricker Drive. He realizes where he is: Universe W-63, a simple Universe, a Universe where souls go to be incarnated and heal from past trauma so they can move on and spiral anew elsewhere in The Void, and Hilter feels good about that. Hilter feels safe and secure with his role here. And when Daisy falls dead to the floor in a heap of broken bones, Hilter can only smile, because that’s exactly what was supposed to happen.

Hilter turns around and goes to leave the apartment, not worrying about his dead mother because Existence will sort that out without having Hilter play a part. Then, he hears a voice whispering to him from inside his head. The voice wants him to turn around, and so he does.

Daisy is floating again, but her arms and legs aren’t attached to her body – they’re all linked together, hand to hand, foot to foot, stump to stump in a circle, a horrifically bloody circle of dismembered limbs spinning faster than the tires of Dallas’s car when he peeled out last night. In the middle of the circle is Daisy’s torso, her legless, armless, headless torso, the nightgown which covers it soaked in the blood which it leaks onto the spinning wheels of limbs, and as the wheel spins ‘round and ‘round, it paints the walls, ceiling and floor, the bed, the life support equipment, the furniture; the entire basement apartment is painted with the blood of Daisy Williamson. Her head is floating before the center of her torst; her eyes are blacked out and streaks of glowing purple fluid flow down her cheeks and dribble out from her stump of a neck.

“One last thing before you go, Hilter,” Daisy’s severed head says in her beautiful, elated voice, the voice of The Father of Existence. No, this voice is different – it’s the voice of Existence Herself.

“What’s that, mom?” Hilter asks, not at all perturbed by the sight (nor the smell) of his mom’s actively bleeding and grossly mutilated body.

“Existence will eventually end, Hilter; I will die one day.”

And then, in a deep, haunting voice that would sound normal if it were speaking backwards, Existence says, “But not until I’m damn well ready.”

This curve of the spiral is now complete; the book will be out just as soon as I finish making it. Be well Commons~

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