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 young Daisy was sitting on the concrete walkway by the pond up the street from her house feeding broken bits of bread to a family of mallards. There was a mommy and a daddy and seven adorable little ducklings quacking around that day; there were nine the last time Daisy came up here, but there was a big ol’ catfish living in this pond, a big ol’ black catfish who swam quicker than a water snake. That’s just life, honey, Daisy’s 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 her 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 cold whiskey, a stark opposite to her easygoing father and the six joints he would burn every day. Most pot smokers got happy and creative when they smoked their 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 her age who hung out at the soccer fields on the other side of Stonetown. That didn’t bother Daisy, though; while most kids wanted to fit in with everyone else, Daisy Ironfield 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 stood up. She looked with curiosity over her shoulder at the mouth of the woods as she walked back towards the street, wondering where that wide ol’ 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 nervously asked, but nobody answered. So, Daisy kept walking. She 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 quick enough for the hem of her skirt to fly up to her kneecaps. But there was nobody there, just the duckies. She looked back and forth and took a step backwards, then whispered, “What’s going on here? I don’t like this…” to herself.
‘Do not be afraid, my pretty 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 Fricker Drive forest with me?’
“Um…” Daisy said as she looked around. There was nobody up by the pond, nobody driving by on Fricker nor on Barnstatter; there was just Daisy, The Father, and the lil’ duckies in the pond. “Okay… but we can’t be gone very long. My real father’s gonna be worried.”
‘Fret not, my pretty 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 uncut logs and chopped lumber when folks used to have big farms back here in the forest in the eighteen’hundreds – through the shallow woods and down a very rocky hill, then took her right at the first junction, leading her down the trail that eventually leads to the now flattened ruins of an old farmhouse built on the shore of 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 trench of muddy water by quads in the decades to come, The Father had Daisy 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 in through the hole in the canopy, giving the clearing an otherworldly glow.
“What on Earth is this amazing place?” Daisy asked, in awe of this sunbaked oasis hidden deep within this dark forest.
‘This is very special land, 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,’ assured the voice of The Father. ‘Tomorrow you’ll come, and you’ll bring your father, your real 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 blue sadness washed over Daisy, a sadness she could not explain but a sadness she felt 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 cannot, Daisy Ironfield, they simply cannot,’ said The Father in His loving feminine voice. ‘You have a beautiful mind, my pretty Daisy Ironfield, you stand out to those like me. That’s what makes you special, but you must be warned: not all those like me are quite the same as me.’
“What do you mean, The Father?” Daisy asked, tears flowing down her face.
‘You may find out in due time, little one, but only if you choose to listen.’
“But what does that mean?” Daisy asked again, but she got no reply; The Father had gone away.
Daisy turned away from the clearing and started to walk back along the old logging road, but something caught her foot in the grass and spilled her out. Daisy didn’t cry when she fell – she’s a tough one, she’s rugged, as her father liked to say. She simply got right 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 Daisy – 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 quartz egg 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 Daisy and her real father finished building her clubhouse, her father found a cut section of a log that someone cleared away from the old logging road near the clearing and stood it up in the middle of the clubhouse. He even donated an old red tablecloth from the basement to Daisy’s special clubhouse, and it was upon that clothed section of log that Daisy’s crystal found its home. Daisy would speak to her crystal when she found herself back here in the clubhouse her father built for her in the clearing, sometimes for hours at a time, even, but it never spoke back like the voice of The Father did. It simply listened, which is all Daisy wanted. Someone to listen who wouldn’t forget.
Daisy would come and go from her special clubhouse many times over the next few years of her life, but the crystal egg never left its sacred space atop 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 altar.
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 boy which Daisy named Hilter Odolf for reasons she firmly believed in at the time of his birth 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 years old, which was about fourteen and a half years after the day The Father spoke to Daisy 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 were living 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 break the news. So there they sat on a pair of towels as the waves crashed against the sandy 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, a 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 inside her head felt more natural than talking to other humans for Daisy Williamson.
‘Yet I am The Father,’ 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 the whole time. 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.”
“Um… I need to 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 Daisy’s wishes nonetheless. There was nothing stopping him from keeping an eye on her though, which is 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 that day; she wanted to be alone so she could talk to The Father again. She hadn’t spoken to The Father once since she was a child, she missed The Father. The Father was the first one to tell Daisy that she was special, and for that, Daisy loved The Father. Lots of her friends and lovers told Daisy she was special over the years, too, but none of them meant it like The Father meant it. The Father saw Daisy for who she truly was; 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 the first time they spoke, it was still The Father speaking to her now. 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 back there, she didn’t care what Chester 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 green ocean. She saw a fishing boat out in the distance, and a flock of seagulls floating past where the waves started breaking, but she didn’t get an answer. Not until she got up to start walking back to the camp where her loving husband was waiting for her.
‘I’m always here, Miss Daisy; and how convenient it is 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 are. I am here now, is that not good enough for you?’
‘No, it is good enough,’ Daisy assured the voice of The Father, her heart pounding out of her chest. ‘I just… I missed you… I love you.’
Disgusting, sick laughter. ‘Then you shall do for me the favor I ask of you, now won’t you, Miss Daisy?’
‘Yes,’ Daisy 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 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 eyes pointed at her feet, Daisy walked down the row of slippery black 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 her many tears with it. ‘Okay, I’m here. What should I do now, The Father?’
The Father did not answer.
‘Hello? The Father? Are… are you there?’ Daisy 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 fled from Daisy’s lips. 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 now, Miss Daisy.’
But Daisy refused to look between her feet. ‘Why do you keep calling me that? You didn’t call me that the last time we spoke.’
Daisy’s mind was quiet as a mausoleum for a moment. Then, ‘Do you really doubt me, Miss Daisy? You dare cast doubt upon The Great Father, the One Old as the Earth Itself? Perhaps I was wrong about you, Miss Daisy. Perhaps you’re not who I believed you are. 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, a chasm they didn’t even know they had because they’d never spoken to The Father before. Because 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 pick up what you see.’
Daisy looked down between her feet then. They were firmly planted on two different rocks, and wedged in the crevice between those black rocks was what appeared to be a glass bottle. Daisy bent down and wrestled with it a bit, but she eventually got it out. It was a glass bottle, all right, one that should hold a message, but this bottle was empty. It had an old piece of cork stuffed into its mouth, and on the side of the thing 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 inside Daisy’s head which called itself The Father. ‘Now open it, Miss Daisy.’
‘Why do you wan–’
‘Open the vessel, Miss Daisy, and all shall be revealed.’
Daisy opened the bottle, and suddenly, the ocean disappeared. The jetty disappeared. The sky, the clouds, the bright shining sun, the mirthful 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 Williamson 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 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 she 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 that mean 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 as I am. You refuse to see me, because you are not afraid of me, 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 this soul to you, Great Old One!” 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 Daisy at long last. The Father came back to save her! “I refuse you this soul, you vile, pathetic demon! Relinquish yourself to The Void! Return to Godspace for your inevitable rejection! Return to The Sandbox to be banished to nonExistence where you belong!”
‘Silence!’ bellowed the Great Old One as the darkness around Daisy trembled. She was alone again then, with no memory of The Father’s presence in her being. She knew only that 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, that the pain would only grow more severe until there was nothing left of her. The Great Old One might not get Daisy’s soul, but her life would end in a blink, and in the back of her mind, Daisy saw a vision of young Hilter Odolf growing up without a mother. His life would be ruined. Unless…
“Listen to me, vile blaspheme!” Daisy screamed as she began to sob. “I will die before I give in to you, Great Old One! You may not have my immortal 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 baby boy without a mother. I grew up with only a father, and I do not wish the same on my Hilter, I can’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. Daisy didn’t have to say them alone. The Great Old One would help her. The Great Old One would pull the words 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 – nay, the vessel – now full of the purest, whitest sand, fell from Daisy’s grasp and disappeared back between the rocks. Daisy’s legs were wobbling. She felt weak, she felt a gaping hole in her stomach like something had been stolen from her. And she fell.
And Chester Williamson caught her, pulling her back up on the rocks.
“Daisy!” Chester shouted. “Daisy, wake up!”
Daisy drifted somewhere between awake and asleep, aware of the world around her but unable to answer its pleas.
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 slick black rocks that nobody should be walking on in the first place. Carefully Chester manages to carry his fainted wife back to the beach, 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, warning signs that will go totally ignored by many human beings, both young children and grown adults alike, for a great number of years to come. The warning signs 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, for not all those like The Father are quite the same as The Father, something Daisy Williamson found out on that bright and sunny day, and only because she chose to listen.
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 only in Daisy’s head, and they fell on deaf ears.
For a great 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 her control were outright refused to her. For a great long time, Daisy stayed inside her house, not speaking to anyone, hardly eating anything, hardly drinking anything. She did not take care of herself, yet she stayed healthy, all the while her family began to fall apart before her eyes. Her husband lost his patience for her, her son Hilter Odolf stopped knocking on her door to check on her. For a great long time, Daisy let her world crumble around her and did nothing to stop 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 the murder, Daisy often came out of her room to take 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 making sure he did so. She ignored him when he asked where his father went, she pretended she didn’t hear a single word out of his mouth. And one day, when little Hilter was at school, she took all of his stuffed animals and gutted them, using the fluff to stuff her slain 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 Daisy decided to start taking care of herself properly, to show The Father that she loved herself as much as The Father loved her; she started eating well and going for long distance 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 pets around the neighborhood. The very pets that began to disappear shortly after Daisy picked up her running habit.
When the neighbors started to complain about how their pets went missing after Daisy ran by their houses, she told them to fuck off and call the cops.
When the cops came and questioned Daisy, she told them to fuck off and stop harassing her.
When the cops brought dogs into Daisy’s backyard and found all the dead animals, she let them in the house and showed them her husband.
When the cops threatened to lock Daisy 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 Daisy and Hilter was taken away, and Daisy hoped 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 long after Hilter was taken away, the cops came back and took Daisy away, and she stayed taken away for a very long time. She made friends at the facility she was taken away to, and she was happy there. She still didn’t hear the voice of The Father, but she was happy. She was at peace with herself. Then, one fateful day, Daisy slipped deep into a catatonic semi-comatose state. Her son Hilter Odolf, who was released from his own facility when he was a child, who grew up to be a world-renowned expert on schizophrenia spectrum disorders – took her out of her facility and into his own care.
Today, Daisy Williamson lives alone in the basement of the house she grew up in, that same old house on Fricker Drive. Her son Hilter owns the house – Hilter Odolf Williamson owns all the houses on this street, as The Father loves Hilter Odolf Williamson. The Father does not love Daisy Williamson. 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 His pretty Daisy Williamson. Not anymore.
That’s what Daisy 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 Father speaks to His pretty 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 Drive.
‘Hello, my pretty Daisy Williamson.’ Daisy’s 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 indeed, Daisy Williamson. I have always been here.’ But The Father does not sound happy. The Father does not sound angry, nor does The Father sound disappointed; The Father sounds sad. The Father sounds so, so very sad. ‘I have been with you all along, my pretty Daisy Williamson, as I am for all my children.’
Daisy scoffs. Her voice sounds high and creaky like that of a witch when she speaks. “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, my pretty Daisy Williamson; I was there that day at the beach. I saved your soul, but I could not save your unborn child; you chose to listen to the Great Old One. You did not hear 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… to listen…” whispers Daisy as her head falls back to her pillow. “I listened to Him… instead of believing in you…”
‘You were afraid, little one; I do not blame you, Daisy, and so you should not blame yourself. I shed a tear as I speak to you, my pretty Daisy Williamson, for it was all meant to happen just as it had.’
Daisy too sheds a tear, but it is 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 the events He must see, 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 Existence, and He must let Her spiral all on Her own, and so Daisy Williamson weeps for The Father, she weeps and weeps until her tear ducts are dry as dust and ash.
‘My child,’ The Father says in that sad, loving voice.
“Yes, The Father?”
‘You are going to die soon, my pretty 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, my pretty 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. “But what truth shall I tell him, The Father?”
But The Father speaks no more.
Hilter Odolf Williamson wakes up from a sound, dreamless sleep to find his nightstand empty. Before he went to bed last night, he placed the crystal that called to him in the ratty wooden shack 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. “That’s not possible, Hilter. 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 – it simply spoke to him, called out to him in a metaphysical sort of way – nor does he know it now. He goes in through the garage and walks through the basement, then pauses at the door to his Mother’s apartment.
“Hilter, 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 or guess, regardless of the elevated state of consciousness her schizophrenia allows her to access, because I mentally blocked the information from her and her specifically – and stole that big 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, you evil woman?” Hilter demands, storming into the gloomy apartment and slamming the door behind him. “How is it even possible?”
Daisy opens her tired eyes, then turns her head slightly to face Hilter. “Hello, my beautiful son.”
“Hello, Mother,” Hilter says through clenched teeth. “Answer my Goddamned question and answer it now. How did you get that rock off my nightstand last night?”
“I… well, I don’t remember, son. I wasn’t carried by my will alone.”
“What?!” Hilter shouts, exasperated.
“It was The Father of Existence, my 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 in an asylum again?! WHAT?!” Hilter screams, veins bursting from his throat.
Daisy only smiles. “I love you, Hilter Odolf, 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 witch? 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?” Hilter barks. “I know the truth, Mother. You are a psychopath, you are a severely sick schizophrenic woman who decided to murder her husband. You stole the stuffed animals from your son’s bedroom, the only creatures your son had to talk to, the only ones who would listen to him! His Mother wouldn’t listen, his Mother was always too busy speaking to a voice in her head that didn’t even speak back! And his father, his father was always belligerently stressed out about his mentally ill wife, always too busy worrying to pay any attention to his son! The other kids at school made me an outcast because they knew my parents were crazy; I was alone! I was all alone as a child, I grew up and lived out my childhood alone because of you, all I had was my stuffed animals and you even took them from me! And you gutted them like you gutted my father and you stuffed my dead father with the plush from their bellies, and then you started killing pets. And then you started killing wild animals. AND THEN YOU BLAMED IT ALL ON ME!
“I know the truth perfectly well, Mother! The truth is that you are a witch, you are a horrid, abominable human being, you are a Goddamned fucking monstER AND YOU DESERVE TO BURN IN HELL FOR WHAT YOU DID TO ME!” Hilter’s face is beet red, his hands are clenched into fists so tight his nails have pierced the skin of his palms. His arms are both trembling, his breathing is heavy and erratic, his teeth are clenched so tight that his molars are beginning to crack, but yet he is standing his ground. He has not leaped across the room and murdered his Mother, he has not broken her neck with his bare hands, he has not taken the crystal and used it to bash her skull in. Hilter is not like his Mother, Hilter is not a manifestation of pure evil, and so he simply stands there and feels the burn in his throat. And you know what? It feels good, like a long drag from a burning joint.
“There, that is the truth, Mother. I’ve finally said it, it’s all out in the open. Do you have anything to say for yourself?!”
A single tear falls down Daisy Williamson’s face, but she does not shed her tear for her son, nor does she shed her tear for herself. Daisy sheds this sole tear for The Father, for Daisy knows He has seen all that Hilter spoke of, that He was forced to watch it all, that He suffered through it just as much as Hilter did. More than Hilter did, even, for Hilter does not understand reality. Hilter only sees what is right in front of him. It is time for Hilter to learn the truth.
“Hilter…” Daisy says quietly. “You were supposed to have a baby brother, Hilter. When you were very young, your father and I went to the beach, and I lost the child on that beach. His soul was stolen from me by a terrible monster, and I was forced to give birth to his lifeless body six months later. That… that broke me, Hilter. That shattered my mind. Nothing was the same after I lost your brother, Hilter, and everything that I did I did because I lost him. I’m so sorry, Hilter. I’m so sorry for what I’ve done to you… but you must understand, it was not all my fault.”
“It… what?” Hilter sneers. She almost had him, she almost made him feel sorry for her. “It wasn’t your fault?! It was all your fault, you psychotic, deranged… you, you… FUCK YOU!”
“Oh, Hilter…” Daisy weeps, the crystal heavy on her chest. “Oh Hilter, oh my son, you cannot imagine the pain He feels for you, Hilter. You cannot begin to know…”
“He?! Who the fuck is he? Are… have you disassociated? Are you here with me, Mother?”
Though she weeps waterfalls, Daisy Williamson manages to smile. “I am here, Hilter, and He is here, too. You now know my truth, Hilter; it is time for you to know the truth.”
“The truth of what?!” Hilter screams at the top of his lungs.
“The truth of reality.”
“The truth of…” Hilter starts, then lowers his head. He takes his glasses off his face and wipes the fog off the lenses with his shirt, then puts them back on, pushing the bridge tight against his nose. Then, Hilter looks up and says, “I know the truth of reality, Mother. I understand it perfectly well. The truth is that everything is conscious, everything vibrates at a certain level on the spectrum of consciousness. The truth is that some humans, humans like you and myself, are schizophrenic, that we select few 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! I have the disorder, I know firsthand how it works! How else can you explain my success, how else can all the conveniently 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 Mother?! 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… 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? The real truth of reality?”
Hilter says nothing; he cannot speak, for he’s too busy trying to understand how his Mother’s voice just changed like that, how she sounds so young and healthy all of the sudden. How her voice is so soothing to his ears.
“The truth of reality, 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, everything from the formation of planets down to the thoughts which pop into your head, happens because that’s how Existence needs it to happen. There are no forces above Existence that directly alter Her course of action; well, none that dare to, at least. There are merely forces who help facilitate and guide Her creations as they embark on their wondrous journeys inside of Her. There are three of these outside forces, Hilter, and they are called The Mongrel, who gives life to the others; The Perception, who gives life to the I; and The Father of Existence, who speaks to all who will hear His voice, whether they’re capable of listening or not. And sometimes, my beautiful son, my brilliant Hilter Odolf Williamson, sometimes Existence doesn’t work like that. Sometimes Existence breaks the rules She sets up for Herself, if for no other reason than the fact that She’s capable of doing so. That’s just how Existence is, that’s how She’s always been. And that’s enough; for you, Hilter, and for Existence Herself, that’s enough. And so the wind continues to blow.
“You will never understand Existence, Hilter. You will never understand how consciousness truly 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, all of it! I am a psychologist, the world-renown–”
“Human psychology is a pseudoscience, a pattern picked out of the ordered chaos that is reality by the misguided, 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, and yet you question me, the closest thing to what you know as God. 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 heal and move on, so you can talk to them and help their souls level out. That is your purpose; you are special, Hilter Odolf Williamson, but not for the reason you think.”
“Then why?!” Hilter shouts, although he doesn’t choose to do so. He merely feels the heated words fly out of his mouth, and in that moment, Hilter understands that none of his actions are his. None of his actions have ever been his and none of them ever will be his, because there is no him. There is merely Existence and all of Her creations, which are just reflections of Herself. Above Her are The Mongrel, The Perception, and The Father of Existence, and within her are many gears which all churn together, and Hilter Odolf Williamson is but one of those gears. And that’s enough.
“Because Existence decided you should be. Existence Herself decided that you have a very special role to play, my Hilter Odolf Williamson, and you shall play it until Existence Herself dies.”
A feeling of unadulterated bliss and love washes over Hilter Odolf Williamson. He forgets about his past, he forgets about his anger, his confusion, all the perplexingly convenient incidents that have brought him here 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 special universe where troubled souls go to be incarnated and heal from past trauma so they may move on and spiral anew elsewhere in The Void. A simple universe. Hilter feels good about that. Hilter feels safe, secure with his role here, and when his Mother Daisy falls dead to the cold concrete floor in a heap of broken bones and shattered white quartz, Hilter can only smile, because that’s exactly what was supposed to happen.
Hilter turns around and goes to leave the apartment forever, 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 Hilter 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 the shape of a circle, a horrifically bloody circle of dismembered limbs embedded with sharp shards of shattered white quartz spinning faster than the tires of the police’s cars on their way to arrest the true murderer of the neighborhood pets. In the middle of the circle is Daisy Williamson’s torso, her legless, armless, headless torso, the nightgown which covers it soaked in blood which leaks onto the spinning wheel of dismembered limbs, and as this wheel of limbs spins ‘round and ‘round, it paints the cinderblock walls, the rafters in the ceiling, the concrete floor, the bed and the wheelchair between it and the wall, the flatlined life support equipment, the cushioned chair for the hospice nurse; the entire basement apartment is painted red with the sacred blood of Daisy Williamson. Her severed head is floating before the center of her torso. Her eyes are sunken in and pitch black. Thick 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, loving, elated voice, the voice of The Father of Existence. No, this voice is different – this voice is the voice of Existence Herself.
“What’s that, Mother?” Hilter asks, not at all perturbed by the sight (nor the smell) of his Mother’s actively bleeding and grossly mutilated corpse.
“Existence will eventually end, Hilter. I will die one day.”
Then, in a deep, haunting voice that sounds like it should be speaking backwards, Existence says, “But not until I’m damn well ready. You shall continue to live here on the street called Fricker Drive, and you shall continue to save the souls who are sent to you. You shall forget all you’ve been shown here today, Hilter Odolf Williamson, but you shall hold the understanding in your heart and in the back of your mind. And that shall be enough. For you, Mister Williamson, that shall be enough.
“And the wind shall continue to blow.”