It was dark…not uncomfortably dark, just less light than I expected when I first opened my eyes. The quarters were not cramped. Wait…not exactly. Cozy, maybe? I was able to move around a little, and the substance swirling and flowing around me was warm and thick. I wasn’t confused, not exactly. I had the sense of being something, someone, but I couldn’t quite pluck out the details with so many physical sensations overwhelming me. Exactly what was going on…?
I began to experiment within the confines of my living space, first pushing one and then both bare feet against the strange walls surrounding me. The way was solid, barring me from unfolding completely. Moving my arms outward, I again discovered the same: no give.
How long had I been like this? I slipped one hand up to the top of my head and tugged at the long and excessive mop of hair, snaking around in the air-not-air atmosphere. I allowed my fingers to trace my face, traveling over each eyebrow, brushing against lashes and moving down my nose, pausing at my mouth and slowly tracing the outline of each lip. My tongue slipped out and licked the exploring fingers. I tasted nothing. The liquid atmosphere flowed easily in and out; nostrils not so much as flaring…lips parted and breathing it in just as quietly as though it were…
REAL. This was real. I was trapped, but not. I could move, a little…not too far. I was real, and constant, and trapped, and not.
Time. I don’t know how much had been spent here, wherever HERE was. Had I always been here? Finally, my inner voice piped up, softly, “Yes, you’ve been here for years. This must be where you want to be..?”
If I had wanted to panic, I suppose I could have. Somehow I knew that it would be pointless. Nestled into these small parameters, I floated, and pondered. There was no tangible evidence to suggest I was in immediate danger. Whatever needs I had were met. I felt nothing…no sense of impending doom, no pleasure, no pain. What was the harm in existing this way?
I allowed my eyes to drift shut. Then, the images began to flash. At first there were just bare, short blinks, photographs, grainy images imbedded in the white orbs floating in my skull, as my own skull floated, attached to the body which floated, soundless and weightless.
I was free-falling in this anticoagulant, and the more I relaxed, the less grainy the images were. They jostled one another, fighting for my visual attention. Black and white and torn at the edges…zooming in…faces. Color flooded into each face and the surrounding details. Smiles, smooth faces, children. Skipping rope, laughter frozen in place on slick paper covered in layer after layer of fingerprints, photographs much loved and worn down in places. One after another, they were presented to my ubiquitous gaze. I could sense my eyes sliding back and forth against the inside of my eyelids, left to right, top to bottom, processing each image with furious concentration, and I fought to overcome the tiniest seed of panic rising from the depths of my belly.
A man, smiling. He held a small child with flaming hair and a pretty smile. Next. A sunset nestled in the middle of a thousand trees. Next. A small cat looking into the lens, head cocked to one side. Next. A group of people, garishly dressed and each holding up one finger. Next. A woman, face painted mime-style, curtsying. Next. Next. Next. Next. Next.
The images came flooding in. My eyes slung each image, left and right, faster. Moving. Next. What is this? Who are these people? Next. Next. Next.
Slowly, the database I was forming deep in the soft parts encased in my head began to assimilate the information, processing…
My inner voice piped up again, softly. “This is you. You are a collection. See? Everything is captured. Everything you have ever done before…it’s all here.”
That seed of panic doubled, then tripled. I felt the muscles in my arms and legs tensing, drawing closer into a kind of fetal position. My knees brushed up against my breasts…elbows digging into my ribcage as my clenched fists pressed knuckles into my throat.
Tight. Everything was tight. I was a ball of flesh, clenched tightly, trying to understand. Floating and spinning in the thick liquid of this…chamber? …container? Prison..? I drew deep breaths, willing myself to calm, relax. The fluid rushed into my mouth, filling my lungs and then rushing out with every exhalation. Still, the images continued to rush in, mindlessly. Next. Next. Next.
Suddenly they slowed. A fuzzy image stumbled toward me on shaky, papery feet. A silver-bound book, open, its pages blank.
The image zoomed in with startling clarity. The cover was heavily ornate, real silver edgings. The pages looked less blank, the more I examined the photograph.
The upload was complete. The images, stacks and stacks of images piled haphazardly around my visual center, faded. The information was processed. I opened my eyes into the light-not-quite-light of my liquid world. My muscles relaxed, slowly, unclenching from the uncomfortable tension.
I blinked. I knew now.
Slowly, deliberately, I straightened first one leg, and then the other until the pads of my feet were firmly against the barrier holding me in place. My hands unclenched and I leaned back into the inner surface of this sanctuary. It was time. It was finally time. I had assimilated for an acceptable time.
Once more, I shaped my hand into a tight fist. In this liquid world my movements were ever slow, ever languid. I began to punch, viciously. I willed my mind to ignore the liquid, ignore the slowness, ignore what should be the futility of such an action.
Straight ahead, in the same small location of the barrier encasing me, I punched, repeatedly. Time was still the non-entity it had been before. I had been punching since time began. Over and over, my fist came into brutal contact with a surface that seemed neither brittle nor able to sustain such violence.
At long last, after an hour or a minute or a thousand years, my arm began to ache, just a little, and I felt…something. Something? YES.
I felt my soul stir. I punched, again and again. A thousand times and more. Then, a small sound, the first I had heard since first opening my eyes. A fissure…a small white line snaked across the surface. I bared my teeth and hit the surface, harder.
With the soul-rendering ripping sound, the liquid holding me began to recede. It poured, thickly, away from me and out of the jagged hole I had just made in the barrier around me. I grabbed those ragged edges, choking from the liquid which insisted on expelling itself from my mouth and nose and lungs, and tore bits and pieces of the barrier away.
The liquid which had housed me for….years? Centuries? …left a slick wet coating on my skin. The light flooded into my eyes, blinding me to what was on the outside. I made the hole in the wall bigger, ripping pieces away and dropping them, tearing, breathing and occasionally coughing from the last of the liquid making its way out of my breathing cavity.
Out of my prison I climbed, and stood in the light. I smiled.
And now, dear Reader, you know of my creation. I wasn’t born.
Jesters are never born.
I was hatched.