Selections from Piper's diary. When you see many worlds, how can you stay focused on yours? Contains the last known account of Lex.
Piper's Diary (selections)
The problem with Lucius is more than just the flaws of his personality. More than the way he’s claimed our living room as his territory like a morose ape. More than the way he eats our food without offering to replace it, or makes messes without ever offering to help clean. And even more than the way that he’s always hanging around Lex, whispering in his ear.
The problem with Lucius is more than just those annoyances. It’s also the stress that radiates out to the rest of the family from his presence.
Which is a long way to say Nic and I had a fight about Lu today. Nic really, really wants him gone. And to be honest, I do too.
But he’s my brother and I can’t just kick him out onto the street.
As we fought in the back yard another one of those otherworldly storms appeared out of nowhere. Within ½ hour the sky went from clear-blue and mild, to heavy black clouds horizon to horizon. Minutes later the technicolor lightning began to flicker across the sky, followed by the rumbling thunder-tones.
Nic suddenly lost all interest in our argument and ran to get recording equipment to capture the thunder-music.
What are these storms? They’re of another place. Another dimension. A dimension that I’ve never seen before, which worries me.
Back inside, the rain snapped against my studio windows as if it were gravel. The lawn quickly transformed into a swamp, and the winds sent plant debris and trash flying down the street.
Through the maelstrom I could see the art cult house next door. Ten or fifteen of them were out in the storm, in their backyard, working on their full-sized interdimensional boat. I’ve watched it slowly take shape over the past weeks. From a simple curved frame, to laying of the planks. Like a real ship.
Though I’m not sure why they can’t wait until the storm passes to work on it.
Unless it’s an Ark.
I should go and make friends with them just in case.
I am about to lose my mind.
After all these years, I cannot believe it’s happening again.
Lex has been sick in bed for 5 days. I had assumed he was going through the transformation, which is why I haven’t taken him to the doctor. But it’s not that. It’s something much more horrifying.
He’d been unconscious all morning, and when I put my hand on his head . . . it grew soft. As if his body was losing substance. Like I could push straight through it if I wanted to. Just like Lucius when he was caught in the crossfire of dad’s experiments.
Dad insists that he had nothing to do with it. That he’d given up on that kind of work after what happened to Lucius when we were kids. He said he had locked those notes away in his safe.
Dad: . . . but those notes were stolen a month ago. I told you they’d been taken, Piper.
Me: Are you saying that Lex stole your notes and did this to himself?
Emerson: I don’t know who stole it, and I don’t know who did this to him. But I’m confident that this is the result of the research in my journal.
Me: Then you had better fix him. Do you hear me?
Dad: Yes. Of course. But I’ll need that journal.
I tore the kids room apart looking for it. Then I tore apart the bathroom, and dad’s office.
When I got downstairs Lu was sitting on the couch, as usual. I began searching around him.
Lu: What are you doing? This is my protected auric field. It’s my sacred, personal space.
Me: You don’t have any personal space. This is MY house. Now get out of my way.
I went to search his suitcase and he pounced on it, slapping it shut.
Lu: Hey, you can’t just go through my things! I have my rights!
Me: Get the hell out of my way! (I shoved him to the couch and dumped his suitcase out onto the floor.)
Dad’s journal fell from the bottom of the suitcase onto the pile of clothes. Lucius turned instantly whiny and pathetic.
Lucius: He was trying to help me, Piper. Think of what this could mean to all of my followers. They’re absolutely desperate for my return. How could we know this would happen? I mean, perhaps it was meant to be. Who are we to question the will of the great mystery of the benevolent Universe?
Me: The fucking Universe didn’t do this to him, Lucius. You did. You’re not smart enough to restore your own powers, but Lex was. You knew he could do it, so you used him.
Nic heard our argument and came down. When he realized what Lucius had done he drug him bodily out of the house and threw him into the street.
Lucius: I can help bring him back!
Nic: Don’t ever come back here again. Don’t ever talk to my family again.
Dad and Nic and I met in the dining room to figure out what we could do to bring Lex back. Morgan came in while we were talking.
Morgan: I tried to tell you. He’s becoming lost in the fog.
Nic: Yes. And now we need to figure out how to bring him back. Do you have any ideas?
Morgan: No. But those people are here again. Outside the house. Maybe they know something.
I went to the window and saw the same two people I’d seen the other night. Across the street, in their black suits, staring at the house and talking to their wrists. I went outside and yelled, ‘What’s your problem? What do you want with us?’ But they didn’t even flinch. Just kept talking to their wrists. Then the black bird with the red eye landed on the woman’s shoulder and put its beak to her ear. The woman listened intently, as the bird whispered its secrets.
Nic and dad poured over dad’s research to try and devise a plan to bring Lex back.
The same research that made Nimsesku immortal.
The same research that turned Lucius into a broken cult god.
The same research that restored my abilities to me.
We are venturing into seriously dangerous territory. It’s pretty clear that dad’s research and transducer produce powerful, and totally unpredictable results. But what else can we do? What choice do we have? He’s our son.
- Here this room is red
Here I lost an arm in a car accident
Here words are made from song
Here we never lost our tails
Here I am not devastated because humans never developed emotion
Here my mother died
Here my mother died
Here my mother died
Here Lex has disappeared into the fog
Here Lex has disappeared into the fog
Here Lex has disappeared into the fog
Mom always dies
Lex always disappears
Here is a Yuki woman. Her dress is traditional, but modernized. Her house sits where my house sits.
It is now. She is now.
She stands with her back to me, in a round room that precisely matches my studio. She returns a book to a shelf and searches for another.
Then she freezes perfectly still.
Her head turns slowly toward me, and her body follows.
Her hair is salt and pepper, and her chin is striped vertically with an old tattoo.
She pulls the glasses from her eyes.
She walks right up to me. Looking straight into my eyes.
She says words that I don’t understand.
She understands that I don’t understand.
She lets her glasses drop to the floor and reaches her hands out. They go through me, into my belly. Into my womb. She cups her hands and holds them there.
She smiles at me sweetly. Her eyes sparkle with tenderness.
And I weep for my child.
For so long I’ve been chasing an honest artistic vision. One that comes from a true place in me, unpolluted by concerns of money or the opinions of others. While simultaneously craving the petty ego validation that high gallery sales and positive reviews might bring.
As to the first thing: This recent collection of pieces feels like the truest work I have ever made. It has refueled my passion for artistic creation.
And the petty ego validation part? . . . I got a call from Maureen today. She said that the entire show sold out today to a single collector. He bought all 18 remaining pieces.
If it had come 3 weeks ago I would have been over the moon with rapture.
But it came now, and how ironic, when I couldn’t care less about art, and galleries, and egos, and sales. All there is, is Lex, and bringing him back from the fog.
If we succeed in bringing him home I suppose I’ll have two things to celebrate.
P.S. - Maureen mentioned that the buyer was a very strange man in a black suit who asked lots of detailed questions about the artist.
I wonder . . .
(March 11) – He’s gone.
A boy-shaped cloud that lost its form and slowly evaporated through my fingers.
Though he hasn’t disappeared entirely
I still hear his voice faintly echoing from the corners of the house.
I see his figure floating out over the ocean.
I smell him
We don’t have much more time. If we’re going to bring him back from the place in between places, we have to act soon
Before the mist disperses completely into the fog and becomes forever inseparable.
Thinking about Lex. What else?
There is nothing else.
The memories that cycle through my mind aren’t the ‘big’ moments. It’s the little stuff.
He’s sitting on the grass in the front yard, absentmindedly digging in his ear with his finger while he reads a book.
He’s on the beach with a crooked branch of driftwood, digging trenches in the sand that the rushing surf fills into a series of connected channels and pools.
I’m remembering these, and so many other times, when I watched him but didn’t go to him. So many times that I saw him through his bedroom door, engrossed in his explorations, and kept walking. So many missed opportunities to be with him. To talk with him.
And now I sit here at the dining room table writing this.
This pathetic attempt at introspection. This substitute for actual communication. Hoping that scribbling my feelings onto these pages will somehow patch the wound in me, if only for a while.
After writing the above, I laid my head on the table and cried and drifted at the edge of sleep. Moments with Lex floating through my memory.
And his voice,
Spoke to me.
I could hear it. Hear him. Trying to tell me something that I couldn’t understand. The words seem disconnected from the memories, like the wrong audio track playing over a video. His tone grew more insistent, as it always does when I’m not paying attention to him.
Suddenly I sat up, wide awake. It wasn’t a dream. He was there, talking to me, in the dining room. I could smell him; hear his breath; see him flickering in my periphery.
His voice reached across vast dimensions, and the distance left it little more than faint echoes.
‘Lex, I can’t hear you! You’re too far away.”
Though I couldn’t make out the words, I could hear his determined tone. He needed me to understand something important. He showed me images of the safe in my father’s office. Lucius in Portals Bermuda. Nic’s laser harp. Our town, Mendocino. I was beginning to understand: he was trying to show me how we could bring him back home. How we could save him from the fog.
I was having a hard time following the imagery, and I could feel him growing frustrated by his inability to get through. He suddenly changed tack. He showed me images of other places I’d been, far from Mendocino. Places that I love, like Santa Fe. He was trying to show me the way to the solution, but by a different route that I might recognize.
‘Yes!’ I told him. ‘Show me.’
I saw a jungle made of metal growing from the center of a city
I saw Adam and Eve lying in a single glass coffin
I saw a storybook called the tale of 53. She danced through the eye of a needle
I saw massive concrete arches and domes in the desert with bells flying from them.
I saw a tall decaying wall in the middle of nowhere, with lights flickering across it.
I saw a city populated only with musicians. The sound they made carved out neighborhoods, and streets.
I saw it all loop back on itself and land in Mendocino
Then I heard Lex cry out, and the chandelier over the dining room table strobed as bright as the sun.
Then everything was quiet.
He was gone.
‘No, Lex. You have to show me how to help you. Lex!!!’
Just my blinded eyes filled with his strange pictures
The Vibe Hutters and their friends are all gathered around the big boat in their yard. Maybe 100 of them. They’re drinking beer and eating snacks and every single one of them is staring at our house as if they were watching a movie. Quite a few of them are sketching pictures.
They wave at me and yell greetings when they see me looking at them through my studio window.
At the living room window, the male and female Charter Agents who’ve been watching us have been joined by a half dozen more black-suited, stone-faced agents, gathered in twos and threes on the sidewalk and in the street. They look like they’re planning a raid as they talk into their radios, the black bird flitting between them, egging them on.
During all of this I can hear Nimsesku squealing bloody murder from his cage in the kids room upstairs.
I wonder if they all know that today is the day.
The day we try to bring Lex back from the fog.
Nicolae and dad have already begun to arrange their equipment in the dining room. Morgan is sitting quietly in the corner attuning us all to one another, sculpting our individual abilities to work in harmony.
Lucius is sulking at the kitchen table. I made him come back to help retrieve Lex. He didn’t want to—he thinks it’s dangerous. And he’s right. It is. But, too bad, brother. If it wasn’t for you manipulating my son in your selfish desires to regain your abilities, we wouldn’t be risking any of this, and Lex would still be here.
I guess I’m coming across like I hate Lu. I don’t. I’m furious with him. I will probably never talk to him again. But I don’t hate him. I want him to heal. Maybe it’s the attunement work Morgan is doing, but I’ve never felt closer to my family than I do right now. We are broken, and dysfunctional, and singularly strange, but they are my family—my people.
Dad and Nic turn on their transducer, laser harp, and other gadgets, and begin to warm them up.
There are so many ways that this can go wrong. Even if we succeed in bringing Lex back, we may ultimately fail at this. Who knows what might happen. We could very likely rip apart time and space, making our family, and our little house vanish into the Anomaly. Just disappear. It’s quite possible that we’ll completely erase ourselves from ever having lived on this street. Or in this town. From ever having lived at all. Erase ourselves from the history of this world.
Maybe there’ll be a record of us somewhere. In some random corner, of some random building. Maybe a college kid will pull one of my paintings from a Salvation Army bin thinking it might go nice over his futon. Or a bus driver might hum a tune, whose origins he can’t recall. Not remembering that he’d heard Nic hum it just two days before. In a world that had a Nicolae Pastore.
Or maybe this diary will survive, somehow.
On the off chance that it does . . .
Hi. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. If you have read it, that means that we have tried and we failed. Know that we once lived here, in this world, with you.
We existed, until we didn’t.
And before we attempted to bring my son back from the fog space some of you were aware of us, a smaller number even knew us.
Until you didn’t.
We had a beautiful house, with an address. And a community. And friends. And ambitions. And fears. And kindnesses. And cruelties. And loves. And truths. And secrets.
Until we didn’t.
And we had each other.
We have each other.
No matter what happens, we will all be together again. Either back here in this place, or there, in the infinite in-between, beyond the measure of measurable things. In the fog.
‘Let us go in, the fog is rising.’ These were Emily Dickinson’s last words.
My family waits in a circle around the table. The machines have been activated. The words have been spoken. It’s time to go search for my son. They have used the refrigerator to create a portal. Emerson, Nicolae, and Morgan will wait here. Lucius and I will venture into the unknown.
‘Let us go in, the fog is rising.’
Somebody else will have to finish this story.
Time to close the book and enter the mystery.