If you don’t know me, you’re going to think I’m a really dark person. But, really, this is an idea that came to me a long time ago. I had started to write it, but it had never really gotten to that “done” point (or as “done” as you can get in writing, anyway).
Here is the short story,
I can’t remember the exact day that it happened. One day he was crawling around on the floor like any other ordinary baby. The next instant, he was looking at me and explaining the coming end of the world.
I mean, talking to me, like a highly intelligent, sophisticated adult.
I almost cried and screamed in terror to hear the voice, but it was unmistakably still a baby’s – high and giddy, pleasant, and animated. But the words… it didn’t seem possible that what he was saying could really be coming from his pouty little mouth.
I wanted to laugh at first, like it was a joke. You have to imagine what it’s like to see a baby standing upright, talking to you in full sentences. I wanted to faint, or pray, cry, or simply stand in awe at seeing such a rapid change from his baby gurgles to full fledged words. But then it wasn’t the fact that he was talking; it was what he was saying. That’s really where I went full circle to nearly crying and screaming at the same time.
He had been born a healthy 8 lbs 4 ounces at birth and had been beautiful, free of that reddened ruddy complexion or intolerable conehead that sometimes developed after the trauma of a natural childbirth. His birth had been simple, peaceful, and he had scarcely cried since he had been brought home, unless he was annoyed by a dirty diaper or felt the beginnings of hunger pangs. He slept through the night almost immediately.
I used to watch him from the doorway, the slow rise and fall of his chest, his arm arching over his head so that his little fingers curled against his forehead, his eyelashes fluttering with unknown dreams while I listened to his quiet breathy slumber. I admired the translucent moonlight arching its way toward him, the white light through the gap in the curtains resting against his forehead, a natural halo.
There was no one else in our little cocoon of security. I did not know who his father was; it was not because I was under some alcoholic or narcotic influence, nor because there were too many prospective suitors, but rather because there were none, nor had there ever been any.
To this day, I had never been with a man. I couldn’t recall any night of possible conception, nor did I remember any man who might have taken advantage of me. It was simply as if the stars had been aligned to cure my loneliness and I had been miraculously gifted with a perfect, beautiful, baby boy.
At the time, I hadn’t really cared whether it was through a miracle or a forgotten & mysterious drugged encounter with a stranger – I did not have to share this beloved child with anyone. He was mine, and mine alone.
From there, he had advanced just as any normal child would have, walking at age one, talking in sporadic bouts and syllables, always smiling, cooing, and laughing. He seemed to be such a happy child.
Then, one day, right before his second birthday, he stood up and began to talk to me about the coming end of the world. I had been dusting the coffee table in the living room, as on any other morning, while he played with blocks sitting next to me on the plush, red carpet.
I heard his voice before I saw him, so I turned, frightened, looking for an intruder. But there was no mistaking that it was his voice. I faced him, in denial even as I watched his eyes shine, his lips open and close, his hands begin to gesture to emphasize his words. I marveled at him, a child barely able to stand on his wobbly legs a moment before, a child who had lovingly cooed “mama ewa” when his fingers had opened and closed, a familiar request for water, who now was doing anything but coo.
Mesmerized, I listened to his giddy, high-pitched, childlike voice as he animatedly told me about how he was destined to rule the world. He told me that I had no reason to worry when the world seemed to fall apart, because I was his mother, and he would take care of me. He began to prophesize, with an advanced vocabulary that at times even baffled me, to a point where I began to look up words just to make sure I was really understanding what he was telling me.
He explained that the world would end exactly 30 years from that day – or at least, the world as I knew it. His voice grew louder, bolder, more impassioned, as he told me how he would influence the political leaders, how he would rise to power, and with vengeance, smite those who did not follow his instruction.
At first, I wondered in awe at this child. It was with a sense of wonder and pride that I watched him that night, considering that my miracle son would one day become such a powerful figure. It was not until later, did I fully understand.
I remembered hearing stories of something similar, about a powerful figure rising to take over the world. But surely he couldn’t be referring to himself as…
It seemed impossible, silly even, to imagine. I had trouble thinking it, much less speaking it aloud. I didn’t even believe in the bible, much less God, but the memories of the stories from my childhood kept floating back to me. I remembered being dragged by my parents to a bible study class to discuss the impossibly frightening section deemed “Revelations.”
I compared what I knew deep in my subconscious to my toddler’s ramblings of the future, and could not deny there were similarities. I began to read the bible daily and with renewed frenzy, terrified that it would already be too late to do anything about any piece of information I might find. I now knew that his birth had not been the miracle I had let myself believe.
My child, who was sweet & innocent no longer, was destined to become the next antichrist.
Watching him sleep that night, the night I truly discovered him, I noticed with dismay that the moonlight no longer made him seem angelic, but haunting, ghost-like, with his pale, almost translucent skin and dismally dark hair. The rise and fall of his chest now seemed a burden on me, a burden I yearned to end.
As the days went by, he grew increasingly impatient with me in my refusal to drop him off at an orphanage, as he instructed. For all his infinite knowledge, he still relied on me to feed him, drive him, and take care of him. His voice became a growl as he told me, yet again, how I would need to give him up so that he could broaden his circle of influence.
“Manipulation emulates…” he crooned. He could manipulate anyone he came in contact with & his plan was to be placed in an orphanage, where he could influence other young minds and start to build his followers, as was prophesized by the dark one.
He promised that in his days of triumph and reign, he would seek me out, and hold up his end of the bargain to keep me safe from the evil that would soon be coming, as a token of appreciation for birthing him and following through on his instructions.
I couldn’t imagine giving him up.
Not because my love for him was too strong, but because I knew I could not un-shoulder the terrible burden I had placed upon myself by bringing him into the world. If knowing he had to be sent to an orphanage was a necessary step in his plot to bring about the end of my world, how could I knowingly allow such an event to take place? I vowed I would never let him out of my sight, and in doing so, I had aligned myself against him.
I began to fear him.
In his quiet way, with the dark, immobile depth of his eyes, he displayed an arrogance and confidence that made me forget he was still only a two-year old, and instead see in him his future as the prophetic dark leader.
As I grew more distant, he stopped talking to me and began to write in spiral notebooks instead, leaving them all over the house. I would flip through, seeing the words of a mad man written in the elementary scrawls of a hand that had just begun to learn the motor control of writing. Large letters, slanted, with backwards e’s and mixed up “b” and “d” letters, yet writing about death, darkness, and despair. Though it hurt & terrified me to read through them, I felt it was my duty to know his plans.
My eyes glazed in horror at the detail in which he prophesized how he would torment people, manipulate them into believing he was good, and then turn on them when they least expected it. I felt he had done the same with me, and could see how he could revert back to a charming child in the space of an instant, so that I fully believed he was capable of fooling the rest of the world.
He told me the day I needed to give him up could be delayed no longer & that it would happen by the end of the week. I rebuked him and told him I would never do such a thing. “My endeavors…” he crowed. With a wicked smile, he laughed through my attempts to deny his birthright and informed me that there was already an unstoppable plan in motion that would ensure his future.
Panicked, I went to the church. I cried to a priest I had never met before in my life, sinking down on my knees and burying my face into the soft, red cloth of his robe. He patted my head and bid me to calm down and tell him the whole story and so I did, trying not to ramble, despite the fact that I probably sounded crazy. I firmly believed that if there was anyone who could help me, it would be the church.
I was wrong.
Forced to contact the authorities for fear than an innocent child was living with an unstable mother, my son’s plan was had been set in motion. Unbeknownst to me, papers were drawn up to take him from me.
I sat at home, staring at the wall, listening to him scribbling in his notebooks, and awaiting the call from the priest, who had promised to find a solution and let me know within 24 hours. When the phone finally rang, I raced to it excitedly, anxious to have the problem taken off my hands and placed into theirs.
By the time I hung up the phone, however, I realized that he had won. I had heard the wary resignation in the priest’s voice and knew that they were already on their way to pick us both up, sending us our separate ways: him to an orphanage and me for a special “evaluation,” in which I was sure I would be “well cared for.”
I tried not to panic, tried to tell myself that my worries were unfounded, but I watched the driveway for hours, until my greatest fear came true, and they were driving towards my home, down the long street. Two police cars and one sedan, probably with a social worker or two, would be pulling into my driveway in a matter of minutes. I knew I didn’t have much time.
I did what I had to do.
When I walked out to greet them, their faces became contorted in shock and disbelief at the bright splotches of crimson color that now adorned my arms, my clothing, my hair. I was told to get down on the ground with my hands behind my back. I didn’t mind. I knew that I had saved the world.
I was quickly convicted and placed in a cell, where I was fed and clothed. I didn’t mind. I had saved the world. That mantra, the mantra of my victory over him, repeated in my head to calm and soothe me. They did not know the terrible sacrifice I had made for the rest of the world, but I knew, and that was all that mattered.
I still remembered those last fateful moments, seeing the fear in his eyes finally, as I walked towards him with the knife. Oh how he had tried to coax me into believing he was a baby again with his cries “Mama, no! Mama, I be good! Mama, I sorry!”
But as convincing as his pleas and his tears, and his eyes might have been, I knew the immovable, unchangeable truth.
As time passed, they eventually allowed me to have a few books and a notebook with which to write my own thoughts down. I sat with the empty notebook in front of me, and allowed myself to fade away for a moment, thinking over the past year. When I was drawn back into the reality of the cell, I glanced down at my notebook.
There I saw the familiar sketches of childlike letters I had read through countless times before, drawn in slanted angles, too large for the lines, a mish mash of backwards “e” and mixed “b” and “d” letters staring back at me with their undeniable message, and their dark prophesy.
The world spun around me, though it seems it had been spinning the whole time, and that I had just been unaware of the ride. I grew dizzy, faint, and reached out for support, but there was no one there.
I was alone in the dark room, cold, and shivering. I had always thought that what made a person sane was knowing the difference between crazy and normal, if that has ever existed.
Maybe there is no normal, maybe there is no light, maybe I or he or both of us were right. The end of the world is still coming – I know it, and now I can finally feel it. I know they don’t believe me. They’ll see. I feel a strange, unfamiliar, yet somehow recognizable urge bubbling up inside of me.
I feel like writing.