Curio (An Excerpt)
It was a bit like Fog. Or at least, this is what she assumed. She had never actually seen fog. Joseph had described it to her before, once. He would often ‘accidentally’ reveal new words to her when she talked to him about her dreams.
“It’s a weather phenomenon. It’s very heavy and hangs quite low in the air, reducing visibility.”
“Like clouds falling from the sky?” she had chirped.
Joseph had sighed. ‘Sky’ and ‘Clouds’ were a few of the words he had let slip during their sessions. Strictly speaking, Pleasance wasn’t supposed to know about The Outworld. Her purpose lay beyond that, or so she was constantly told by the Wardens of the Sanctum. Pleasance had still longed to see a ‘Picture’ of the sky (another word harvested from Pleasance’s stubborn curiosity). But of course, pictures of anything from the Outworld were forbidden. The only pictures Pleasance had were the ones she saw while she slept, and they were always the same.
“Yes. Like clouds falling from the sky,” Joseph confirmed for her.
He always had a very strange look when he spoke of these things. Pleasance observed this on a day that she had probably overstepped her limit of questions.
She did so intentionally.
His eyes became almost long and seemed as though they did not look at anything. Sad, he looked very sad.
It was probably because he wasn’t supposed to answer her questions, but often did.
Or maybe he wanted to see pictures too. Life at the Sanctum was awfully dull.
In any case, what she saw right now was fog. Or at least that’s what it felt like. Could fog be a feeling like Happy or Hungry? She couldn’t really be sure if she was seeing this ‘fog’ because she knew for a fact that her eyes were closed.
“It is time to wake up, Pleasance.”
She had actually been awake for a while. She had learned to stay motionless if she wanted to stay awake during ‘sleeping hours’. If NaNa detected any movement that didn’t cohere with proper REM sleep she stuck you with a sedative. She was quite unapologetic about it too.
“It is time to wake up, Pleasance.” Pleasance continued her act, breathing evenly with her eyes closed. “It is time to wake up, Pleasance.”
In the beginning, she felt sorry for NaNa. The only things that made her real were the quarters she was ‘programmed’ to oversee. That was before the fifth time she had stuck 7 year old Pleasance with her arsenal of substances for refusing to go to sleep. She wasn’t so sympathetic after that.
“Programmed” she remembered Joseph explaining. “It means NaNa has… a pattern built into it so it can carry out tasks to help the department. Like making sure you eat your vegetables.” Pleasance had glared at the small pad on her cell wall that served as one of NaNa’s physical conduits. That strange mechanical arm of hers was always lurking somewhere too.
“Why doesn’t she have a face?” she had asked, Joseph had laughed at this, it was one of the few times she had seen him do so.
“It’s… She’s not human Pleasance. But she was designed by humans. Think of her as a kind of puzzle.”
Pleasance had done a variety of puzzles at the Sanctum. She rather enjoyed them.
“It’s time to wake up, Pleasance.”
However, NaNa was a significant exception. She remained still.
“Preparing to administer adrenaline dose…”
At this, Pleasance sat bolt upright, all smiles.
“Good morning NaNa! Are you feeling well?”
“My systems are operating at 97.4%.”
“What about the other 2.6%, are they feeling well?”
“Any complaints regarding my performance of duties should be logged with the Administrator’s Circle.” Pleasance shifted out of her small bed..
“That’s not what I meant. I asked are you feeling well?”
“Wellness implies the human sensation of feeling emotions. I cannot answer your question.”
“So you are not well?”
“I cannot answer your question”
“In that case I hope you feel better.”
“Feeling better implies the human sensation of feeling emotions. I cannot comply.”
“You are funny, NaNa.”
“Funny implies the human…” Pleasance mouthed NaNas response along with her as her closet revealed itself from the always seamless wall. She began to dress for therapy. This was her usual morning spar with NaNa, the real fun would start later.
Joseph had promised her a new puzzle today. And afterwards she would have questions he probably wouldn’t be allowed to answer.
Aisling Lynch is a Daydreaming Enthusiast with a penchant for nonsense in all its forms. Sometimes it’s coherent enough to be written down, sometimes it’s better off left in her head.