Last week, the kids got sick. Then they gave it to me and I got sick, too.
Now, this really never happens. I never get sick. I am immune to everything! But this thing the kids found and dragged home last week, it even took me down. Our fevers climbed so high that music turned architectural and our iphones looked like blurs.
What else could I do? I tucked the kids into bed and I pulled up a chair and told them stories.
I told them stories I’d written (and some that I’d stolen) and I described worlds I’d made (and some I’d visited), and I gave them the sorts of warnings that good parents give their children at one time or another growing up.
One of the things was a story and a world and a warning all in one.
This is how it went:
You know those noises you hear inside the walls at night?
The sound that you convince yourself is just the house settling or the windows cooling or the pipes creaking or me closing a door downstairs?
Those noises are none of those things and it’s long past time you knew it. Those noises are the things in the walls and they’re their walls and they’re there.
Why, say I took a drywall cutter – right here, right now – and I cut a hole in the wall right here by your pillow. Here, up next to your head. And say I popped out a small square of drywall and say we looked into the wall together.
There! We’d see them.
The things in the walls. The things in all the walls: Your walls. My walls. Aunt Pepe’s walls.
Even Huma Abedin’s walls! (Can you imagine that?)
We’d see their little reticulated tentacles curled out, all around the edge of the hole I cut. Little talons on the ends. Little hairs! And we couldn’t even tell how many of them there were there because they’d all blend together in this jumble of tentacles and of webs.
Ah, kids, your walls are full of them!
The things in the walls, they don’t have a name, or no name that we can understand. But the things in the walls are always going to be there. Long after I’m gone. Long after you’re gone, too.
Get used to them.
Because you see, you and I live in a world that’s linear. Where events started happening in the past and are going forward now, into the future, one after another and then another. First, there are a few people and then forward and there are more people and forward and there are tribes. And forward and the tribes plant crops and there are bigger weapons and better ships and way more people until finally, your mother and I have this townhouse built and here we are.
Well, the things in the walls, they’re linear, too, but the things in the walls come from the future. Coming backwards. Towards us.
So many years from now, the tentacly things, they discover the remains of this townhouse. In the mud. It is rotting.
They move in.
And backwards and the walls get sturdier. And backwards and the house unrots. The things with the tentacles call it home and the longer they stay, the better it looks!
And backwards, the generations go by and backwards they come until one day, the things in the walls hear a noise and they look out and here YOU are! Sitting in this very bed, right here.
In THEIR house, which THEY unrotted from the mud!
Their house is infested with people!
They see us as the invaders and of course, we see them as the invaders. And we call our exterminators out and they call their exterminators out but it doesn’t do any good. Because if they kill you today, then when they get to yesterday, there you are, back again. And if you kill them today, then when you move forward to tomorrow (which is where they’ve already been), there they are.
It’s a standoff!
Shhh! Did you hear them? Their tapping just now?
The things in the walls are everywhere and every day, you’re going hear them more and more, and we’re just going to have to get used to it.
There’s some good news, though, and the good news is, we’re just about done. People and tentacly things, I mean. We’re both at the end of our tiimelines. People don’t make it much further forwards. Tentacly things don’t make it much further backwards.
These fellows here who you’re hearing tonight? I bet they don’t even make it to see (from their perspective) where this house gets unbuilt and the blueprints erased.
There’s just this teeny tiny overlap period we’re living in, you see.
Whoa! That must have been a big one. Just then. Sliding by…
Alright now, kids. The end. I’m going to bed now.
You can call Dana if you need anything.
Sleep tight and don’t let the things in the walls bite.