Such a dark and drippy cave on a dark and drippy night, where the deepest of dwellers never roam and the darkness is as blinding as the sun’s rays on a summer’s day. The deeper you go, the darker it grows, and you feel consumed by the maw of the cave that swallows you into its belly for digestion. It is cold at first as the breeze chills your rain damp jacket covering your t-shirt, which is also beginning to form small puddles within the cotton, but the deeper you go, the warmer it gets. You are in here for no purpose, for no reason, but you’re there and walking forward into the hall of rocks and clay, and that’s all that matters.
A couple miles in you see a small light, like a candle or a star. It is straight ahead, too perfect for a natural occurrence. The light becomes no bigger the closer you get, it only gets more and more clear and crisp. You can see the outline of it now. It is a light from a small hole in the stone. The stone is flat like a manmade wall and seemingly flawless. You notice that the hole is the same girth of your index finger. It must mean something, right? You peer through the hole but see that there is only a glow of yellow and gold. Not knowing what else to do, you hook your finger into the circular gap and pull open a door of stone. When your eyes get used to the light, you see four figures in front of you in the room.
Three of them are sitting and one of them is standing. They all look quite alike, with little differences. Their skin is bleach paper white with barely noticeable eyes. It seems that they have no gender or genitals. Many things are missing, actually: hair, pigment, and iris color. Through more focused eyes, you see another oddity of their appearance; there are needles strategically piercing their body.
One of the sitting ones has needles in its eyes. The way it is stuck in their eyes, the eyes are forced to look up so the iris is only shown a little bit under the top eyelid.
Another one of the sitting ones has needles in its ears. At that moment you see how long the needles are, much like knitting needles, only thin, like sewing needles.
The last sitting one has needles in its throat. Another thing you notice is that no matter where the needles are, the pierced skin does not bleed. It also seems that the skin has healed around the needles as if part of their body.
You see the standing one is covered in needles. It is awake and looking straight at you, like the others. Even the needle-eyed one, though their eyes are not on you, you can feel them staring at you.
“Hello, stranger,” the needle-covered one hummed. “I see you are here, so I must tell you our story.”
“Story?” you ask.
“Feel free to sit if you wish to; take advantage of what I will never have again.”
“Why?” you respond with.
“I will tell you,” the standing one looked over the sitting ones. “These are my siblings, we were all born at the same time to the same parents.” Its hand floated over the one with needles in its ears. “This, is Hear, it was born first; Hear was the one who first left our mother’s womb while she was still in labor with us.” It did the same to the one with the needles in its throat. “This is Speak, the second child of us.” Repeated to the one with needles in its eyes, “This is See, the third child.” With a pause, the standing one looks you in your eyes with sadness and solemn tenseness. “I am Feel, the last child. Here is what happened to us and why we are like this.
“We were born to seemingly normal parents, until Hear was born. When Hear was born, they first put needles in their ears, so they could hear no evil. But Hear would cry louder than the other babies, so they did that to none of us afterwards. Our mother and father say that many words are horrid and should never be heard by anyone, but at such a young age being able to hear is important for everyone, for a baby cries to get the attention of the parents, and thus if the baby cannot hear themselves they will cry louder because they do not believe the guardians can hear them.
“After some time they censored our bodies so we could not be identified through sex, and also because they didn’t want us to see genitalia. They told us that we were blessed, for the human body is a scarring sight that no one should ever have to witness, and some witness it in their reflection at a young age. We did not and thus we were luckier than them.
“They happened to choose See to continue what they started. So See could see no evil, they stuck needles in See’s eyes. Once they finished they saw what a mess it made, so they did not continue the work with Speak and I. Much like what they did to our bodies, they said it was best for it is not just our bodies that can scar us, but the bodies of others and in art and actions.
“When we were around six or so, our parents noticed that Speak heard ‘bad language’ and could possibly spread it amongst their peers and me later in life. In response they put needles in Speak’s throat, so they could not destroy my then innocent mind with such disgusting words. I never heard these words, but I guess I am the lucky one for not hearing such ‘profanity’, as my parents called it.
“Finally, I was hurt by the other children. They hurt me, hurt me badly, but they didn't understand. I was simply a strange child that couldn't make friends, friends to protect and help me. No one understood why I acted the way I did, why I was always afraid to say or do anything, and when I tried to tell people what happened they didn’t believe me, or they simply said that it was ‘nothing’ and that parents were supposed to do that so their children would stay good and keep them from looking like scum among society.
“Since I was hurt so much, my parents did not like how I could feel the pain and the ‘evil’ like my siblings. To numb me of future pain, they pierced my body with needles on every other centimeter or so. Like my siblings, I was forced to stay home, for ‘the bad children could not hurt me anymore.’ At times I wonder what horrid things they are trying to protect us from that makes this worth it in the end, because the pain, hurts. It really, really hurts.” Its voice trails off in describing its pain and suffering.
“Have you ever tried to escape?” you ask.
“Yes,” its eyes closed and released a small stream down its face. “That is why I am standing like this. I was a bad child, trying to show my siblings the evil in the world. They were too innocent and could not handle the acts of the outside world and its unpredictability.”
“Do you even have needles in the bottom of your feet?” you think of how much it must hurt, especially if the needles are the same length of the ones in their bodies.
Without words, Feel lifts up its foot, showing the butts of needles pressed against the skin. Still silent, Feel puts its foot down. “I am to stand here, to warn others of what to do to help their children and save them from the evil of the world that is so variable and uncontrolled. But do not heed their warnings, heed mine, and know what happens when you try to shelter your children this way.”
“Why don’t you try to escape now?”
“I did, that’s when mommy and daddy caught me,” Feel’s voice turned monotone. “I don’t want to anger them again. I am in too much pain to go against them.”
“Are they even still alive?”
“That does not matter,” Feel stayed straight, its back unbent and stiff. “What matters is if they’re watching. Since I do not know if they’re watching, they might as well always be watching. Maybe they are, maybe they’re not, but I cannot afford to take that chance.” Feel pointed towards the door. “Now, go, before mommy and daddy get you too.”
Slowly and reluctantly backing away, you walk through the door, back into the darkness. All you can think about is how you could possibly help them, but you know you can’t, though you cannot convince yourself of that fact. As you continue to walk you can think only of what you will do for your children and how you will introduce them to the world properly, without punishing them for other’s actions around them and what they will inevitably experience. Soon the cave gets darker; much like it was before, though after more walking, it gets darker than you’ve ever seen it.
The darkness is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. You feel like you are at the bottom of an abyss. Impossible, right? Abysses never end, they are bottomless, but there is no other way to describe it. It is a darkness you want to escape from, that you wait upon to escape from, thinking that it will become lighter as you near the entrance of the cave you entered just a few minutes ago.
You fall asleep a few hours into your journey. Before you know it, you do indeed see a light, for it was night, which kept you in the dark. Overjoyed, you run towards the light and you are free.
You go back home, happy, but then you think of the children. To soothe yourself, you say that you'll do better, you won't damage your children like their parents did to them.
But the real question is: will you?
Written by DEFSeattle