Tag Archives: Tin Man

Chapter 60: The Big Five

He was five years old today. This year they were going to celebrate his birthday in the clearing of the forest so that Yggdrasil could participate too. He had such a droll sense of humor.

 

Ellen’s maternal instincts had finally kicked into play. She was only human. She had resisted the temptation to undergo the operation that Lem had performed on the boy five years ago.

The little boy walked hand in hand with her the whole way from the cave to the clearing. He wanted to make sure Ellen didn’t get lost along the hyper-dimensional paths and junctions. His head came up  just a little above Ellen’s waist.

He skipped beside her the whole way, a complicated mathematical skipping, not just the two right feet then two left feet that normal human children skipped, but Fibonacci numbers – one right, one left, three right, five left, eight right, and so forth. He would ask her to guess what series he was skipping to and when she couldn’t guess, he’d tell her the answer and then try something easier. He started skipping again and, after some time, he asked Ellen to guess. “I have absolutely no idea,” she said.

“Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor, silly,” he giggled.

“Father,” Lem said from behind them, “stop showing off. It’s making Ellen self-conscious.” Yani looked at Lem and smiled.

Now he was doing the cha-cha. Ellen figured that one out and cha cha’ed alongside him.

Finally they reached the clearing. Everyone was there — the Tin Man, Vitruvius, Thort and Evanor, Cori, Sam, and Yggdrasil. Lem unfolded a large blanket and spread it on the ground for everybody to sit on cross-legged. Yani passed out plates and cups to everyone, and placed bowls of fruit and vegetables and breads in the center. Evanor opened the basket beside her and took out the cake. It had a big five made of yellow icing on top of it.

“Oh good!” the little boy exclaimed clapping his hands together. “That’s my favorite number!”

Thort lit each of the five candles that Evanor had placed around the big five on top of the birthday cake.

Since there was no sense in making a wish, the little boy filled up his rosy cheeks with air and blew all the candles out.

A leaf flitted down from one of Yggdrasil’s upper branches, meandering through the air until it landed in front of the boy.

He looked up at the tall canopy of over-arching trees above them. A tear trickled down his cheek.

 

That night, after they had returned with Lem and Yani to the cave and the couples had gone to their respective bedrooms, Ellen and the little boy lay together in bed quietly listening to each other’s thoughts.

“Let’s just hold each other closely tonight,” Ellen whispered to him.

He said nothing but moved in closer to her and wrapped his arm around her waist, holding on to her for dear life. His ear pressed against her breast and he heard and felt her heartbeat. It soothed him until he fell asleep.

Ellen felt his head heavy against her breast and also fell asleep.

 

Time wove their dreams, but the whirlpool would not be sated until it had swallowed their worlds and their dreams.

 

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Chapter 56: Birthday Party

This time he decided he would celebrate his birthday with his loved ones. After all, it was his tenth birthday. He looked around the table. Almost everyone was there: Ellen, Lem and Yani, of course, but also the Tin Man, Vitruvius, Thort and Evanor, Cori, and even Sam. Only Yggdrasil was missing. The boy looked at Ellen across the table lovingly and winked at her. They would make a brave heart of it no matter what lay ahead of them. Ellen did the honors this time. She sliced the cake Yani had made and made sure everyone received a respectable wedge of it.

After the cake the boy opened up all his presents. There was a mess of wrapping paper on the floor beside his chair. Sam had given him a shiny new shot-blaster. It looked almost real. The boy turned it over and over in his hand, admiring the weight of it. He had received a present from everyone, except for Ellen. He was crestfallen. He looked across the table at Ellen and she silently mouthed the words “I will give you your gift later.” Suddenly he was happy again, so much so that he could scarcely contain himself. Everyone at the table laughed at his transparency.

 

After the party, when everyone except for Lem and Yani had left, the presents had been stowed away, and the trash had been sterilized or recycled and returned to the cabinets, Ellen and the boy went for a walk in the valley by the creek, enjoying the cool night air. The top of the boy’s head only reached Ellen’s shoulder. She still leaned against him when they walked, a single shadow, but she was careful not to topple him with her weight.

 

They undressed in the dark and slipped into bed. They lay together, wrapped in each other’s arms and legs. It felt to him like every part of their bodies was pressed together. He felt the throbbing of her breasts against his ribcage and the dampness between her legs near his groin. It thrilled him so much he thought he would burst.

 

But he was prepubescent.

 

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Chapter 54: Facing One’s Fears

The Tin Man was sitting rather awkwardly on a tree trunk between two unlikely looking bushes. “You took your time getting here.”

The boy squeezed Ellen’s hand tightly. “It took me awhile to face my fears.”

“You mean the Tree and me?” the Tin Man asked. “Why should you be afraid of us?”

“Because you both represent to me the parentheses of my rational existence, the ends of my ability to reason,” the boy answered, “the final absurdity that lays to waste everything I’ve labored to create.”

“Why? Just because we have a sense of humor?” a voice boomed from the tree top behind the Tin Man’s stump.

Ellen looked intently at the boy, wondering at the dislocation of his mind and body.

“You know what I mean,” the boy said quietly. “I created you all. There can be no misunderstanding among us.”

Yggdrasil tried to counter, “There are many races of creatures who misunderstand their creator.”

“But I am not a god,” the boy replied. “I’m just a person who populates his mind with the avatars of his needs and desires. There’s no room for misunderstanding.”

“What about the needs and desires of your avatars?” the Tin Man interjected, apparently pleased with himself.

“Well, I suppose so,” the boy allowed.

“And the avatars of your avatars?” Yggdrasil added. “Even your thoughts have thoughts. Hmmm … The point is that there will always be plenty room for misunderstanding, even in a world of your creation.”

“You’re not helping me,” the boy said morosely.

“I’m sorry,” Yggdrasil answered, “was I supposed to be helpful? I’m just a tree.”

The boy looked at Ellen, then at the Tin Man, and finally at the tree. “I …”

“Look here,” the Tin Man said kindly, “you can’t make a universe solely from rational components. Every rational point you see is surrounded by an infinity of irrational points. The entire structure of rationality is grounded in irrationality. You’ve said it yourself many times: all our proofs are based on axioms which you just have to believe. All one can do is to reduce the number of axioms to the barest minimum.”

“I suppose I haven’t done a very good job of that,” the boy looked down at the ground.

“But you have created characters who do exactly that,” the Tin Man answered. “That’s something, isn’t it?”

“That’s just it,” the boy said sadly. “What will happen to you all before I was born? I mean … after I cease to exist.” He looked at Ellen with tears streaming down his face.

 

Ellen found the parallel notches in the tree bark at the edge of the clearing. They walked up the path. She put her arm around his waist and drew into him so that they walked together as a single being.

They came to a second clearing. They walked around the clearing inspecting the trees closely, looking until they found the second set of double-notches on the tree. They followed the new path for some time until they came to a tree on their right with a third pair of notches beside a wall of branches with thorns. They turned to the left and walked down that path. The trees were dense and over-arching so that they could not see even a sliver of the night sky above them.

They came to another tree with parallel notches. After a few steps they could see the promontory of the cliff and the cave lights through a gap in the trees. The boy saw the first set of parallel notches he had made in one of the trees next to the gap. They walked out of the forest into the open night air.

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Chapter 48: Meanwhile Back at the Cave

Lem and Yani guided Ellen to their home, one of the caves she had seen from the cliff. When they reached the third cave, Lem stopped and put his hand on the glass wall. The glass wall dissolved. They passed through the entrance into the cave, after which the glass reformed. Lem pointed to a sofa and asked Ellen to make herself comfortable. Lem sat down on a chair opposite her.

Yani offered Lem and Ellen a cup of water and a plate of fresh fruit. The young woman raised the cup to her lips and drank down the cool thirst-quenching liquid in a few gulps. She eyed the fruit with desire and curiosity. Lem smiled, reached over to the plate, picked up a prange, and popped it into his mouth. “You really should try the prange,” Lem said amiably with his mouth full of the tart pulp, “it’s fresh from our garden. Yani picked it just before you arrived.” Ellen picked up a prange from the plate and bit off a tip of the fruit. The tangy taste seemed to explode in her mouth. She ate the rest of it and reached for another piece of fruit.

Yani sat down on the sofa beside Ellen. She turned to see her better. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so blue,” she said.

“Our parents were light beige colored like you,” Yani answered. “We are genetic adaptations to a certain environment.”

Ellen hesitated, “mutations? I mean …”. She immediately regretted using that word.

Yani smiled and looked at Lem. “I suppose you could use that term.”

 

“Look,” Ellen cast about, looking for a way to launch into the reason she had come to the cabin, “I’ve come all the way from … well, it doesn’t matter where I came from … you’ve probably never heard of it … I’ve come all this way just to interview him …”

“Why would you want to do that?” Lem asked.

“Because I’m a journalist,” she shot back, “and a damned good one at that!” Ellen had a strange feeling after saying that so vehemently, like she had said it before.

“No,” he said, “I meant why would you want to interview Father?”

“I want to understand how and why he writes what he writes,” she attempted to justify her existence to Lem, like she remembered having to do on her first day in the introductory journalism class when she had to stand up before the professor in the packed lecture hall and explain why she wanted to take that pretentious bastard’s course. “His books,” she stammered, “I’ve read every one of them …”

“He wouldn’t know about that,” Lem answered. “He’s just a young man. He hasn’t written any books yet.”

“I … I don’t understand,” Ellen stammered. “What’s going on here? Where is he?”

“He’s …” Lem looked at Yani and back at Ellen. “I have to bring him back here.”

Lem got up, walked through the glass door, and was out of sight.

 

The young man got up and ran out of the clearing crashing through the thorny branches. He smashed against a tree but kept on running. He ran into another wall of branches and down the path to his right. He came into the clearing and slowed down when he came to a flat boulder. He sat down on it and examined his surroundings. He saw the Tin Man sitting on the tree trunk. The Tin Man raised three metal fingers and a familiar voice called out “Father … Father! Please Father!”

 

Little by little his consciousness shifted into something more familiar. He looked up at the starless night and recognized the cobalt outlines of Lem’s face above him.

“Father, are you alright?” Lem asked. “Please answer me.”

A wet pain throbbed on the left side of his head. “I suppose so,” he said.

“What am I going to do with you,” Lem feigned exasperation.

“I just wanted to go for a short walk,” he said, struggling to sit up. “I had no idea I’d get myself lost in this damned forest.” He tried to stand up. His legs were still wobbly.

Lem put an arm around his father to support his weight. “You must be more careful here,” Lem told his young father. “You are blind in more dimensions than those in which you can see.”

“You really know how to make a guy feel good,” he said sarcastically.

“Wait til you get home,” Lem smiled.

 

They walked arm in arm in silence until they reached the cliff overlooking the caves in the valley. The far mountain tops turned golden in the blush of dawn.

 

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Chapter 47: The Great Escape

He crashed through the thorny branches tearing at his shirt and scratching his face. He had a knife-like pain in his side from running but his mind attempted to ignore the pain. His legs avoided rocks and jumped over fallen logs of their own accord. Somehow he reached an open path. He could see a small patch of open night sky above him. The sweat stang his bloody scratches as he ran down the path. Imperceptibly the small patch of open sky closed as the tall trees conferred in susurrating whispers.

The left side of him smashed against a tree knocking the wind out of him momentarily but he kept on running trying to reach the edge of the forest and the clearing where Lem’s and Yani’s cave.

He ran into another wall of branches with thorns and down the path to his right. He came into a clearing lit palely by the weak starlight from above.

He slowed down when he came to a more-or-less flat boulder half sunk in the middle of the clearing. He decided to sit on it for a few moments just to catch his breath and his bearings. He examined his surroundings.

He saw the Tin Man sitting on the tree trunk between the two bushes.

The Tin Man raised one metal finger. A multitude of voices murmured something unintelligible.

The young man got up and ran out of the clearing crashing through the thorny branches tearing at his shirt and scratching his face. His legs avoided the rocks and jumped over the fallen logs. He reached the open path and could see a small patch of open night sky above him. The sweat stang his bloody scratches as he ran down the path. Imperceptibly the small patch of open sky closed as the tall trees leaned into each other.

He smashed against a tree knocking the wind out of him but kept on running.

He ran into another wall of branches and down the path to his right. He came into the clearing and slowed down when he came to a flat boulder. He sat down on it and examined his surroundings. He saw the Tin Man sitting on the tree trunk.

The Tin Man raised two metal fingers and a multitude of voices murmured something unintelligible.

The young man ran out of the clearing crashing through the thorny branches tearing at his shirt and scratching his face. His legs avoided rocks but not the fallen log which he tripped over and hit his head on a rock. A blackness darker than the night engulfed him.

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Chapter 45: Barrel of Monkeys

“Oh no!” he groaned, “don’t tell me it’s you 2. What a lame attempt at humor.”

The Tin Man was sitting rather awkwardly on a tree trunk between two unlikely looking bushes. “You took your time getting here.”

“What do you mean?” he asked the Tin Man. “I don’t recall us deciding to get together here or anywhere else in particular. Besides weren’t you on NGC 206.572.3 somewhere in the Andromeda galaxy? That’s millions of light years from here and now.”

“Well, you remember my old pal Yggdrasil’s rules of order? You were thinking about the object of our mutual affections, Ellen of course, and then you thought of me,” the Tin Man explained.

“But how did you get here so quickly?” he asked skeptically.

“Speed of thought,” the Tin Man flashed a disarming smile, “dashing through the quantum foam.”

“I don’t suppose you brought your tree-some friend,” he said dejectedly.

A voice boomed from the tree top behind the Tin Man’s stump, “Just because this is a barrel of monkeys doesn’t mean you’re not going to die tragically pretty soon.”

“Wh-what?” he whispered.

“Hey,” came a voice out of the darkness opposite the tree, “up until now, I could barely follow what was going on here. Now, I have absolutely no idea what’s going on!” A multitude of voices murmured agreement.

First the boundaries between the author and his characters had broken down. Now the boundaries between the author and his audience were breaking down. The outer walls cracked and crumbled, and the whirlpool turned ever inward.

The young man covered his ears and ran out of the clearing, not paying attention to the path from which he had entered.

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Uncollecting Myselves

This is just to bring all of you up to date. A lot has been happening since my last post. First off, it appears that the name I selected for my blog is becoming increasingly appropriate, since I published my third book, “The Rats and the Saps”. Undaunted, I am moving onward with, not one, but two literary projects in parallel! You may expect the blog to develop a split personality.

The first project will be the compilation and publishing of my father’s four journals, which he kept religiously during the last years of his life. His journals were his most loyal and constant friends, who were always more than happy to listen uncritically to his every thought, emotion, and pain. I remember when I’d come to visit once a year, all the way from Israel, Dad would show me his writing, which could range from triteness to bitterness (although some were gems), and I would try to explain about engaging one’s readers, about consensus and acceptability, and about how they made me feel, or I would ask him why he felt the need to write what he wrote. He could never explain it to me satisfactorily. Then Death came and underlined his writings with a poignancy I could have sworn was never in those pages until it arrived, that said “understand!” and don’t ask for explanations, because you’ll never get them. This is what I will have to deal with in the coming months.

The second project will be a third book in my Rational Series, including “The Tin Man” and “The Rats and the Saps”. The third book will be called “Whirlpool”. I have already started writing it. It will be a different genre from the other two books in the series — an experimental psychological science fantasy, involving the major characters from the previous two books, along with the author as character as author. If I succeed in what I want to achieve, I will have your heads spinning around like the cute little girl in “The Exorcist”. Hence, the title.

You will be seeing blog posts from each project intermixed, along with anything else zinging through my head from one universe to another.

It wouldn’t hurt you to write a comment or a review from time to time… but, hey, don’t worry about me. I’ll just sit in the dark and spin my yarn. 😉

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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