The Switch: Clockwork (excerpt)

Dumas 3, a muscular, dark man with thick hair clumped about his face, opened the door to the cramped, one bedroom flat he shared with his father, Wilton2. It was hot, and he stripped off his work shirt; then went into the kitchen to warm their dinner of beans and rice.

Wilton was dying of cancer X, caused by the pollution and lack of fresh air in the underground. He had no insurance, no family doctor; for such things were not provided for underdwellers. The disease had whittled his robust 250 pound frame to a frail 115 pounds. Wilton's hair was gone, he had trouble breathing and his once rich black skin was gray with illness. He was in constant pain when not medicated by the verma and placid Daniel illegally supplied.

It was the same disease that had taken his mother three years ago.

Dumas chopped Wilton's dinner into fine bits and lay the plate before him. He fixed his own plate and sat down across from his father. Wilton picked morosely at his food.

"You need to eat pop."

"I ain't hungry."

"Come on pop, I slaved all night fixing that. Try to get a little of it down."

The old man smiled wryly. "Death is coming for me. You think he care if I got a full stomach or not?"

Dumas looked up from his plate, his eyes both angry and sad. "I wish you'd stop talking like that," he said quietly.

"I'm sorry son." Wilton reached over and patted Dumas hand, and his skin leathery and dry. "But I'm tired. I'm ready to go... I got something to tell you too."

"Oh yeah? More cheerful dinner conversation?"

Wilton smiled, and his son managed a small grin in return. "Even better... I had me a vision."

Drug induced hallucination is more like it, thought Dumas. But out loud he said: "Really?" 

"I know you don't believe me -- not yet -- but listen anyway...They came for me last night." Wilton's hoarse voice slowed, taking on the measured cadence of a storyteller.

"Who?" Dumas asked, interested now despite his cynicism.

"Your mama came first, and she was young and pretty, just like the first day I met her... and I jumped out of bed... didn't need no help, 'cause my body was young again like it was before I got sick. I jumped out of bed and hugged your mama real tight."

Wilton was grinning widely now, a faraway look in his eyes. "I cried I was so happy to see her. And I said: 'Lucretia baby, I missed you!' And she said: 'I know daddy, I missed you too. But we ain't got time for that now! They coming!' She grabbed my hand and dragged me outside."

"And then they came... at first they was just few of our folks... your uncle Potsi; you'd a liked him and some more of our cousins... And then the rest show up: the others. Son they was folks, our folks from hundreds -- thousands -- of years ago. And they was walking with us. So many I couldn't see em all, but I could feel 'em.

Eyes burning Dumas leaned forward, his dinner forgotten. "Then what?"

"We walked past the houses, everybody was sleep you see and even if they weren't they wouldn't see us... to where this man was standing. He wasn't human, don't ask me how I knew, but I knew. And he had real dark skin the color of coffee, and his hair was black and gray and laying over his shoulders. He was holding something in his hands... At first I thought it was colored ball. But when I looked closer I saw it was energy all different colors of energy floating between his hands..."


Copyright 2011 Valjeanne Jeffers all rights reserved.









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