Chapter 2.1: Fear of Flying

Previously: Nanoman in “The Fight of His Life”


Sky Lord made his home in the hollow top half of Mount Campbell, one of the highest peaks in Antarctica. He himself had done the hollowing-out. He called it, “the Eyrie.” On this beautiful, bright day, he sat outside, beautiful and bright himself, in a lounge-chair pose on the thin air beside a small ledge, reading the New York Times on his tablet. A beer bottle hovered beside him, at shoulder level.

He got to the end of an article.

He said, “Hunh.”

He pressed a button on the ledge wall beside him.

A metallic door, like an elevator door, opened onto the ledge. A new, pink, perfect Sky Prince stepped out of it.

“Hello, son,” said Sky Lord.

“Hey dad!” said Sky Prince.

“You’re going to learn to fly today, son,” said Sky Lord.

Around the boy, he found it difficult to project his usual personality, to be the happy-go-lucky, avuncular, omnipotent but emotionally vulnerable dude that he always liked to pretend to be. The boy made him stern and stiff: one of the many bones he had to pick with the boy.

Sky Prince walked to the edge of the ledge. He stood up on his tip-toes. He came back down. He walked back to the elevator door, which remained closed.

“I can’t,” he said.

“You can,” said Sky Lord.

“I’m scared,” said Sky Prince.

Sky Lord stopped reading. He placed his tablet on his abs, clasped his hands on top of it. He looked at the boy. He smiled. “You can do it,” he said. “I have faith in you.”

Sky Prince walked over to the edge again. He started to look down, but his dad flew, zippety-zip, in front of him.

“No. Don’t look down. Just do it.”

He turned aside, swept his hand and arm in a half-circle toward the emptiness beside him, like an usher in the theater, showing you which aisle to take.

Sky Prince didn’t move.

“Look. I know you can fly,” said Sky Lord. “I know every atom of your body. I made it. I made it specifically so that you would be able to fly. It’s in there. You just have to try to.”

Sky Prince didn’t move. Tears formed in his eyes, but did not fall.

“I’m afraid.”

“What are you afraid of?”

Sky Prince walked to the edge, but he didn’t look down. He looked up. He blinked. He was trying to get rid of the tears before they fell. He took a breath, which could have been a hiccup, or a sob, but also could have just been a breath. Maybe.

“I’m afraid I’ll die.”

Sky Lord laughed. He flew a figure eight, landed beside his son, shrugged.

“Then I’ll just put you in a new body,” he said. “Just like always. You die all the time.”

“But I was just made,” said Sky Prince. He backed away from the edge, like a man bargaining with a tiger. “If I try to fly, and I fall, you won’t be able to put these memories into my new body. My brains will be all over the place. I won’t exist anymore. The me that is me, right now, this person, me. I will die.”

Sky Lord had never heard such nonsense.

He flew away from the boy. He flew high into the sky. He screamed. He must keep calm. He flew back down. “The you,” he said, “that is you?”

“Yes.”

“The you that is you is less than one minute old,” said Sky Lord. His voice was rising now. He didn’t want it to. He couldn’t help himself. “The you that is you is nothing significant. All of your — of my son’s — life is stored in the computers downstairs except for this ridiculous,” and on that word, ridiculous Sky Lord realized that he was screaming. He stopped himself. He said, quietly, “this one little ridiculous conversation. That’s all you’d lose. Have you enjoyed this conversation so much? You want to keep it with you forever?”

Sky Prince’s tears fell openly now.

“Look,” said Sky Lord, in an understanding tone, touching the boy on his shoulders, looking into his eyes. “If you don’t want to die, well, fine. Just fly. It’s as simple as that.”

He stepped aside, patted the boy on the butt, to move him along.

Sky Prince, sobbing, walked slowly to the edge again.

Sky Lord screamed, “Now fly! Do it! Now!”

The boy jumped off of the ledge. He landed in an explosion of blood and meat and bone — but mostly blood — half a mile down, beside a dozen other Sky Prince bodies. The pattern they made in the snow resembled a Jackson Pollock painting: bright and beautiful.

Sky Lord sighed.

He sat back down on his imaginary lawn chair. He took a sip of the beer that had been waiting for him, hovering there, all this time. He read another article on his tablet.

He pressed a button in the side of the wall.

A new Sky Prince came out of the elevator door, fresh and pink and smiling.

“Hello, son,” said Sky Lord.

“Hey dad!” said Sky Prince.

“Today, you’re going to learn how to fly.”


Next: How Was Your Day

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2 thoughts on “Chapter 2.1: Fear of Flying

  1. Anne Lyle says:

    You are one sick puppy. That is all.

    🙂

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