My time in the locked room is coming to an end. A static period, except for the first night. And last night.
But look—another email has arrived. Reader LouBel has this to say:
“enjoying most of this—fun story. except why doesnt he just tell the police about the girl?”
“He.” I puzzled over that word. To whom does “he” refer? Now I realize that LouBel means me. As in: the main character of this fun story.
You may not believe this, but it never occurred to me that my blog would not be taken at face value. Many people have told me that they suspect they’re simply a part of someone’s dream, or that others are a part of their own dream (psychotics tend to say this). For me, the sheer burden of existing for so long has bludgeoned any such idea into pap. I may have inspired many fictional depictions of golems, as much as they get right. But I never really saw myself in them. They were fictional to me as well.
Standing in that little room, watching the girl’s face on the bed, I could see I was becoming more real to her, even as the situation became unreal. She is much more aware since the first night. Still no talking, but she did get up to urinate in the sink. One time she stretched out a hand to touch me. I let her hold my finger. Her face was full of conjecture. Finally she let go and lay face down.
No one had followed up on the visitors. Then, last night, we heard steps on the staircase. Two steps, loud, no attempt to hide them.
“Please?” A soft voice called. Couldn’t place the accent. “Please? I am staying down here. My sister is there. I am getting my sister.”
The girl’s eyes were locked on me. Her face had gone blank.
“You let me have my sister? My sister Damla?”
Calling loudly now. No stealth. No desperation, though. Caution? Putting on a brave face? I shook my head at the girl, then nodded. She didn’t indicate which was correct.
I asked, “How many of you are there?”
“One other. There is me and one more. Please, I want my sister. I am her brother Tahir.”
No golem ever turned to a mother screaming for her baby and said, “Listen, I’m sorry, but that fire is really hot.” Still no reaction from the girl. She wasn’t making this easy. I needed the men closer. I pulled the bolt and opened the door a crack, knowing they could only see darkness. There were only two. Maybe a faint resemblance. Dark skin and brows, sweating. They advanced up the stairs.
“OK, we come,” the lead man said, squinting into the floodlight. “She is my sister. We want to go with her.”
“What will you do to her?”
Silence. A quick look of anger crossed Tahir’s face, then disappeared as he realized he could be seen. That was all I needed. I kept a hand on the doorknob and crouched down. Brother or not, Tahir was about to have a fall.
Real or fictive, one thing golems do not do is surrender. You never hear of one confronted by superior strength or numbers raising hands to face and backing away. No golem ever turned to a mother screaming for her baby and said, “Listen, I’m sorry, but that fire is really hot.” This has proved a blessing and a curse for our creators, because the instinctual stopping point for a man is not part of our makeup. To logic we are naturally attuned (devil’s logic, many have said); to rationality, we are tone-deaf. This may be the deepest rift between you and us. Rationality hinges on self-preservation. We take things to their conclusion, drag them, if necessary, with little or no thought for ourselves, with no procrastination.
By the time we are told to stop, it’s invariably too late. You never hear of the man who strolls out like a manager to the pitcher’s mound and says, “OK, great, that’ll do it.” It’s always, “Stop, stop,” screamed in despair on his knees, rending garments, and at that point, the matter is beyond saving.
Here’s another thing we do not do: relegate. We do not sit back and get our assistants to do what we have no time for. We do not let the police handle things. Similarly, we wouldn’t work well in teams. I can scarcely imagine a team of us. He who brought such a thing to light would be damned to the ends of time.
But we would be an awesome final sight. I admit that much pride.
When Kosey showed up at the room this morning, I muttered a few words about the “brothers.” He sighed slowly, looking at the floor.
“Tonight is the last night,” he said. “We done here.”
He hadn’t expected me to ask, I could tell. His smile was too slow. He tapped his feet. I hadn’t moved since he’d arrived and I didn’t move now.
“She going for a boat ride.”
We take your words and obey the letter, and sometimes in the end that’s all you’re left with. This much of the archetype is true. What you have planned is immaterial. Kosey has always sensed what I am, but he doesn’t know how many have been in his place. He didn’t see the door crash open, my heavy launch, the point of impact, the two men sprawling down the stairs, lying in a heap at the bottom, barely staggering away. I still don’t know who they were or whether it was right, but I will not be giving this girl up.
“What time do you want me?” I didn’t think he was going to tell me, but he did.