Alan P. Scott - Fictions

living in turtle time
Conceived during an email exchange with AceLightning - thanks!

When Grandfather crystallized we put him in the garden with the other elders, where he could take the sun and carry on conversations in his own time. We could tell by the slow contortions of his face that he didn't think he was ready for the old folks' garden, but we figured that if he couldn't make it out the gate before the weekly caretaker came by to put him back on his divan, then he was wrong.

He was wrong, and we were right to buy him space in the garden... the effects of LEX had finally caught up with him, as they would with us all eventually. His dopamine production had finally faltered; his flesh had hardened and become transparent, photosynthetic; and his experiential threshold had slowed below what he, or we, could deal with. For a child, a day is forever... for most of us, a frantic scramble... but for our crystallized elders on Life EXtension, a day is but an eyeblink.

Putting him in the garden with the sun shining on him and with the other folks living on turtle time was a sign of respect, though Grandfather never saw it that way - some families kept their elders in the parlor, in the dark, and fed them fertilizer from the store, which I for one thought was barbaric. Grandfather's newly delicate form wouldn't have survived long in our parlor. We had to move him out.

He couldn't accept it, though... he was funny that way. Never could accept the price we paid for long, long life.

Once a month the whole family would visit, and I would put on the headset that had recorded the last few days' of Grandfather's ramblings. Years after we'd made a place for him, he was still trying to fast-talk us (hah!) into letting him out the gate and back into our home the next time he made one of his glacial escape attempts. I'd go through the ritual of recording our reassurances, for playback over the next few weeks, but it never seemed to make a difference.

I couldn't believe it when they called us from the gardeners' shed, in a panic because, impossible as it sounded, they'd lost track of him from one week to the next. I came as quickly as I could (I was pushing 150 myself at that point, so it took a day or so), and sure enough he was nowhere to be seen on any of the paths in the garden that led to his divan.

Asking the other elders would be useless, if we wanted to act quickly; by the time another month or more rolled by who knows what Grandfather might have gotten into, especially if he'd fooled us all and was able to move that quickly? It didn't seem possible.

And, of course, it wasn't. Eventually, driven by a hunch I couldn't even describe to myself, I went the wrong way, deeper into the garden, into an area where the divans weren't filled yet. Behind one of them, only a few yards away from where we'd left Grandfather a mere month ago, I found the pile of crystal shards that marked his last, successful attempt at escape.

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This document last updated March 30, 1998.

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