WALLS – A Fable in a SciFi-ish Sort of Mode –- NaBloPoMo 2016 – 2 of 30


From the journals, dated 6/8/81


Somewhere, somewhen, just exactly where and when is unimportant, a newly emerging being received a message. Now, in most wheres and almost every when it is customary, even considered essential, for newly emerging beings to be given messages. These messages vary a lot in content, but most are intended to inform the recipient of the expectations of other beings of its kind.

There was nothing unusual or peculiar about the particular message received by this particular being. There was nothing unusual or peculiar about this particular emerging being. In fact, the whole situation was as normal as flies in an outhouse. It was even completely usual that the emerging being had no notion how unremarkable its situation was.

Of course, the new entity did not receive just one message. No, it was sent many messages. Some were clearly intended by the senders as messages. Some were not. Some were clear. Some were muddy. The other beings took great care to cross check and make sure that some were received as sent. But, sometimes messages were sent without the slightest effort to check on the accuracy of transmission. Again, the being in question had no way of knowing that all this haphazardness was thoroughly usual.

As the being grew larger and emerged into its stable form, the messages were elaborated and added to, until they comprised a vast system of information that was supposed to guide its actions. Woven into this fabric of information wa the particular message of which I spoke. It was given early, often, and in many different forms and combined with, and stood behind many others. It too was one of those very strange messages that was vigorously tested, but seldom or never stated explicitly. So intrinsically woven into the whole pattern of communications it was that it is entirely possible that even those who sent it were only dimly aware of its presence. The message was, “To be safe, hide yourself.” There was much more, about the dangers of the world, about how to hide, about being safe, but this was the core of the message … “HIDE!”

So, as this being grew, it learned more and more how to do that. It found itself getting so good at hiding that that seemed its most natural condition.

Now, it happened that this particular emerging being was of a sort very different from us. For one thing, as adults, they are not very mobile and are very territorial. In fact, once one of them has located its home plot, occupied it and marked it off with a line of stones or a fence, or some other convenient sort of symbolic barrier, it hardly ever leaves. Most of these beings’ moving about and selection of life companions (neighbors) and home plot is done before they reach their full growth.

So it was with our hero. The young being set out to find a place to live and hide. It found many places already marked off where others had been and departed but the neighbors there were too curious to let it hide. Finally, it found what seemed the perfect place.

This spot had two great advantages, no neighbors and lots of rocks. Now the being could be happy. It got to work building its boundary wall. No mere symbolic line of stones, this was a real wall, not very tall or thick, but enough that no one would come blundering along and bump into the hermit.

Then, disaster! The being saw another being coming along toward it, building a wall! A neighbor! Soon it saw another, and another. The being almost panicked. It had been found. So, unable to leave its home plot, it got to work improving its wall, building it thicker and taller until no one could see inside. For a while, the neighbors would call out or try to communicate across the wall, but they soon stopped. Time passed. The being was truly hidden.

More time passed. It became lonely. The being was not happy behind its walls.

Finally, the being took the ultimate risk and began to take down the walls it had built. Still frightened, it did this in darkness so that the others would not see it done. Having opened a hole on the walls, it waited for the light.

Morning came.

In the dawn, the being looked through the hole in its wall and saw its neighbor’s wall, higher, wider, and thicker than its own.


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