The Bronze Shade
By Brady Koch
As they filled my cradle, I had worried that the drowning would be painful and I started to thrash, begging for my caretakers to take me out. Now I am thankful that they rebuked my pleas for mercy and had weighted me down with the stones. I cannot tell if their motivation lied in their commitment to the task at hand or the lifetime of money I’d paid to have it done to me. (Laughing ~1 min straight.) I awoke from the bath, no longer subject to my millennia of dreams. Yet with no eyes to see, I question if I am still in the dream.
Jeanie sat in the board room and reviewed her last page of notes from last week’s interview with Haetor. She trusted the court-appointed translator’s notes from the sessions; he had no motive to deceive her. Was it bad to emphasize Haetor’s last statement in her presentation? It was the one coherent section from any of her interviews and she wanted to use it to add some humanity where she failed to find any. Everyone deserved a fair trial.
She tuned out the Board of Directors as they held a discussion about her findings. Jeanie felt shallow thinking about her payout from this contract, when she should have been worried about the fate of dozens of waking dreamers she’d been brought on to interview. The Grant Family Foundation had asked for her recommendation for their fate. Unlike Haetor and his ilk, she had a mortgage to pay.
A multitude of internet and TV shows produced over the past two years documented the story of the waking dreamers. They all started the same way: the unnamed intern at the Cleveland museum of modern art. He was cleaning one of the bronze busts, tipped it over, and it crashed to the ground. While the fate of the intern’s credit hours is unknown, the story of the bruise that formed over the next week on the ancient Greek statue is now common lore to everyone who’s followed the story of the dreamers. After the bruise, the programs all follow the same story arc: the MRI on the first statue, the discovery of an internal bronze anatomy inside the metal, the understanding of a lost alchemy that was able to preserve these ancient Greeks, the chemical dissection of the metal to figure out how their organic tissue had been converted into bronze, and finally the reverse engineering process resulting in reanimated statues. All of this in a one hour show.
At first, scientists thought these statues had been the great thinkers of the time that had preserved to share their knowledge with future generations. Some worried that they were awakening the Olympians. The battalion of historians, scientists, and philosophers who’d interviewed the dreamers soon pieced together that these ancients were simply the aristocracy of the day who had paid extreme sums for the chance to defy death. None of the once-statues had any understanding of how the procedure functioned or could provide any insight to the cultural achievements of the civilization they’d jettisoned themselves from in their bronzed forms. With no knowledge to share, the academics soon lost interest in the dreamers, the tabloids and lawyers took their place.
Haetor was one of the many of the once-ancient, once-bronze statues that were in the middle of a custody dispute between their current country of reanimation, the museum of residence, Greece, and the Grant Family Foundation. The generations of the Grant family had donated these perceived statues to museums after securing them through all sorts of legal and clouded transactions and now that no country wanted them they had to determine their fate.
Despite an early support of the experiments the Grant Family Foundation had put a halt to the reanimation of their statues. All of them were alive in form, but their minds were no longer making connections. They were continually offering commentary to their blind dreams. Haetor was particularly unwanted. He was too horrifying to look at and was no longer art. When he wasn’t lucid he was screaming or laughing for hours at a time. Never sleeping. The museum had moved him to the basement closet.
Some of the online shows, especially the ones that had been made for school audiences, had skipped the failed reanimations. The earliest attempts had ended in piles of metal and gore. All of the videos had avoided showing or mentioning Haetor at all. He, more than the others, was a challenge to fathom. He had lived the past century at the museum as a bronze head on an ivory post. He’d become separated from his body at some point in last couple thousand years. Haetor was the only partial dreamer that had been successfully reanimated and he had no known reason to be alive. No lungs, no heart, no liver or anything below the neck. He was a questionable miracle.
When Philip, the board chair, called Jeanie’s name she jerked. She was thinking of Haetor’s eyes. The one thing the reanimators hadn’t been able get right were the eyes. Each of the dreamers still had green metal orbs rolling around blindly in their sockets; hunting for a purpose and never finding it. Jeanie simply nodded as the board laid out their plan to re-bronze Haetor and the others and try to recoup their investments. Hopefully their learnings in unmaking the statues could help them salvage their other investments. “Give it a couple more millennia and see if those civilizations know what to do with these things,” he rationalized. Jeanie considered the statues and felt comforted by their fate at the hands of these patrons. Haetor was simply an echo from another time; worth more as a statue than a living head.
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@BradyTheWriter lives in Aurora, Illinois with his wife and two children. Feel free to read over his shoulder if you see him working on a new novel or short story at the coffee shop, library, or BNSF Metra commuter train into Chicago.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
The Bronze Shade
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