Saturday, 1 November 2014

Thus Encapsulated

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2014

(This story, in a much shorter from, has been first published in my first anthology, Bearing all Gods and Goddesses, under the title, The Jar of Souls, published by Independence Jones.)

Dedicated to Elizabeth Bell, a wonder always in my heart.



Honestly, Veiran had entirely given up on humanity: she now classed herself as a Viral Being, which contained the best from both worlds of Virus and DNA. It wasn’t that she considered that all people to be inherently malicious and to be avoided, but that she couldn’t be bothered trying to converse with the worthwhile few. She had of course been told that this lack of motivation was a symptom of her schizophrenia but she simply didn’t believe she was mentally ill. Veiran preferred the term ‘eccentric.’
     Normally, this sort of attitude wouldn’t be a problem; just another nut on some loony bin trajectory. But Ms Veiran Neanders (her self-dialed name, betokening her unique nature. We’ll keep her former name a secret) also possessed the Jar of Souls, accidentally discovered in a Sydney, Aus, inner city Soul Patinson franchise. The labels on all their products declared ‘Souls’, at whatever price. What made it the more intriguing was that no-one else saw what she did, despite its being so obvious. She had of course shown all of her friends the label on one of their Jars that she had bought (a jar of vitamin C tablets) but was met with only dumb stares. Not enlightening these friends further was instinctual; God alone knows what havoc might have been unleashed if they chose to abuse the Jar’s souls.
     Yet, really, what was she supposed to do with it?  One couldn’t possibly ask her to become responsible for all of our souls – it was struggle enough just looking after her homeless self. Being homeless agreed very well with the twenty-three year old lass as she had always wanted to be as close to nature as possible when she had grown up. Mind you some of her family said that she still hadn’t grown up but she had made her choice and was still happy with it. She might even write a book about it someday. She hadn’t told any of her family, two parents, two younger sisters, and sundry aunts, uncles, and cousins, about her discovery, knowing full well that they would use that as an excuse to have her committed to Rozella Psychiatric Hospital again. And none of her friends were of any use in guiding her in the proper, ethical use of the Jar. They simply marveled at the Jar’s novelty, when Veiran did eventually decided to trust them and point out Its label’s dual meaning. They were also amused by the irony of such power being in the hands of a derelict, unstable young woman.
     She had tried burying it, hoping to abdicate her responsibility, but after, digging it up, she began to realise that her fate had been cast, albeit accidentally, and that the Jar was hers: to guard, and to not fail in her guarding.
     ‘Fine then, give me this responsibility oh ye Gods, but there will be conditions.’ The end result being that there was only Viral Beings now left with their souls safely accounted for and the rest of her disgusting citizens existing without the merest hint of a soul to resurrect them. This attitude became justified each time that she watched the news after the few times she took a shower at a considerate friend’s place, the friend being of course duly rewarded with a Viral Being nature, and thus a soul.
     This was the position, undisturbed, for about two years, which serenely coloured Veiran’s every day. Gazing upon her only jewel, this potent Jar, had really made her shiftless life valuable. Wasn’t it after all her homeless wandering that had unearthed this treasure? Of course. Gazing upon it was also the closest she ever came to feeling ecstatic, noble, and a person of consequence. In fact it would be fair to say that her guardianship of the Jar was the only real meaning in her life.
     Until the Jar was smashed, by a new, drunken resident in her Redferne squat, after she had brought it out for display. When he learned of the story, and saw the label (which still needed to be highlighted) his first response was outrage. Soon transforming into self-righteousness, and then on to violence.
     It can’t be replaced, since the franchise has redesigned their labeling content, and Veiran has been feeling so guilty, since Good Friday, last week, 2014, Veiran not being able to enjoy the warm Autumn of Sydney as a consequence.
     But there is nothing to be done: the Jar of Souls has been smashed, and it cannot be substituted. She had briefly considered breaking into a house somewhere near a Soul Patinson chemist until she found one house that had the potent Jar still with the original label on it. She dismissed the idea quickly though as ending up in gaol could well have disastrous consequences for her. She might be bashed senseless over a shoe, for example, and then all of her power would be eradicated along with her senses.
     Unless she made up her own label, to be placed on one of the original merchandise?  This could be justified on the grounds that she was simply replacing the label, and not so much creating it. It was also justifiable on the grounds that she had witnessed the original label and if anyone questioned this rejuvenated Jar she could simply call up Soul Patinson’s and have them confirm her initial witnessing of the label’s declaration.
     ‘Perfect!’ she exclaimed to herself, alone in the squat, two weeks after Good Friday. ‘Absolutely perfect!’ And her squat-mate will most certainly feel her ire in the form of his burning soul. The little fascist.
     And with thus the Jar restored, Veiran soon realised it wasn’t a toy, but great power and great responsibility. Something more than guarding It was needed; this power asks to be harnessed, utilized, otherwise it will disappear like It had tried to do. Through pure chance she must both guard and doom these souls, unfortunately having to destroy the rotten, while recognising that they also gave balance to brightness. But how to punish these horrid? She only had a limited amount of souls in the Jar, one hundred to be exact, and humanity’s filthiness numbered in the billions.
     The epiphany solving the conundrum was almost instantaneous: one soul alone could be shared by all the filth of the world.
     ‘Simple!’ she exclaimed to her lone self again.

     This one tortured soul she still keeps by her mattress with three sowing needles stuck into it. The Jar of Souls is also now in a safety deposit box (Veiran saves most of her dole payments affording her the bank fee for safely storing the Jar), and she can still imbibe its every possibility.

~~~

If you've been enjoying Denis' stories here you may also enjoy his debut novel, This Mirror in Me. It tells the story of Tonia Esqurit Ailbe, a mathematics professor, and her unusual manner of making her home a social hub, her life's fundamental aim: sitting at her dressing table mirror and imagining socialising with friends and family. It seems the only way, for one reason or another, that she can achieve her deepest wish. It is available on Kindle at http://amzn.to/1gXGF9h for US $4.14, and via Smashwords, whom cover most of the other ereaders, at http://bit.ly/1k7DEIV for US $3.99. If you don't have a Kindle or other ereader you can download one for free onto your smartphone or tablet.

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