MUSING THE TENTH

        Lately when I look in the mirror, I have a hard time finding my eyes. I believe they're in there, but the only eyes I see looking back at me are those of the first Otis Spaulding, my father. I see a cruelty in those eyes that I never noticed before. I see how the lines on my face match up with the lines on his, at least in my memory. I have never been a man much given to suicidal thoughts or ideas, but when I look in the mirror and see my father's face looking back at me, the urge rises. The urge to spill my blood before I manage to hurt something like he's done.

        Or, if you want me to be completely honest with you, as I have promised myself I will in these brief musings, before I manage to hurt something like he did, once again. Because like everything else in the world, it's all happened before. And it will continue to happen. Pain is passed from generation to generation like a mother's nose, or a grandfather's sense of humor. We never know it, but we give our children a contract of pain from the day they're born, and they collect on that. Day by day, week by week, month by month. That contract never expires until they do.

        In my life I have received great pain. And in my life I've dealt that pain right back out, as many of us do. I have hoped through the years that my any pain given from me was given to the correct recipient. A fool's hope, yes, but striving for perfection can be a good way to get most of the way there. Nevertheless, in my time I've also given out great pain to the wrong people. People that didn't deserve it.

        One of these people, the most recent, and the most heartbreaking, is my own Granddaughter. I'm sure she knew that her message would be found by us sooner rather than later, and that she probably hoped against hope that something would come and save her before we could do some terrible harm to her.

        Obviously, nobody came. Nobody came because, in truth, there was no real reason for anybody to come. There was no aid needed on our compound. Not of the type that she was wanting, at least. She expected, I assume, some sort of governmental intervention. Police. Military, maybe. She is a girl with big dreams, and enough heart to follow those dreams to whatever end she can find for them. She is also, and it doesn't please me to speak like this, she is also incredibly naive.

        Claudia doesn't understand much about the world that she hasn't directly been a part of. She may think she does, in fact her anger and hurt are probably growing as I speak, she does transcribe these after all.

        Claudia.

        Oh, Claudia.

        In many ways, despite my attempts and my best efforts, I've failed you. More than you know, even. My failures... They started before you were even born. I suppose all parents feel that way, and all Grandparents to an extent, although I was something of a combination of those for you. I knew from the very beginning that your life was not going to be either common or easy. Yet for so many years I allowed myself to believe that my shortcomings hadn't had any effect on you. That somehow you were able, just by being you, to surpass my meager teachings and excel.

        In many ways I was right. But in just as many I was wrong. I see that now.

        You are broken, Claudia.

        It's not your fault, and you don't deserve it, but you are a broken human.

        You have been raised as the descendant of the new Messiah for a new world, and however much I tried to instill normality and basic childhood experience, it was never to be. Raising you and expecting normality has been an experiment in tilting at windmills, and you were the unfortunate subject.

But that stops here. It stops now. No more kid gloves. Bare-knuckle honesty. This isn't what I desired, but I think I've been left with little choice in the matter.

        Claudia, you were never supposed to be born. It was a mistake from the very beginning. And I say this with all the love that you know very well I carry for you.

        I begat two children in my life. A pair of sisters that had come to join the Organization were the parents. One each. Until that point I didn't even know I could have children. There had been other women in the past, other opportunities, but nothing ever came of it. I believed myself to be sterile. And then, at one point, during one of the philosophical psycho-sexual rituals that used to be undertaken, apparently the spark of life entered. Unbidden, but not entirely unwelcome.

        There was no chance the children were anything but mine. You know well that the men of the Think Tank are castrated, mechanically or chemically, as part of their initiation into the upper levels of experience. As I was the conduit, all rituals orbited around me, myself, and so I found myself a father.

        My children were called Claudius and Cassandra. They were small, vulnerable, perfect. Yet when I gazed into their faces, such a deep well of loathing began to roll up from my very core and I had to excuse myself from the room. I feared I might become violent, and I had no earthy idea why.

        In retrospect I believe there is something in the men of my family. A failing that has been passed down again and again and again. I think that there is something wrong with out brains, and it keeps us from doing the one thing a father should be able to do: love his child. My father didn't love me. I inherited that trait, and I was unable to love my own.

        For the safety and comfort of everybody involved, it was decided that I would not take on a fatherly role for the children, but rather the guise of a distant Uncle, at least until they were old enough to understand some of the things I would have to explain to them. It was more difficult for their mothers than for me. I had my work which kept me constantly busy, and once suitable replacements were found for the two women they were assigned to almost exclusively child care duties. Granted, they probably could have handled their own jobs on top of raising children, especially after a few years, but it was painful and distracting for me to have them around, and the work had to come first. Our job was not to bring children into the world, but to bring the children of the world to a higher state. Small personal sacrifices had to be made for the greater good of us all.

        Imagine my shock then, when I learned what had become of those two children. Jump forward with me, 16 or 17 years. I hadn't given them more than a moments consideration in over a decade. I was focused on my work, our work, the great work, when I was called into a meeting.

        This doesn't happen often. I am the one that sets meetings. I am not called into them. I lead from the front, not from behind a wall of sycophants willing to do the busywork of forging this Organization into the powerful entity that it is. But that day, I was summoned. Because for once I was the last to learn of something, and that something had suddenly become a problem.

        The room was small, and though there were only 5 of us inside of it the room felt immediately and uncomfortably claustrophobic. Claudius. Cassandra. Their mothers. And me. I'm ashamed to say that at this point they meant so little to me that I had forgotten their names. The mothers of my only children, and I couldn't even remember their names! Well, I remember now. They'll always be here now.

        Evelyn.

        Mary Louise.

        I will not bore you with the idle pleasantries at the beginning of our conversation. Nor the awkward silences. Nor any of the beating around the bush before we got to the heart of the matter. I was told, in so many words, that Claudius and Cassandra had fallen in love. And what was worse, Cassandra was now pregnant with Claudius' child.

        I'm sure there was more talk after that, but for the life of me I couldn't give you details. Needless to say, this disgusting affair had been going on, apparently, over the course of a few years, from the time they were both entering adolescence. I suppose, looking back, it was inevitable. There were no other children around, nobody else their age. Emerging sexuality is always going to be explored, to an extent. All things that should have been considered, but weren't.

        Mistakes.

        There have been so many mistakes.

        What complicated matters even more were their mothers. Granted I was nothing of a father, never had been, but in that moment I needed to take charge, and they were going to do their level best to prevent me from doing so. They had let me in on the secret, but expected me to let them take care of it. That simply would not do, and I informed them as such.

        And so they tried to leave. And, of course, they were caught. And, sadly, after that they couldn't be trusted. Any of them. This was the biggest issue that had ever plagued the Organization and we took it very seriously.

        Evelyn and Mary Louise were detained in private holding rooms. Claudius and Cassandra were allowed to share one. We needed time to think, to plan the best course of action. The Think Tank took a little over a week to come up with the best possible ending, for all of us. Not just those involved, not just the Organization, ALL of us. Humanity. We needed to constantly remind ourselves that we were doing this for humanity, and so sometimes sacrifices would have to be made.

        Evelyn and Mary Louise were tried, found guilty, and executed.

        Claudius and Cassandra were tried and both were found guilty. Claudius was executed. Cassandra was detained, under my orders, until she gave birth.

        Until she gave birth to you, Claudia. And named you after the man she loved most in the world.

She held you for just a moment. I watched from the corner of the room where she had labored and delivered you. Like a deep and filthy mine that has finally given up it's vein of gold to be taken, so to had your mother born something beautiful from her own disgusting self.

        When I looked at you, walking closer to the bed to be able to truly see, I felt none of the rage that has blossomed when I laid eyes on my own children. You were perfect. Tiny and sweet and pink and full, for the moment, of howling rage at the audacity of your expulsion from the womb.

        I took you from your mother, then, so she could not poison you with her presence. She, although guilty, was allowed to live for a few more months. Not as a mother, but as a wet nurse to you. No more important than a dairy cow on a farm. And once you were weaned and could accept solid food without fuss or danger, she too was executed.

        Don't feel too badly for her. She welcomed it in the end. Her life had truly ended the day you were conceived, and it was only though my compassion that she was granted the extra time she had.

And now you know, Claudia. Welcome to the world. It's a horrific place, and we strive daily to make it better.

        No matter what we have to sacrifice.

        Bear witness to the truth of who and what you are. Granddaughter of a king, but the child of monsters.