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Oct 20 2012

Saturday Storytime: The Lord of Discarded Things

Changing the world is so very much to ask from a child. Of course, that never stops children from doing just that.

Lavie Tidhar is the author, among other things, of the alternate history/reality book, Osama.

A baby looked up at him. An ordinary baby such as one saw every day, everywhere: Jaffa and Central Station were filled with children. This one, however, was inside a shoe box.

Ibrahim knelt next to the baby. The shoe box was for a cheap brand. The baby had clear sparkling green eyes, his skin was Mediterranean-dark, his head was hairless. Ibrahim stared at the baby. There was no one around. The baby burped.

Ibrahim reached for the boy—it was a boy—carefully, still wary. One never knew, in Central Station. The boy’s hand rose to meet his. Older than his years. As if he were shaking hands. Their fingers touched. A current, like high-bandwidth data, hit Ibrahim. Images crowded his mind. Views from the rings of Saturn. A battle of four-armed red-skinned Martian Re-Born in their virtual empire. A rabbi on a spaceship travelling to the belt, praying in the field of asteroids, in a small dank room inside an ancient mining craft. In the touch of the boy was the toktok blong narawan, the impossibly-dense communication of the Others.

Ibrahim’s Other woke up. Said, What the—

Ibrahim’s mind couldn’t face the onslaught. The data-storm raged, diverting to the Other, which shut up as it tried to cope—

One word hovering clear out of the maelstrom, making him cringe—

Messiah—

Pull your hand away!

The light touch of the child imprisoned him. He fought—

The baby burped and laughed. The contact broke.

Ibrahim: Did you get all that?

Nothing from his Other.

Ibrahim: ??

His Other, at last: !

Ibrahim stared at the baby, and his Other, through his eyes, did likewise.

One thought in both of their minds:

Not another messiah.

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