Halfway through our descent I leaned over and looked out the small, oval airplane window. A blanket of mist lay below us, patchily illuminated in places by the city lights below. It stretched across the Cape Flats, channeled by Table Mountain on the west and the Hottentots-Holland mountain range on the east. I sat back in my chair, closed my eyes and waited for touch-down.
I’d been out of town for two nights. The promoters of the Share Conference had invited me to give a presentation on the Digital Revolution and the evolving Information Age and what organizations and employees needed to do to thrive in this new age. I am constantly researching a number of diverse subjects which, when brought together, all speak to the human condition, the integration of digital devices into our lives and the trans-humanism that our species is facing.
When I was first invited to give the talk, I was very excited and accepted immediately but just days before I was meant to fly up, I started to doubt if the family would be able to manage in my absence. I planned the days to the hour with the children’s Au Pair. I gave my eldest son a mobile phone and told him to call me if he was worried or if some things weren’t going according to plan.
I had boarded the plane for the flight up to the conference with some trepidation. Sure enough, when I landed two hours later there was a text message from my eldest son: Aslam is here. 7’teen had taken the fact that I was going to be out of town to sneak around behind my back and invite her friend over to the house. I texted him and informed him that he didn’t have permission from the home-owner to be on the premises.
The conference promoters had reserved for me, a large, luxurious room in the same hotel that the conference was being held: lots of glass, marble and big, thick white fluffy duvets and pillows. I checked in Sunday afternoon and then started to go over my presentation and update it with everything that I’d been researching the previous week. It was Monday morning 02:00AM before I was satisfied that I had a great presentation prepared for that afternoon.
On Monday 08:30AM my mobile phone had rang: it was the Au Pair sounding a bit flustered. Ryder was running a fever and she wanted to know how I wanted her to deal with it. I gave her instructions on where to go and sent her some funds via EFT for the consultations. I’d intended to go down to the conference exhibition hall for the morning but elected to rather stay upstairs in my room and see how Ryder fared. After a few hours and a number of calls, we were both happy that Ryder had been examined well enough and that he had enough medication to manage him for the next couple of days. I gave the Au Pair instructions that should his condition deteriorate, she should take him directly to Red Cross Children’s hospital.
Directly after the Au Pair’s last text letting me know that Ryder was sleeping peacefully I’d delivered my presentation. I’d been a bit nervous; 7’teen’s behavior and Ryder taking ill had rattled me a bit. I wasn’t sure about my delivery! But I knew my material and as soon as I’d started talking I just flowed through the rest of the presentation. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
After my presentation I was able to relax, network with colleagues – old and new – and enjoy the luxuries of a 5 Star hotel room.
As the Captain slowly eased the 737 downwards, dropping gently into the mist, I prepared myself to return to my family and apartment. Presumably, flying solely by instrumentation, we touched down on a cold, wet tarmac.
The airport was eerily deserted, we were the last flight in and even the taxi drivers without guaranteed fares had gone home to warm beds. I hurried through the concourse, paid for my parking, climbed into the car and immediately switched on the heater. I texted my eldest to tell him I would be twenty minutes and then I pulled out onto the freeway. Visibility was very bad. I flicked on my hazards and reduced speed, hoping that everyone else on the road was being equally careful. I’d attended too many late night collisions on this road during my days as a paramedic – I had no intention of being a participant in one.
I usually love driving back into the city: along the twisting contour of Table Mountain; the City Bowl and Harbor lights below me to the right. The mist however reduced visibility to no more than 10 meters. Cars crept slowly around the mountain, hazards flashing.
I parked the car, pulled out my black tactical backpack that I used for traveling and ran across the road, sturdy waterproof boots splashing through puddles of water collecting in pockets on the tarmac. The lift opened into the apartment and I quietly stepped inside, not wanting to wake anyone. As I walked through the lounge I saw a shadow seated on the couch: Miki.
My eldest was still awake. “Hi Zee. Thanks for looking after the family. You were a great help.”
“No problem,” he grunted in reply. I knew he was pleased with the ‘adult’ compliment.
“OK. Shift’s over. Mission accomplished. Relax. Go to bed now.”
He grinned back at me and started to turn down his bed.
I walked into the lounge. Miki was hunched over the end of the couch, forking tuna mayonnaise onto slices of brown bread. “Hello,” I said. ” Long day but I think my presentation went really well. If nothing else, I enjoyed it.”
Miki nibbled on her slice of tuna bread and nodded.
I looked at her closely. “Who are you? I don’t recognize you.” I mentally ran through my inventory of all her Alters trying to see if it was just fatigue that was confusing me, or if I really didn’t recognize who was present. “What is your name?” I asked gently, bending my knees and squatting next to her.
She shook her head.
“You don’t have a name, or you don’t want to share it with me?”
“I don’t know what my name is.” She mumbled into her tuna bread.
“How old are you?”
“I am ten.” She said this with some conviction like it was a badge of honor. I smiled to myself.
“You’re ten. That’s quite young. What is the last thing that you remember?”
She shook her head again.
“You don’t remember anything, or you don’t want to talk about it?”
“That,” she said, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“No problem. We don’t have to talk about it now. Where have you been all this time?”
“I’ve been asleep, I think,” she responded. “I’m not sure. Screamo woke me up so I must have been asleep.”
This is the second Alter that has told me that Screamo woke them up. I’m not sure why he keeps waking up Alters. I think he’s trying to keep the System unbalanced and destabilized. That type of condition is better for him. At least that’s what he thinks. He really enjoyed himself in Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital. The containment and security made him feel safe.
“Screamo woke you up. Are you going to be a good girl or a naughty girl?” I smiled at her.
“A naughty girl,” she said despondently. “I’ve already lied to you. I gave that girl some money. Screamo told me that I must, so I did.”
Yes, I thought to myself, sounds typical of Screamo: always getting the new Alters to do his misdeeds.
“Well, you don’t have to be a naughty girl. You don’t have to listen to Screamo. It’s better if you don’t listen to him.” I tried to reassure her and give her quick direction. “I’m going to bed now. It’s very late. I think you should go to bed too.”
She nodded her head. I stood up, went into the bathroom and readied myself for bed. When I came out, I saw a dark shape curled up on the bottom of the couch. It was covered with a thin Disney, fleece blanket, Elsa from Frozen smiling confidently up at me: a Christmas gift for the Littles.
“Why are you sleeping on the couch with just a thin blanket? You’ll get sick.”
“I don’t know where else to sleep,” she answered very quietly.
“My Bedroom. On my bed. I’ll get you another duvet.”
She nodded her head and followed me into the bedroom. I showed her where to lie down and then covered her with a Winnie The Pooh duvet: another Christmas gift for the Littles. I climbed into my side of the bed and pulled the covers up. It was freezing.
I started to drift off when a small voice asked out of the shadows: “Are you going to put that thing in me? You know, if I’m naughty?”
“What thing” I asked?
“That thing that boys have that girls don’t have.” she replied.
My heart missed a beat and my shoulders sagged under the covers. “No,” I replied softly, “I’m not going to put that thing in you.”
“Everybody told me I was naughty and put that thing in me, ” she offered. “What do I call you” she asked?
“I am your Daddy.” I replied.
“I don’t have a Daddy.”
“Yes, I know. But you do now.” I fell asleep.