The Movement: A Children’s Story for Grown-ups – Chapter 1

The Movement: A Children’s Story for Grown-ups

Chapter 1

I wake up.

…Or at least that’s how it would have started.  But he can’t speak, and he can’t think, and he can’t understand what has happened or is happening – at least not yet.  So I shall do it, dear Reader.  I shall do it for him, I shall do it for you, and possibly even for myself.  I shall relay his tale.

I keep saying ‘he,’ but actually ‘it’ seems more appropriate.  Not in any sort of derogatory term, dear Reader – No, not in that way at all.  I simply mean that he – or it – is neutral; being neither male nor female.  A eunuch of sorts, if you understand my meaning.  Let me see if I can think of a better way to describe it…

Ah ha!  I have one.  You know in wars there is one side and then another (let’s call them This Side and That).  And in large wars, countries normally join one side – either This Side or That.  But there are some countries, dear Reader, that stay neutral – like France.  “No thank you to the war, if you please,” they seem to say – and so does our friend, in a manner of speaking.  In a way, our friend is like France.

No, no!  That went all wrong!  Let me try it again…

You know how your toys are just toys – neither male nor female?  How they just ‘are?’  More appropriately, we wouldn’t call a thing like a clock ‘him’ or ‘her,’ would we?  We would simply say ‘it.’  Now we may give the clock human traits – i.e. the face of the clock, the arms of the clock, etc. – but we would never say, “The clock, ‘he’ told me it was half past eleven,” unless we were quite daft.  And if we are quite daft, dear Reader, I assume that nothing I’ve said up to this point has made the least bit of sense, and you’d much rather go count your toes or rub dirt on your neck or something to that sort, of which I can only say, “Bon voyage!  We’ll miss you!” and go back to my tale (‘its’ tale).  But – for the sake of confusion (as I’m racking my brain over and over and over again in the manner which will most likely cause quite a headache) – perhaps we shall refer to our new friend as ‘he.’  It seems a bit cruel to call something ‘it,’ even if it is.

So, to begin again…

He woke up.

And much like a clock, the first thing he heard was a Tick!  It was shortly followed by another Tick! and another.  There seemed to be a boundless number of Ticks! all coming in precise intervals.  Had our friend known any better (or anything at all), he could have tapped his foot to it.  But he didn’t, so he couldn’t.  C’est la vie…

Now, dear Reader, understand that he did not know where this Ticking! was coming from.  You and I could tell him quite plainly that it was coming from inside his chest.  You or I could have heard it and felt it in an inside sort of way, but not our friend.  He no more could identify the sound as he could his own chest (which he could not do as of yet).  But, Tick, Tick, Tick! it went on…

We have a similar Tick! don’t we – a sort of internal clock that we can’t see?  If you put your finger to your wrist or your neck you can even feel it.  Tick, Tick, Tick! depending on how fast you’ve been running or not (for example).  We can hear it, and we can feel it, but we can’t see it (not without doctors and fancy machinery and such).  But, oh!  You could see his!  A sort of metallic wheel with gears and the like.  I dare say he had a key on his back you could wind up (but I couldn’t see his back just yet).  But let’s just assume the key was there, and that it had been wound as tight as tight.  Tight enough, say, for a life time.  But just one.

Now Tick, Tick, Tick! it went on.  Our friend began to move his head around in an investigative sort of way – that “I wonder where that Ticking! is coming from?” sort of way.  But he did not know what Ticking! was, nor why he heard it – and he most certainly was not going to find it looking around.  But as he looked around, it occurred to him that – miracle of miracles – he could see (of course, you and I know that, but he didn’t know that – not at that moment).  Imagine seeing for the first time!  Do you remember it?  I certainly don’t.  I imagine it’s something like waking up after a deep sleep – something like Sleeping Beauty felt in the story, but not quite.  For after we wake up (even after a very deep sleep), there’s a moment when we remember we can see, and the magic is lost.  I’m assuming Sleeping Beauty felt something similar, even though she slept for at least twice as long as I ever had.

But no matter…

Our friend, dear Reader, was now awake.  But, what did he wake up from, and what did he wake up to?  Ah!  And now we’re in the thick of it, so we’ll take this one ‘what’ at a time.

What did he wake up from?  A deep sleep – but more than a sleep.  A sort of beginning, if you catch my meaning.  For there was nothing before this moment for our friend.  No, our friend did not wake up from a dream to reality – there were no dreams to wake up from.  It was as if he never existed before this moment.  Wait, that’s not quite right.  It’s as if he never lived before this moment.  He most certainly existed, but we’ll get to that later.  For the moment, let us deal with the facts: Our friend was awake, but as far as ‘why,’ ‘how,’ and ‘to what,’ we’ll have to keep delving.  So, this begs the question…

And what did he wake up to?  He woke up to Ticking! for starters.  A sort of inside Ticking! But we’ve covered that already.  No, I believe what he woke up to was even more wonderful than the Ticking! – rows and rows and rows of others (this of course is more wonderful to you and I, dear Reader, for there’s nothing so wonderful to each of us as the Ticking! of our own clock).  But yes, for your sake and mine, let me describe the others!  There were some all stuffed with cotton and soft to the touch – there were some rough and woody with sticks for arms and legs – there were some shiny and they made a Ping! sound when you flicked them – and there were some like our friend, all wheels and gears.  But as for being awake – it seemed only our friend was that.  All the others looked like our friend did before he awoke – lifeless.

Now, he didn’t notice the others, dear Reader, because he was too busy discovering the Clicking!  It was coming from the two flat pieces attached to each arm.  You and I would call them hands, but ‘flat pieces’ seems more appropriate.  He was looking with wonder at the flat pieces, admiring the Clicking! that they made.  Between that and the Ticking! it’s surprising none of the others woke up just from the noise.  I almost had to plug my ears, dear Reader – but had I – I wouldn’t have been able to describe what happened next.

Lightning struck outside with a Crash! and a Clap! and our friend froze.  His flat pieces fell to his side and all was silent except the Ticking! from inside his chest.  Lightning and thunder again, and our friend let out a Shriek!  This amazed him more than the flat pieces.  I saw him looking around, trying to find the source of the shriek.  After a fashion, he opened his mouth and let out another.  A smile crept onto his face.  It seemed that our friend, dear Reader, had discovered his voice.

I watched and listened as he changed the shape of his mouth and the sounds from his throat.  It was like watching a child learn to speak in fast motion (only what I can assume that would be like, since I have never witnessed such a thing – have you, dear Reader?).  Very quickly (or much more quickly than one to two years) he was making words, and more over, he genuinely seemed to know what they meant.  He kept this practice up as he continually perused his surroundings.  It was not long before he uttered the phrase, “I am here.”

And there I must stop for a moment, dear Reader, and catch my breath, for the tale which I am telling takes a dark and serious turn, and I myself would like a warm glass of milk and a cookie before I embark on it.  Might I suggest you do the same?

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About Dave Burns

"Writing is dreaming with your eyes open." - Dave Burns Available Books and Works: The Movement: A Children's Story for Grown-ups The Movement: Revisited Edem's Flight The Movement: Concluded - The Completed Anthology Pieces of Me a million little gods: the clearwater chronicles UnApologetic Uncarved: The Literature and Arts Magazine Volume 1 Uncarved: The Literature and Arts Magazine Volume 2 Uncarved: The Literature and Arts Magazine Volume 3 For a complete list of books and works, visit the author @ or
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