I don’t remember if it was Langston Hughes or Tennessee Williams, or if it was someone else entirely. It’s probably been lots of folks. I don’t remember where I read it. It was about a crack on the wall. It went something like this: the writer had his space, and his quiet, and he was ready to begin his great novel, but he sat and pondered, and he couldn’t think of anything to write about. So he wrote about the crack on the wall in front of him.
I have this fern that our old neighbors gave us. It’s not a particularly pretty fern. It doesn’t really do anything. It’s dusty. It came in a cheap plastic pot that we have since replaced. It is old. It is thick. It constantly throws up new fronds. It survives and flourishes. It’s kind of a symbol of our house. And the neighbors that gave it to us–they also gave us this table I’m writing on–they were the nosy neighbors, the ones poking their eyes over the fence, complaining about everything around them. They used to watch the beagles for us when we went out of town, which was really nice of them. Down the street was a young family that they just hated, and this family had a litter of pit bull pups, and our friends and dog watchers called the cops on them for having too many dogs, and of course, when the cops went to their door, they pointed down at us and said, “well they have six beagles” so we got in trouble too, and had to get Elvis and Rex fixed, and Rex pouted for three years and I’m pretty sure Elvis’s stroke was related to that operation too. Some of the things that happen when you have too many dogs and your neighbors mess in everybody’s business. Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. My point was, these neighbors gave us this fern. And it’s sitting right here on this table that they gave us where I am writing this blog. Sloppily.
When Vladimir von de Veld climbed down into the bowels of Arlat and found the one small trehalose fern that the pallbearers had left behind, he opened the clogged runnel that was feeding it water and nutrients from an underground stream. The fern began to grow. It sent out rhizomes and reproduced, and other ferns began to grow, and the light in the room increased, and pretty soon Arlat returned to its design. The room of light is the powerhouse for Arlat. Arlat is a sentient being, powered by the ferns and the trehalose sap inside them. Trehalose is a sugar, a fuel, and it is very stable. It can be frozen or boiled without changing. It is not affected by time or lack of oxygen, by loss of gravity, or by water. It has other properties as well, which Vladimir von de Veld discovered. Arlat exchanges the water in the cells of organisms with trehalose, and then can use the trehalose to change the organisms themselves.
This is how it happened. It began with medical science. Instead of doctors going to a patient and asking them where it hurt, they invented a way to actually feel what the patient was feeling, a connection between their nervous systems and those of the patients, using the trehalose. They designed Arlat to have this power as well, so that she could connect with human beings. Then they learned how to use the trehalose to change the organisms, to eliminate diseases and fix hurts. Arlat has that power to. That is why Arlat is the ward of genetics.
Once the ferns reproduced and the room of light reawakened, Vladimir von de Veld was able to communicate with Arlat, and he learned about the powers of the ward. Then he began to make his plans. It all started with a fern.