Chapter 58 – Harriet

“There is no power in the soul of a single man; it is all in here, combined, shared,” Harriet said.

“Where?” Jon asked.

“Soon,” is all she said.

“I don’t understand,” Jon said. He sat in the dining hall facing the table with Mrs. Remple and Mrs. Krantz. Harriet sat with the old ladies in the chair closest to him, turned sideways, facing him.

“You don’t need to be so foolish,” she said.

Harriet had never said such a thing to Jon. He was taken aback.

“I don’t understand, I don’t know what you mean.”

Wisps of Harriet’s hair floated around her head as if there was a slight breeze blowing inside the dining hall, sufficient to lift her hair. Or perhaps it was floating, as if Harriet Magnusson, seated near her husband in the dining hall at The Lodge was under water, a swirl of sapphire and sky blue surrounding her like an aura.

“You are acting like a child, with this idea that there is something special about reaching a hundred years old. Age is not relevant; it has no consequence in this life. You are what you are and when you come, you will be all.”

“What are you saying? You don’t make sense Harriet.”

“Who the hell are you talking to?” Karl asked. “They can’t hear you; they’re not even listening to you.” He pointed to Mrs. Remple and Mrs. Krantz quietly eating their breakfast together.

Jon’s mouth was open, his chin dropped to his chest, gripped suddenly by a deep sense of loss and emptiness. She was not there. It was his imagination. His mind was going. What did it really matter, this idea that reaching a hundred might produce immortality. If Harriet was not there, what did it matter. It would be better not to exist at all. Each of the people in this place were gone or soon would be. The ghosts of hundreds of others that had passed through The Lodge were not there. No haunting, no lingering memory, they were all forgotten, as he soon would be. It was as though he was inching blindly toward the edge of the abyss not knowing when he would tumble into emptiness and simply dissolve away. Each second was precious. ‘Or was it? And what about the Singularity ?’

“I don’t want to lose my marbles before I go,” Jon said. He spoke to an empty chair at Mrs. Remple’s table. “I want to know it all, right up to the end. I want to remember who I am, who you were, all of us.” He felt like crying; it welled within him but no tears came. “Is Maggie there with you?” Their son Magnus hated being called that, a carryover from childhood days. “I don’t want you to be gone.”

Harriet was there again, in the empty chair at Mrs. Remple’s table. She looked younger than he remembered; her skin was taught and pink, her hair void of any grey, she had lost all the wrinkles she had earned through her life with him and she resembled the young woman he knew when they first met; her eyes smiled, twinkled as if they possessed tiny stars inside them. Yet she had the mind and voice and wisdom that she had in her elder years with him. Perhaps she was even wiser.

“It’s all here,” she said. “Even you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You don’t need to be so foolish. It makes no difference. You can let it go.”

“I don’t like this place,” Jon said. “I don’t want to be here. It’s just full of old women and men who have come here waiting to die. I’m scared.”

“Then let it go,” she said and then was no longer there again.

“The Singularity. What about the Singularity?” Jon turned his hands upward as if an answer might fall into them.

“You’ve gone off your nut,” Karl said. “How do you expect me to find the killer if you let your brain go and can’t help me?”

“What?” Jon said. His oatmeal bowl was empty. “I have to pee.”

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