Wading the Waters, 4

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Before starting they would have to determine their Wading positions. One purpose of the Sharing was to gain a sense of how to arrange themselves for the optimum flow of history during The Wading. Knowing each other’s personalities and experiences informed them how they are likely to respond to experiencing the past. They will be flooded with the emotions and the psychological realities of the time they will experience. It is an intense biochemical shift from the way humans are chemically constructed now, that can, temporarily, feel more personally real than the life you’re currently living. To experience is to become the past, for a time.

There was enough general knowledge of the past to be aware of the archaic ways in which people treated one another and that bearing The Long Decimation could trigger anything from crushing remorse or depression to psychotic rage due to all the fear that people of the past were steeped in. The surge of biochemicals is what led to seizures. They could also lead to spontaneous acts of aggression or self-harm. The Grounders were trained for this, too. Everyone was aware of the possibilities and were prepared to help each other return to the present afterward. So they would arrange themselves to minimize these side effects. A nuanced assessment of whose bonds might soothe each other unconsciously during The Wading, and which people would be subjected to the most historic animosity, along with who would be most traumatized at what they would become during The Wading. Genetics and current potential personality often played a role in who was likely to experience what, giving them some sense of what to anticipate.

What gave this group both potential for a more profound Wading and for a more disastrous one was the unusual presence of two light-skinned people. It was hard to survive The Aftermath with light skin. It was rare, now, to encounter more than a smattering of them in any community. To have two in a Wading was almost unheard of. It had been decided during The Process of considering the Drylands emigration, that a more powerful Wading was needed. Moving into the Drylands would be one of the more dangerous moves that humans had considered in a very long time. They needed to face the more destructive nature that could be evoked by the sense of deprivation, isolation and unfamiliarity that would be experienced. Only then could they really develop plans for mitigating their worst nature or determining that they simply shouldn’t try it. So, they asked for light-skinned volunteers and these two had consented.

If their genetics were connected to what they would experience, the light-skinned members of the group could be subject to the most trauma. They would both hate the people they would be in the past and be the target of hatred from the others. For the female, this would be compounded with the terror-filled life of women in the past.

They all had volunteered knowing these potentials. They were each prepared for the recovery time they would spend together waiting for The Grounders and tending to each other’s grief and wounds. There was no way to be prepared for what they would go through during The Wading. They simply had to do their best to survive it. Calling Up the Past was the most fear-inducing thing humans experienced, now. They didn’t fear death or sickness. They didn’t fear suffering through injury or hunger. They knew those as a part of life that everyone held each other through. The only terror they knew was being subjected to The Long Decimation; experiencing the old ways, knowing that this was their own potential, if they weren’t careful to avoid it. This was the specter that haunted the human race.

They didn’t discuss how they would arrange themselves. It was a silent time of moving around until everyone settled. Humans had learned that this was best. Some people would want a lot of space around them. Others might hold one another or stand close enough to reach out and touch, if so compelled.


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