Ugly Duckling

Ugly Duckling

That son-of-a bitch, our creator. The one in the white coat and the whiskers that’s always watching us. Always following and monitoring and taking notes.

It’s taken me a long time to figure out what happened. I think I’m near the end. It feels that way. I’m slower. Quite slow now. But they say, with age comes wisdom. Maybe that’s why, now, toward the end, it’s finally starting to make sense.

Now I understand how, before we hatched, it was our creator that put us in those sterile boxes. It was him that allowed us to develop devoid of all sound and light. It was him that kept us in the dark. The absolute dark. And in silence. Absolute silence. It was him that made our births so unnatural.

I understand now we were all subject of his experiment to see how we’d attach. He was conditioning us to be blank slates before becoming regular slates. Our creator wanted to see, as blank slates, what we’d attach to. And how we’d attach, having no prior experience with even light or sound.

I understand how we were distressed – vulnerable and knowing nothing of the world or even ourselves. He deposited us in a featureless environment. Being so innocent and fearful, I understand now how desperate we were to attach to anything that gave the impression of knowing more than us – that is to say, anything that even moved. I understand how, being so vulnerable, we needed comfort and security more than anything.

I understand now there’s a window of about 16 hours when I and all the rest of us would have attached to anything that moved or made a sound. In my case, it was an orange block on the end of a string. Now I understand there were others that got the orange block treatment too, while others got the red balloon and others got the fuzzy, wind-up Donald Duck that quacked. Some got a toy train. Others got a real rabbit to bond to. Some got nothing but one another, so they bonded to their brood like they would have a real mother.

I understand now it was all to see if we’d attach. How we’d bond. I’ve heard our creator call it “imprinting”. He wanted to know how sound or color or movement made a difference to a blank slate. Or, if length of time from hatching to exposure made a difference.

I understand now it was to help understand what sort of objects we’d attach to in place of our natural mothers.

I understand now that some of us got the block or a balloon or a toy train or a mechanical duck. And some got nothing but themselves so they bonded to the group like the rest of us bonded to our fake mothers. Others were kept in isolation beyond the 16 hours, which I’ve heard our creator call The Critical Period. Beyond The Critical Period, it’s too late. They attach to nothing. It’s been hard to tell if that group’s been the most brilliant or the most disturbed of us all.

I understand now that when you’re conditioned to treat orange blocks, red balloons or fuzzy wind-up Donald Ducks – when those things are all we were given to replace what should have been natural to us, I understand that’s how things get screwed up. I understand now how an innocent ducking isn’t ever meant to come into the world believing and trusting in any of that shit.

I understand an orange block is no substitute for the real thing – a real mother. It isn’t a real nurturer. I understand how it was an attachment, but there was nothing to learn from the attachment. Those objects are truly inanimate. They’re unemotional. They’re capricious to anything that attaches to them. I understand it’s the same whether it’s a wind-up Donald Duck or a real rabbit or a red balloon. I understand it’s unnatural and unhealthy for the thing doing the attaching.

I understand now that, when you assume any of those things to be your natural nurturer, you compensate for what you needed but didn’t get from the thing that deceived you.

I understand you compensate with things like anger. Or anxiety. Or greed. Or lunacy. Or hate. Or fear. Jealousy or a lust for revenge against the world that lied and fucked you up with its deception and the resulting fear and hate and anxiety.

I understand that when our creator let all of us loose to see what would happen, it was an act of cruelty.

Now I understand the anxiety, fear and hate that turned us all against each other. It’s what caused us to not care as the ones who believed in wind-up Donald Ducks starved. It made us not care about the ones who believed in balloons whose feathers we cruelly plucked out, leaving them to freeze in the snow and sleet. It’s what caused and so easily allowed us to turn the ones that believed in nothing so brutally upon themselves.

It took a long time to start figuring things out. And, as I did, I began to feel ashamed over much of what we’d done. To make amends, I tried telling the rest what I thought I’d figured out. I told them about the balloons and the mechanical Donald Duck and real bunnies. I told them it was a manipulation by our creator – the one with the white coat and whiskers who was always observing and writing things down.

I made my case. But none of them wanted to hear it. I tried. But I’m getting old. It feels like there’s not much time left. Not enough time to care anymore.

It’s taken me a long time to figure out what happened to us. And it’s taken the longest time to figure out that the one we all assumed to be our creator – the one in the white coat and the whiskers – probably wasn’t our creator. It’s taken this long – almost to my end – to figure out that even he has a creator who’s probably treating him wrong too.

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