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The Anti-Baby : Gabrielle Glancy
The egg was found at the bottom of Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world. It was not a feat of horticulture or organicism, or even technology. Junillo and Krosovki were canoeing; they had come to rest at the lake's center on the eve of the longest day of the year; Junillo took care not to tip the canoe lowering himself down into the water.

The two men were milk brothers, neither the last surviving nor the first to have embarked on such a journey. Junillo had undergone implant surgery for the occasion, a modern process by which microscopic cameras are implanted in the eye among the cones and rods and so-called capillaries of desire. All he had to do was blink twice in rapid succession and like a cursor, on whatever his eye rested, a picture would be taken. The danger was obvious. This was a new process and it was possible that at any moment it would backfire, literally. That is, the camera could malfunction and the image involute. This is what the technician had told him. But Junillo was forward-looking and hoped for the best.

Now here he was amid groupers eating coral and turpentine lillies which bloomed at uncanny depths, going deeper and deeper, blinking frantically at first and then wide-eyed as if in wait for a ghost. Meanwhile, on the surface, Krosovki was sunning himself in the blend of pleasure and pain hours of solitude give way to. How long had Junillo been underwater? It seemed a short eternity. The sun had moved barely an inch in the sky. This was the land of the midnight sun. The days were as long as a day and a night put together. Wide-awake in the wide-awake world, there was no chance for the heart to rest.

Krosovki and Junillo were born on the day of the vernal equinox in a quiet hospital on the west side of the village in the tundra. Their mothers were ice-workers having been exiled for political reasons as young women with fathers who were important.

That Krosovki's mother disappeared before her baby's lips found their way to her breast was a fact no one spoke about. Many people in this world between wars had disappeared. Disappearing was a part of life. You took note and you went on. And so, Junillo's mother took up where Krosovki's mother had left off, suckled the infant and treated it as her own.

From the beginning, Krossovki was not a normal baby. He had an irrational fear of birds which Junillo's mother had discovered early -- even a shadow falling from above caused him to wince -- and he was slow to talk. In fact, he never did. The boy was mute. And he was painfully handsome. Nonetheless, he grew as boys will do into young manhood and then manhood, sort of. In part because he never spoke and in part because of the fineness of his features, his delicate lips, his lovely nose, he was a man and yet he was not. There was something different about him, something feminine. Anyone who knew him supposed he had been pecked as a child.

Now that it was nearing the longest day of the year, Krosovki and Junillo were more than brothers. Perhaps they were almost sisters now or lovers at least. The nights had diminished to a mere doze of an hour.

As Krosovki mused on time-obscure, Junillo was witnessing amazing things. The lake-floor was nearing, perhaps it was only a kilometer away and the water color was deepening in perceptible increments of blue. The light, which had seemed irrepressible, finally, was beginning to fade. Suddenly there was the relief of darkness. It was not that the sun had set for still it was out there burning -- the sun is burning always -- but at this depth an element of darkness had entered in. Turpentine lillies gave way to vertical sea flowers, all that was living was vertical and Junillo began to have visions. It occurred to Junillo then that perhaps the bottom of Lake Baikal is where the nights went, that he had entered some zone in which the darkness was stored during the continuous day Siberia calls its summer. Of course, politically, this made sense, in some way, economically as well. You know the currents, warming effects and justicular lunacy rampant as the bud of a revolution is about to bloom. It was almost biblical, Junillo later told Krosovki.

Perhaps at that moment there was a malfunction in his camera or a speck of holographic dust had landed on the lens of his eye. He was seeing scenes, vivid as a movie, scroll before his eyes. The first was complicated and dangerous in this way that made Junillo's heart beat funny. There was a woman bent over the end of a table and a man in what appeared to be a wetsuit, a vertical man, very tall, as thin almost as the straight stick with which he beat the woman, in slow motion, beating a woman whom he seemed to love on her bare buttocks which were lovely and round and small -- she was a small woman -- the couple went on like this, the woman moaning in some mixture of satisfaction and anguish until finally after what seemed like a long time, the woman had raised stripes right at the place where her buttocks sloped into her thighs when the man unzipped his wetsuit from behind, pulled out his penis which was surprisingly thick for so vertical a man, long though also it was, and penetrated the woman from behind who now seemed unable to moan, her mouth was stuffed with something that dulled the sound, so the vertical man penetrated the small woman with the lovely buttocks from behind until the scene changed and Junillo was on the deck of a boat. There he saw his father, a kind but weak man with a round bald head who had come to tell Junillo some important news. His father talked to him, that is, he could see his mouth moving but he couldn't hear him. This went on for a long time while Junillo worried where his mother was while his father was carrying on. His father motioned out to the big sea which Junillo took to be a parting wish that Junillo set-sail-in-his-life and go-off-as-he-must, when suddenly, his mother flew through the revolving door in anger, as if to stop him. In a moment she was gone. The choice seemed untenable, a horrible dilemma: Would he set-sail-in-his-life and go-off-as-he-must, or stay behind with his mother? Of course before he could decide, his mother burst again through the revolving door but this time she was in a wheelchair. Junillo turned to his father who now was weeping with his head in his hands as if to say, Yes, she has done it, she has cut off her legs, when suddenly, flashing by, two women on a bicycle, one pedalling, a day distinctly spring, the other on the handlebars looking back at the first, looking hard into her eyes. So vivid were the women and so much did there seem to be passing between them, Junillo wished to follow them when again the device began to malfunction, or to function properly, as it were, and he began to see once again what was right there before him.

Still he was in the lake-sea, at a depth too deep even for fish to survive, and he was alone, more painfully so it seemed now. Fast he was approaching bottom. Junillo looked up for the anchor then by way of assurance but could no longer see it so far down had he gone or perhaps Krosovki had fallen asleep and the boat had drifted some distance away. Then he looked down. The sand, it seemed, held the brightest darkness, or the densest. And it seemed he had reached not the bottom at all, but some kind of top. It was like night down below him, with the coral, sparse and phosphorescent, twinkling like stars.

There was the egg.

A simple egg, like the egg of a chicken, it stood on end, in a clear patch of sand at the bottom of Lake Baikal. Junillo thought for a moment he was having another problem with his eyes.

What was an egg doing on the bottom of Lake Baikal?

Just then, a force stronger than gravity pulled at Junillo and, like a bubble loosened from the bottom of a glass, he started to rise. Just as he had gone down, it seemed he had to go up, but not before he plucked the egg off the lake's silky floor . The journey to air was a short one. Suffice it to say, the millenium shortened as the surface appeared.

Of course, Krosovki, when he saw the egg emerge out of the water -- for it was the egg he saw first -- cloaked in the special light of darkness -- knew exactly what it was coming towards him. He apprehended in the instant of vision like no other could its exact place in relation to himself, knew he was, in fact, the proud father and mother of what when it hatched would eventually become the anti-baby.

So it went. It was an adventure they were sure to remember -- Junillo would tell Krosovki all he saw -- and which they had, perhaps, suspected would occur that long day on Lake Baikal. Why else would they have gone there?

Of course, the dark hour did come which is to say the season changed. The sea that is Lake Baikal for all it was worth absorbed the daylight as it had absorbed the night, Junillo and Krosovki taught each other how to make love first by beating each other in tender strokes of pain as Junillo had seen done in his vision, the anti-baby grew first into a chicken, then a monkey that was very silly, then a small child both boy and girl with long curls, gray-blond, and steady fierce brown eyes, a smooth belly, and shoulders that would be strong as they would need to be to endure the life of an anti-baby born in the last moments of the 20th century at the bottom of Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world.


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