The night in which Tyson Michael was conceived had nothing special besides being relatively more chill than usual for the season; It was an average Autumn night in 1988 for Baltimore.
Some may argue that it not by chance that the Irish banker would have impregnated a lowly prostitute during one of his numerous “late night at work”. His wife was boring and that girl would do things which others in her trade would not. She was pretty despite her numerous imperfections and thus he employed her regularly for over the period of six months. When she told him she was expecting, he violently threaten her to get rid of the thing lest he would have both taken care of. He had both a family and a job to protect; no whore would take that away from him.
Over the next few months, while being constantly pressured by the banker to abort the unwanted thing, she repeatedly tried the most reprehensible acts unsuccessfully. She often lost so much blood she would have to check in an hospital to prevent further hemorrhage. If she took heroin before, she was now spending half her days with a needle in her arm, the other half with a dick in her mouth. And so it was in an alley, between two jobs, unconscious on the concrete, that she gave birth. He was born and she didn’t even know.
His cries echoing off in the streets was what lead Reverend Mcmahon to them that night. He took both of them under his care, housed them and fed them. The newborn soon developed pneumonia which, by reason, should have done him in, yet, whether through God’s will or Fate’s hand, he was allowed to live. It was his caring and help that gave both of them a second chance in life. She lived under his roof for about 2 years trying to fight off the heroin addiction and learning how to be a mother. He had nothing but old toys that the reverend brought one day from the store: a couple of metal cars and a small rocket.
It wasn’t until winter 1991 that their past caught up with them when she somehow found out from old friends that there was a man asking around about her, looking for her. That man was not, in fact, who she knew as a banker but someone hired by him. She didn’t stand around to find out his intentions and took off her with what little money she found in the Reverend’s house that same week. She hitchhiked all the way to Pittsburgh, where she went back to her old life.
Sadly, between chlamydia and inflamed oral herpes, she had trouble finding any customer. They were lucky enough to find an old cache dating from prohibition in an abandoned part of the suburbs. It was moldy and the air was thick, but it was luxury compared to what others would sleep in. She could at least be safe from some of the more violent and insane homeless.
A few months later, both her and her child were unhealthily thin. Only the most repugnant and foul of men would want of her and more than a handful had abused of her without paying. Some men had come earlier to inspect the houses sitting right above of her cache and designated it for urban renewal... She was going to lose even the roof above their head. She had gotten hold of a client’s prescription of anti-depressants and was chomping them like candy that terrible day of summer in 1992. She was out of time, out of options and hopeless. She looked at the son she had grown attached to and knew the world had no place for him. She could simply pick up one of the heavy cinder blocks they used as a table and take away his suffering in one quick stroke. In the isolation of her home, no sound would be heard outside. As she was lifting the heavy block, the medication starting taking effect and would soon put her in a sleep she would never wake up from. It took all her remaining strength to remain awake and perform this last act of mercy. It would not be out of selfishness but out of love she would do what she failed to do years ago.
Thus, much like Schrödinger's cat, the child was neither alive or dead. That door was never opened again and the duplex above was demolished to be replaced by a much nicer flat. It would only be 10 years later, that Mrs. Michael, a middle-aged woman who was never able to bear children of her own, would hear the sobbing of an infant in her backyard.
Phillip and Susan had been living in their house for 6 years when the miracle child appeared. He was a city constable and she a tailor. It was a godsend, their 20 years marriage having become little more than financially convenient. Susan, having been raised catholic, truly believed it to be a reward for her undying faith. An attempt at finding the boy’s parents was made by the local authorities but it didn’t take long that the Michaels were able to legally adopt him. She named him Tyson.
The child was estimated three of age but still hadn’t learned to speak. He was thought either mute or idiot by many guests and it wasn’t until his fake birthday when he got a toy rocket that he uttered his first word: “MOM”. It immediately was his favorite toy and although he always called Susan and Phillip by their first names, he would always refer to his rocket as “Mom.”
Susan loved little Tyson more than she ever loved her own husband. He had an insatiable curiosity and there was always something new behind the corner to discover. As he grew, his seemingly endless energy started taking its toll on the couple. She, over the years, gradually became ill and confused, the like you’d associate with someone twice her age. Phillip suspected it was all the time she spent with their adopted son but quickly dismissed it.
She eventually stopped going to church, quit her job and spent all of her time tending to Tyson despite her husband’s disagreements. She even told other church-goers that the idea that there was a almighty bearded man watching contently as people suffer everywhere is laughable. Phillip pleaded for Susan to see a therapist but she refused and continued her spiral into deep apathy. After a while, she even considered eating an insignificant action in the schemes of all things in the universe.
One day during winter 2005, Phillip came home to find his wife lying lifeless on a sofa. A later autopsy would reveal she suffocated, what no one would know is that day she even considered breathing too big an effort for such a short-term return. Nearby, little Tyson was laying on the red carpet finishing a crude drawing of a rocket flying through space. Something inside Mr. Michael died at that moment and he considered hurting the child he now despised. It wasn’t until hours later when he found himself stumbling unto incoming traffic that it turned out everything died inside him that day after all.
Tyson was six years old when he was taken in by a public orphanage, the Saint John Refuge for Children, also known by the locals as the “refuge”. The refuge was headed by Sister Walsh and succeeded by Sister Maude in early 2007 when she had to retire due to health complications. The relationships between the various sisters slowly eroded for reason unknown even to God as time went by. There were a lot of them that would happily come to volunteer at the orphanage, only to later find themselves questioning their faith as they contemplated exploring other life paths.
During a hot day of summer 2008, Tyson became enthralled with a glorious idea. He ran out in the backyard during lunch time, toy rocket in hand. It was time he let her free.
That toy rocket had been the same one given to him by Susan so long ago. The child had a bad habit of taking apart any mechanical and electronic toy he could get his hand on, thus, after repeated offenses, he was forbidden to touch anything not assigned to him.
He began hollowing out the plastic toy using a broken fork he borrowed from the kitchen. Grabbing all the twigs he could find the yard and a bottle of table glue, he began constructing the launchpad with frightening zeal.
He had the reputation of making things work in the way they we’re not meant to. He had once shown immense interest in the television and VCR they would bring out every movie night and although they made sure he didn’t touch it, one weekend it suddenly started playing movies they had seen over and over, except this time every character would be wearing top hats. Few things are weirder than watching Lion King’s Simba in a top hat singing along with Timon and Pumba also wearing top hats.
Tyson had kept hidden under the sandbox a small stash of various household products he kept for his various experiments. When mixed, whether cleaning supplies or fermented fruits, what products were used became very trivial; It was what they were used for that he had to keep his focus on.
When the washer began turning silk clothes into wool and the microwave made everything taste like almond rubber, the sisters began accusing each other of pulling malicious pranks. A week later, the ceiling fan falling off and nearly decapitated Sister Claudia certainly didn’t help. With her in the hospital, the workload was increased for everyone else which, compounded with the spreading fever amongst children and volunteers, made the atmosphere a powder keg ready to be set off.
He poured the mixture of his creation inside the rocket and sealed it off with a pierced bottle cap. Having set it up on the launch ramp and slid a fuse inside the cap, all he needed now was a lighter.
Sister Carla had been microwaving most of the food for a whole two weeks and people had started complaining. She was honestly terrified of the ancient gas stove that she perceived as menacing and dangerous. A cook once admired by the other Sisters, they were now considering passing on the task to someone else. She left the kitchen to bring the trash all the way to the streets.
The older lady who lived next door let her cats out and saw Tyson alone in the backyard. “What are you working on there, deary?” she asked.
A lifetime smoker, Sister Maude looked all over her room for a lighter as she was heading out to get something tastier than almond rubber meatloaf. Between the various tricks her Sisters had been playing on each other and the children’s sudden yet incessant mood swings, she considered leaving it all behind.
“I’m sending mommy to heaven, so she can play with Susan and Phillip.” he replied, lighting the fuse. After a few seconds, it appeared as if nothing was going to happen when blue bubbles began erupting off the tail of the rocket lifting it straight off the ground.
Sister Maude passed two Sisters having a violent philosophical debate about Pilate’s motivation. She told them to calm down but kept on course for the kitchen. In the dining hall, the children had barely touched their plates. One of them puked on the floor and the supervising Sister did little more than turn her head before resuming her contemplation of the clouds through the window. At that moment though, all this felt unimportant for Maude until she had her cigarette; mere background noise.
The rocket kept soaring high, blowing bubbles like an upside down shaken soda can.
Sister Maude turned on the gas stove. A wavering blue light appeared and she lit the damn thing.
Tyson stood up and waved his hand at the sky.
Finally able to appease her craving, she brought the filter to her lips and inhaled.
“Bye bye. I’m all grown up now, mom, it’s OK. Love you too.” He smiled.
Whether through or against God’s will, Saint John’s Refuge for Children was swallowed in a cleansing blaze.
“...Three times you should have died and you didn’t. They say three’s a charm... a charm for who, we’ll find out soon enough...”