After getting word that my father had died, I returned to my childhood home in western Washington. My mother had passed several years prior at which point I went abroad with no real plans of ever returning again. Growing up, my father was less than accessible. He spent hours upon hours out in his workshop working on God knows what. We were never allowed in Dad’s shop and sometimes only knew he was alive and kicking by the sounds of the power tools as he worked alone in the drafty old outbuilding at the back of the property.
Arriving at the family home, I parked in the driveway and headed for the house. Then it struck me, like the first time as a teenager your parents leave you alone at home – I could do whatever I want. I made a b-line past the door to the house and headed straight for the shop. I fumbled through the massive ring of keys my father had left behind and found one that would open the lock on the massive, sliding door. It felt like breaking the seal pharaoh’s tomb. Putting my body weight into the the door, it slid along it’s old greased tracks as it revealed it’s massive interior, shrouded in black.
I stepped inside onto the concrete floor, walking slowly into the darkness. I could hear the hum of the air conditioner or some sort of generator which got louder as I moved further inside. As the grimy windows atop the back wall came into focus, I could make out a series of small lights beneath a row of large, towering objects. In the dim moonlight I caught a glimpse of a hanging cord towards the center of the room. Stepping towards it, I reached out and pressed the button at the top of the switch box, igniting a series of small spotlights that lit the back wall. That’s when I saw them – five human figures.
Startled at first, I stepped back. Then I stepped a little closer. They were standing motionless in these massive tanks as some sort of yellow fluid bubbled around them. Was this what my father had been working on all these years? Were they alive? How long had they been here?