A Transient Visitors Very Tiny Tale by David O’Boyle
Rawatek was the first prisoner offered the opportunity to take the space bus to Oslphintror. He earned that chance after 200 years in Huilthi prison, all on good behavior, in an era of rapid advancements in anti-aging science. When Rowatek entered prison, a male of his species from the planet Zivoso had a 175-year life expectancy. The day the sun shined down on him for the first time on the free side of Huilthi, Zivoson males like Rowatek routinely reached age 1000.
Penal systems were unequipped for so long a custody arrangement. To handle this new reality, changes were needed. Putting Rawatek on a Universal Transit Authority (UTA) space bus bound for Oslphintror was one of them.
“Please explain your dress?” one of the reporters standing by the UTA bus asked, curious to hear why Rawatek was wearing all green garb from head to foot.
“Oslphintror will be a new beginning based on anonymity. We don’t want what you were. We want what you are,” Rawatek explained, fully hidden behind the green garb.
“And the color?” another reporter yelled out.
“Green indicates growth,” Rawatek replied. Then, without another word, he stepped away from the cameras, boarded the UTA bus, and was off to Oslphintror… never to be seen again.
Today, its essentially Oslphintrorian law to fully shroud oneself in “Rawatek Green.” In fact, to be uncovered, to reveal yourself in public, puts your life in jeopardy. Strict as these and other rules are, Oslphintror attracted more than paroled super-criminals and fugitives seeking sanctuary. Crime-tourists, intrigued by the idea of walking amongst notorious fugitives and criminals of universe-wide renown, came in droves, as did those seeking their own form of spiritual enlightenment amongst the fellow sufferers.
Whatever reason they came, they did so in spite of the infamous solo-traveler rule, which was: everyone who traveled to Oslphintror travelled alone. And for the most part, they came like Rawatek—by UTA space bus.
Sure, even to Oslphintror, more glamorous methods of travel existed. But such methods eroded tradition. Plus, when pilgrims took the Space Bus, it also served a practical purpose. The guilty could blend in with the non-guilty. In practice, this meant that the second someone in the green garb who entered a UTA Space Bus, be them tourist, parolee, fugitive, spiritual seeker, or the like, were generally safe from police suspicion all the way to Oslphintror. As long as they kept their mouth shut, the world left them alone.
I began my journey to the land of the green garb from the far side of the universe. So I had ample time as the center of attention aboard my respective UTA space bus. The whole time, even when other passengers weren’t looking at me, they were looking at me. Their silence made their swallowed questions louder than screams. Who are you? Why are you going?
Even if they had the guts to ask a potentially dangerous criminal these questions, it was pointless to do so. Those bound for Oslphintror always answer such questions with the same response. Everyone knew that.
Well, almost everyone.
A child escaped from his mother’s arms and ran across the space bus aisle to my seat. The child’s mother ran after him in terror. She was too late.
“Why are you going to Oslphintror?” the child asked.
I bent down with a patience that could have been faked by a tourist or honed from hundreds of years behind bars. Then I said what we all said:
“Why one goes to Oslphintror stays between the person and the veil.”