Out of Office
If there truly exists an abode for the souls of unbaptized infants it is located in the ubiquitous spaces provided for hire by an entity known as Reflux, subcontracted on the eighth day of creation for this purpose by agreement, in perpetuity, between the emissaries of the higher and lower powers.
But for variations in overall dimension, the Reflux rooms are identical in their featurelessness. Nothing in the minimal decoration, furnishings or technical equipment betrays the geographic, cultural or political location in which any given room situated. A twelve hour clock with a white face and a red needle-like second hand is fixed high on the wall to the left of the only entrance and exit. At the centre of the rectangular table which dominates the room sits a black triangular apparatus poised to channel the occasional utterances of one of the harrowed souls of the unbaptized infants briefly liberated from its attachment to a temporal form. If there are windows, it is stipulated that they overlook an empty car park, or a deserted warehouse loading bay under a lowering grey sky.
Upon arrival in the appointed Reflux space, the souls of the unbaptized infants will perform the Ritual of Introductions, always clockwise, beginning with the soul at the left hand of the designated leader of the assembled group of souls of unbaptized infants until they are known each to each and one to another.
The convocation commences with The Exposition of the Projected Runes, performed by the designated leader, or a functionary elected by the designated leader, which continues until the souls of the unbaptized infants cannot recall their incarnated names.
Revived by the sudden manifestation and immediate consumption of aliments of unknown provenance, they proceed to The Interrogation of the Runes, performed collectively or, more usually, in smaller designated groups. Here they must rearrange the Projected Runes into invocations, supplications or prayers for deliverance or salvation, ex opere operantis.
There follows The Interpretation of the Runes, which requires that the souls of the unbaptized infants, or the elected spokespersons of the smaller designated groups of the souls of the unbaptized infants, orate to the assembly the invocation, supplication or prayer contrived in The Interrogation of the Runes, submitting themselves thereby to the judgement of the temporarily disembodied soul of an unbaptized infant represented by the black triangular apparatus at the centre of the table, which ritual of adjudication is self-evidently known as the Harrowing of Hell.
The traffic of souls to and from the Convocations of Projected Runes was subcontracted by Reflux on the ninth day of creation to a company of coachmen known as Addled & Flee, which is staffed by the legions of the righteous who died before Christ’s coming. Clothed in human flesh and black suits, requiring neither sleep nor sustenance, they gather in the desolate halls of airports throughout the lands of the manifest world bearing placards of the appellations of the returning souls of the unbaptized infants, so that the returning souls of the unbaptized infants might remember who they are before they are restored to the bosoms of their families or their pets.
Now the eyes of the temporal forms of the souls of the unbaptized infants turn to observe the paroxysmal movement of the red needle towards the hour that will signal their release and dispersal, if not their redemption, doomed as they are to flitter between earth and ether in the eternally fluorescent twilight.