If there’s a common trend that seems to exist in stories involving autistic characters, it’s that they’re either one of two things: They’re either savants like the guy in Rain Man(who, by the way, was based on a guy who didn’t even have autism but some other mental condition) or they’re just straight-up eccentric weirdos who may or may not have criminal tendencies. The latter particularly baffles me since, well, most of the people I hang out with are more interested in scoring crits in Pokemon or otherwise venting their frustrations in a virtual universe rather than actually decking someone for pissing them off. Most people with autism don’t really have a whole lot of skills aside from, well, being weird.
I should know, since I do have Asperger’s, which is kinda like autism only with fewer down sides.
At any rate, this thought occurred to me when I was hanging out with someone who’s much lower functioning than me. This guy, roughly fifteen or sixteen, was just staring off into space looking at God-knows-what as he held his Princess Celestia toy to his chest. I liked to call him ‘Pony Boy’ whenever I talked about him to friends since, well, he really liked MLP. He couldn’t speak and, as harsh as it sounds, he was more like an animal than a human, since he’d make grunts or scream as opposed to actually talking. That’s when he wasn’t mumbling gibberish to his toy, though.
Getting him out of the house was a Herculean effort, since he hated pretty much everything the out-of-doors had to offer. Ultimately, his mother was able to get him to leave if we took him to Dairy Queen afterwards. Poor guy was so low on the spectrum of functionality he needed one of those leash harnesses(scaled up to young adult size, of course) some little kids get just so he wouldn’t wander off and get lost. I helped his mother because, being hit with Asperger’s myself, I could sympathize with her problems. I mean Hell, I’m pretty much an adult but I’m still a useless lump most of the time.
I’m rambling, though. Point is, we took him outside so he could get some air, which meant she needed help getting him in and out. Well, the weirdest thing happened as I watched him stare at butterflies: All of a sudden, he dropped his toy and pushed me off the bench, jumping on me as if he were trying to shield me from something. His mom tried to get him off, but he refused to move for several minutes. When it was over, he climbed off me, grabbed his toy and resumed staring at butterflies. His mother apologized profusely to me, saying she had never seen him do that before as she helped me up. I just kinda stood there going, ‘what the fuck happened?’
It wasn’t until his nanny, a friendly older woman named Juanita(yeah, stereotypical Mexican name, I know) pulled me aside one day as Pony Boy was watching his favorite show. Juanita had shown up every now and then whenever Pony Boy’s mom went out of town for work. She was a lot like my mom: eccentric, but ultimately harmless. Juanita asked me about what caused Pony Boy to shove me to the ground that one day. I shrugged, replying with something like, ‘I dunno, maybe he thought a butterfly was gonna kill me or something.’ Juanita shook her head and dropped a Fat Man-sized bombshell on me: Pony Boy really was protecting me from something, something I couldn’t see. She then went on this massive tangent about how his condition wasn’t so much some genetic glitch that screwed up his brain, but how it was brought on by something he must have witnessed when he was a baby. She phrased it something like this:
“[Pony Boy] saw something when he was young. Whatever it was, it changed him forever. He’s not like you because he was affected much more deeply. I think what he saw was a glimpse of something we’re never meant to see.”
For a while, I shrugged it off and filed it away in my brain somewhere between ‘Horror movies I want to see but probably never will’ and ‘Nicknames for future Pokemon,’ since I didn’t remember it until recently. I didn’t think about it until I found myself watching Martyrs, a French suspense/horror film categorized as ‘New-Wave French Extremism’ that deals with the concept of mentally damaging someone until they see shit not of our world, on my iPad as Pony Boy stared at butterflies at the park.
Well, it was less actually ‘watching’ and more ‘skipping to the torture sequences,’ since the first part plays out like a revenge movie. No, I’m not psycho, I swear.
At any rate, it’s when I noticed Pony Boy staring at me that I finally took off my earbuds and asked him what was bugging him. Pony Boy could apparently understand English since, well, he responded, but he never spoke it. He pointed at me and babbled something, tracing a circle around my head as he, well, made noise. I looked behind me and…nothing. Not even some rando trolling people while dressed up as Slenderman or Jeff the Killer. Just empty space. I think I humored him and pretended to be scared…but then he gave me a really strange look. It was like he was saying, ‘Really? You’re gonna make fun of me?’ Well, regardless, he didn’t stop staring as I went back to watching a poor French woman get tortured so she could see God. When I got back to his house, Juanita was waiting for us, as his mother had to take off to work. As Pony Boy skipped inside, I took the chance to tell Juanita about what happened at the park.
Her response made my blood momentarily run cold.
She told me that she had been keeping quiet about this since, well, she didn’t want to scare me shitless, but she could see something hanging onto me, something that wasn’t of this world. It didn’t seem to be interested in hurting me, but its presence would wreak havoc with my body. According to Juanita, she suspected that the thing on my back was responsible for me walking around with this overwhelming sense of ‘I just don’t give a shit about anything.’ Now, since I’m one of those people who does believe in God and that there’s stuff out there science will probably never be able to explain, I wasn’t about to ignore her about this, but at the same time, I was still pretty unsure about what she said. Mostly because I was too damn boring for anything to even bother haunting. Mom and I would probably just do a cleansing on our own(and by that I mean getting a bundle of dried rosemary, lighting it and waving it around the house) and forget about it. Anything likely to follow us home would probably be not too different from the way we are at home: they’d just be content to find places to chill out and not bother anyone. Still, it made me wonder about something, which brings me back to the beginning of this little story: What the fuck goes on in the heads of low-functioning autistics that keep them from functioning on a more ‘normal’ level? Well, I may have come up with something after some thought.
Maybe the reason why autistics like Pony Boy are out there is because, like a Lovecraft protagonist, they saw something before they could even speak, something that completely screwed up how they see the world. Maybe Pony Boy couldn’t function like me because he witnessed some unknowable horror that lies beyond the veil and that paralyzed his development. He likely jumped me that day because he was trying to protect me from one of those nameless abominations only he could see.
Guess we’ll never know, though, since I doubt those autistic oracles are gonna be talking any time soon.