Rescue

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You dragged me from the water for the third time that day with a look of determination on your face. A look which seemed to be new, even to you. This whole charade was driving you into uncharted territories; testing your endurance. I slumped myself down next to a rock, feeling nothing but raw. My senses were protesting at the stimulation they were expected to process. Not this again. The world was an inconvenience. I was sick from the things I once loved. We were way beyond reassurances by then, and there were no more words you could say to me. So instead you paced back and forth with your hands in your hair and your eyes to the sky.

What happens when things have fallen apart about as far as they ever could? Entropy take me.

Then you gathered a bunch of sticks, much faster than I could comprehend, and right there in front of me you started a fire. My tired eyes were some way comforted by the sight of colour, my worn and crumbled body warmed by the flame. In the crackle of the wood I heard you promise that you would find me a desert in which to dwell if that is what it would take to keep me from the waters edge.

We sat there for some hours in silence: I as a pile of stones and you as a boat. I fell asleep, and you took me home.

Frederick

Frederick's Writers Block

On occasion, it becomes necessary for Frederick to leave the flat. Of course he gets his groceries delivered along with any other items he may require, which as it happens is very little. However in order to sustain himself and his craft, he once in a while needs to experience human contact.

Frederick gave up seeing his ‘friends’ long ago. He knows what they say about him: ‘Frederick is always working! He could do to take a break one of these days, he doesn’t even post on Facebook! He just needs to get some perspective or a wife or a wi-fi. You never see Frederick smiling anymore.’ There was no sense to be found there.

Instead, he visits other men – and women too – in the private booths near the train station. To ensure the authenticity of the participants, recording devices of any nature must be left at the payment kiosk: it is assumed that if no one is streaming video to gain likes and bait trolls, then they must be in it for the genuine desire to grow brain function and further knowledge. Participants are paired off at random, entering their allocated booth on opposite sides of a plasti-glass panel. They then have the duration they have paid for – usually one hour – to converse, debate and discuss any topic of their choosing without the watchful eyes of their peers and public being upon them.

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Noodles

Abstract Art Painting

My mate Jerry is off on a fast-paced wild goose chase with his mind. Seriously man, he’s really going for it this time, grappling with any scrap of information he comes across like its a key to the holy grail. I’m just sat over here on the hill having a smoke, watching him dig deeper underground and burn out all that crazy energy. It’s quite entertaining to be honest, and it’ll pass the time ‘til Sheila comes round later. I’ll have a bath before then probably, if there’s any hot water, and maybe have a tidy round the flat. I’m gonna cook for her: pasta and cheese. I don’t cook for just anyone mind, but I reckon she’s worth more than a packet of 10p noodles, you know? She’s used to being wined and dined, and her Dad’s in the Air Force, so I’ll have to make a bit of an effort or I don’t fancy my chances of seeing her again.

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The Potency of Fantasy

One more appointment for the day, then I could go sink a few drinks and release my stresses. It had been a day fuelled by strong coffee, due to an unfortunate plague of dreams in which giant crows were scratching at my eyes the night before. I had awoken in terror sweats, and was just beginning to think the insomnia that preceded it was preferable. Both were borne, no doubt, from too many party drugs, too many dangerous affairs, too many loopholes I’d slipped through lately. Perhaps I should see a doctor.

“Doctor?”

“Yes, yes, come in, take a seat.” I waved the patient into the room without looking up from my keyboard. Only when I sensed reluctance did I register an imp of a man standing in the doorway, clutching a bowler hat and an umbrella. “Sir? Please take a seat.”

He shuffled forward, and came to perch on the very edge of the well worn chair beside my desk.

“Now, I don’t seem to have any referral notes, Mr -?”

“M-m-uninn.”

“Mr Muninn. So perhaps you could tell me a little bit about why you’re here?”

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We Are Not Angels

Abstract art

Oakley balanced upon one leg, his arms out wide to steady him. He often did such things when June was acting oddly. She was sitting in a tearful hunch nearby, ripping herself apart from the inside all over again. Oakley had witnessed her doing this many times before over many different endings, and each time, like a ritual, she would go down to the rocky part of the beach to mourn what she had lost. The persistence of her attachment to Gregor, her most recently failed suitor, spun around and around in her core with all of its barbs exposed to her heart and her solar plexus. She was in turmoil.

Turmoil, thought Oakley. What an unusual word. Tur-moil. He then proceeded to repeat it under his breath, exaggerating the movement of his lips as though examining the word’s formation. Although he sported a smile, it was but a caricature of happiness planted on his chalky white face. Oakley knew very little about the concepts of happiness and despair; they seemed to him so alien, so unnecessarily polar.  

To June on the other hand, who was always looking at him through the filter of imagination, thought that his face changed with the onset of each of her new lovers. He had Gregor’s green eyes now, for example, but they were framed by Annette’s luscious lashes and Jake’s chunky cheekbones. Peter’s soft passionate lips pierced by rings of metal in two places had been a feature for years, but only recently had they been painted the deep red of the lipstick Shelley wore. In this way she moulded him into what she called her muse, and when she admitted his presence to herself she would build dark pretty things with her fingers out of clay. 

It really didn’t matter to him through which lens she chose to look. She belonged to him, and he to her, and there simply was no greater truth than that. All of these others were simply fleeting fancies; objects of desire satisfying her craving for normality and acceptance. More concepts alien to Oakley. More unnecessary polarities. 

Nobody else ever saw Oakley at all; he was just like a ghost. He’d heard himself referred to as an animus, or eros, by psychologists, and a guardian angel by those with more of a religious bent. 

But we are not angels. Oakley considered, hopping skilfully onto the opposite leg. When our truth was whispered, it was mistranslated like a game of telephone. Words are strange like that… Inaccurate representations of authenticity…

We are not angels, for we don’t know the meaning of virtue. We are simply the innocent: those who do not experience. And we are not guardians, for we do not protect. How could we when we don’t understand the way humans place value? Life or death, pleasure or pain, it’s really all the same. In place of the word ‘guardian’ I think I’d use ‘supervisor’. No, wait: ‘observer’, yes that’s much better. We observe our human.

Oakley observed his human. Her shoulders were beginning to settle, her eyes were drying, the storm was calming. She tossed the necklace Gregor had bought her towards the sea. The tide was out, but it seemed enough to know the gift would be claimed on the water’s next expedition to conquer the land. She took a pocket mirror from her bag and dabbed at her running make-up with a cotton pad.

A mirror, thought Oakley. That’s a good analogy. People are like shards of a huge broken mirror. Fragments of the all. Fractals. Each one gives rise to both the observer, and the reflected. The observer is indeterminate; indifferent without being uninterested. The reflection is the quite the reverse: full of purpose and will and definition. Neither really understands the other, and yet they are the same thing. Twins

As he regained his footing on both legs, Oakley wondered whether he should attempt to voice his semantic corrections to June. A revelation from an angel. But, on balance, he thought it best to simply continue observing. He wasn’t really cut out for changing the world.

Ghosts

This has been harder on you than it has on me. I take you to see your body lying in the tomb each night, because it seems to have a calming effect on you; like you’re complete again. Who knows, maybe there’s something still left attached that you need to extract before you can move on. I want to see you happy again, baby. I want to see those tears stop, to see you becoming your transparency, for us to roam wild together as we planned. The world is ours now, if only you could believe it. We don’t have long here, I’m…

Fading

Did we really come this far only to tie ourselves to our bodies from beyond them; to turn our souls inside out? Didn’t we come to find peace in indifference and abandonment of desire? 

Fading

It’s within our reach now, if only you could let go of your once golden hair, and your unfashionable cheekbones, and your spine made from a persistent belief in permanence. Those things do not bind you anymore. Let’s clothe ourselves instead in the formless rays of amber and rose: can’t you feel them nuzzling against you, vibrant and omnipresent?

Fading

They are the waves of truth, I know it. They move without intent, but are the essence of indescribable wisdom. They are everything at once, but they know nothing of the chaos they create in men’s minds. When you let them take you, you’ll look back at life from a new perspective and see that we were nothing but prisms all along. Our thoughts were just refracted waves on their way to becoming atoms… 

Fading

Come on baby, it’s time to go…

The Sky Is Turning Black

Neural Pathways

The sky is turning black. It does this from time to time, only just now it’s more of a concern due to the unprecedented weight it has brought with it. I don’t know what will happen if we get crushed. 

I call out to Tommy, but he’s floating in the pool of melancholy wearing nothing but a blue feather boa and a distant smile. The bloody idiot. Indulging in those waters is his favourite thing to do, but it makes him absolutely blind to problems like this. Mind you, he’s arguably more use than Nicole, who is running around the garden with a huge mirror pushed against her face. How she sees where she is going is anyone’s guess, but she claims to be ‘opening new worlds’ in her eyes. I roll mine.  

Laurie and I are more switched on, and we scout the usual neural pathways for an escape route. She takes the pathway of Pharmaceuticals and I take the pathway of Inner Peace. Either one should, in theory, bring us back to the square at a time when the sky has returned to a healthy amber. Admittedly there’s a distant hope we will be taken out of this god forsaken labyrinth altogether, but it’s important not to get carried away when the skies are dark.

The pathway of Inner Peace is usually wide and well-trodden. Today it is littered with trinkets, overgrown bushes and flashing symbols, making it harder for me to find my way. At least the symbols offer a bit more light, but with things not being the way I’m used to, I’m starting to panic. Laurie is growling in frustration and she sounds like she’s in a tunnel. We both turn back to the square having gotten only a fraction of the way down our anticipated escape routes.

“The pills aren’t working!” Laurie yells, her hands held up, shaking and exasperated. I am about to respond that meditation is giving nothing back either, when I realise visibility of the square has actually improved since we left. A glimmer of hope shoots around my veins, displacing the shards of panic. Maybe the pathways did work just a little bit? Then I notice the light isn’t coming from the sky, but streaming out of Nicole’s eyes. It’s bouncing off the mirror, illuminating the pool area.

“Guys! Over here!” It’s Tommy. He’s waving us into the water. Laurie and I exchange a glance and agree we have nothing to lose. We take a dive right in, and I almost get strangled by Tommy’s soggy, discarded feather boa. It’s dark down here, really dark, and the pressure is mounting upon my chest and head. I sense there’s something beneath us, and I feel for it frantically, desperate to get a hold of whatever might be our saviour. Wet canvas, a metal handle, a clasp… It feels like… a suitcase? There’s another, and another and another. The pool of melancholy is made from baggage! Of course it is.

The air in my lungs is reaching its limit for usefulness, but I ignore that as best I can while I fiddle with the nearest clasp. I don’t even consider that it might not open under the weight of the water and the sky, which would be the sensible thing to think; but in the moment I could be drowning, I’m instead filling with determination. Just as I’m sure I’m making progress, someone grabs my arm and pulls me further down until we hit what I’m sure must be rock bottom. 

It seems somehow less wet here, and as I contemplate how little sense that makes, I come to know that I am also breathing fresh air. I open my eyes to see the four of us are sitting in a house made from luggage. Laurie pulls open the curtains and wonderful amber light streams in like we haven’t seen in months. We all laugh out our relief, hard. As I open the door that takes us back into the square, I attempt to make a joke about how unlikely it is for Tommy to be the one forging new neural pathways, but he is already gone.