As I sat there at my table in the Mr Bean coffee shop drinking yet another medium Americano, staring blankly out into the busy shopping street, I felt the dry force within me. If I was reading that out loud instead of just writing it and someone had overheard me they might have thought that what meant was that I felt the life force within me. But I don’t mean that at all. I mean what I just said. I mean that I felt the dry force within me.
It wasn’t the life force that I felt just then as I sipped my Americano but something very different. I distinctly felt the dry force move within me, like a cold old worm slowly uncoiling, stirring for the first time in many, many years. I was instantly reminded of all sorts of things that are not nice – I was reminded of a dusty room that no one had entered for a long time, a fusty old room with all the windows boarded up and the door nailed shut. I was reminded of a hundred unpleasant memories that had been buried up to that point. I was reminded of hopeless, trapped, panicky feelings – feeling that I hadn’t known what to do with at the time, feelings that had had nowhere to go and which had on this account gone nowhere.
I was reminded of my old flat when I used to live on the Wandsworth Road. I was reminded of dirty washing in a laundry basket which had been left there for weeks and which had now congealed into a single solid indeterminate indefinable mass of bad smelling stuff. I was reminded of parks full of dogshit and over-flowing rubbish bins. I was reminded of all sorts of unpleasant things.
And that was only the dry force stirring slightly. Not even waking up properly. God knows what it would be like if it really got moving. There is no way to imagine. It hasn’t happened to me yet.
I now know quite a lot about the dry force. It has stirred a few times since then, and every time I have felt the consequences. I knew nothing at all back then, when it all started. I only knew what it felt like when it moved about inside me – and I knew that I didn’t like it. that first time it felt like a thousand grey days all rolled into one. It felt like a thousand grey men in a dreary old office. Bureaucrats of some kind with grey faces and equally grey voices. Surrounded by filing cabinets and piles of forms. It left me feeling like an empty boarded-up building full of dust and cobwebs, haunted by innumerable disembodied lonely memories, innumerable sad unowned feelings. Like so many scurrying mice.
So what do I now know about the dry force? I know that it rules the world. It rules unopposed, as far as I can see. Although I am open to the possibility that I might be wrong here…
The dry force doesn’t stalk the streets like some kind of a mugger – in fact I would go so far as to say that it does not walk the streets at all. It walks the corridors of office blocks. It walks the corridors of power. It holds sway in innumerable boardrooms in innumerable tower blocks in London, New York, Tokyo, Singapore, Zurich, major cities all over the world. Somehow – through its unerring cunning – it has entered and taken over the nerve centres of human organizations, be they political, military or industrial, and so it doesn’t need to fight battles on any street corners. The war was over a long time ago, and we don’t even know that there even was one. Details are not included in the history books…
The dry force sucks the juice out of everything like a thirsty man might suck the juice out of an orange, like the hot summer sun might suck the living moisture out of an unlucky frog that was unable for whatever reason to get back to the water in time. It leaves behind nothing but rustling husks – husks that mimic life in their own grotesque way. They rustle instead of talking, but because there is no more talking in the world the grotesque parody is accepted as the real thing.
When this happens – when the cruel and malicious caricature is universally and uncritically accepted as the actual true reality – then the dry force has triumphed. This is the mark of its final victory. This is how we know of its supreme and undisputed triumph.
Why, you might ask, was the dry force bothering itself to stir within me? Why would it need to colonize one such as me – a nonentity, a nobody, a piece of human flotsam sitting in a crummy coffee shop with only a few paltry pound coins in his pocket? Why does it afflict me personally, intimately, in this way?
I know it doesn’t bode well, at any rate. That much I do know. It doesn’t necessarily feel good to be the chosen one, as I’m sure you can understand…