The machine was venting heavily as it lurched crazily around the bend in the corridor. It was venting methane prodigiously, exorbitantly. Something was wrong with the fuel mix, I surmised. The controls felt loose, nothing was responding as it should do. It was all just sloshing around. Like chunky vegetable soup in a bucket, as you stir it with an oversized wooden spoon. More of an oar than a spoon, I surmised. You’re rowing for all you’re worth but you’re getting nowhere. You’re stuck in the moment only it’s a very stodgy moment. Like jogging in treacle. It felt to me as if the controls no longer had any real relationship with reality – they existed as controls in a nominal way but that was it. It was a facade – they didn’t do anything. The machine continued to lurch down the corridor in its ungainly way, venting heavily as it went, and I had the distinct feeling that everything was going to come a cropper very soon. Things were going to go very wrong, very quickly.
Everything was very quickly turning into a nightmare. Where was the machine going? What was it going to down when it got there? Even assuming that it would actually get there. Which was a totally unwarranted assumption. The chances were very much in favour of the machine not making it to its destination. Even assuming that it had a destination! It was now quite out of control – veering this way and that, lurching unpredictably one way and then lurching equally unpredictably the other way. Rebounding from one extreme to another. Like a monkey on elastic. Very much like a monkey on elastic it occurred to me. There was that sensation one gets when one is running helplessly down a steep hillside and unable to stop. Limbs flying this way and that, out-of-control running to disaster; running and running until that inevitable moment when one reaches the precipice at the bottom of the hillside. The cliff-edge. And you find yourself launching off into space, hurtling down to your certain death on the jagged rocks many hundreds of feet below. Your legs still madly running, just like in the cartoons… You know that feeling, I’m sure. Who doesn’t know that particular feeling?
I had realized that I wasn’t steering anything – that had only been a fever dream. That had only been some kind of feverish illusion. The illusion of control. I had been asleep and dreaming that I was in control. What a nice safe dream that had been, I reflected. Such a very nice safe dream. What a shame I had to wake up. Such a shame. Really I had just been in some kind of stupid trance; I had been fast asleep and now it was time to wake up. The alarm clock was going. And I was waking up into a nightmare – the nightmare of this out-of-control machine as it lurched and stumbled down the very steep hillside of my life. Heading for disaster. The very notion of me controlling this ‘running machine’ was ludicrous – it was controlling me, and always had been. I was trapped inside it and it was leading me to my doom.
I started to panic. I started thrashing around madly inside the confines of the machine, pulling levers that didn’t work. I was freaking out. I hate this life that I’m trapped in I screamed inside my head. I don’t want it. I want out. I’m stuck in a life that I don’t want.