The Stealer

‘How big is a life’, I asked myself, ‘or how small?’ My mind was working like clockwork. My mind was clockwork.’ ‘How big is a life’, I asked again, ‘and what significance can be attributed to it?’ My mind was whirring through all its possibilities like a machine. It was racing through them like a mad thing and then – very abruptly – it reached the end. It reached the end of its possibilities and that was that. My mind had reached the end of the road and now wasn’t racing anymore! So there I was the end of the road, scratching my head, wondering what to do next. I looked around. The road had become little more than jungle trail at this stage, petering out amongst a massive out-of-control mass of tropical vegetation. The air was heavy and humid, laden with the sweet scents of decay. Insects hummed and chirped in the background. I felt afraid to go any further – there was nothing even remotely familiar about the scene that I now found myself surveying.


A dense, primaeval forest stretched off into the distance in front of me whilst behind me I could see nothing but endless desolate scrubland. How easy it would be I considered, to vanish without a trace in such a terrain as the one I now found myself contemplating. All I had to do was to take a few dozen faltering steps in any direction and within a very short space of time the whole world would become unrecognisable to me. I wouldn’t know where to turn. ‘What chance would a person have, lost in such a vast terrible wilderness as this’, I asked myself, full of fear and trepidation. ‘What chance would a person have?’


‘I am the stealer,’ I boasted, ‘I have come to steal all your bloody bits!’ A strange, delirious fever had befallen me and I was babbling like a fool, ‘I’ll steal your fingers and I’ll steal your toes / I’ll steal your ears and then I’ll steal your nose’. I was beside myself with glee and couldn’t restrain myself from doing what I call ‘my little victory dance’. I do this dance every time I escape from the Persecutory Demons, the grim Executive Furies of the Robot Lord of Death, which are chasing me always. Which are chasing me always. Which are chasing me always. My delight and jubilation is uncontainable when I think that I have escaped from the Executive Furies. It never turns out to be true, of course, but I do gain a few moments of celebratory relief all the same. ‘I’m going to steal your things,’ I sing, and as I sing – in my thin, somewhat quavery voice – I proceed to dance my little victory dance.


In reality of course there is no escaping from the Executive Furies of the Robot Lord of Death. That’s not really the way it works. You don’t just ‘escape’ from the Persecutory Furies like that. It’s not really on the cards, I’m afraid! There’s no such thing as ‘immunity’ from this sort of relentless persecutory activity. There is no ‘statute of limitations’ that you can point to, no ‘legal loopholes’ that will enable you to slip out of the ever-tightening noose at the last moment. They’ll hunt you down the matter what. They’ll hunt you down no matter where you hide, and I’ve thought of some pretty good hiding places I can tell you! They’ll winkle you out wherever you go, trust me!


‘If you regulate me you negate me,’ I declared boldly, misquoting Kierkegaard, but the regulator continued to regulate me all the same. It never missed a beat. It was marching to the beat of its own drum and this drum was my nemesis. Most people never hear the drumbeat of their own nemesis approaching, it occurred to me. They fool around as if they have no personal nemesis talking them wherever they go! All they know is fooling around. Not so for me however. No such luxury for me, I can tell you. I can’t go any length that hearing that dreaded drumbeat. The most I can do is snatch a few moments of desperate, short-lived denial here and there.’ How big is a life,’ I ask myself, full of perplexity and foreboding, ‘or how small?’







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