I was dead inside and I didn’t know it. I was all shrivelled up inside of myself like a scrawny grey homunculus and yet for me this was normal. I never knew any different – I had never felt the cool breeze on my face, or the warm sunshine on my skin. I didn’t know these things. I didn’t know any things because I was shrivelled up deep down inside of myself. I was dry – very dry – a thing of leather and stringy, knotty sinews, a thing with dull button-like eyes and a grey wizened face. I knew nothing of life, I knew nothing of anything. Life had gone one way and I had gone the other, but I never knew it. I was trying to crawl, I was a crawling thing.
“Where is life taking us?” I boomed out heartily, my orange hair standing out in great clumps from my over-sized head. My unnaturally loud voice made the cutlery in the cutlery drawer rattle and everyone turned around to look at me. I was waving the striped flag of my clan madly and blowing with all my might on my great brass horn. I was the Cosmic Clown. I was the Janitor of the Sacred Space. I was the Flaming Mouth of Khaos. I was the Iconoclast. I was the Lord High Proprioceptor. I was the One Who Sits in the Corner, Rocking To and Fro, Laughing with Unseemly Abandon. I was the Rule-Breaker. I was the Sailor on the Seas of Fate…
Conscious of making a spectacle of myself, I sat down again and did my best to make myself look inconspicuous. I tried to merge with my surroundings. I knew that I’d overstepped the mark and didn’t want to attract the wrong sort of attention. I feared very much that I might have done so. Alarm bells went off somewhere in some adjoining room. Hazard lights were flashing on all of the cars in the car park. Black impenetrable clouds were crowding in on the horizon. An ominous silence prevailed – even the birds in the trees had stopped singing. It was as if the world itself was waiting with bated breath, to see what would happen next. I’d put a foot wrong there and no mistake, it occurred to me ruefully. If only I could go back in time with my blackboard rubber and erase what I just done.
There is a drug you can take out here in the lawless wastelands of the Algol system that gives you the experience of being a human being back on Terra during the time of the Great Corporations, when everything was all about buying your identity straight off a supermarket shelf and adverts would crawl up your nostrils to lay their eggs there. The eggs hatch out into larval life-forms which crawl into your brain and influence your brand loyalty. This was all perfectly legal and protected by law. Generations of humans lived and died in servitude to commercial interests. You wake up in the morning to commute obediently to work, caught up in the grey early morning traffic. You are tired and hung over from the fast food you unwisely ate late the previous night, and you have nothing to look forward to more of the same.
There are messages on the car radio telling you about new products that you are obliged to buy. These products are guaranteed to dramatically improve the quality of your life. The traffic moves with unbearable slowness. Adverts are crawling up your nose and into your ears. They are driven by their programmed need to lay their eggs – after they have done this they will die. Eventually you will arrive at work and perform meaningless tasks until it is time for you to go home again. This is a banned experience on all civilized worlds and yet out here in the lawless wastelands of the Algol system no pleasure, however perverse, however contrary to nature, will be denied you…
Art: untitled, by meltdownn