When I was at school all the other kids used to call me ‘spider legs’ on account of my eight, spindly, hairy legs. I was a mutant. Don’t believe what you hear about mutants in all these stupid Hollywood films. Being a mutant isn’t all about superpowers and fancy costumes! It’s not like that at all. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. What a joke – your genome gets fucked over by ionising radiations and military mutagens, and – wow! – you’re good looking with nice teeth like a Hollywood movie star and you’ve got some supercool superpower that you can feel special about. Great, huh? But that’s just not how it works in the real world, as I’m sure you know. You get to be special all right, but not in a cool way. I left school under a cloud, I think I was depressed but I didn’t know it. It wasn’t a happy part of my life. I remember having to meet the school career guidance officer who got me to fill in the usual asinine forms. I wanted to be an astronaut because I felt the zero gravity would help me to compensate for the weakness of my very spindly legs. I remember feeling hurt when no one took any notice of what I had written in the form: first choice ‘freelance astronaut’. No second choice, no compromise. I can’t even begin to articulating the loathing I felt for school and all that it stood for. Not that I know what it stood for. I couldn’t have articulated it to you back then either. None of what I have said is in anyway true of course. It’s just my attempt to articulate something that I’m not able to put my finger on. I’m trying to get at something but I’m not quite sure what it is. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe I’m chasing phantoms. It’s not something you can engage with directly, you see; when I try to tackle the issue head-on I just freeze up, that’s all. I just get choked up, I get frustrated and incoherent. Story of my life really – I’ve never found it easy to express myself. I suppose I should have got over all this stuff by now – it was a long time ago, after all. Personal computers hadn’t been invented yet, there was no such thing as the Internet. It was another age. I’m starting to realise that I’m a spent force. I realised that this morning. I’m a spent force and I haven’t actually done anything yet! What a bummer. What a fucking bummer. That wasn’t a great realisation, I can tell you. I’m a spent force and I have never actually done anything yet. ‘So what was my life energy spent on?’ you ask me. It must’ve been spent on something, after all. It must’ve been spent on something. ‘What have you got to show for all that life energy you spent?’ you ask. ‘Exactly what you got to show for it?’ you demand to know, looking me right in the eye, not letting me away with it. Of course no one is asking me this – no one cares. Why would they care? People have their own problems, as you know. They have other stuff on their minds. No one gives a damn – it’s just my own issue really. This is my own stuff that I’m trying to work out. We all go back over the past, I know that. We all rake over the past. We all do that. I’m travelling back to all my alternative pasts, exploring them, methodically gleaning them for clues. I’m remembering what the other kids used to call me – they used to call me ‘spider head’ on account of the fact that my head was so minute. It was little bigger than a pinhead, and covered with eight little black button-eyes. I was a chimeric life-form, a third-generation survivor of the neutron wars. Humans had interbred with scorpions and spiders to help survive the radiation. It was a high price to pay for sure but we had little enough choice in the matter.