The rotten bastard had been me all along! I could see my shadow everywhere I went – I could see my own distorted face leering at me. ‘I got there first and I spoiled everything for you,’ this hideously distorted face seemed to be saying. ‘I got there first and I ruined the world. I ruined everything.’
I was forever walking in my own shadow, I was trudging along, my feet feeling as if they were made of lead. And above me my own face was leering down at me – ‘You will never escape me,’ it seemed to be telling me, ‘you will never escape me because I have created this whole world!’
I was the author of everything. I had gotten there first – one rotten apple spoils the barrel they say and I was that rotten apple. I was the archetypal rotten apple, the rottenest of them all. I contaminated everything I touched.
I found myself looking back with unbearable nostalgia in the days when other people had been the dirty bastards and not me. I had been a hero, I had been a soldier serving the forces of light and truth. There was bad in the world – a Great Evil, in fact – but it wasn’t me! Oh no, it wasn’t me! There had been comradeship and camaraderie in those days – we were united against a common foe. Now there is only me however – I am trapped in a world that is made only of myself. I walk down a valley, and on either side sullen rocky faces glower at me. They were all versions of the same face – it was the face of the hated enemy. It was my own face.
‘Rise up against the hated enemy,’ I went to cry out. The mighty cry died on my lips however; it never rang out as it should have done, it had never been born. How could I rise up against myself, after all? The battle cry was stillborn on my lips because I knew that my position was a hopeless one. ‘Strike down the enemy,’ I wanted to shout, but what good was striking the enemy when the enemy was you? I was walking through the mountains and I could see my own craggy brows and empty sky sockets staring balefully down at me. I could feel the chilling gaze on my back as I walked, I could feel that terrible senseless enmity boring into me…
The enemy had been me all along – there had never been any need to have gone riding out riding out into battle against him, there had never had been any need to post entries to keep watch for his approach. He had been hiding in plain sight all along. How I hated that enemy! If I could have done so I would have taken my axe to him and felled him where he stood. Every time I cut my enemy down I became him however. Or rather, he became me…
So much enmity, so much terrible enmity. Where does it all come from? You could have cut that terrible toxic atmosphere with a dissecting knife. You could have carved slices out of it, thick stinking slices… It is leaning down on me, pushing down on me. It is rage that has become disconnected from both its source and its origin. It is heavy – suffocatingly, unbearably heavy – but at the same time hopelessly misdirected. Rage with nowhere to go, rage with no reason for its existence. Dark clouds overhead, a brooding sky. Blighted fields stretching out in all directions. No sign of life anywhere apart from the crows, apart from the crows wheeling overhead. Always wheeling, always wheeling. Always crying out. Always crying out in noisy condemnation. Always wheeling. The condemning cries of the crows. Where have I gone wrong, I ask myself in my pain, ‘what have I done wrong to invite so much malignancy? What crime could possibly have been so very great? Or is it all just a farce, is it all just a joke?
Art: Pritchards Road, Hackney, London. deviantart.com