PLASTIC BAG FACE .jpg

RIGHTING

Roughly collected 'vagueries' (poetry, prose... probably?) Contents will change every fortnight.

He was viscous.  Skin caught between stages of matter.  The layers of clothes closest to him clung. An early stage of symbioses. Moisture had already seeped to the next, drawing it ever closer and tighter. Yet at the same time he felt great patches of an invisible rash spreading underneath his clothes until all the blotches met as one great whole. Itchy and wet. Clammy and sore.

 

He took a seat. The bus coughed forward. The lights from outside distorted, their rings stretched to a ridiculous degree. Giant, muddy, mist baubles moving with alarming ease, enveloping and in turn shedding the droplets of condensation.

 

His attention was pricked by the child that occupied the seat directly in front of him. Disheveled. Uniformed grime. It gnawed at the tough plastic edge of a packet of ham, the meat rainbowing towards the shades of purple normally associated with burst capillaries stretched across numb, crusty noses. It was relentless. The creature’s teeth scraped at the surface. They clattered together without any sign of progress. A pull, chatter and then a quick inspection of the damage done. Caught in some perversely banal time loop. 

 

Fidgeting in a vain attempt to distract himself, he wiped at the window, which achieved nothing more than dirtying the raw knuckles on his left little finger. There was nothing to see outside. The incessant nibbling went on. A steady beat against his eardrum. He thought to himself about the numerous alternative ways of retrieving the ham from its encasement. The majority of these all seemed to be less time consuming and far less painful for those involved.

 

Again teeth dragged over hard plastic. And again. And again. It continued at an alarming volume. His own teeth were on edge. Eyes beamed away, beady blur through rain.  A neon cross bored a momentary hole in his vision and then it was sucked into the void. Salvation - distraction for a second. The frequency: a thick needle straight to the bone marrow. The sound suggested that more was being done in the way of blunting and shattering the surface of the poor deluded child’s teeth that doing any real great harm to the polycarbonate. The loop continued. To another its persistence might have been frustratingly admirable. Subconsciously he applied growing pressure to his own molars. The hairs on his body rooted to his taught muscles. All tightened with every second. A screw to the spine. Eyes watered. Pain swam. An aural recreation of a car door drawn over concrete. It struck him that this must be the sound pumped into darkened cells night and day on islands with no name (by a government a little closer to home). A sound to break muscles without physicality. Just sheer strength of repetition. Played until you confess your sins to and about a god and all his dogs.  All of these you’d never heard or cared about until that moment just before you scream, sweating, stinking, writhing in the darkness. A sound played until just before you suffer the indignity of having to repeat yourself, so they can hear your confession with out their cursed torture track cutting through half of your words. But you don’t care about this request from your captors because anything is better than having to live through your  imagination. The scraping continues.

 

He is about to lash out, shout in its ear to stop, punch the pack out of its hormone-and-sweat-drenched paw when it nimbly springs up, pulling a mucky and tippex-doodled rucksack onto one of its sagging shoulders. Soggy pads. His torment was cut short before his confession could be wrought. 

He got to his feet as well. Performed a momentary waltz with handrail and found a seat closer to the rear of the upper deck. 

 

He was queasy. He had, though, come to terms with his permanent state of nausea. It was merely a noxious mixture of a generally un-nutritious diet which contained three-too-many substances to which he was more than likely intolerant; the lack of regular intake of water; expending of energy via thorough and suitable exercise and, as well, the weather, which had pushed his body into revolt. He nestled into the corner, sweaty and itchy. Slowly congealing. Undulating through the weather. 

 

He twitched. Thought better of it and absentmindedly ferretted a hand into his pocket. He retrieved a small book. It had lain nestled between a chewing gum packet, some loose, soft and now hairy gummy bears and some small change and had taken on the appearance of being well referenced. This was far from reality. He had placed it there to try and affect some quirk of character and subsequently completely forgotten its existence let alone its unfortunate positioning in his grey jacket. He barely ever read now. He had originally stuck his hand through his pockets to seek out the gum packet so as to subdue the odour he could detect in his own mouth. He was going to replace it in his pocket but thought that its size was small enough for him to waste a few moments committing to its mere 20 pages. The font being far from miniscule, there would be no great effort required on his part. He took in the cover. He did his best to feign interest. 

 

He started to notice his sweat. He had reached the age where he was comfortable in his own sweat. Even reveled in it. But this was an oddly different sensation. He started to notice his skin. The way it hung over the muscles, the deposits of fat, cartilage and bone. Every pore felt accountable or should that be simply countable.  He wriggled in his seat. He was an actor trying to maintain his role within the minds of the other passengers; even if, like most commuters, they hadn’t given a blind bit of notice to him. Unwitting/unwilling audience. He hadn’t given them a blind bit of notice either but felt it necessary to use the little am-dram skills he had honed whenever he found himself self-conscious in a public place. It was a little control. He felt he knew their thoughts. If they had any. 

 

He thumbs open the book, his prints - greasy marks in the corners spreading.  The first pages played out sparsely in his imagination, interrupted intermittently by his lack of concentration. He went over the bottom paragraph of the third page three times. Persistence. His eyes stumbled. The hairs all over his body suddenly rocketed into tension for the second time this evening. Before an anger: the demand to assert oneself over a situation had heated him. Now the simple opposite. Blood at -30 degrees.  Nerves were working off their own steam and working overtime.  Mouth dry, he re-read the words that had had such a sudden effect on his body.

 

The small wodge of collected pages continued to pass in front of his eyes, his hands moving without thought. Pages turned. The story he read had made a shift. Starting with a relatively innocuous and predictably humorous   description of the author’s commute home and descriptions of motorway exits. Then cut. It lurched, with his stomach in tow, to describing the author’s experience as a morphine addict. Bolts – cold – shot across from his ear lobes through his jaw. He ran dry taste buds, absent from his mind, over thin, arid lips. His hairs were so erect they could well be busting through the gaps between the shirt threads.  He had never been particularly squeamish; in fact he had spent most of his adolescence laughing with a now forgotten friend through the most gory and uncensored horror films, lapping up equal amounts of severed limbs, gouged eyes skewered on door frames and heads flattened until the skull is made paper thin, all accompanied by cheap chocolate and over-flavoured tortilla chips.

 

This stroked a different synapse. He was cold.Arteries became encrusted with calcium on the page and with horror he found the panic-inducing sensation crawl up his own arms; the autobiographer’s skin became leathery and in turn was mimicked by his own.  His veins audibly throbbed. The bus was silent. Ears shut to his surroundings. Plunged into his own head. His head plunged in turn under deep water. Clogged – ears scabbed over. Everyone’s attention elsewhere in the thickness of the dark early evening. His mind raced and swayed in a counterpoint to the bus. Jerk. Stumble. A pretty blunt instrument, his imagination was finally catching up to his image-mediated time, churning out the most impressive set of film sequences, played as if he was in the lead role. A syringe plunged, invisible but with great force straight into his arm, the needle so long that it burst out the other side, clipping bones. He leaked. The image disappeared and was replaced nanoseconds later.

  

He felt sick. He tried to look away but found his eye glued. An odd aura licked at his lids, forcing them open and bringing his neck round to face the page. The damned descriptions continued basking in the reaction they were being granted. He demanded to faint. Found he couldn’t. His head became light and then suddenly heavy. Light again and then full of ever-excited gases. Ears pop.  He couldn’t stand it. He couldn’t stand. He grabbed at the handrail. Wet and muddy. Stuffing the book back in his pocket and with vomit filling his mouth he stumbled towards the staircase. To choke the sick down. It burnt his larynx, the taste smeared over taste buds.

 

The lights had become burning on the top deck. A longing for air. Cold, damp darkness. He had just missed a stop. He had to wait at the top of the stairs. There was no air. It was thick. Oxygen wasn’t circulating in or out of his lungs. They were closing now, a mucous internal layer sticking the sides together with over-exhalation. Thickening and finally cementing the sacks shut. Eyes forced up into skull.

 

Time slowed. The particles that made up his bulk solidified cold then evaporated. Forces around him were intense as the world ground down to a rate of ten frames a second. A slip stagger down. Hand to mouth. The bus brakes squeal. Shove through the milling bodies. He looks up in the moments before the doors are wrenched open by hidden mechanisms. The axis of the world blinks in its rotation. He is caught by their sight.

 

Two girls sit off to the right on the back seats. The location beneath that which he himself had been occupying only moments before.  The harsh bluish light in combination with the jittering headlamps and street lights cast a subtle undulating shadow puppet-show across their combined skin. For their skin had once been combined. They were twins. The skin almost transparent white in reality and under these lighting conditions. Lightly speckled with freckles from scarfed neck to soft barely visible widow’s peaks. Features still out of focus with the last traces of puppy fat filling out their bodies. Their auburn hair fell to within a nanometer in length of each other, cut just above shoulders. Their clothes were different but the style and confidence in their garments tuned to the same frequency. One stared out of the window.  The other, head down, fussed with her finger nails. In the seconds before he launched forward,   with the last dying drips of energy his hulk can muster, off the vehicle, they both looked up. One head turned from the window to return his obvious gawking. 

 

He had caught the attention of all the passengers. All stared on at the scene in a mixture of alarm and displeasure as his reeking mouth hung and eye throbbed. His presence perversely intensifying some off-kilter angelic aura that surrounded the girls.  They winced at him and in a flash the fusser raised her hand to her ear to move a lustrous lock behind and the image was cemented. Camera click. They were an – almost - perfect mirror of each other. Faces next to one another they became a Rorschach test of button nose turned slightly inwards, freckles spiraling out and lips pursed in a frown that slanted outwards towards their right and left ear respectively. Folding inwards. Perfect but for one slight difference. Their image was not such a perfect fold down the centre. The tiniest slip in the machinery. A smudge of ink. A pair of siamese twins. The embryos not fully separating into distinct parts. So close to individual but for a little finger that they had shared at birth.  So,  when she had lifted her hand to her ear she revealed the stub of her absence, her loss - her sister having been granted wholeness.

 

Ties that bind are cut. Batteries run empty. He falls as the bus looks on. His hands splatter open across the broken pavement and exposed tree roots, leaking thick blood from rusted ateries, oxygenated externally. Knees soaked instantly with puddle and his own. He vomits. And vomits. And falls again the short remaining distance as shoulders give way. He is stepped on by an invisible god-foot, through the crusty surface of the world. His brain cuts: eyes left rolling, crossed. The mother and posse of children - her own and others’ - hugging the the bus-stop shelter, look on with interested displeasure but do not move to help or reprimand.