Was I in Disturbia? I plodded through dimly lit corridors that all seemed to connect to some giant Goth nightclub. The whole building mumbled ‘I’m a converted factory’. It wasn’t a feeling that I’d arrived there by choice or the small matter of my remaining there. All I knew was that I’d tuned into the Gothic atmosphere and I felt as cheery as a Joy Division record.
Some junior bat came to accompany on my walk through the corridors. I wasn’t in the mood for company so I found a toilet cubicle painted black; I locked the door and sat on the throne with my trousers up while grimy repetitive beats thudded through the walls.
The junior Goth didn’t take the hint and entered the cubicle beside me then struck up conversation through the walls like some kind of collision between the Sisters of Mercy and a Catholic church confessional. Jesus!
He said: “I Saw Sam the other day, she was asking after you…” None the wiser, I asked “Sam who?” The voice through the blackened wall replied “Sam Knuttingue.” Oh.
My mind briefly skimmed through the archives of my memories and found her filed away in the trash of a distant past and was almost surprised to find that a record still existed, though I couldn’t recall her ever having quite the stupid surname I’d just been presented with. “Anyway…” the voice added; “She thinks about you and wants to know if you’d like to meet up and spend some time together?” God! How about ‘No!’, I thought. I replied “Well, that’s a real ‘ No can do’, what’s the point? Distant past, Wife to be, that kind of thing.”
A brief transition.
Now on my belly in the rectangular duct of an air conditioning system, clutching a sniper’s rifle with a built in telescopic sight. I waited patiently. The silenced nozzle of the gun rested gently on the rim of the vent leading into an apartment. I was waiting for my mark to arrive. Through the sight I had a clear view of the kitchen in his apartment. At some point he’d arrive home, make his way to the cooker then ‘Thwip’ I’d empty a round into the back of his head. I was clad in a glorified body condom, the kind of clothing that doesn’t leave a trace behind for forensics; my eyelashes were coated in grease. No mother fuckin’ cop was going to track me!
Let’s pause for a moment while I offer some insight into the way ‘self’ is perceived in this other shifting place. I’ve noted that during travels here, the sense of self is no longer a fixed entity as we commonly are in the familiar everyday world. Maybe the simplest metaphor I can offer is this; you are like a spirit in a world full of people already autonomous and fully engaged in all manner of life paths. Sometimes you arrive in the world as your familiar self, at other times you just seem to occupy a perceptive spot in another persons mind. You are a psychic tourist, like Sam Beckett in ‘Quantum Leap’ or the characters in ‘Being John Malkovich’. This is how I found myself in the body of an assassin on the brink of committing a murder without my usual backup of conscience.
Snapping back to the job at hand, I heard a key turn in the apartment door. Brief movements somewhere beneath me, the door closing and then, just as planned, the mark strolled into view and made his way to the kitchen stove. It was at this point where the occupying passenger of my conscience briefly piped up with a silent ‘Nooooo!’ The assassin’s/my target was one of my best friends. The following moments were truly dreadful; my body mechanically adjusted its position slightly and lined the back of my friend’s head up in the crosshairs of the scope. I had become an impotent occupying witness to the horrible scenario unfolding from behind the eyes of a killer. Even though my mind protested, my body continued its cold and clinical task. In the space of a sickening moment my friend’s brain exploded over the walls and surfaces of his kitchen. His body slumped to the floor, limp and expressionless…then he started talking.
“I don’t take it personally, I know why you had to do it. Don’t forget to leave your calling card somewhere where the detectives will eventually discover it!” He seemed pretty lucid and chipper for a man who’d just been assassinated.
I pulled out a small card stencil and tin of spray-paint from the body suit and promptly sprayed a mark on the alloy walls of the air conditioning duct. As I took the blackened stencil away I could see a logo of a dripping human skull with three tapered lines on either side of it. My job was done.
The assassin I was, crawled through the ducts and made his exit somewhere else in the apartment building. He found his way to the basement car park, and then exited the building via a fire escape. He journeyed across a city of no fixed identity, to his own apartment. When he arrived into the security of his own lair, he mulled over the execution he’d just performed and double-checked the details over in his head to make sure that he’d left no physical trace other than the sprayed emblem. Satisfied that the cops would remained baffled at the lack of evidence or motive for the crime, the assassin opened up a cupboard that contained several items of oil paint and thinners. He then took some of them out and took them to a table in his living space. The table had overhead illumination; there was only a slight notion that there was an apartment surrounding it.
He began to smear red, white and blue paint across a sheet of board on the table using his fingers as paintbrushes. It was clear that he was making a crude rendition of the American flag. The oily paints bled into each other and veined at certain points between the red and white stripes, this made for an interesting detail in the design as it looked like little Mandelbrot fractals were growing on the flag. The assassin then held a new card stencil over the crude U.S flag and applied some spray-paint. He then looked at his work with a smirk of satisfaction; a bleeding star-spangled banner with a black skull eating into the middle of it like an aggressive cancer. All the while, the witness in the back of his mind watched with fascination and noted that there was a certain familiarity about the way the paint appeared to splatter in places…
The killer stepped away from his freshly completed work. I could see his mind whirring in thought; a carousel of faces and places zooming in and out of his attention. He then fixed his mind on a new target; some chav of a man who lived a couple of streets away had outstayed his welcome in life. It was time to dispatch the fucker in his shitty car and make it look like an accident, just a favour to the locals from the friendly, neighbourhood ‘button man’.
Compelling as it was to occupy this being’s warped mind, my spirit did not belong in there and was promptly ejected into another continuum. I arrived on my feet in the corridor of an hotel reminiscent of Mal Maison.
Without giving the matter any thought, I stopped by a door, swiped a key card down a card reader and entered what naturally felt like my next temporary residence. Sure enough, the room looked like a Mal Maison hotel room. I walked to the desk area of the room with a sense of pleasure and anticipation that my lover would join me. Almost immediately, two arms slid around my waist and held my tummy as a body pressed in to my back, I turned around with a smile that promptly vanished. I was face to face with an old spark from the past and her pet umlauts.
“I’ve been waiting for you!” She said in a suggestive tone of voice, which felt massively inappropriate considering our history. Call me old fashioned, but I felt I had to re-establish the boundaries that she’d blatantly crossed so I responded by removing her arms from my waist and asking her how her eczema was. Nothing kills the passion of a moment than a personal question about another person’s medical conditions. My tactic seemed to work to a degree but she remained affable in the face of my metaphoric ‘cold shoulder’. This just served to make me feel awkward and uneasy. I kept my distance and quietly cursed the absence of backup when I needed it. I noticed her underwear lying on the floor. As a gesture of my complete lack of interest I walked past it and said something like “You can put those back on too.” You can call me a cold bastard if you like.
For reasons I cannot fathom, she seemed convinced that we had only split up two years ago and that I’d broken off an engagement with her. I begged to differ but realised the simpler solution might be to turn my back and walk away in hope of shifting elsewhere.
I suppose I can be bloody rude, I strolled onto the balcony of the room and felt the presence of my ex fizzling out as my gaze locked onto an incredible phenomena in the sky.
Above the hotel, the spiralling funnel of a tornado descended from the heavy clouds above. Tornados are very common in the strange lands I visit, and are always breathtaking to behold. Ever since a Bodhisattva explained the purpose of tornados, I have felt at ease with the raging, elemental towers to the sky and I feel little in the way of fear.
The mighty funnel bobbed and writhed around several tall buildings before colliding with a modern office block adjacent to my hotel. Bricks and glass didn’t start flying, as you might expect. The point of the swirling cone stuck to the other building in a similar way that chewing gum adheres to fabric when one tries to remove it. As a result of being rooted to the offices, the tornado appeared to increase in its intensity as if to make a concerted effort to detach itself.
The part attached to the building began to undergo a thrilling metamorphosis; at first it appeared as a billboard-sized, white cloudy blob on the side of a building, then the blob became an arrangement of several thousand living, screaming frogs made of a wet ivory looking substance. I noticed that some frogs were shrinking while others were growing and transforming into other beings. The white amphibians lasted only a few moments before they erupted into a rash of screaming humanoid babies covering a third of the face of the office block. These too appeared to be made of the ivory coloured substance, though it is worth noting that its fluid movement could have been a dense smoke or even liquid. Above this the tornado reached a shrieking crescendo. I began to realise that the towering twister had become a giant spiral of foetal forms spinning hundreds of meters above me into the sky. The sheer visual power of this spectacle was enough to consume my senses to such a degree that I almost went into shock. The unfortunate by-product of which, was another shift into the familiar realm of the Newtonian physical universe.