I (sometimes) call myself Mr. Pondersome. I'm a rather wordy, weirdy person. I say hullo a lot. I write a lot more. While you're here, why not give some of it a read?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

"Machination" (a.k.a. Party Snacks and Metal Men)

I won't say much about this short story; I'd almost definitely ruin it if I did.
I realise that there is one potentially offensive way to interpret this and, yes, that's what I was going for.
Enjoy the breaded meat.


It's been a while since my last chicken drumstick. I miss the breaded texture, how hard it can feel to the teeth when overcooked. I miss the cheap simplicity of frozen 'nibbles'. I take such opportunities wherever I can.

            As for the convention room? Well, why not? I like little hotels: they’re much less crowded than city centres or sport stadiums. Today’s schedule looked particularly encouraging too.

            These artists and writers. I've never sculpted cast iron into vibrant depictions of the beast within man, never written lengthy tomes on one particularly beauteous instance of sunlight streaming through a veil. I must admit that I feel a little out of my depth. Well, proverbially speaking. I feel tempted to explain this to them; I'm not proud. But, of course, they are. I have a face now and I really shouldn't lose it so quickly.

            I wonder if that girl, that waitress there realises just how rare the colour of her natural hair is. I see it on the verge of sprouting out of her roots; fiery gold scorching through the common black. And fifteen freckles on each cheek. Marvellous.

            Right now I'm standing and listening to a somewhat bloated gentleman in a green pin-stripe suit as he explains to me his personal views on surrealism and just how it factors into his latest novel. I listen to his inner-monologue as it loops self-congratulation. Which isn't to say that he's not a humble man; he just hasn't connected with that particular side of himself for a while now. I'd say it came about shortly after his first novel reached the national press. They all say it's good. I don't get much time to read these days.

            "...and yet, as you'd imagine, the poor dear struggles on with her psyche. Do you have an opinion on it?"

            "On what?" I turn my focus back on him.

            "The possibility of the existence of the soul. Which side are you on?"

            "Well, it's an interesting question." He looks at me expectantly. I carry on. "I'd say the soul exists for those who want it to exist. Those who believe it exists."

            "So the 'I-believe-in-fairies' standpoint, is it? I suppose it has its values." He chuckles and sips at his sparkling white wine. I wonder if he realises it came from a plastic bottle?

            "Fairies?" I pause. "They might have existed at some point. I can't say I've always been watching."

            The man guffaws, spilling some wine on his bearded chin. A van dyke I believe it's called. Very neat. He pats me on my shoulder and leaves. It's nice to feel such pressure again; a physical touch.

            I glance around the room. It really is quite large and yet the people within it continue to bounce off of one another. If enough people were to fill this room up to maximum capacity and then if one were to remove each of the walls individually, how long would they retain the shapes made by those walls? Humanity as a liquid, individuals its semi-mobile atoms. I can see that.

            Of course, I'm no scientist. Most of the time I can't even recognise scientific development. I leave science to the thinkers, art to the dreamers. My last contribution to this world left me rather exhausted. I've been sleeping it off mostly. It does wonders for the temperament.

            My little 'experiment' might just happen yet; another man has entered the room. A rather tall, particularly broad man. A grey man. I hear his first footstep. This is no man.

            The sounds he makes are metallic, too resonant. I've seen heavy men and prosthetic men; I have met men with dark skin, wrinkled skin and flesh weathered by the world and all have been familiar to me. This figure is familiar too.

            I'm no scientist, I am no artist and yet I know the grotesque. I've made things that have hurt my own eyes and made me bitter at the whole of my handiwork. This wasn't made by me. This was not made by my fellows.

            I can hear him travel through the crowds slowly, unnerving them with slight variations of the same question.

            "Are you he?"

            "Are you him?"

            It is a good thing that he doesn't know me from the rest. I’m going to leave.

            I try to find a corner where all backs are turned to me. The further he approaches, the easier this becomes. He? It.

            It's voice grinds and sparks. I hear a new hammer dragging across an old anvil. There is clockwork to his step, rusting clockwork. It grates at my ear, my soul.

            “Where is He?”

            “Do you know He?”

            “Are you He?”
            Yes! I am he! I am He! I shall stand this no longer! I shall stand no longer.

            Before I go, I grab another drumstick, savour its grease. Savour the tongue and the dirt of the earth. Earth.

            He has broken through the crowd. He is not my creature. He is my son’s son and he is a void. I have my own to go to.

            I am gone. The taste of discount meat resides in my mouth. My soul. It is good.

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