Authors: G.R. Yeates
Tags: #bizarro, #Horror, #corporate, #weird
This Darkness Mine
By G.R. Yeates
G.R. Yeates 2012
All Rights Reserved
To the memory of William S. Burroughs
“Midway upon the journey of our life,
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straight-forward pathway had been lost.”
It sits and rots and, as it does, it thinks. Fibrous, cold cobwebs of synapse flicker with old flame. The only outward sign of life is a vague twitching of the gristled nuggets that were once its eyes. It thinks for a time that is immeasurable to Man.
Then, it raises one peeling hand, beckoning, and the door opens.
I come in.
I’m awake. I’m out of bed and getting dressed to go into the office. The taste of last night’s dream is on my brain and the memory’s flavour goes something like this. How much of our lives do we live? How many minutes, hours and days are spent not as we would wish them to be? Where does that wasted time go to? The stress. The strains. The stupid worries. The many minutes in needless pain become weeks, then months, years and then decades. Titanic spans of plague-ridden time, all lost, all gone, to some abstract sphere.
This city is a house of flies and I’m sure yours is much the same. You can taste the death in the air. Carbon grains sit on skin, darkening everything, flavouring the rationed food. The economy is crumbling along with the buildings. Trains of people tumbling through the city’s cracked concrete arteries under ashen skies. Everything rattling and shaking to pieces.
Deal, compromise, trade-off, back-down. Time to downsize. Sell-off. Buy-up. Give a little. Take a lot. Shop the bastards. Suck in your stomach-beast. Hunt the resources. Filch the markets. Get predatory. Time to get something slain. Hands clean in the washroom mirror. Face as lined as lined can be. Dark and hungry. In need of a billion more. Another thirty-forty cars. A line of coke down the arsehole of an underpaid carpetbag whore. Compassionless, feelingless, insatiable.
Appetites for destruction.
It sets my teeth on edge, watching the masses go by, hiding their hate-scarred faces under the tattered veils of shadow cast by broken buildings. Paint smears, make-up over old open wounds. Torn tongues fluttering, mouths spitting poison as soon as certain backs are turned. Yes, this is humanity and their pain was palpable. Their years of toil and self-destruction, scalding from shared memories of it. Dead-white hands draw down a set of blinds and someone licks their lips, wondering what to do to the people next. He runs a cool hand across the soft-skinned boy-offering adorning his desk, making it squirm and squeal, then he bends down to feed on a barely legal cock with white teeth and slick-snake tongue.
Something sick is here, at work under the surface, but we, the commuters, know not what because we know it’s better to know not what as we travel into work. Black things stir in the earth, spilling rivers of dead, grey maggots from sphinctoral orifices that cluster in buds across acres of graveyard-silvered flesh. They shuffle blindly in our noxious tunnels, seeking the light and the day, dragging their gastropod bulks through the congealing muck of the underground. The many openings in their bodies are ripe and sour. They are the haunters at the threshold of dreams, waiting for safe passage through.
I see the dried blood and desolation of a passing platform as my train chunters by and I wonder at it. Deaths from a number of pandemics break out before my eyes across the newspaper page lying open in my hands. The dreary patchwork faces of politicians, unflinching, their eyes never fail to send a thrill of disquiet through my soul; the most powerful beings on the planet and with not one ounce of humanity to share between them.
I can feel Work drawing near, making my heart clench and deny, trying to push it away. The rhythm and strike on steel of the train punctuates the decreasing distance, withering away whatever unique stuff makes me up, making me shrink in on myself. The train thunks to a halt. The carriage doors whine-slide open. Pawing sleep from my eyes, I’m on my feet and out of the doors, not thinking where I am going to, just knowing, borne along by the multitude, lost in the masses and the drone of black traffic.
My email pings and dings and I am awake. I have been in the office for hours, maybe days. Having nodded off at my desk it takes me a few minutes to collect myself, pull the last trailing threads of my consciousness out of sleep’s black peace. I draw in a breath of unrecycled air. The numb light of the office interior sends needle-shocks through my brain. Dull, I move the mouse. Point. And. Click. An e-mail is waiting for me. I click into it. I see the latest corporate catchphrase.
Life is a pitch meeting. We need you to sparkle.
It makes no sense, this tasteless bullshit, so I ignore it.
Enter the password. Another spreadsheet. Something in me snaps and groans as I open it. Click. And. Click. Scarlet numbers smear their way down the monitor screen. Formulas are embedded in the document. The work of invisible men. Letters, numbers, signs and symbols in a mathematical higgledy-piggledy that I don’t understand, never will, don’t want to. It’s my job to go through them though. It’s what they pay me for.
Wiping at my eyes, wishing I could get more than four hours sleep in a night, I set to work. Point. Click. Scroll. Check. Re-check. Type in. Enter. Point. Click. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. The numbers on the screen are a churning river, slowly turning to a soothing black series of streams as I check them, correct them. The screen flickers and fades as do the lights above.
I wait, pointing with my tongue, clicking with my teeth.
Light is restored.
Everything in the building is breaking down, wearing out. It’s hot in here so I unbutton my shirt collar, loosening it. My fingers are damp with tepid sweat, the air I breathe tastes of body odour and old cheese. We haven’t had air conditioning for three weeks. At this rate, we’ll be growing mushrooms in our hair. I wipe my brow dry and the back of my hand comes away shiny, slathered. My eyes flick up to the moon-dial disc of the office clock.
Five hours to go.
Shit. I extinguish every last trace of red from the spreadsheet. I paint it black.
I stifle a yawn, feeling no sense of success, tasting the acrid afterbirth of the night before. The afternoon drags on by. The atmosphere in the office thickens until its charnel taste catches in the back of my throat. The whites and washed-out yellow of the walls hurt my eyes. The spreadsheets keep on coming. Ping. Ding. Point. And. Click. Shooting pains ricochet from fingertips to knuckles, writhing through the tight muscles of my arms and shoulders, striking home at the base of my neck. I work at the tissue there, feeling how it’s set and hard.
The onscreen formulas cloud over, red and numinous. Jolting out of my chair, I’m walking away from my desk. The burr of my deskphone bothering my guilt responses. Someone else can answer it.
I need a break.
The day’s work left me seedy and tired. A snoring whore sleeps at the back of the train carriage, the jiggery-joltering rocking me to sleep, embracing me with the warm felt night. The doors creep closed. Awake, I see where I am, where I’m leaving. My station, this is my stop, wiping grains from my tear ducts, I’m on my feet, hurling myself forward too late, watching the doors snap tight against one another. Someone behind me inhales, shocked. Someone, somewhere else, giggles at my expletive. I thump at the door. The train is moving, concrete angle and edge gives way to grass and hedgerows.
Claustrophobia to agoraphobia.
I have miles to go before I can get home.
As a later train picks me up, sullen, from the platform and chunters me home, my skull is brimming with glowing red numbers. Angry bright embers. Another day has been ill-spent. I emit a low tone as I feel the sensation of waste wash over me. I feel the vibration of it. It’s not a pleasant one.
We could call it all a machine and I think we will. It has its stages, its developments and it is based on models that glisten with sweat and beads. Those who do not fit in with the machine are ground into mince, feeding the machine, oiling her cogs with blood, making a supply of meat that can be advertised, sold as basic value. Every space is advertising space and crackles with a static of its own, interference gets in everywhere, makes dust, ages us, wears down what is to what was. We must live here, in the now, but we’re too busy fingering at murders.
Blood runs in our hair.
Welcome to the Machine. PVC-soft pseudo-cultures for the genetically dead. Foundations of deviation and passive-aggressive sadisticisms. Repression breaks loose. Rapes its way around the room. Savaging the innocent bystander sitting in the corner, watching the telly. Minding own business. Borna virus frenzy.
I asked them once how much longer this could go on. It was a slow meeting and the LCD projector was broken, so someone had to say something. I was told how long have you got, and that’s the frightening thing. I could die tonight.
Worse, I could still be alive tomorrow.
All I want to do is lie down to sleep with someone warm in my arms, someone who smells nice, not of this rotten place, this dead planet and its people. I don’t remember much more than you of how it was when we were younger, but I’m coming to a conclusion. It’s a further frightening thing: that the world has always been this way. For some reason, we don’t hear it in childhood, when we are asleep, and when we do hear it, we tune it out. Dismiss the world that is trying to get through, seeking out your channel, our frequency. Breaking down the scrambling signals. Still, we ignore it because, by then, we are old and not young enough to fight. We just want to lie down with someone warm in our arms and then, we look and there’s no-one left for that and we are soon dead. With these thoughts in my head, I lie down to sleep and dream.
Contusions of time and place cause me to lose my way. The buildings sink in on themselves. Roads crackle and burn with an isosceles fires. Their psyches whisper about me, waiting to be born, then they carbonise, darken and dance to the taint. Misshapen men and women come crowding out at me, eyes open, holes torn in parchment. Pale progeny crawl, pouring from their bodies, swelling their ranks. I lose focus and they shift around me of their own silent accord and I wonder what it feels like to split the atom with an old carving knife.
It is the next day, which is much the same as the day before that. The language here is out of synch with the thought behind it. In open-plan office space, we bear witness to meaning’s steady erasure:
a) Do not ask when you can task.
b) Do not go ahead when you can be going forward.
c) Do not understand when you can get a flavour.
Taste this, there is nothing here. My sleep is vacant and my nights without substance, it all started here, this funeral parlour outlined by the heat signatures from photocopiers and echoing with the sound of such empty-empty talk.
You can do nothing outside these established, unyielding patterns:
a) You have an ongoing strategy, not a life.
b) You have an income, not a wage packet.
c) You have work colleagues, no friends.
d) Bury yourself in workloads, varied and conflicting.
The monitor screen dulls, blinking, and I blink too.
Did I get up? Did I move? Have I ever left my desk?
Looking around, I see eyes flickering with an inner data-light, the constant rattling of fingers on keyboard keys. Should I tell them the power has cut out? That everything is dead? Then, somewhere, an inkjet printer whines and I am matching it, humming along, and I get back to work too. I type these words without thinking.
We Are The Power.
This is not what you wanted, is it?
Nope, me neither.
This is not what you thought. No fantasy future ever found its seed, its bright root, in this numb twilight of desk-pods and office-cells. Nothing shines here, all is badly-lit like low-budget science-fiction.
How could a nightmare be so poor, so banal and so ill-conceived?
Scarcity is the issue. Taking all, tearing up, fucking up and leaving all for dead and maimed. Abundance would be for the beta and the female. A quieter flourishing. A steadier blooming. A garden without lions. No place for lambs. No doctrines, no dogma. A change in the niche, all that it takes.
Going home, I feel it at my back. I’m not feeling brave enough to go into the Underground tunnels tonight. Back down into the dark where the black cancers are. The crowd on the street heaves around me, shoulder to shoulder. We fight the good fight, struggling to get to multiple opposing destinations. Faces jostle to be seen, a blur of masks, desperate to separate themselves from one another. I’m caught amongst them, unable to get out, my ribs crush against my lungs, my legs and arms pinioned by the goliath weight of the people.