Running south of the border

The words fizzled, they vanished into the black-box of my skull, sank back into brain pulp. He was an old man with scarlet eyes, and he asked me why I wanted him to look in a cracked mirror. It distorts everything, he said, it refracts and throws all the perspective off. I told him, no, this is the way the world is. It isn’t shiny-smooth, it isn’t flat and perfect with a silver lining. Look in here, see yourself from a different side.

This ain’t no fairy-tale, sweetheart, this ain’t no therapy session. These are words that can snarl their way into your brain, eat it up and spit out blood-juice, thin and watery and smooth and placid. They make botox from blood-juice, from the snarled up remains of brains. They stick that stuff in you, sell the home injection kit on ebay for £4.99 excluding postage. Easy money.

I spoke to a woman, she was old and grey and her joints were ball bearings. She told me she’d walked in one day and her daughter had vanished, starved herself into thin air. All that was left was a little wisp of a sigh, staring out the window at some horizon that could never be reached. The window was a television screen, and they built the horizon in a studio from cardboard and house paint. You don’t want to know what they made the house paint from.

The trees wept tears of maple syrup, but we didn’t need those tears anymore, we could synthesize the sugar in a steel box. The steel box fumed, because it had a stomach full of bile, and it vomited poison every day. We sent the poison to be buried under the trees, and eventually the maple syrup turned sour, and we congratulated ourselves on having the foresight to start synthesizing. We’re so much better than nature, we said, we can make this stuff taste so much nicer, and add some vitamins for health at that.

Eventually, they got bored adding the vitamins, and started selling them as pills so they could make more easy money. Because they were pills, people got tired of eating them and started snorting them instead. Complex B-vitamins to the brain, and the botox turned blue. Everyone panicked, because who wanted to look blue? So they made the vitamin pills illegal, and men with guns went out to shoot all the people with blue blood-pulp for brains, and then they incinerated the corpses in a field.

The old man with scarlet eyes bought the bones of the incinerated corpses, and built a rat maze from them. He hooked it up to electron-juice, which was supposed to be blue, and to a little button that shot a little squirt of dopamine every-time you pushed it. He put the old woman with ball bearing joints in the maze, and she got hooked on dopamine and forgot all about her daughter. Why did she need her now, after all, she’d short wired the pleasure circuits and got a reward for doing nothing.

I wish they’d paid me for doing nothing, the beggar man said, grunting to himself when I told him my story. He drank from a bottle of whiskey, liquid fire, burns all the way down but sometimes that’s better than letting in the cold. Choose your pain, hot or cold. We can sell it to you on ebay, for five dollars a carton, postage not included.

Everyone’s happy, now, the old man said, blinking his scarlet eyes as he tried to look past my broken mirror. The old woman has her pleasure, she’s doesn’t need to cry anymore. The beggar man has his warmth, he doesn’t need to feel the cold, or shiver in the streets at night. We can all eat maple syrup that tastes so much better than that tree-shit. Give me your broken mirror, I’ll fix it up and you too can be happy. It’s only because you make the world have edges that you keep catching yourself on them.

I flashed my mirror in his eyes, and while he was blinded I ran away. I slept with the beggar man that night, under a bridge, and we shared a bottle of liquid fire. The beggar man showed me his feet, and all the toes had fallen off. The frost doesn’t care about liquid fire, he said a little sadly, it will still bite you.

I sold my mirror on ebay, for a handful of silver. With the silver I bought myself a hammer, and with the hammer I went around smashing all the shiny mirrors, with their flat surfaces and smooth lies. The world isn’t shaped like this, I said, and sometimes we need the edges.




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Running south of the border

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