Saturday, November 17, 2007

pivot

I really feel like I'm gonna give the slip to time,
and everyone I meet is a damn good friend of mine.
But will I ever stop to think just how wrong I was?

We start to feel like there's nothing left for us to know,
there's nothing left for us to see, there's nowhere else for us to go.
But will we ever stop think just how wrong we were?


I show up in town in the pouring rain, exiting the taxicab in a rush before the driver really realizes how much I've shortchanged him. Words are exchanged. Opinions are expressed. There's some yelling. I pull the collar of my old loden coat up over my neck to block out the harsh wind, and make a vain attempt to shield my head from the pouring rain with a folded newspaper. The ink runs, staining my fingers an angry black.

Though it might look like it, I'm not homeless.

Clumsily trotting half a block down the wet street, I hastily duck down a crumbling loggia before coming to rest in the chill, still air of a great stone archway. Tired, I throw my soaked back up against the wall. I try the mammoth door beside me; it's locked but has a little give.

This is the beginning. Where it all starts. This really is the new new. Each life has one; an instant where everything changes. One man encounters it when he decides to take flying lessons. Another woman finds it when she decides to wash a few bottles of pills down with a pint of J├Ąger. Things change. Things are irrevocably different. There is no going back.

I throw a little weight at the door with a heavy shoulder. There's a cracking, but the door maintains its integrity. I give it a little more, harder this time, and the frame splinters. Once more, and I'm in, pleased to find the air dry and the furnace on.

Though it might seem like, I'm not a vandal.

The debris in the stairwell tells me that no-one's been here for a long time. At least not for a couple months. My feet find their way, the soles of my shoes nestling softly into the layers of dust on the stairs. At the top, I find a sea of abandoned grey cubicles, ringed by the yawning mouths of a couple dozen vacant offices. How much suffering was incurred in this very place? How much displeasure?

Pausing for a moment, my nose twitches, shocked by the sterility of it all. My ears...my ears catch something just a little ways off. The soft hum of an electric motor coming to life. The ka-chunk of a feeder. The whir of paper. A printer has started up, or a fax machine, somewhere nearby.

Though I act like it, I'm not a detective.

Cautiously, I duck my head into a few empty work areas before I find the source of the sounds. A blue LED flashes, showing me the way. My heart pounds. I try to swallow, but find my mouth parched. Shaking, I clutch at the lone piece of paper expelled from the haunted machine. I switch a lamp on beside me, not at all surprised when the light comes on.

CONFIDENTIAL

Operation BGM has been aborted. Potential agent, 98235, has been removed. Carry on.

ML

Somewhere in the room, there are footsteps with no body attached. The paper slips from my grasp, fluttering to the floor at my feet. I bolt. Across the floor, and down the stairs, wildly vaulting the debris field at the bottom.

This is my beginning, this is how I leave behind the old me, ushering in a one: legs running like mad through a darkened loggia. Lungs filled with crisp wet air. Mind filled with fear.