Metal filaments

Applied Ballardianism: A Theory of Nothing

Excerpt from Applied Ballardianism: A Theory of Nothing

“The concierge made ominous rumblings about global warming destroying his island, but I could not read what was really behind those eyes. He slinked away into the darkness at the end of the passageway and I returned to bed. Sleep claimed me at last, and I wandered into an extremely nasty dream. I was on an interminable search-and-destroy mission in an unknown jungle, fighting a war I’d long forgotten the name of. I remembered the commander’s briefing: ‘The terrain is a minefield. Watch your step.’ But I was too tired to properly search for trip-wires, having been in a foxhole for three days and two nights on a suicidal cocktail of amphetamines and LSD.

I took a step forward, and heard a deafening blast. I was thrown onto my back, my ears ringing. I could smell blood, cooked meat and mud, a disgusting medley of stenches that forced me to retch. When I’d finished heaving, everything was deadly still and strangely quiet. I couldn’t hear a single sound—except the beating of my heart. I saw a nearby flower. It was intensely beautiful, its colours too vivid to be real, its beauty intensified by a necklace of sharpened metal filaments surrounding it that glinted in the bright sun. Just beyond the flower, I saw a bloodied, disembodied foot.

Good. The enemy must have caught one.

I stood up and fell over onto my stomach, and then I knew— that was my foot. Still there was no pain.

I picked it up. Rolling over onto my back, I tried to re-attach it to my ankle but it kept falling off. I could see my other foot. The lower part was gone and the bones that formed the one remaining toe were visible. I giggled at the sight of it and the stump began to glow and throb. I returned my gaze to the flower. It was so pretty, with an enormous variety of colour and mottled leaves of infinite complexity. I don’t know how long I stared at the flower.

The stasis was broken when a fellow freedom-fighter found me. Her face was contorted with distress, and then I understood.

I have no feet.

The pain, hitherto unimaginable, broke its shackles at last.”