Peeling Off Another
Getting itchy so he removed it.
Like pulling off a sweat-laden t-shirt in a sauna-furnace.
His eyes were flickering from black to blue.
In a shiny grey tube you couldn't see the end of.
He met a woman as he jimmied open the hatch that was plum smack in the middle and she sunk her long yellow nails into his arms but murmured excessive thanks soft and low before slipping out the sudden exit and slamming the hatch shut behind her with unexpected strength leaving Rathburn to his own mind and devices which didn't amount to much more than a Swith Army Knife, a couple paper clips, a jangling bevy of international coins that together could maybe buy two or three coffees from independent coffee joints, a half of a coconut and hash Mutz bar, a near ancient cell phone, a steel file hidden inside the sole of his right shoe, a full pack of cigarettes, a zippo, a pencil with a troll doll sticking on the end of it, a post-it notepad, and a blank cassette tape.
Without getting too emotional he walked up and down parts of the tube, his new home and trap, his well worn and uber-comfortable clanking and doinking with each step. The lights didn't flicker. They were dependable. It all seemed quite sturdy and well thought through. He was without a watch and his cell phone always flashed 4:21 so Rathburn didn't know how long he walked trying to reach one end but he wasn't even close by the time he stopped and just said to hell with it and plopped down to finish off the Mutz bar.
Yes, this is exactly what it looks like, which is probably a good indication it's something a lot more else.
Wished he got a couple of questions off to the woman before she scurried off. How long were you here? Is there a place to filter your piss so you can get some water into your belly? Does your carpet match the drapes? What are you doing later eight forty-sevenths of the way to the end of the left side?
But Rathburn was good at keeping calm. He'd been in worse situations.
Well that's what he told himself that first x amount of what felt like hours.
By the time his skin had gotten ridiculously itchy and he found that with a simple three inch long cut at the nape of the neck he could remove it with relative ease, it had been many, many, many hours.
It's gotten hard.
He counted one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand, on and on, trying to get into a rhythm that could come slightly more objective that one's own internal clock but that's just not really possible, it's all relative as Professor Einstein surmised all those years (months? hours?) ago.
Rathburn missed the sun and moon's dependability, he missed the beef stew at Rothchild and Bilderberg's, he missed having a corrupt newspaper to read, he missed ejaculating in a warm mouth.
But he could make do with the perfectly functional lights, the idea of food, remembering past headlines, and constantly jacking off.
Making lemons into lemonade.
He wants to say (to no one, hahaha) that the hallucinations started around the third day, but he's not sure of the day or whether they were really hallucinations. He'd started to really obsess over what happened when he slept - an activity he indulged in, especially now with the lack of food - since it's entirely plausible that things or bots could slip out from secret doors or cracks and inject toxins into his skin to make him think or act a certain way, the idea of this becoming some grand old experiment of a rat in a maze that seems stupidly simple at first but is actually goddamn complex and possible.
Or maybe the vents spew the gas that makes him think it's his brother suddenly appearing, forgiving him for the fire and saying he's welcome to come home during the holidays. Before holding his face in pain and curling into a smaller and smaller ball before turning into a full-on eight ball.
Rathburn wanted to utter some sort of obscene exclamation while he watched this all go down, but he remembered at the last moment to save his spit, his energy, his emotions.
He'd been pissing in his shoe and drinking it.
And when he stopped pissing much at all - really just soaking the inside of his shoe - his skin started to really get annoying.
A real problem but.
A real solution.
Rathburn wasn't sure which ideas were his anymore or which came from the gas (if there was a gas, but then, the gas would probably want you to doubt its existence, so...), but just feeling yourself up a bit (plus a quick wank as you got to your cock) reveals that the nape of the neck was loose and flappy so why not dig in there? His utility knife was a bit dull from the nail clipping, but the skin was easy to cut through.
Up and over the head, the arms off like sleeves, the whole thing was like a one piece ski suit really.
Rathburn felt like he was grinning as he did it.
The lack of any blood of all was a relief.
Wouldn't want to mess up a nice clean tube with such a thing.
Just peeling off another.
The pain lessened, like an ambulance siren fading in the distance.
It was good to get air into the wound.
He put on his shoes slowly. He had to be tender with the flesh. Wasn't too worried about infection. The gas was a natural germ killer.
Rathburn took the deepest of breaths.
Then he heard the hatch opening far behind him.
-sorry I took so long, the woman's voice said, cheerfully echoing through the tube, who wants stew?
|The non-existent past is the one with the fewest mistakes|