It’s so cold.
I awake shivering, wondering how I got so cold. It is a wonder that I have slept in this state. How is that even possible? I sit up and I wrap my arms around me, holding some semblance of warmth in my beleaguered frame.
This is wrong.
This is all so very wrong.
What happened to me?
Did someone spike my drink?
I don’t remember being here.
I don’t even know where here is.
How can I not know this place?
I look around at the mess. The discarded paper cups and grease stained burger wrappings. Plastic cups that were used to serve beer. I am adrift in a sea of refuse and I don’t know how I washed up here.
I want to get up.
I don’t want to get up.
What I want is to be somewhere else. I do not want my life to be this horrendous mystery. I want to switch off and then switch back on again. Reboot, so that normal service is restored. I squeeze my eyes shut and regulate my breathing. I control my body and the shivering stops.
I open my eyes.
Not good at all.
I am still here and if anything it is so much worse. My surroundings are more real than ever before and I am more here than I ever was. Lost and despondent and confused.
This is not fair!
I do not say those words aloud as I know I will summon the shit pixies if I do. If I say those four, self-pitying words out loud, then the shit pixies will hear and they will make damn sure that life isn’t fair. Still, I worry that they can hear my thoughts and I worry that maybe I already said something to summon them, that this is why I am here in this empty and discarded place.
I get up in an attempt to distance myself from the trash. It doesn’t work. I am rubbish. I am flotsam and I am jetsam and I don’t even know what either of those bloody words mean. They are the sorts of words that come into their own when there is wreckage and discarded crap floating around on the sea. Items that have no place being there. Items that have no right to words like that. Shit is still shit, whatever you call it.
I feel like shit and in the circumstances it fits. I fit. So I have to conclude that I deserve this. Whatever this is.
Walking seems like a good idea.
I don’t walk. Not at first. I stand and will myself elsewhere, knowing that this is madness. But then all of this is madness. Walking will only make it worse, but eventually I relent and provide some momentum to the proceedings. Movement is good. Unless you’re running away that is. You have to move in order to live, but the trick is to move in the right direction.
The right direction is the exit as far as I am concerned, but I am curious and I am downright nosey. I walk across the open air arena searching for clues whilst ignoring the clues presented to me. I am in denial as I attempt to find something that will make all of this better. I want it to go away. I want something different to what I already know.
I should want to make sense of it all, but I think I already know, and the prospect of knowing terrifies me. The existence of the truth and it being so very near makes me sob.
There is no one here.
I know this with a dread clarity and a terrible certainty.
There is no one here, and yet I search for them all the same.
I should be worried about being locked in. I should be looking for a way out. I should have this overriding urge to ensure that I can get out of here.
But I don’t.
I traverse the stinking sea of detritus and I pretend it is something altogether different. When that veneer of lies slips, I continue to deceive myself, but in the end I am crying and I know why I am crying.
A slice of truth has been served to me whether I liked it or not. I may not have an appetite for it, but it sits before me regardless.
This sea of rubbish is old and decaying. This place is a grave. I missed the show by a country mile and no one is ever going to clear this mess up.
All the same, I walk to the nearest food concession and I peer over the counter. The metal surfaces are rusting and the glass on the fridges is crazed and opaque. I clamber over, suddenly thirsty. Opening the fridge door I see cans that have faded in the sun. Red to a pathetic, deathly pink. I take one up and turn it over, yet not wanting to see the use by date and being obliged by the decrepit state of the can – the date is faded beyond recognition. I do not bother checking the others and I dare not risk drinking the contents. I don’t know why I return the can to the shelf and close the door of the fridge. No order will ever transcend this chaos.
I turn and look back out over the arena.
There is nothing for me here except the boundaries that it creates.
I am safe here in my defiant ignorance.
I cannot see the outside world and I do not want to see it. For once, my imagination will not surpass the reality that awaits me beyond the stands and the stage.
There is one last distraction in this place.
One last foil for my playful curiosity.
I walk slowly to that stage, prolonging the moment and loathed to kick my way through the dried leaves of an Autumn long past. I clamber up to see what I can see. I want to know who played here. Maybe I can have a moment in my imagination, take myself back to a time when people crowded this place and they were entertained.
The sun has erased everything. I wander a stage bleached by its unrelenting rays of fire and I resent its absence right now. It did this, now it too has deserted me in this cold and inhospitable place.
I turn my back on the anaemic bones and look out across the sea of crap.
Then I scream.
I fill the place in the only way I know how.
I fill it in the only way I can.
I fall to my knees, still screaming and I descend. I slip down inside myself and deeper into the protection of my madness.
My screaming turns to laughter.
No one hears my laughter.
I am no one.
There is nothing left.
Then there is nothing.