Real stars froze in lungs and his tooth went diddley doo. Change for the year, caught bumbling into the next. Exhausted and pathetic, notebook in had, your worst time of day, or year, in an era all set out like a rotten banquet. It’s knees muddied and newsprint stuck to its back it peers into the fiery pit and bites off part of half a twix. She watches it from her window and then has to vomit. She is in love. The sky splits open and thirteen hands, bourne upon carmine light, find her body and heal the black rock in her gut. She collapses into her chair and sighs. We don’t know, says the tee vee – once they leave us, we can’t keep track of them – we just hope for the best. And down the phone a crackly voice repeats the word love.
The wait was over, it had happened. And much sooner than he imagined. Like a planet sized bubble, rippled with oil puddle shimmer, the dream had hovered there in the atmosphere for what seemed to be aeons. And now it was over. And a good thing too. Now all he saw were scavengers; crows, rats, cats. When they entered his peripheral vision he braced himself for more of the same pointlessness. And it would come like dung from a burst sewer pipe. What it was they wanted he never knew. But always, without fail, there was stupidity and grief. Hours were not allowed to pass silently or peacefully without the intrusion of one of them, screeching and with eyes misted over with blood-lust. And he decided, rightly or wrongly, not to play the game any more. He was tired.
He bashed open the toilet door, fell to his knees, managed to lift the toilet seat up before vomiting. Sweat beads burst across his forehead and began to drip into his eyes. His stomach muscles were tight as rope and the sour soup kept coming. What kind of sickness was in him; what had he done, fallen into, crossed the path of? He remembered the note he found by the bridge, ‘You will never know us now.’ it had said. He stuffed it into his back pocket with the penny pieces. And all that day he had seen images of a woman’s face; mascara lines down her cheeks and deep, black eyes. He wrote in his notebook, ‘They see through me. What was it she had done? Why did I leave the comfort of the womb?’ As he slid the notebook into the side pocket of his jacket he realised that the jacket did not belong to him. Also that his hands were paler and less hairy than before. He held his head as though it were about to explode and tried to remember something of the event. And, as he opened his eyes, he winced at the sharp air cutting across the field and through the derelict building. It had been his old workshop and now it lay in ruins, slowly becoming part of the earth but for now the hiding place of small animals and insects. There was a sound. A sheep.
The crack under the flesh sickened him. The reverberation seemed to linger in his hands as he stuffed the raw meat into his mouth.
Chunks of the animal splashed into the toilet with drops of rain from the hole in the ceiling. Something small and dark was hiding in the corner of the room. He heard small claws ticking in the surface of the plastic bath.
He flushed the toilet but nothing happened. No water. And the seascape was no longer there. A vast area of sand lay where the water had once swelled. And, across the channel, the lights of the city were out.
He opened the fridge. There was a bottle of water but now it was gone. Most of his belongings had been taken. A plastic notice flapped upon the window. He reached out and read it.
‘Keep Out – Area Contaminated – Non-Processed – Interim Border Control’
The wait was over.
He blew his nose and blood sprayed everywhere. He heard the beaks against the windows, the scratching in the wall and mournful whines.
He looked down at his rags. If there were anyone else left, this was all they’d find.