Tuesday, August 19, 2008 11:26:00 AM
He is a stark contrast to the room.
The room is black and just large enough to lie down in either way without touching the walls.
The corners of the room are clogged with a slick material, akin to partly mulched litter, mostly black and...shifting slightly. It is undulating, in a fashion that betrays no normal movement of animal or physics, stirring the mixture of dark plastic flotsam and layers of stretching, snapping membrane.
It is a constant unveiling of wet familiar shapes lost in an oily abstraction.
The pink skinned man stops fumbling in his pockets and notices the masses of trash. The pile to his left, closest to his bare, pink feet seems to be of interest to him. Perhaps the half corroded tin can being brought to the surface was his. Perhaps he tossed it there. Perhaps it wasn't often that anything he recognised manifested in the junk waves.
The man stands up and approaches the creeping corner, his hairless head down, chin resting on his chest. He waits on the edge of the slick, watching. Then puts out one foot, perhaps to touch it.
His big toe has no nail, just an empty red socket where one may have been rooted. The red and the pink brighten against the shifting shades of grey and black. He balances there, like that, for a few seconds, his toe an inch from the slowly spewing, swallowing glue.
Then, as if by intention, dips his toe into a sudden bubbling pool of grey brown liquid caught between angular peaks of cardboard and plastic, and allows it to fill the red socket where his nail used to be.
The intrusion of his foot goes unnoticed by the gunk. Its flabby unfolding continues. There is no change in speed. Nor of direction.
Flap. Squeeze. Flap. Squeeze.
Equally, the man shows no sign of discomfort. He simply balances on one foot and stares at the other, at the ragged horseshoe of grey water cupped in his toe.
The pink skinned man walks in the gardens. He is surrounded by a group of grey hooded figures that sway in time with him, sway as they make their way along the gravel path between the avenue of thin trees. The purpose of the figures is unknown.
They have adopted his stance, their cowled heads slumped onto their chests. If they have any purpose it is emulation. If this emulation is out of honour then they have failed. The grunts they produce as they sway have a pitch of warning about them. Perhaps.
The structure of the garden seems to go unnoticed by the man and his followers. All eyes seemingly lowered to look upon the gravel path. Then again, maybe they are already familiar with the lumpy, unkempt lawns and the straggly black vines slung half heartedly over rusting iron trellises. The stone fountains, so mottled with fungi that their original colouring is now lost, could have no interest for them any longer. It would seem that way, for the slow group aim not one eye in directions other than the gravel underfoot.
The sky churns itself black above the darkening garden, as the figures shrink into the silence of the woods at the end of the path.
The woods aren't all they seem, unless the natural process of growth here is influenced by intentions akin to perversion. Branches, peeled and white, form grasping cages over the slightly shimmering gloom, their ends burrowing back into the grey earth to unseen depths.
Worms of black bark coil between the bars of the pale prisons, heavy with stiff loops of an orange moss that seem to attract midges of the same shade. There was nothing green that wasn't also smattered with a soot-like mould or intruded on by bright parasitic buds.
The cycle of growth and death appeared to have overlapped here, and formed an unclear compromise.
The pink skinned man raises his eyes to look upon the surroundings. His eyes seem to search the puzzle of limbs and torn leaves. Does he recognise that this place has been destroyed and remade?
He stoops to pick up a twig that has as many knuckles as a finger, and snaps it.
His hooded companions stir, their grunts almost complex enough to be a language now. They begin to take in the wild world around them at last, and some venture away from the man into the edges of the wood. Not before long they are crashing through the interwoven mesh into a flashing area of thick shadow, where only stray suggestions of light have made it past the canopy.
And soon they have diminished into distant noise alone.
And then nothing.
The pink man watches the disturbed branches settle back into near stillness and begins to walk back to the garden.
It had started to rain.