Kafka USA

You wake up and realize you have turned into Rupert Murdoch. A dream revealed to you that a former game show host in Utah has vowed to seek revenge. You shudder because you know he has 978 teeth.

You run to a supermarket haunted by the ghost of a Sumerian physician. He keeps repeating a mysterious phrase: “The poison is down aisle 3. Next to the land of Swad, but before you reach the gardening tools.”

You arm yourself with scissors and shield yourself with a looking glass. A prophecy echoes over the intercom. “The world is to be be consumed by a scented eucalyptus, the likes of which no soul has ever dreamed of.”

You go to the aisle with lead paint and attack the red. You wait for your enemy standing in red paint scattering plastic plants over it. A child is missing and only you know the kidnapper is Treasure Island.

Watery realism

I opened my eyes and saw I had been transported to a city made of water. A child appeared and gave me a coin. I looked all about me sidestepping and backtracking in circles, dizzy, straining my neck gawking at all the watery skyscrapers shimmering and wavering like the surface tension was going to break with the next wobble.

I grimaced in fear and thought I had heard the water break with an oceans roar but it was just a ringing in my ear. I ran anyway hidden under the shady canopy around the park and appeared upon a quieter lane. The houses were opaque and threatened to pull down at any moment into a gushing vortex spilling into the streets and mercilessly flinging the inhabitants out onto the street.

I looked around wondering if the next bus would make for a viable boat, wondering how life by the riverside would be in a flooded city. I reached for the coin, pulling it out in surprise. It was not circular but a shaped like a square with rounded edges, an old coin out of circulation em-bronzed with an extinct animal I could not name for it was never discovered. I dropped it and it broke into sand. I reached into my pocket to find it again. I raised it again and took a bite. It had no taste but smelt like sea shells. I thought of the dark and obscure waters of the Arabian sea, an old sight, as I looked at the pure and lifeless waters, probably boiled and purified, built up around me.

In the lives of others

The trouble began when he wanted to stop returning. Indeed he would have much rather have taken a long leap away from his world, a swift hop out of reality.

Initially he kept it well hidden. He had thought long and hard on where he would keep it. How had it  found him? By chance you would assume. But he was afraid that it was more than just chance that had held his eyes, firmly attached to an old bit of paper he chanced upon. When he pulled away the words melted, oozed and formed. Every time he’d look at it, there was something else. 

He took home, he took it somewhere where his eyes would’t want to lie to him. He didn’t get it. Some days electric with a curious charge he’d loose himself in the tales it told him about little nameless people who lived hundreds, sometimes thousands of years ago. Faithfully it reported an hour or three of someone’s life. A hermit on a riverbank, a washerwoman remembering colors from her dream. Unflinching in it’s reportage of histories private hours he couldn’t help but read into it.

Eventually it found itself out of his locker and into his coat pocket. Here and then a private moment of quiet reflection he’d picked the habit of. It seemed natural to look back at little history, his little peephole into sometime elsewhere. It seemed to grow more natural to ruminate, chew up the scenery he’d seen from a hundred years ago. The weight of private lives sprung on him. He had to think and wonder on who they were, but faster and faster his list of lost faces grew into a blur. Melting and escaping him in haste. 

Once only slightly disarrayed, it grew crumpled and creased. It yellowed and so did it’s people. He swore it echoed. Had he seen them before, weren’t they doing something he thought of or wondered about before? It drew him in and the impression of his hand would appear before the words. He need more time with his paper, less to do with outside, less time to go back to his world. 

Did he realize he was freezing into his escape? Molded like the private figures, in their private lives, a man lost to stories.