We’re reaching the end game now.
Where once she astounded me with her beauty, she now repulses me.
Her body is fighting it. I can hear the sounds of her lungs filling with liquid, a gurgling
and rattling sound accompanies each and every laboured breath.
The harsh surgical-grade lights hang like the judging eye-stalks of insects, they
watch as I tear open the medical sachet, and prise the tiny compressed cloth from the
protective silver interior. I carefully unfold the anti-bacterial wipe and methodically clean
around her mouth-tube. I have had to resort to wearing surgical gloves as the harsh
alcoholic solution stings my delicate hands.
Her room is now a makeshift medical centre. Stacked boxes of steroids, liquidised
food, needles and antibiotics grow and fill the spaces like hungry parasites. My life has
become a battle against infection, bedsores and bruising.
I now wear scrubs, the cleaning up has become a full time job and I no longer have
an audience to consider. Nobody will pay good money to watch her. Nobody wants to see
what she has become.
I remember her in her prime, perhaps four-eighty pounds, when she could still talk
and we still had a full relationship. She had a paying fan club. Our charging rates were
reasonable. I made her become worshiped; a deity for a modern age of webcams, smart
phones and social media.
I look at her pink fairly lights around the bed. I remember them once lit, emanating
romantic ambient light.
Her sounds reverberate. She is drowning.
“It’s okay, baby,” I tell her, “here, let me give you some more food.”
Her body is shutting down, but I know it’s what she wants. I press the liquid food
container and watch it crawl through the transparent feeding tubes.
She said she was always a heavier than the other girls. They used to tease her at
school. This made her eat more.
Kids can be cruel.
I told her she was too skinny. I would say meaningless but reassuring things like. Big
is bold. Big is beautiful. I encouraged her to eat. Feast. Gorge.
We became obsessed with numbers; calories, fat content, proteins, fibre. But we
could go bigger. She would be even more loved and adored. I introduced the game-changer.
At night, the feeding-tube continued to feed her while she slept.
Knowing there was only one outcome, I have prepared. Reinforced floors, specialist
ventilation systems, waste disposal and a bespoke coffin design. But…my greatest
achievements will die with her.
Yet, there are others, so many others. They wait for me. They beg me.
Make me beautiful, they say. Make me loved. Make me adored. Feed me.
The sounds stop.
Then the grim silence is broken by my phone pinging…
Are you ready for me? My new project asks.
Yes, I’m ready.
People are monsters, she says.
Yes, they are. I reply. I’ll look after you. I’ll protect you from the monsters. I will feed
I’ve heard it said that the streets of London are paved in gold.
I see gold. I see the money of the suits, the throwaway devices, the glass towers of
excess. I also see discarded fast food, super-strength cider cans and the excrement of rats
Despite the dichotomy, this is just one London.
I transverse worlds between this London and another. I have long since given up
trying to know which is real, if either are real.
I walk along the Embankment. The bridges are full of pungent smoke, stalls and
shouting in foreign languages. For the right price, the hawkers of desires of the flesh will give you anything; they mingle between the street-performers, who distract the unwary while the
destitute steal their valuables.
My currency here is worthless. I rely on other methods to get what I want.
In the blackened haze, the buildings consume sky, and hope. I look at the conical
spires, minarets and vapour-hubs that reach skyward; I am here they yell, look at me.
I lurk, I creep, I watch. I wait.
An bás dubh has sent me here, they say it is a god from pagan Ireland, they say it is
the black death, not the disease, but a hunger. I ask no questions. It has exotic taste; it likes the souls of the dying from this place.
On the grimy streets, an unexpected opportunity. I take the device and ready it.
Sometimes, I think it looks like a cardboard box, but I know differently.
“Help me squire,” the crumbling man croaks at me through opium-filled lungs, “don’t
let the Ambulance Men take me.”
I normally follow the Ambulance Men. For food, information, or depravity, they will
turn a blind eye while I go about my business. For they only take these people to The
Abattoir, it is not personal to them, new ones are easy to find.
“Hush, my friend, here drink this…”
I pass him the liquid. He gurgles.
He sleeps the device captures his thoughts, his life, and his lost potential.
“Sleep, my friend.” I say to the old man.
I try to go home. But I am not sure where home is.
This place is as real as the other London. Sometimes I think I am ill and I need help.
But I know they will take me to The Abattoir. They don’t want me to talk about this
place. I have a job to do.
But I know it is real. I have been coming here for some time, we all do. It is what
happens when people sleepwalk through life. You see them everywhere in the other
London. They commute to places, they work, they live, yet they don’t remember how they
got there. They are also living between the worlds. Perhaps, I will see them here, maybe I
might even meet you too, my friend.
Mark A. King has sung to the Pope, cooked for royalty and played football for the England manager. However, these things are a hazy memory and he now gets his kicks out of weekly Flash Fiction competitions, and is delighted/bewildered when he places on a regular basis. He is one of the founders of #FlashDogs, which brings together a wonderful community of talented Flash Fiction writers.
Follow Mark on Twitter @Making_Fiction : Read his blog at firstname.lastname@example.org : Join the FlashDog movement on Twitter at @FlashDogs
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Cover Photo: Sebastian Niedlich www.flickr.com/people/42311564@N00