I’m holding two cups of coffee in one hand while I fudge my key into the lock. I’ve got bigger hands in my dreams. What does that mean?
Kasia’s still asleep. Boy, she’s not gonna change for nothing. I’ll give her a few more minutes and switch on the TV – they must be telling us soon what the best way is to commit suicide, right?
We’re falling into the sun. Soon I’ll be standing on the same rug in the kitchen, drinking coffee with blisters all over my skin and possibly bulging, lukewarm eyeballs. Tell you what though, I won’t be holding the cat –Otis is probably gonna catch fire first.
That’s horse shit of course.
We’ll drive somewhere nice, where there’s not too many other people. We’ll have a picnic – sourdough bread, some great pancetta with a Montepulciano, if I have any say in it – and watch the ballooning, gigantic plasma life giver in the sky… then kill ourselves. We haven’t talked about it, but that makes the most sense. I just need to know what exactly the best way is to do it. But not a thing in the news today.
Sun still getting closer though. Good to know.
‘Fuck it.’ I need to get ready.
I still gotta go to work. It’s hilarious. I’m a private detective these days. But today, I’m doing security for Mike Tyson. He will be on this game show where they strap you into a van and drive it as fast as the least qualified person to hold a licence can to see if you’ll shit your pants in front of half a million airborne nano cameras in the passenger cabin. I’ll be looking out for Nonino – I always give my clients code names of Italian bitters.
We’re sitting in make up. I’m eating the champ’s triple cheese sandwich. We’re both staring at last night’s coronal mass ejection’s breaking news on Mike’s watch. We’re all gonna die but at least I am running through that bucket list. Nonino cannot stomach the lembas bread and now the Elven cop who made the Cheddanchegorino and who is also the security advisor on ‘Brakes Off’ is flipping me the bird while he’s helping the gaffers seal the copper fuselage around the van.
I ask Mike Tyson, ‘Hey champ, have you ever seen one of those floating pet whales that some Elves keep?’
‘No man, never! I heard of those! The have all the colours of visible spectrum! Shit… You can only live in the suburbs with that. Can you imagine, walking that thing in the middle of the city? Floating between traffic… that’s illegal, right!? That’s a safety hazard.’
After decade of self driving vehicles with traffic casualties lower than those by cannibalism in CBD areas, Mike and I are giving up the infallible, algorithmic safety of modern driving for a ride in an internal combustion rocket car, commandeered by a composite heap of cells with glasses, for the thrill of momentary loss of friction and possible death. But a multicoloured floating whale on a lead is a safety hazard?!
‘Yeah, I don’t know, Mike,’ I say, ‘It would have to be illegal, I guess… Think they’re getting ready. I’ll check with Lathalfiel if they need us to wear a vest or a mouthpiece or something. These safety belts look woefully standard production… B-r-b.’
Anyway, what’s the worst that can happen? Burn alive? Ah-aha.
The sandwich-enthusiast-part-time cop-botanist can’t even tell me if the lamellar copper on the van will shield the circuits from solar wind enough to prevent a blackout at full tilt human acceleration. The car has some shotty 2018 power steering, electronic ABS, non-AI ESP and was probably unearthed on yet another game show about storage wars during the Trump era. My client would be safer with me strapped to his spine in order to make it out of this one.
The film crew is loading their equipment into the van and I experience the strongest déjà vu.
I have seen this before. And not just this, the whole weeks following the airing of today’s episode of ‘Brakes Off’ are unravelling in front of my mind’s eye in an instant. After the late news the show will have it’s season finale premiere; Iron Mike rambles on about how HGB therapy restored his body to peak shape and then continues to put on his seatbelt through a hole in his jacket. Yes. He pauses for a moment, realising he fed the belt right into his tux, instead of around the waist, blinks with one tattooed eye then continues to thread it through the hole in his jacket. And, just like that, my client is not only legally cleared to entrust his life to a human driver with a disclaimer in his job description featuring such words as unrestricted, reckless and dangerous, injury and, of course, death; but he will also have created one of the biggest symbolic gestures of these last days of a popular, set to boil, blue planet.
‘Hand-in-Jacket’ will become an inescapable meme sensation in the following months. People of all ages, celebrities, the troops, movie stars, athletes, colonists, even dictators – the dashing Kim Jong-Chul will be famously buried in this pose – will have one hand down their jacket to tell everyone… well, no one, not even me, will know exactly what it means. It will be a kind of a free-for-all meme: ‘Hey, man, that’s not your sandwich.’ Hand-in-jacket. ‘And then I said, your girl has the brain of a bird.’ Hand-in-jacket. ‘Too much sun can age your skin.’ Hand-in-jacket.
The van is ready. As we’re walking towards it across the hangar, Mike turns to me and says, ’The metal tube looks like a dildo. Do you know any huge, huge girls?’ The copper fuselage does make the car look like an expensive toy. Mike is fidgety and I can’t help but think the blood therapy has changed more than just his body. He’s constantly horny and has acne for god’s sake! I’m no genius, but he’s literally turning into one of those blood-hustling teenagers that are too dumb for colonisation. What are they saving up for? I don’t even vacuum anymore. What’s the point? I’ve thought about this. If I was to die of some disease or illness, I would keep the apartment in an impeccable state. But with this all-consuming downward cycle of orbits into a fiery, planet-ending death – who’s going to remember me as a tip-top, cleanly guy that really kept it together and once starred in a battery ad alongside Matthew McConaughey?
A few hours later, we’re sitting, a little banged up, in Lathalfiel’s kitchen. The van got attacked by media terrorists in the Elven suburbs and we had to crash the whole thing into a wall to escape a weaponised swarm of CRISPR bees.
‘Guys, I gotta go for a whizz. That ok?’ I do need to ask my client – it’s contractual. Mike nods. The first cameraman, who suffered a broken wrist in the crash, cracks a smile. The whole table is feeling a little silly. I ask ‘What’s so funny?’
Lathalfiel, the Elf cop who didn’t want me to have breakfast today, says, ‘Ok, brother. Bathroom is outside, just go down that hallway then left and then right. This will take you outside. Then go around the eastern side of the lake, along the glacial path. Goes right to the bathroom.’
Oh shit. I forgot how these Elves build their houses. It’s a hive structure with hydronic heating and low ceilings that you want to navigate with infra red goggles and a compass.
I’m hopscotching through the damp, narrow corridors. The place smells of cold pizza and flowery cologne – an Elven stroke! Haha. I do however quickly check my left arm. Not numb. The entire building is dark. Thanks to some glow flies, I find the door just before I was about to fold to this looney architecture, pee my pants and sit back down in the kitchen next to Mike Tyson to plan our escape towards the city.
Outside it’s surprisingly cool. The backyard lake is a kaleidoscope of colours. The sun is setting over houses further up north and the neighbour is walking his floating whale. A blimp of a creature, hovering just about half a meter above ground like a flying building attached to the shortest leash imaginable. The humanoid waves at me. I greet him or her back with the traditional Elven greeting, two fingers on my neck.
Lathalfiel has somehow installed these ornate, floating pathways, leading to different areas of his property. They are all moving and somehow elemental. One looks like it’s made from water, one like a winding rock face, another one like it’s pure electricity, pulsating and flashing, and yet another one, of course, looks like it’s made from vines and branches. This guy is quite a wizard! – Now, how do you explain that mediocre cheese sandwich I had earlier? I gasp just looking at this craziness… Somehow I lose my footing and fall backwards into the water.
The lake is still warm from the day’s heat. I look towards the north end where shadows are starting to slide down the surface, eating up glistening colours like a muted black storm. It’s getting dark; it’s nothing. But there is a sense of dread, I cannot shake. Did I leave the stove on again? Kasia is going to kill me. But how? We’ll reach Corona Ville, population zero, soon. Maybe I won’t need to wait for next news cycle or a government pamphlet in the mail to tell me how to kill myself or my loved ones. See kids? You don’t need to plunge screaming into a star to die alright.
The floating structures are moving towards me as if to try and reach me. I’m swimming away from the electric stairway and towards the crystalline ice path. The sun has disappeared behind the cooling towers of the inner city and I immediately feel the dark water attach itself to me. I think, I’m gonna die.
That’s it. I woke up.