Each shard from the smashed bowl reflects the explosion in its entirety, so that even though the event is gone the very instant it appears, the beauty of its many reflections in the thousands of tiny windows summons the moment again and again, just as certain photographs only truly reveal themselves through repeat viewings over time.
Time can be malleable. It may be torn down or corrupted into something new: a cosmic grid of unending flatness, seemingly unbreakable by its lack of depth, across whose sides we see identical expansions of energy; a perfect mirror across the veil; the polarity of the hourglass.
Just as chaos builds and builds into a fever pitch, so it contracts in the last planck-second into the tiniest sliver of thought, one no greater than the escaped nuclei of an atom. In this frightening silence, all is gone but the calm clarity of death, the inevitable alchemy of our own making.
The News washes over me like binary, except my aerial-age radio is faulty and so oscillates between different channels whose waves arrive at my ears interrupted by warped insects and gravel. Imperative snatches of mis-information slip between each other just as my own synapses ebb from one concept to the next. Pray that I be forgiven in this stolen hour, if not for my own deeds then the deeds of my species; the actual eye-line of Mankind balking at the precipice of a new epoch.
Or is it just Monday?
Do you ever have the dream about a nuclear blast in London? I have it regularly. I had it constantly during the Olympics and I’m 90 per cent sure it was the result of intelligence fed to me subliminally during the day. Not that I believe in all that, necessarily. I’m just saying I wasn’t all that surprised when it happened.
In sleep, as we rise to the surface of things it’s like floating up through a lake in which we can breathe; an experience at once horrific and strangely sobering, appallingly vivid and yet seamless on waking. Do we squirm and sputter in our beds? Do we wake up drenched in lake water? Hardly. You’d have to have gone through the physical pain of actually drowning to get that panicked. The asphyxiated fizz of blood, the shutting down of lungs, that sort of thing.
I started seeing a psychiatrist to help with my sleep, and it was fascinating the ideas she had about my emotional outlook. “That’s fascinating,” I said, nodding earnestly as she handed me the trial prescription of Zolpidem and Triazolam with the dead eyes. She would’ve said things like ‘Psychosematic’ and ‘underlying anxiety’ but I was wise to it and she knew. So the pills swapped hands with barely a glance and that was me sorted for a month. Having said that, I often doubt there’s really anything in them.
I consider the phonetics of the tablets as they effervesce inside me . . . Zolpidem and Triazolam, Tri-babylon and Chimazolan . . . a Triathalon of Marzipan? Somewhere in the ether, at roughly 93.5Hz, Israel is threatening to wipe out Iran, and Iran is threatening to wipe out Israel, stalling and reversing time with their cyclical cuss contest, like school kids mouthing off at playtime. Each knows the other is secretly taking karate lessons, but neither knows which belt the other has reached. . . . Screeching legs of locusts make appearances through the static, jolting FM to AM in a frenzy of indecision. But if the acid rain drizzling through the walls would only make me heavier, and if the white noise would only lull me into the heady lightness of . . . Num-nummmm.. mmm .. .num num .. mmm hm…
How seamlessly comes The End. We stand huddled beneath the Olympian dome of our own infamy, quivering for results. Credulous and yet incredulous, the polarity swings within us like barbed weapons hung from spiders’ spit.
This unearthly stadium of the sky, our synthetic nighttime drowns out all the stars as though our shuttered world were safer. Soon we'll really know. For atoms will split on this side too, as readily as a banana desert.
Suddenly the games are halted. The medals are forgotten. And yet no one is looking down.
From brittle offices we stare. For should our personal fates collide into a viscous mass, we must be at least allowed to see, to bear witness. These personalised screens are our windows to the world. These windows are the whole outer world’s lens into our cowed hearts.
A thousand flaming drones streak up through the warn-torn sky from a blanket of invisible jets, upwards and inwards from the Higgs hoop of our clever invention, arching in the night and then down into the centre of Boyle’s lava staff. The clouds slice open like a cut and The Queen tumbles, barely blinking, only to evaporate into palatial dust. Now from unqueen’d hives we watch wide-eyed – awaiting what, fire brigades? Pyrotechnics? Stuntmen? But as we stand pondering the missiles their sounds reach us at a few seconds’ delay like solid thunder, confirming their distance and truth.
On bloody impact, our story flies horizontally, with all the other stories of this doomed construct, a cascade of frisbees falling into the unfettered blackness. And we land softly like a cushion, for though our demise will come, it will not be from so ordinary a thing as gravity. Physics is not the enemy.
Then as the sound returns to our ears in a dull furnace, a spatter of soldiers appears. Their uniforms transform and realign, tricking our eyes with Arab headdress tearing into Western military camouflage. Each operates alone and under internal orders. Bullets are dealt out with sadness, even love, as if we are all in this sorry game together.
Hiding, retreating up into the tiny crook of a wall, a wall we thought was brick but is really just painted plaster. Pushing our back into the smallest cleft, pulling rubble over our heads to blot it out, for no one would find us if we are just a prop in a Televised reconstruction, surely?
Only he does. The amalgamation of History’s villains peers down into our own eyes with a puzzled dignity, like a dog who has mauled the face of his own master. Playing dead will not help. Our neck cranes; Mother Eagle has fled, and we are the last baby vulture. There will be no worms today, little chick . . .
Immortalized, the Hourglass shatters into billions of reflective shards that spread from an irreducible instant into an ever-expanding volume of time. The blast has yet to reach our ears but we see the light and finally feel its warmth approaching, as we knew it would, like the breeze of the guillotine. How seamlessly…