exercise: N1.4

N 1.4


A great glowing clown, fat like the Chinese Buddha, with the same gently smiling face, eyes closed in contentment, stands alone on a dark, vast field. Its white-yellow light is the only source of light in this universe, the only source, and it isn’t strong enough to combat the overwhelming darkness of the scene. A thick rumbling vibration, the groaning of the stretching universe, fills your ears, if you have ears, fills your bones and muscle fibres and synapses if you have them. The great glowing clown in its old-fashioned white frilly outfit with its small conical cap and vacant, pleasant smile, comes crushing down on you in silence, quiet power, as the thrum of the stretching space grows and grows to an unbearable degree. The clown crushes you, you’re dust and atoms if ever you were composed of those things to begin with. You know it’s coming before it happens and it does happen, so slowly that there’s nothing to be done but to endure it, and it happens again the next night, and the next. Sometimes the clown is a giant brown boulder or a soiled workboot of supple leather, but the crushing is the same, always the same. It comes down and leaves nothing, comes down forever until there is nothing but terror and sweat.


You and your family are out in a swamp in a canoe, the water a thick grey-green soup, like mouldy potatoes simmered forever, their former life as a solid long-abandoned, just thick oily matter choked with bulrushes and other swampy plants. Reeds. There are trees in the distance but the water you and your family is in is vast, still, the shore hours away yet.

A mosquito comes to you, buzzing over the milky grey-green filth, and the mosquito is the biggest you have ever seen. Still a mosquito, with its greasy hairs and multi-faceted, lightless eyes. Its proboscis, sharp as sharp, is over a half-metre long and the buzzing of its wings is the sound of a lumber mill at the height of production, so powerful are the thin fibrous wings that keep the great insect alight. It rushes at you and your family in your little canoe out there on all that water, it moves faster than anything its size has a right to, it ignores your family, gunning only for you, that sharp proboscis aimed square at your jugular with the perfect precision of a hunter shaped by infinite years of slow evolution. There is only one mosquito, until there are more, and when there are more there are many, buzzing and flying right for the boat, and when they reach you and your family you know fear like you never have, could never have imagined, and before your blood leaves your body, you know that you’re covered in sweat, wetter than if you had jumped in the lake, you throw your hands up and jerk your head away but it’s far too late; far, far too late.