Disclaimer - Read with caution. The views expressed do not reflect those of Vega Collective.
Line after line, word after word, spec after spec. The spectacle of who you are now is but a passing moment. But like you those moments build, the mould. Block after block, stone after stone. With fire, with water, with hydrogen, With Vega.
— Book of U.
What are these signs? Shapes and symbols of varying marks – who’s behind this, surely someone must know of their meaning… surely, or maybe not. I found them on the concrete on my way to the Conservatory… does that suggest anything? What sort of train of information were these messages devised – are they even for me? I didn’t think I was special – I’m just a nobody, someone who watches the world go by – like a squirrel in a tree. I’ve never collected nuts before, but this is nuts! Maybe these are for some other species – am I re-reading reality? Or is this reality re-writing itself? But I am after all only human, but what if I was an elephant? Would that change their meaning, would an elephant know? I didn’t think they’d write stuff like this, without hands they’d struggle, but a trunk… maybe… Generally speaking I’ve only known creatures to pit and patter (or plod and thud) their way into oblivion!
This isn’t right – to be confused and lost like this… where were these colours conjured? Were they chosen by different beings. There’s R3d… an infamous shade (I’ve written about before), too strong for my tastes. Far too strong, I can’t cope with its demeanour. The blue however I’ve never seen with such vacant expression (like the colour of a child who’s choked on peanuts), and white. White, white like the masks. White masks that peer into my life on occasion from the corners of perception. Battling these questions I soon found myself submerged at a party organised by the Conservatory. The event was bustling and any familiar face quickly vanished within the spurring crowds. Unacquainted with this mass of people (the Conversatory is known to some to summon (and accommodate) a heaving variety of students, professors (honorary and departmental) PhD and post-doc graduates, including alumni of all ages and professions), I was comforted by no one. When I did find a seat, no one sat next to me. It’s like I was a shadow… a trace of something real – I can’t comprehend my real-ness but I can try in writing. But in writing, one ought to strive and relate to the reader – with language – but this is like no language I’d seen before; scribbles like annotations on the side of paved paper. Annotations of unearthed complexities – far beyond my meaty brain can handle. I soon became tired with questions and explored for somewhere to lay my heavy head of thoughts. Squeezing between the corridors bustling with bodies donned in fine clothes and sophisticated garments, I entered a part of the Conservatory I’ve never visited before.
The dazzling lights turned to a dim amber and the people here dispersed themselves around in small packs and groups; conversing and laughing as I passed through messy kitchens and well lived-in common rooms. The people here dressed differently too; I didn’t see a single man over 40 in a tie and suit or a woman in a dress and heels for the rest of the night. I kept exploring and found a staircase. Upstairs it was quieter, but the lights were much brighter, harsher and cold. The occasional person walked passed with a pace – keen to get back to the excitement downstairs. Passing doors and doors to the left and right of me – they were mostly locked, ‘should I be here’ I thought to myself, but the Conservatory doesn’t care about these sort of things. Taking a few more tentative steps I came by an open door – no one was inside apart from the pre-fab furniture and blankets strewn over couches. It had the feeling that a small congregation of those downstairs had briefly enjoyed an isolated soirée filling the space with conversation – before deserting it. It was hard to keep awake at this point, so I slumped inside and curled up on one of the couches and dragged a blanket over me.
As I lay there compelled by my sleepiness – I didn’t care about the writing on the street any more or that I’d hardly socialised at the party, I dozed off with the bright lights still on. It must of been moments after shutting my eyes that a young woman walked in dressed in a baggy t-shirt and pyjama trousers, her blond curly hair messily tied back. “You can’t sleep here” she said sternly. “Oh, I’m sorry” I said in a drowsy and shattered tone. “You have to leave, sorry” – I knew she didn’t mean the apology. “Sure” I started shrugging off the blanket and sat up. She continued to stand in the room to be sure of my leave. I struggled up and left. Walking back downstairs to the low lit rooms where small groups of people continued to chatter and chuckle between themselves, I searched for a way out.
I entered one of the common rooms that opened up into a kitchen on the far side. I could see from here plates staked in the sink and its counters filled with used kitchen utensils and bowls with the residue of food. Immediately to my left was a bookshelf containing a disordered array of objects; not exclusive to books, but games, funny plastic ornaments and empty cans and half filled wine glasses. People had gathered around a man sat on a couch that was placed a few feet in front of me. Behind him a large pitch black window. A standing light illuminated a calm setting but the man on the couch was anxious. He was preparing for something, looking around and rubbing his legs in anticipation, whilst the people around were waiting for something, talking softly to one another I had spotted an exit on the kitchen side of the room but before I could continue through the gathering the man on the couch began speaking. “Hey everyone, thanks for being here, I have a couple of pieces prepared for this evening…” – I knew I was stuck between the entrance near the bookshelf and his audience, which grew in number as people in the kitchen conjoined eagerly. The room fell silent as soon as the man spoke. I would only cause a fuss if I tried to meander through them – so I stayed put and melded with the others.
“This poem is called ‘Here’” no one spoke, only a murmuring of voices and muffled music emanated into the room from other parts of the building. “Here I am, lostless and strange, here – a wagon without wheels, pitched on the side of here. Here I am, dancing without moving. Here…” I looked curiously at the attentive crowd, as I glanced between them a tall man turned his head to look straight at me. I quickly glanced away to fix my eyes on the man on the couch like the others. “Here, here, here” the man stopped and a round of applause followed. He raised his eyes at the people standing around him. We never made eye contact. “Thank you” the man said humbly before drawing his eyes back to his feet. “Thank you for listening”, “I thought that was really good” one said “Yeah, really good” said a man in a black turtle-neck “Thanks, it means a lot”, “Yeah no problem, I do have to say though the word ‘Here’ was used a bit too much, in my opinion” the turtle neck man continued. He was accompanied by two others who nodded in agreement with his critique. “Oh, thanks, I’ll bare that in mind, thanks” said the man on the couch, humbly. The man in the turtle neck gave a long nod with a frown as if he imparted something he felt he’d later regret. This was my chance “Excuse me” I gently forced my way past the people standing in front of me. “Sorry” people said as I moved through towards the centre of the room where there was a brief opening around the man on the couch. “Great reading!” I said as enthusiastically as I could. “Thanks” he said again. I looked at the man in the turtle neck who looked annoyed at me. I continued to dart through the crowd towards the exit. “This next one is called, ‘Place’” the room behind me fell silent again. I pushed past the last row of bystanders. The double doors that led outside were in arms reach. Pulling one of the handles I walked outside onto a tarmac opening where more people stood or sat on the curb, leaning against the exterior walls, smoking cigarettes or talking loudly in the nightly air. Moving past them into an empty opening I looked around one last time. ‘What a great party’ I thought to myself before storming off and turning out onto the street.
The streets were dark but the moon glowed a silvery light. I walked past closed shops and bustling restaurants, car parks full and car parks empty. It was a mixed night, as if half the world was wide awake and the other half fast asleep. I was perking up from my exhaustion when I was almost at the turn off where I’d head into the deep ambience of the curtailed lit residential where the House is. Behind me I felt a group move closer, their shadows crept alongside mine.
“Who are you?” I said worryingly turning around to face them – a young man was centred between three others, dressed in a black hooded jacket and tight tracksuit bottoms, I could barely see his face which was shrouded by his hood, his hands menacingly in his jacket pockets. He didn’t answer. He pulled a hand out of his pocket arming himself with a surgical knife, aimed at me. He spoke with a grim desperation in his voice “I want your lungs and your life” he said sharply. I panicked and ran. I always run away – like the squirrel I am. This tale chased me down the street, before I reached a takeaway emitting blue white light, where strangers waited inside. Their feet planted on white tiles, the groat was grubby with years of fast food and cleaning chemicals smeared together – creating a worn grey. Needless, I entered for my safety – the place smelled dreadful – of burnt oil and chip fat grease, everyone inside was overweight.
Nothing was said but the helpless fright I showed must of stirred something within them – a gradual interest – eyes peered, faces turned. The man with the surgical knife burst in – he was going to stab me, I was sure of it! I was in utter fright, and darted around the take-out avoiding his mean thrusts at me. The large strangers finally leaped into action, piling on the knife-wielder as if he was a bag of rats. He squirmed and jolted against the heavy load that must of felt like bolts and chains made of meat and muscle. I looked around. The counter was unoccupied so I clambered over and reached into the refrigerator, grabbing a 3L bottle of a dark carbonated beverage. The pile of bodies continued to move with the motions of my attacker – jolting with his efforts of escape. I was terrified when he squeezed a hand out of his restraints. A foot popped out and next thing I saw he pushed the weight of the strangers off him. Rising from the floor he was manic. R3d in his eyes – he had lost all humanity. I knew I couldn’t talk him out of it – and now he was standing in front of me. Beaming R3d with rage. I shook the bottle as frantically as I could, I shook it until it was white with froth. As the man approached me with his small knife gripped in hand I twisted the plastic cap – spewing the foamy contents and drenching him with a dark sticky solution.
Covered in the stuff he stopped – full of rage. So brimming with anger, droplets fell from his soaked chin – “You little Shit!” he sputtered violently. I said nothing. I waited, defiantly. We stood like statues, my hands gripping the half empty bottle. My anxiety had reached its pinnacle, I was prepared for anything this man might throw at me. Then, as if the ordeal we shared together seemed like it could continue forever, he slowly backed away. Like a crocodile that had just missed its prey – he skulked back into the waters of the night, disappearing into the streets. I was, for the time being, victorious.