Lacks ‘I am Reality’

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The story


You wake up in a cramped room in a Grey Lynn flat.

You are lying in bed on a single-size mattress left behind by your ex.

By the wall just past the foot of the bed is a rack of clothes and a small cathode-ray TV on a low table. The movie Platoon is playing with the sound off. Video cassettes are scattered over the low table.

To your right is a 4×2 stack of crates holding vinyl records, next to a narrow bench covered by some sort of audio equipment.

Someone is sleeping next to you. It’s not your ex.

On top of the bench is a Nokia 3110 phone, two beat-up Technics 1200s, a two-channel mixer, two large speakers, and a keyboard and a mouse in front of a larger CRT monitor.

A shelf below the bench holds more computer components and the 300W Aiwa stereo that is wired to the mixer.

The opened case of the Platoon video cassette lies on top of a pile of other videos.

You see Tarkovsky’s Solaris, and Stalker, and what looks like an assortment of kung-fu movies, all with United Video stickers.

There are three missed calls.

The last text message you sent reads ‘@.@’

The computer is a Windows 95 machine with a 120MB hard drive and 8MB of RAM.

On the screen you see a song arrangement in a cracked version of Fruity Loops.

A song begins to play.

There’s a joint and a lighter next to the keyboard.

You swing your legs out of the bed, grab the joint, flick the lighter, and inhale deep.

Breathe out.

Your body feels light.

You feel like you’re expanding and shrinking at the same time.

Your vision narrows to a pinhole in a field of grey static.

Screw up your face and squint, hard, until the grey clears.

Look down.

You’re levitating.

You’re floating about 5cm above the floor.

You slowly drift towards the door.

You float out through the door and into the house. It’s not a large house—small, actually, with wooden floors, high ceilings, sash windows.

Outside of your room the house is full of people.

You float between rooms, looking for somebody you know.

As you float, you catch slivers of conversations.


“… they’d been doing bucket bongs every morning all summer and he had to move back in with his parents. He doesn’t talk to anyone anymore …”

“… this tattoo? It means I can communicate with a higher dimension …”

You don’t know any of these people.

“… I need another 5 for the taxi, or I’ll have to get dropped off in the middle of the —— neighbourhood …”

You see somebody you know. She’s standing by herself, eyes downcast, arms folded.

But when is it ever going to be the right time?

You take a quick look at her face.

Could be you’ve left it too long.

You say, “I wanted to say sorry, because I never did, and I should have.”

But she looks right past you. Right through you. As if you’re not there. As if you don’t exist.

Then she scowls, puffs air out the side of her mouth, walks away, doesn’t look back.

At the other end of a narrow hallway is the kitchen.

Through the kitchen is a sunroom; they’ve set it up with turntables and a soundsystem.

“… they’d gone into the bathroom, and she said he wanted her to spit on his face … yeah it’s nasty, but he was famous, so …”

You see a friend leaning against the wall by the DJs.

“… he’s burned all those books, because he thinks they made him go mental …”

You float over to your friend and the two of you slap hands.

You say, “What’s up man, good to see you, good to see you. You good? Hey—you know any of these people here?”

He shakes his head.

“Nah, there’s nobody, I only saw … yeah, I didn’t really see anyone either.”

The DJ’s mix is slipping and starting to clash.

“Dude—that reminds me—you remember when we used to chat on AIM all day instead of working? Yeah? I don’t know if I ever told you, but that really helped me through some shit, man. Got to thank you for that, I appreciate it, I appreciate it. You ever need to talk one day just hit me up.”

The DJ’s mix falls fully out of time.

“You all by yourself?”

He nods.

“Yeah, me too.”

“Well, I want to figure out what’s going on here. Catch you later, bro.”

You bump fists.

“Be seeing you.”

But instead of replying he takes a sip from his bottle of Heineken and looks away from you, his eyes narrowing as the edges of his mouth turn down.

Look down and you’re still floating.

Look back and he’s gone.

You’re still holding the joint.

A cracked-out blonde girl is tapping the DJ on his shoulder and saying There’s been a request for some more trance music.

You’re still holding the joint.

“… I’m too much man for just one woman …”

Your hands are semi-transparent.

“… you don’t know what it was? Why’d you sniff it if you didn’t know what it was …”

Maybe it’s better outside.

The front door is through the room at the other end of the hallway.

“… I was using the urinals at the office and this cockroach dropped out of the ceiling and fell right on to my fuckin DICK, man …”

People seem to move out of your way as you float towards the hallway.

“… she was such a mess all she could do was drape herself over the drum kit and moan, she was supposed to be singing …”

Coming from the other end of the hallway is a petite girl dressed all in black, black hair, black shoes, pale skin.

The hallway is too narrow for the two of you to pass without bumping into each other.

You both stop. She stares at you, squinting.

You move aside to let her by, holding your hands up and putting your back against the wall.

She smiles, raises her right fist in front of her chest, covers the fist with her other hand, and gives you a little nod, like they do in the kung-fu movies.

And then she walks past you.

You turn to watch her go.

She doesn’t look back.

Behind you, the front door opens, and in rushes an agitated man pleading for someone, anyone, to stop the fireworks.

Through the front door is a covered porch.

The air outside is crisp, and it’s quieter.

“… you’re all right, I actually think you’re the best …”

The door shuts behind you.

Chairs are arranged around a tiny table with a chess set on top. There’s no one else out here.

You want to sit down. But you’re still levitating.

The moon is up.

You still have the joint.

You might as well finish it off.

But is that going to make things better, or worse?

Are things going to get better, or worse?

Too late for that now.