THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE
A few minutes after the last technician left, pivoting his head slowly from side to side as if to say, "There is no there, there." I looked blankly at the table now cleared of implements - tweezers, pliers, tiny jeweler's tools, dental instruments and test-boxes with coded wires, strange amulets with "STATIC-GUARD" stamped on them as if God would recognize and heed a "Halt! Who Goes There?" command from a microfoam sentinal..
Ahead lay the blank blue mirage where lively villages had once been, where pubs and troubadours tooted endless oldies into the night, where smoke-stacks and arcades had huddled side-by-side, and behind each window a familiar icon, like the Laughing Lady at the funhouse, beckoning. All vanished without trace - the village no more, the 'Start' button disengaged from every possible 'Finish' and only pale blue desert in-between the next download and some vague idea that the locus of events that once answered the question, "Who Am I?" had now been reduced to questions of identity certified by some checkboxed 'other' on a census form.
With the empty curiosity of a young child poking the flesh of his brain-dead twin, I punched a few keys still smeared with the years worth of smudge-tailings like tell-tale fingerprints stamped in cadaver grease. Nothing. Not a twitch, not a breath, not a blinking red light - not an icon. All that remained of me was the final instruction on the pad next to the keyboard that the technician had written in the tired scrawl of Rx futility before giving up completely, "Insert System Install boot disk. Press CTRL-ALT-DEL. I swiveled my head from side-to-side, imitating what I could remember of the technician's last incantation: "OH MY THIS MACHINE IS FRIED, FUCK-FRIED MUSH OHM MY PI." Did I get it right? Did it have to be exact? Was there a pentagram I had to trace that went along with the incantation? "Omi fried fuck fish," I cried, inserting the disk in the Sphinx mouth at my elbow - Et filius sanctus benedictus, "I am the Light, I am the Body and the Blood, I am the Resurrection, I am the Whirling Invisibility of the LED", I thought, recalling Bloom's impatience with the tiresome count of communion wafers. Nothing moved. "When the hell are they going to pass the wine around?" I wondered. I need a drink.
A red light blinked and something gurgled. I forgot the wine and went straight to the prayer - the incantation; OM-MANI-PADME-ALT-CTRL-DEL-OMM . I am the Resurrection et PATRIUS, et FILIUS, ET CETERA & DA KINE- ALL HAIL ERIS.... And so it began...as death in reverse must begin... a rattle deep in the back of the throat and the ratchet of chicken-bones seeking, clicking, genuflecting, hash-checking....
© Red Slider, Out_of_the_Loop Press, 1999,2012. All rights, in all media, reserved.