Whilst undertaking a genealogical family search over the weekend I came face to face with my 6yr old self. Not a photo of me, but one of my uncle who died when I was 6. It was a shock quite frankly, to click on an icon and find his alien status card with a big deceased stamped across it. I don’t really know if I understood death at 6, but my gut reaction was of sadness and a hole full of yearning. I missed him.
The sadness lingered and greeted Tuesday morning with the death of Rik Mayall. Not someone I knew, but someone I grew up watching with enjoyment. His death another shock. Then that same afternoon I learned of the death of Gary Gilmour, my favourite cricketer when I was young, a medium pacer in a world of fast bowlers. I adored him.
To top all of this off my story was rejected for a project!!
My inner child and my ego are battling to see which is the most sad at the moment.
Below is my poor rejected story, the blood and sweat of many weeks. Feel free to criticise. I can take it. My fragile sense of self will not disintegrate…….much!
Since the change I cannot see, only feel the darkness smashing into me. It penetrates every nook and cranny. My blood runs rich and black, a thick, viscous clot hovers over my brain. One day it will enter, dam the flow and I shall die. Before that end a flood of life, of images long gone, will surely light up my last hours. As it is, for now, all I see is blackness coiling, beckoning, oozing, seeping, dominating. The sun has lost the fight, the night has won. Each star has been obliterated from my sight. Light has been blotted out. Black sunflowers have colonised our universe, a kind of big bang seeding in reverse.
All that we could see, hear, touch was all we thought there was. We never liked to think of all the spaces imbetween. To think about what might lurk amongst the atoms, circulating with electrons, probing holes in neutrinos, creating subatomic memories. We labelled everything we could see and thought that that explained it all, but so much existed in the dark that was invisible to our self-satisfied logical brains. The inhabitants of one small rock in a universe of nothing inevitably fell on the sword of its own hubris. This was the day darkness came out of hiding. The day that sunflowers took back the night, broke the shackles of dependence on the sun, began to feed on light itself, our visibility swallowed whole.
So far removed from our ancestors and their world of dark and light and finally red, we thought we had captured all the waves, labelled all the colours on the spectrum. We forgot that words only describe, that sometimes they lie. The flowers taught us otherwise.
Invasion tales inevitably begin with something alien turning up out of the blue. Ours was no different. Like white men as lethal gods crossing oceans and mountains intent on taking over black, the world discovered a new species of plant sprouting everywhere, in every clime, on every surface. In the twenty-four hours it takes the world to turn, each peoples woke to see giant black sunflowers bloom, each flower as big as a serving plate with petals deeper than the darkest of moonless nights. In a day the world was covered in these giant blooms, unimaginatively called Black Sunflowers by a media literally having a field day reporting on this phenomenon.
Enchanted gardeners everywhere rejoiced at finally seeing a flower of truest black, a colour never before achieved. In awe at such majesty only a few thought to question their arrival. Just where had they come from? Fewer still worried about the significance of black. For black after all is not really a colour but an absence of colour, the result of all colours being swallowed together. These black sunflowers were hungry for light. They began to eat, a ravenous feasting of all we could see.
The blood clot has moved. A sharp pain over my right eye, repeated over and over produces little flashes of red. I relish the pain for I can see red. Joyous, angry, atavistic red. I never thought I’d see colours again. If the end comes now as I float crucified in this world of darkness I will at least have seen red for one last time.
Flashbacks of crimson red, the colour of her lipstick. I watch as those crimson lips move. I watch her talk and laugh in silence. Flashing red memories of hot crushes and assignations. My heart beats a hot red rhythmic pulse each time she enters the room. I see my blood mingling with hers. I hear the click of red high heels as she walks across the timber floorings. Most of all I see those luscious red lips parted in a smear of lust as my brain takes my body back to a time of sex and other colourful possibilities. I dream in red.
Days, weeks, months later, the blood clot moves again, releasing a memory of blue. The most brilliant, vibrant, clearest blue of a cold pollution free Winter’s day. Not a hint of black or grey, just blue. For a moment my thinking is clear and logical, a side effect of the blue. I see the inevitability of my demise. Coldly I question why I’m hanging here. Am I a martyr holding out against the Dark Matter Oppressors, those keepers of eternal night?
Why do I stubbornly hold on to my dreams? My red and blue are sure to combine and produce a purple regal tone for my memories. For a moment I see myself as the new messiah leading my people into the light. In time I remember there are no others, only myself. I will be a king clothed in purple, without a crown or a kingdom, without a people to rule.
As the world slowly darkened, priests and other charlatans preached on the iniquity of humans and the coming of the apocalypse to release us all from sin, one way or another. Fundamentalists watched for the coming of the four horsemen, the number of the beast engraved upon their saddles. Others knew they were already here. The darkness had already conquered all. Crops failed as the light dwindled. Wars were fought over scraps of food and stagnant water. The cycle of life had been interrupted by the lack of sunlight. There was no rain, no respiration, no condensation, and no photosynthesis. Mother Earth grinded to a halt leaving the inhabitants to fight over the pickings.
Now I ask myself why did no one but me eat the black sunflower seeds? Something about them screamed Do Not Touch! I did not listen to this warning, I was hungry, and so I ate. Others were more careful, they do not share my fate.
It was quite galling when we realised we were living an apocalyptic cliché. Even we, the so called rational scientists, locked ourselves away in an underground bunker in order to investigate these black sunflowers far from the chaos of a world doomed. We followed this pattern of future shock outlined in many a novel.
As this world disintegrated above us, we dissected seeds and petals, stems and roots. We worked until the generators cut out and power no longer existed. We discovered nothing. By all logical measures these sunflowers should not exist. We chopped them up, touched them, inspected them under microscopes but still they were not really there. We saw the consequences of their presence on this planet as it was slowly being eaten alive by the dark, but by all rules of physics they should not have existed in our matter filled world.
As I float in my world of nothing, wearing only my purple cloak, the world of logic and reasoning seems but a joke. Maybe there has never ever been anything for me to see. Perhaps I’ve always had this blood clot on my brain, creating colours out of dark, memories out of spaces needing to be filled. Did I invent a whole universe in order to comfort my solitary, lonely existence? Were those luscious red lips invented to stimulate loins I cannot see but only feel must exist? Am I the son of a taunting god sent away to play with subatomic building blocks, to create that spark of life out of nothing??
I do not have an answer to these questions derived from blood clots a-hammering torture on my brain. Tiny lights keep appearing on the closed lids of my eyes. All the colours of the rainbow flickering, entwining: a product of my mind. The last vibrant colours I saw before interring myself in the laboratory were contained within a rainbow. The last storm, the last rain, the last rays of sunlight refracted through water droplets producing my last coloured memory. Now I am recreating these colours, this beautiful array of colours, in the darkness. There is no gold at the bottom of the rainbow but my mind still insists on tracing a journey across.
I slip and slide over glorious light waves, seeking neither fortune nor future. When I reach the furthest point I look back and see a flotilla of black sunflowers following behind as if I was their anti-sun and had them under my diurnal spell. Eventually they completely cover the rainbow and I lose all my beautiful colours again.
The pain from invisible nails pierce my wrists and ankles in staccato sympathy with the sudden excruciating stabs within my brain. In the instant the blood clot moves into it’s final resting place, the world is returned to me in all the fatal glory of luxurious light. It is as if the sun has reserved the last of its energy just for me in order to show the earth in all its stark uncaring beauty. As I hang crucified above I see that is the truth. Mother earth does not care. She has closed her eyes to the deeds of mankind.
Beautiful as she is she has resigned herself to the entropy stemming from a dearth of novel ideas. We have allowed this with our wars, our religions, our lack of understanding. We have invited darkness to thrive in a system eager for nurturing yet pulled down by greed.
The black sunflowers are of our making. We let them into this world. We who gambled with knowledge and fought without respect. We who forgot that no one stands alone in the light.
As the final light slowly dies I resign myself to my future suspended in darkness and everlasting pain. I should never have eaten the sunflower seeds, for now I am one with the dark, forever condemned to consume the light.
I remain, alone in the darkness, sprouting.
Footnote: There was one amusing side to the family research I undertook. Together with my uncle’s death notice was a copy of a handwritten note in very familiar hand writing. My Mum had written to convey the news of my uncle’s death to the government in the very same handwriting I would learn to forge a decade later to sign documents for school!
Copyright June 2014