Burn The House
I don’t care. I don’t know how to. But I’ll just keep watching........
I’ve heard a story that in the old days there was something called “insurance”- house insurance, or house and contents. Whatever. Apparently you paid money every year to some people you didn’t know and you never saw, but who promised to give you back enough to replace your house and all your stuff if you happened to burn it down. And people fell for that! Seems getting your house burned down wasn’t a thing that happened very often at all and so a good living could be made out of taking money from all the people who were AFRAID they would burn their house down when very few ever did. Can you believe it? I reckon myself that that story is highly improbable, . I mean what’s “afraid” even mean? Seems to me that THEN there must have been a thousand and one reasons your house might burn down. Today there’s basically just the one reason. And nobody’s house ever got burned down for any other reason.
I’m told that in years gone by people would move house fairly regularly, just for a job, or a school or maybe just to be near family. I don’t suppose you could exactly say they didn’t think twice about it; no doubt there were still things to consider. They must’ve thought, “Can we afford it? Does it have enough bedrooms for all the family? Is the garden big enough?” Even, “Is the aspect suitable?” You can hardly credit people gave such things headroom, can you?
Life must have been so different before THEY arrived. Nowadays all anybody has ever considered in living memory is would THEY like it. Would THEY think to move in. Would THEY want to inhabit it. Would THEY want to take it over.
It’s said they prefer some houses to others, but nobody seems to know why that is. So nobody knows whether to expect them in their own house. Everybody keeps a bag packed.
One thing’s for sure – if they do want your house, they WILL take it. And the only way to be rid of them is to burn the house and everything in it. Including them. Then you just have to move on and try to rebuild your life.
I asked my mum once whether people couldn’t just share the house with them. After all, they’re barely visible. Barely there at all. She looked at me like I might be going mental or something.
“Callum,” she said, “You don’t share your house with these things. They do say one or two people have tried it, and………” and she shook her head as though the end of the world was just around the corner.
“What, mum? And what?” These were the days when I still had questions.
She looked at me with her empty eyes.
“When they take over your house, what people used to call your “home”, it becomes unbearable to be in it. You can so easily catch the infection from them. There are things called grief, joy, despair, anger, love, sadness, fear, anticipation……….oh a whole bunch of stuff that they bring with them, that would eat away at the very bricks and mortar and eventually bring about the collapse of the whole structure. You’re still young, Callum, and it’s hard for you to understand – hell, it’s hard for ME to understand - but a long time ago it’s said that these love and grief things, and the rest of them, whatever they are, would bring about the collapse not just of the house but of a human being too if we got infected with too many of them inside ourselves. People used to get broken, apparently. Like they were THINGS. They called it ‘breakdown’”
She closed her eyes and I wondered whether she would sleep. Then she spoke as if in a dream and she told me about a time, before either she or I were born, when we actually FELT things. She said we felt these things like joy, fear, curiosity – oh and many other things.
I didn’t know what she meant really. I never “felt” anything in my life, other than cold, hungry, tired maybe. She said the things we felt were called “emotions.” She said she knows emptiness and has to eat or sleep when she remembers my great-grandparents and how their faces would change sometimes, and sometimes funny noises would come from their mouths, like the sound of drains gurgling, and sometimes water would come from their eyes and run down their faces.
She’s dead now, my mum. When she died I slept for a long time. When I woke up I was cold. I turned up the thermostat and I was OK.
So, here I am on my own, and I think I’ve got them in the house. I think I’ve seen their odd little faces out of the corner of my eye. They lurk and multiply in dark corners just waiting for the time to be right.
I met a man once who told me he’d had them. He’d burned his house and taken to the road with his one bag. Even his spare shoes were now worn and leaky, but he just kept walking. It was all there was left to do, he said. If he hadn’t burned his house the neighbours would’ve burned it for him……..with him in it! Nobody wants them in the neighbourhood. They might be catching.
So, now I reckon I’ve got them……..and I don’t intend to burn any damned thing. And I’m keeping it dark from the neighbours. They’re not to be trusted. I learned that from the walking man.
I won’t burn my house down.
I feel the matches in my hand, but I won’t use them, will I.
My mum told me that one night the Emojis just left our screens. When people woke in the morning there were no Emojis left to be seen. They went and they took our “emotions” with them. And then they invaded our homes. I dunno. It seems about as improbable to me as the insurance thing. I mean, that they ever lived on our screens!
So I’m sitting here in the dark wondering what their next move will be.
I don’t care. I don’t know how to.
I’m just sitting here………..waiting.
My mum would have done it this way. My mum’s dead now.
I can feel water start to come out of my eyes and run down my face.
His girlfriend, Gwen, points her chin away from him and drops her shoulders back as if she’s summoning something. Demons, perhaps, to do away with Eve and her liquid charms. Gwen’s movements become an eruption of arms and legs, uncontrollable, possessing feet of space in front of her. Ben moves closer to Gwen, slips into her rhythm, dodging her wind-milling limbs. Something contagious is on the dance-floor tonight, it’s spreading and I’m the only one who sees it.
Now it’s reached Nick and his feet stomp the beat along, punctuating the bass notes. His facial expression reminds me of a two-year-old who’s just discovered they can do something. Poor Nick, I'll let him have this freedom tonight, let him believe he has decades to dance. I turn the volume up a tremor to pull them closer in, give them relief from their lives.
Mona sways with her eyes closed as if she doesn’t want the outside world to be there, as if it’s safe only in her own head. She hasn’t yet realised her mind will destroy her. She should keep her eyes open and never hide inside. Already she’s missing the beat, nodding on the downs, adrift. She's lost, even I can't reach her.
James moves away from Mona flinging his head round and round as if trying to throw it off his neck. He senses something, I can tell, he’s trying to clear his ears of the tune but it's a bug burrowing deeper inside. His mouth opens and closes on no sound.
My friends morph back into part of the heaving, undulating crowd. Their features indistinct, their faces inhuman. They slam the floor as hard as hailstones, whirl like dervishes, become other, not themselves. They flit in and out of the music and the lights as if someone shot a film that’s been ripped into pieces and patched together again. They aren't people, they are dance moves consumed by the dark frenzy of sound. It is eating them alive. The noise builds relentlessly and their breaking bodies coil around it, tighter and tenser than flesh should get. Nobody’s breathing, talking, drinking. All they are is carriers of this parasitic dance.
You think I’m a devil, the devil perhaps, the pusher of the drug that transformed these kids, the corrupter of innocents, a predator. You’re both right and wrong - I’m just the DJ.
BURN THE HOUSE
Eyes meet and lips touch
passion ignites, together
we burn the house down.