Who doesn’t like summer I tell myself, stepping into a pair of black denim shorts, a sleeveless red T-shirt, and my favourite brown sandals. It’s that time of the year when the sun is at its zenith and the soul is unfettered by the monotonous conditions imposed by Western lifestyle. When the centrepiece of our solar system is cheerful, the heart and soul also shine with the same degree of splendour and contentment! Glancing casually out my bedroom window, I see an earthly paradise unfold before my very eyes; children act out imagined roles and inwardly felt narratives against a marine backdrop that inspires serenity and recreation.
Just like the children, my excitement cannot be contained for a single second. I dash outside, across the street to a tiled promenade that traverses a crescent-shaped shoreline. The row of white condominiums and other high rise buildings which dominate the view recall the topography of cities like the Gold Coast in Australia and Miami in the United States. I let my eyes wonder out towards the horizon; there’s not a cloud in sight! Pleased that the weather god has taken kindly to my presence, I begin meandering along the footpath in a carefree manner. I’m not pressed for time and I have no particular destination in mind so there’s no point in rushing. Walks are always more enjoyable when you can stop regularly to peruse the scenery anyway!
Marching to the very tone that the weather has set, I pass by throngs of sun worshippers, children, skaters, bikers, joggers, and other pedestrians on my way to nowhere. There’s a tepid breeze coming from the south; it ruffles my hair and caresses the hairs of my exposed skin. The sensation of the current as it makes contact with my body is bizarre, preternatural; it almost feels as though it’s passing through me.
At some point an attentive, middle-aged man steps right in front of me, blocking my way.
“Good day sir!” he greets.
“Good day to you,” I reply jauntily.
His smile turns into a frown.
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
“You look very um…”
“I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean.”
“Are you an ex-soldier by chance? You look like you’ve just returned from a war.”
“No,” I reply. “I’ve never been a soldier and I’ve definitely never taken part in any war.”
“You’re covered over in sores and wounds,” he says with a look of desolation and pity in his eyes. “How awful.”
Indeed, when I glance downwards, I realize that my torso is riddled with fleshy wounds which seem to penetrate through to the marrow of my bones, to the very core of my body. Some are elliptical in shape, others hexagonal, and others still perfectly spherical. All look rather fatal. If I wasn’t human I’d be a piece of Swiss cheese thrown out for the sewer rats to ravage. Without warning, the hairs on my skin become fully erect. How can I have deteriorated so badly and not be dead? What’s happening doesn’t make any sense at all. I don’t dare lift my shirt or drop my shorts to see what there might be affected by the same ailing condition.
“How unusual,” says the stranger, mirroring my own thoughts. “You should really be dead by now, shouldn’t you?”
“How are you still thinking, talking, and standing even?”
I shrug my shoulders like a small child that has just been asked how a powerful magician might saw a pretty woman in half and put her back together.
“Is this the central mystery of life?” I ask the stranger and some higher aspect of my own self. “This is the central mystery of life, yes?”
“This is the central mystery of life,” my own voice echoes from multiple directions.
I awake with a muffled scream, my skin crawling.