Chapter Twenty Seven – Basic Physics

5 Aug

For what seemed like twenty minutes, I just stood there and watched the ink crawl up the street and further into the town. In the back of my mind, I tried to reassure myself that the wooden model would have broken the window regardless of whether I’d given it a pencil or not, but it didn’t make me feel any better. I still felt the same soul-sapping icy guilt and I guessed I probably would until I saw how bad the damage actually was. So, I kept moving. The shop was only a couple of streets away.

The smell hit me first. If the backroom of The Demon had smelt like ten broken ballpoint pens, then this smelt like a shipping container of them which had been dropped onto the world from somewhere in the stratosphere. I couldn’t even see the shop, but already the pavements were nothing more than a thin dark mirror. I looked down and saw the bottom of twenty pairs of shoes looking up at me. For the first time, the guilt eased a bit, everything still looked normal back in the real world.

Things were a lot less normal here. Apart from the apartments above the shops, the whole street was coated with a thin layer of ink. Every contour of the pavement sparkled and gleamed and all the shop windows were covered with abstract splatter art. In another context, it would look beautiful, but I could feel the icy, oh shit realisation creeping up on me that I’d been a part of all this.

Still, I couldn’t see any dead bodies and the ink was too thin to hide anything. In fact, I even saw someone – a man of about forty with ink-spattered grey trousers – calmly walking along the other side of the street. He looked mildly annoyed, but didn’t even glance in my direction as he kept squelching his way across the street. Everything was ok. No-one was dead.

As I watched a cloud and the soles of four trainer-clad feet pass under my own feet in the reflection below me, I began to wonder why I couldn’t see any of the wooden models in the street. Then, as if by magic, my mind started to make a few connections. The models had been there in The Demon to stab the coffin and release the ink, they had only showed up in the cathedral just before it started filling with ink and the ones which I’d seen in the clothes shop earlier weren’t doing anything since it was already filled with ink.

Another thought flashed through my mind – maybe they were sent here to release the ink? Maybe they weren’t trying to get to the real world, but had actually been sent from there. After all, if the only way to find ink was to know where to stab the universe repeatedly until it started bleeding, then a machine would be the perfect thing for the job. It couldn’t drown, it would always follow orders and, if it failed, then there were probably thousands of others left. It was all starting to make sense to me.

But I still couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do all of this – to flood this world with ink. I mean, even if they managed it, two things couldn’t co-exist in the same space at the same time. It was basic physics. Unless someone was planning to break the universe, there must be another reason for it. Obviously, they wanted some ink to send something across from one world to the other – or maybe even enough of it to fill a few tanks so that people could cross over shortly.

Even so, I didn’t understand why they needed to release so much of the ink. If they were that serious about collecting it, then why didn’t they set up some proper equipment or start drilling for it or something like that? The only explanation I could think of was that they either couldn’t give a shit about this world or that the models were the largest and most complex thing they could send over here. And I’d been hired to give them, whoever they were, more of the ink.

The guilt returned with a vengeance, hollowing out my soul and filling it with the discordant static of awkward, irreversible dread. Still, somewhere in all of this there were answers and I had to find them.

Another thought crossed my mind. It trailed across the chaos of my mind like a single shooting star which glowed with a strange combination of wisdom and malice. I had to find one of the wooden models and I had to dissect it.

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