I am a crippled oil tanker, limping through a dark sea leaving behind me a glistening skein of rust flakes, leaked oil, dead fish, poison and revulsion. Likewise overhead an arrow highlights the hapless culprit, pointing across the sky at my lumbering and unsteady bulk, a smear of choking sulphrous carbon, its shadow deep as a starless night.
Why? I choose not to recall.
I struggle onwards, spending all my remaining fuel, destroying myself recklessly in desperation to reach port. It’s as much because I know I’m inexorably losing inches to the sea as any reflex-twitch of half-forgotten duty.
Duty? I prefer not to think about it.
I shake and am deafened by the relentless thunder of my own ill-tuned engines, blinded by the shroud of my own pollution, yet some lingering shred of reason guides me true to my destination.
My Destination? Safe harbour. Nothing else matters.
In the distance, all around me now, converging, others like myself toil, bringing in like cargoes of precious black poison to answer a common need. There are so many, yet I am alone in my own darkness, as they all each are.
Need? No! I DENY IT! Pretend yet that I carry this cargo for no man.
Even my engines now are failing. Their thundrous pitch grows deeper with every passing minute, and a high whining overtone of tortured metal more dominant. I must forego the self preservation of the bilge pumps, turn off my running lights, conserve all power for my final leap to safety.
Safety? They will not let me sink, not yet. They need the oil.
At last now, and all a-sudden there is a light ahead: a shadowed blood-red beacon that guides me in, this final lap, to meet Them there.
To meet who? NO! Avert mine eyes, even now I will not look.
But finally I come to rest, at dock. Eagerly They reach to take my cargo.
At last I can deny it no longer. I turn to face Them, to offer up the ancient riches I have spent myself to bring before Them. I behold the truth that I have long denied.
Before me They stand arrayed along the shore, their serried ranks stretch out to the horizon, dark but for the glitter of their infinite weaponry.
The army of all that Consumes, gathered here in preparation for the final assault upon the vestiges of beauty, the only remaining truth, the remnant guttering flame of knowledge, the last hope, the last love, the last joy.
All They were waiting for was some fuel.
For this, I have bled and strained and sweated myself dry.
Speechless with dread, self-loathing and despair I watch as They draw forth the oil, and siezing it, take up Their battle-cry: the monotonal drone of absolute indifference.
But even as They go, renewing their inexorable march towards the end of all that was light, I am assaulted anew. An urgent new command comes bellowed down the line, two words delivered in the cadences of unquestionable Authority: More! Now!
And I am cast out.
I am a crippled oil tanker, limping through a dark sea.
Footnote: This was mostly written at the end of a very long, difficult day’s work, full of futility and waste as some days inevitably are. I had a blister on my foot and a burgeoning migraine, and I was utterly flat broke. The train was particularly packed with screaming children and mumbling, stinking, belligerent drunks. In short, I was in an especially bad mood. This post should not be taken as significant to my actual life in any way.