I was never more aware of it than now. It seemed to be pulsating. My skin. It was pulsating. Throbbing? Maybe that’s a better word. There was a sound too. Like a buzz of some kind. A generator on hum, waiting for the order to pour forth some juice. Naturally, I was the only one that noticed.
The rest of the room rolled along as it was, bodies moving around aimlessly, stopping every now and then, to check frames, clothes, food and phones. Across from me, sitting on a three seater couch that had seen better days, were a couple in the process of eating each other’s faces off, slurping away hungrily and lubing up cheekbones with saliva.
I stared at them blankly, trying to pay no attention to the sound in my ears and my throbbing skin. Someone asked me if I wanted another drink, but their voice seemed to be coming from the bottom of an aquarium, distorted and muffled. The hand gestures helped and I shook my head rather vigorously, as if trying to shake a bee off my hair.
I could know make out a steady sound, that was almost vocal. Hurm. Hurm. Hurm. HURM. HURM. HURM. Like a mantra. All in my head.
My skin was starting to move. No, change consistency. Water turning into something more solid, then solid into something like water. My fingers pressed against the skin covering my forearm, moving through the skin and into the flesh below. Someone’s buttocks rammed into the side of my head. By accident. An apology rained down from somewhere above me and slightly to the left, so that was okay. The chair I was sitting on lurched as I shifted my weight on it, legs creaking and cracking like old bones. My head said it was all in there, but I wasn’t too sure anymore.
The HURM was now almost a vomitous eruption, each throb kicking skin particles into the air, like dust blowing off a shelf. Someone sneezed and I was sure it was my fault. Did I think I could move? As in walk? Out of there? I was pretty sure I couldn’t, though I could try. Hell, even if I fell flat on my face, the people in this room wouldn’t mind. Or indeed notice.
Just behind me, someone was rather loudly arguing about aliens, abductions, anal probes and the like. I tried shouting something at him, but all that came out of my mouth was a rasp, words forming on the edge of my lips for a second, then collapsing down my chin. My skin was all but gone now, broken down into a billion particles that were now fogging up the room, human snow, fresh form the production line. I could see my flesh clearly. Tendons too.
A voice across the room said that we should open a window. The sounds of the city flushed in like so much noise pollution, swirling into the vanilla sounding jazz that was boringly walking along the ceiling. I closed my eyes and concentrated hard, trying to will the throb to intensify, to liquefy my flesh, then move on to my bones, till there was nothing left but my underpants.
I’d leave those on the chair. I felt myself drift. I was better than this. Better than jazz and stale food and bad wine and worse conversation. Or maybe I wasn’t. Maybe I was just a body in a chair. Headless. Maybe I’d checked my head in at the door, hanging it up with the coats. It was hard to tell these days.
"THROB" A SHORT STORY BY GERARD PAPASIMAKOPOULOS. ORIGINALLY FEATURED ON THINKBABYMUSIC IN PRINT ISSUE #4, 2016. PHOTOGRAPHY © DARK INDIGO.