Thursday, June 23, 2011

FICTION: Cellulose Face by Aden Pak

On the Tatra street corner, there is a billboard posted. It is currently used by a footwear company. The poster put there, naturally, advertises one of the company’s latest product. It shows a shoe and a smiling young man wearing a pair of those new shoes. The poster is there for about three weeks now and is already starting to peel off probably due to some bad gluing problems or maybe is because of the frequent spring rains. What can you do about it?

What passers-by don’t know or realize, except for a small number of them who are terrified, is the fact that the young man, shall we call him Janis, is somehow able to change his facial expression and move his eyes. Now some might say this is some kind of commercial gimmick but that is not the case here, those movements, as surreal as they might appear, are genuine. His changed facial expressions are either one of marvel or curiosity, but the normal poise is that of a smiling satisfied person looking straight ahead somewhere far in the distance.

He would like very much to leave his current location, meaning the poster, how may you ask? Well, he would simply leap through the poster into the so called real world. He has this wish for about two weeks now from a passerby point of view, but from where he is standing that time is much more longer that. All he sees from his side is: a brand new shoe that just hangs in the air motionless and a grey background that seems to stretch on forever. Right about the center of his field of view there is a window, which in our world is the poster. He looks fixed and directly at it and through it. The poor thing cannot move, except when his desire to leave becomes unbearable and coincides with an apparent communication with the people who pass by the window or the poster in from their point of view. It is only then he can suddenly move some of his facial muscles and his eyes a little bit. He wonders how do they understand him, is curious and would like them to help him leave the place that he is in, but all is in vain because after a while every person, who he thought that would help, walks away from the window suddenly, as if he just disappeared. And when others go by, he moves his eyes in their direction again.

Sometimes he feels like crying but cannot cry. That's somewhat ironic and cruel for someone, or something, that should appear to smile all the time.

And then he screams in his mind again and again:

- Help me, please! Get me out of here, can’t you hear me? Anyone?

On a gloomy day, sometime after this continuous torment, a little boy with his parents walked by the poster which depicted Janis and the shoe.

All of a sudden, the boy stopped in front of the poster, analyzing it with circumspect eyes, especially Janis’s face, sensing something strange about him. His parents followed the boy near the poster, and as they looked at it too they didn’t notice anything beyond its commercial and maybe artistic value.

- Hey you, I know you can see me, says Janis to the boy changing his smiling facial expression into one of curiousness slightly moving his eyes to the right.

- Reach out your hand and tell your folks to pull me out of here.

Janis doesn’t actually speak. He can’t, what he’s communicating are his thoughts.

- Whoa, that’s strange, exclaims the kid.

Feeling extremely uncomfortable and uneasy by noticing Janis’s movements, the kid starts to pull both his parent hands, incessantly, asking them to leave. In contrast the kid’s parents did not see a thing but after some minutes of begging, they listen to his request, and they leave. And so Janis is left alone again.

This time Janis realizes that, in fact, if not surely, the only feeling that people who saw his movements was one of fear not amazement as he previously thought.

- I lost so much energy all this time and for nothing, for nothing.

Now he decides never to care if someone would notice him or to attract anyone’s attention because, it was pointless. He was feeling extremely upset and frustrated and, shortly became quite angry. The sky outside got even cloudier, clouds got even darker. The wind started intensifying thus blowing harder. Soon after this it started to rain, in the beginning slowly and in rare drops and then more quickly with lots of drops. It would seem that the storm inside Janis’s mind or soul became externalized and got even more amplified by each second. The billboard was beaten down by powerful winds and rain water was pouring down on it but from Janis’s point of view everything was calm, seemingly unchanged until a deafening roar, in a crescendo, was starting to make its presence from and in every direction. On the window’s corners water starts to seep in, infiltrating slowly at first then more quickly the entire space in which Janis and the suspended shoe are residing. In a short time span, the whole space was filled with water. Still strangely enough Janis and the suspended shoe were dry.

Suddenly, he felt a strong thud coming from his back pushing him forward through the window. There wasn’t, as normally it should have been, a pop and crack sound, he just went through the window like it was pellucid, transparent.

- I’m outside, finally outside and free, thought Janis meanwhile the rain water was pouring down on him, and while standing up after being slammed face down to the pavement.

Now he had complete control over all of his muscles. He could move as he pleased. He was soaking wet.

While surveying the surroundings and moving upside the street, streams of ink mixed with water were trickling down of him. In a short time, after his quick walk up the street, all that was left out of poor Janis was an oily puddle whose colors were mixed, giving it a brown nuance. Behind the puddle, there were small unequal stains of ink, whose starting point was just a few centimeters from the billboard. That was all for poor Janis.

Maybe some borders between worlds should not be crossed.

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