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Less Than the Eye Can See

by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson


Just ran outside into the rain and the night. Over the street and between the houses. It’s cold. The skin feels rather like it is coming off my hands in places. Inside feels like there’s a frozen steel rod through the chest, sticking up in the back of my mouth.

Stop by the next street over to look around. Maybe a black shadow flashed around that corner there. Looks like there’s a cat under that car. Walk across the street. Start wondering if putting on shoes would have been a good idea but dismiss the idea. Pebbles aren’t invisible, and can be avoided for the most part.

Why outside? Better than inside. Felt as if I was beginning to rot. The lungs might collapse in on themselves. Bones might dry and splinter if not moved. Still, feeling a bit dissociated from the lot of it. Painful as it is, doesn’t bother much. Feel like I’m driving the body, not being it. Everything is just sensory input, somehow.

Should go out and see people. Well, outside now, and seeing nobody. But then, it’s night. Not that seeing people makes much of a difference. Seen them, spoken to them. On to them. They are hollow. They’re mere machines, operating like clockwork of some kind. All have set programming, that’s why they all say and do the same thing.

Come to think of it, maybe I run on clockwork as well? Machines wear down, just like everything. That must be why the skin is coming loose, and the weird icy feeling and the uneasiness. Parts are due replacement.

Jump over the wall to the churchyard, and sit with my back against it, watching the church. It is there, slab-sided and pointy. Lungs deflate, they need an effort to operate. Watch the church for minutes, getting ever colder, ever number.

Think about the clockwork people. Think I am of them. Look at my hand and think: it must be clockwork too.

Skin comes off easily enough, rain washes away blood. I expect metal, but find only bone.

What does it mean? Need to sleep on it.


Went to work. Was unnoticed. Seem to have grown back all right while sleeping. Spoke at people, they spoke back. Have learnt not to introduce to them new ideas; it just confuses them. Have already learnt by heart their set replies.

Time almost flows backwards. Coffee almost flows back from where it enters. People get programmed by their phones; notice this.

Amble outside. Weather non-descript. Should go home and go into a coma but decide not to. Might stop breathing right now but won’t.

Figure if the people are clockwork, then the world is also. Go to the store. Try to get behind into the lager area. Can’t. Door is locked. Kick it, it doesn’t budge. Wait. Someone must exit eventually. Someone does. Enter.

In there is nothing that fades into darkness. Go outside again. Clearly there’s less to the world than the eye can see.

Go home. Try for a coma.

Copyright © 2018 by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

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