Tuesday 25 February 2014

The Alchemist

There came a time, when the magic faded completely from our fickle society. The straws of popular opinion were bundled tight in society’s norms and the proverbial camel’s back broke under the pressure. We had all forsaken the principles and beliefs that actually made us human.

Behemoth corporations bought every advertising space imaginable, from t-shirt sleeves and fronts, to the dirty corners of bathroom floors. Billboards covered the sides of houses and no man was free from the empty promises of primetime adverts.

The tentacles of the spider-squid known as the internet had caught every last human in its vast interweb; draining them of individuality and turning them into shuffling zombie-puppets.

They would absently walk into each other in crowded places, as if they expected to phase through one another. Their eyes focussed solely on their handheld touch screens, taking photos of their faces with the front cameras of their mobile devices. Selfies all resembled expressionless I.D photos because no one could focus on anything outside the rectangular field of their small screens long enough to take a picture that dared to be different. The selfie that looked most like the next one got the highest ‘Like’ count and retweets. Quite rarely, these zombie portraits would make an attempt at change using the veil of a filter. But their faces remained the same—dead and banal.

Music had long lost its aesthetic value. Albums had become things of the past, ghost-like echoes in the wind. Singles took up less effort than full works of music and with the immediacy of the interwebs; they were churned out like knock-off sneakers in a dark factory. These songs had no meaning or depth. The only purpose they served was to drown out the sound of any on coming bodies so that people could walk into each other. No song was deeper than a puddle of acid rain in the polluted metropolises the zombie-puppets called home.

The magic was lost. Nothing wowed. Nothing amazed. And nothing inspired.

Until one day.

The zombie-puppet was terribly confused. He had walked right into a brick wall—a rarity during those dark days—and looked up. Usually one of them would walk into a high definition screen, look up, and be captivated for a few minutes by some repetitive advertisement before a notification on their handheld would relay the same message from the bigger screen. ‘Click here for a more personalised experience!’ and then their heads would lower again; easing them back into monotony.

The puppet-zombie saw for the first time in what seemed like eons, his fellow drones walking to unknown destinations. He saw them bump into each other, look up for the slightest second and show a hint of familiarity. They all somehow knew each other from The Facebook. They amazed him. None of them spoke. They all went about their business and shared nothing but a fleeting moment of meaningless body contact.

The jumbotrons and billboards spoke to him and he had heard it all before, but he had never taken the time to actually LISTEN to the words of the advertising man’s song. He listened attentively and marvelled at the special effects. The words told him to ‘Visit their Twitter page for more interaction’. He slowly obeyed and looked down at the screen in his palm again. He would be immersed in thecommercialised consumerist whirlpool that was his handheld once again. He took a step forward. His sluggish movement was halted again, this time by a large wooden door. The door was a little battered and old. Its wood had yawned into cracks and splinters and its old varnish had peeled into chaffing skin. It was thick and wide, still showing some of its old strength like a proud retired body builder, sloughing a little with age. The zombie-puppet stood staring at it. Inside his mind, something was changing. Little sparks and explosions ignited in a brain that had not been kindled in a long time. He knew not what was happening. A confused look slowly crept across his face. His free hand involuntarily rose to the door’s old handle and turned it. The door cracked open into a dark room frozen in time.

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