This story contains fetishised behaviour, details of a strong adult nature and scenes some may find distressing. Often we do not choose the stories we write, they choose us. And this is a story I should have told many years ago.
"Nothing lasts forever. In all the universe there are only two constants, and these are one. There will be change, and something that changes. Nothing is lost; the total always stays the same.” — Narrator, Monkey. Episode 39.
The Ghosts of Sneaked666 Past
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Especially my mouse—the computer was turned off; all the everythingmustdie.com updates set to auto release over the next two weeks. But just for a moment, I was tempted to sort out some photos I had found; a really nice set with me trashing skater gear. I had been looking for them for ages, partly so I could give them a fresh breath of life, but mostly to remember the time.
But it could wait. This was my holiday from all that. One thing I did notice in the photos was a dark blue Etnies sweatband and I was certain I still had it. A few minutes later, after a good rummage in a drawer, I found it. I stared at this former part of me in wonder; a miraculous survivor. I stuffed it in my hoodie pouch and made for the living room.
It was a dark day but all the better for showing off the lights I had hung around the room. I glanced at the time; only a couple of hours before my partner came home and we could start our Christmas break. The housework was done, I had completed all the prep for tonight’s meal and a bottle of wine sat cooling in the fridge, so all that was left to do was to sit down and relax. I fished the sweatband back out of my hoodie's pouch and slipped it on. I could barely remember the time where I would routinely wear one. It felt nice. Maybe I should revisit the past more often, I thought in a moment of weakness.
“No, the past was the past,” I reassured myself.
My eyelids drooped momentarily, which I took as a cue to shut my eyes for a few moments. I had always been curious what a ‘moment’ was. In some respects, it was a short, indefinitely vague amount of time but in other aspects it could be a precise singular point. This is the kind of stuff I often think about.
My ponderings were interrupted by a large crash from the bedroom. My eyes flew open and, for a moment (a short, indefinitely vague amount of time in this case), I was frozen to the spot. Was there an intruder in my flat?
I was about to pass it off as a figment of my tired mind when I heard another, quieter thump. I looked around the room to see what there was to protect myself. I discounted the vase my partner’s mum had given him as, although it might knock out the intruder, it certainly wouldn’t save me from the wrath of my partner. I settled on a miniature artificial Christmas tree perched on the dining table, the not insignificant base probably making it more dangerous than it had any right to be.
I eased myself out of my neon green Nike Tn trainers and silently made my way across to the bedroom door in my white socked feet. I glanced at the fake plastic Christmas tree I was wielding in my hand and the absurdity of it almost made me bolt for the front door which was just across the hall. I steeled myself, however, vowing that no-one was going to spoil our Christmas. Not this year.
The door to the bedroom was half-open so I peered into the darkened room. Within was a figure lumbering slowly, arms outstretched, across the room. My brain quickly processed the information and came up with the only logical conclusion.
There was a Zombie in our bedroom!
It suddenly lurched into the bedframe, cracking its shin good and proper.
Not a Zombie then. I took the opportunity of the intruder’s pain and confusion to rush into the room and smack him across the back of the head with my festive improvised weapon. I don’t think I screamed ‘Arrrrrrgh!’ as I stormed the scene, but he certainly made a similar noise right after the sickening crunch of the Christmas tree base connecting with his skull.
I turned on the lights to find him sprawled across the bed. I quickly grabbed the handcuffs out of the drawer by my bed (don’t judge) and fastened his hands together. There was token resistance but he was much too dazed to defend himself.
The stranger was wearing a light blue tee, baggy blue jeans and a black beanie. There was a sweatband on one arm and a pair of chunky white trainers on his feet. I looked a bit closer at the shoes and identified them as Vision Streetwear. I was aware that the skater look was definitely coming back, but Vision hadn’t made trainers like that since the mid-noughties and, well, these looked brand new. That was curious.
I withdrew quickly to a safe distance in case he was used to being handcuffed. Although, to be fair, I was used to being handcuffed and I certainly wouldn’t have been any trouble if I was in his place. Always the good boy.
I decided I needed to see who this was and was about to turn him over when I noticed blood starting to leak from the back of his head. I quickly grabbed the nearest thing to hand—a red Under Armour hoodie—and held it to the back of his head. My partner would kill me if I got blood on the freshly laundered duvet.
The mystery man started to moan so I quickly flipped him over, resting his head on the bunched-up hoodie. It was then I noticed his tee was Von Dutch and the beanie was Spitfire. And then I noticed his face—
My eyes widened as his eyes opened. We stared at each other for a moment before simultaneously saying, “Oh, sh— “, both of us censoring the rude word to a silent mouthing.
He was me! Or, more precisely, me from the mid-noughties.
“I can’t believe you hit me!” he exclaimed. “Proper cracked me! Do you normally go around hitting people?”
“Only when they are in my flat without my permission!” I retorted. “I mean what the fuck is this anyway? Am I having a dream?”
“Ooo, when did I become such a potty mouth? And so unbelievably self-centred? What makes you think this is your dream? This could be my dream, doofus!” countered the mid-noughties Skater Me.
“Really?” I protested. “I'm the self-centred one? Your dream would primarily involve you being handcuffed by yourself?”
He cocked his head in thought. “Yeah, why not, nothing we’ve not done before . . .”
I had to admit he had a point. “Yes, but . . .”
“Oh, bonus marks for keeping the cuffs in the bedroom now, by the way,” Skater Me smirked. “What did you hit me with, anyway? It really hurts!"
I quickly hid the tree behind my back. “Erm, that doesn’t really matter,” I replied. “We need to work out what’s going on here . . . But first, let’s get that patched up, shall we?”
He nodded in agreement. “You going to uncuff me first?”
“No. Not until I’ve had time to think.”
“C’mon! I’m you! You can trust me." He paused, giving me a cheeky smile. "I do hope you’re not going to take advantage of me in my current condition . . .”
My face contorted in disgust. “Eww, come on! That’s a rank thought!”
“Nothing you haven’t touched before . . .”
“Bathroom. Now!” I barked, pulling me to my feet.
* * *
With the first aid attended to, we went into the living room. I automatically slipped my Tns back on; even with the heating going, there was an icy cool radiating from the windows. “Mhhhmm. I do love the smell of Germolene!” Skater Me declared as he spread himself across the sofa.
I sighed. “I forgot how weird I used to be.”
“Come on, you still love the smell of Germolene in the morning, surely?”
“No . . .” I answered.
“Yes, you do . . .” he challenged.
“Well, I . . . Anyway, we need to work out what’s going on here, so—”
He suddenly sat upright from his slouch and pointed his arm at me. “Are those skin tight trackies?”
“Oh, wow.” He looked surprised and more than a bit amused. “You do know I can see the outline of your cock clearly through them, right?”
I briefly looked down to confirm what I already knew: my bulge was more than evident in these tight and light colour Nike Tech Fleece pants. When I was still Skater Me, I would never have dared to wear such attire. But it was how Master liked me to look, so this was how I looked. I even liked it now.
“Nothing you haven’t seen before,” I retorted. "Let’s get back to the problem at hand.”
I wasn’t surprised that Skater Me wasn’t put off so easily. “God, how have you simultaneously become more daring and yet more boring?” he asked, glancing down at my feet. “Tns too? You’ve become my inner scally! They’re a bit bright, aren’t they? Hang on—did you just call me a problem?”
Ah, took him a while but he finally got there. “No, well, yes, sorry,” I responded. “So, why are you here?"
"Who knows? I imagine you're currently experiencing some sort of existential crisis that needs resolving, so you created me from your subconscious or something. Are you having an existential crisis?"
He peered at me through narrowed eyes. "Really? Are you sure?"
"I think I'd know if I was having an existential crisis, thank you!"
Skater Me made a writing motion across the palm of his left hand. "And shows signs of being overly cross at everything . . ."
I scowled at him.
“Well, if you’re telling the truth and the world isn’t imminently going to end, let’s go trash something!” he exclaimed, jumping up from the sofa. “I’m actually eying up that Nike FC tee you’re wearing. It looks so soft and . . . killable.”
“Er, no . . .”
“Oh, come on! We can have some fun,” he continued, undeterred. “I’d sure like to stick a knife in those track pants too. We could have you wearing ribbons in no time; four hands are better than two! Where’s the camera?”
“I said no!” I snapped back. “I don’t . . .” My voice trailed off.
“You don’t what?” He looked at me in a puzzled way. “Are you trying to tell me you don’t trash things anymore?!”
“I’m . . . well, retired . . .”
The younger me slumped back on to the sofa. “Wow. I didn’t see that coming. Don’t you miss it?”
“Things happen. People change,” I replied quietly.
“Great, my future royally sucks!” He crossed his arms moodily.
“Yeah, well, I didn’t much enjoy being you either!” I shot back.
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“You wasted our time,” I started angrily, standing over him and jabbing my finger at him. “I’ve written a novel—you could have done that but no, you pissed away our time and now I’m trying to catch up on all the things we could have done, catching up on those people you should have spent more time with. Those that are still here . . .” I finished, my voice cracking. I wiped away a tear from my eye.
He sat up and looked at me, an alarmed look on his face. “What’s happened?”
I slumped into the armchair and sighed. “Spoilers,” I said softly. We sat there in silence, both of us staring at the opposite wall for a while. Finally, he turned back to me.
“You couldn’t have hated being me that much,” he said, pointing to the sweatband on my arm. I looked down at my wrist; I was still wearing the one I had found earlier. A small smile crept across my face, he had me there. I glanced across to his wrist and then quickly back to mine. It was the same sweatband! Of course! Our eyes met in a moment of realisation. Light bulbs would have appeared above our heads if this had been a cartoon.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking . . .” he said, his voice tingling with excitement.
“We are the same person, so . . .”
"Allegedly,” Skater Me countered. “After that ‘retired’ business and other evidence I’ve collected so far, I am starting to wonder . . . Oh! Do you still have a box of ‘keepsakes’?”
“Yeah, but . . .”
“In the office room? You still have an office room, I assume? In the wardrobe?”
"I've never had an office in a wardrobe!" I said, pretending to misunderstand for comic effect.
He rolled his eyes. "Doofus."
Before I could reply to the insult he was up and out of the room. By the time I caught up with him he was rummaging through the large cupboard in the office room.
“Aha!” he exclaimed, pulling out a box and holding it aloft. A small noise followed, then a much louder noise as an avalanche of all the things that had been stacked on top of the box came crashing out of the cupboard and covered the ground around us.
“Uh . . .” Skater Me said, gazing around at the carnage of boxes and their contents spewed on the floor. “We’ll sort that out later, yes?” He stepped from the mess and placed the retrieved box on the desk.
I glared at him. “It would be churlish of me to point out what a massive metaphor that is for you . . .”
“Indeed. It’s just as well you didn’t,” he replied sharply, glaring back. “And I really don’t care if it applies to me or not.”
Soon enough, he was distracted as he rummaged around in the box, picking out bits of broken shoe, detached tongues and scraps of clothes, holding each one aloft to examine them before putting them back. “You know,” he finally said, “there doesn’t seem to be much left that I put in here . . .”
“You can’t hold onto the past forever,” I replied.
“Hmmm . . .” Skater Me said after turning his attention back to the box. “Ah, these are interesting!” He held up a formerly white leather pair of Tns that had been spray painted red.
“Ah, those are after your time,” I said. When it looked as if he was about to try them on, I blurted out, “Is that a good idea?”
“Absolutely! Come on, put one on!” he said eagerly, already pulling off the loosely laced Vision Streetwear trainer from his foot. He slipped into the painted trainer and wriggled his toes. “A bit stiff,” he observed with a slight frown.
“Too much detail,” I said sarcastically. “That’ll be the paint. You know you look ridiculous, right?” I said, gesturing toward his mismatched footwear. He stuck his tongue out at me as I slipped my foot out of the ultra-loosely laced neon green Tns. Before long, we both were wearing one of the painted Tns.
“Mismatched Tns seem to be quite the theme in my life . . .” I mused. “Now what? What’s the point?”
Skater Me gave me a sheepish look. “Um, I just assumed we might just, y’know, ‘whoosh’ . . .”
“Whoosh? Whoosh?!” I rolled my eyes. “Should I click my heels together or something?”
“We could try . . .” He started to do just that before he glanced up and saw my best ‘I am not going to try that’ face. Then, he suggested, “. . . or maybe we can concentrate on what happened to them?”
“You weren’t there!” I pointed out.
“Okay, you concentrate. Go on, just try, pleeeease?”
I sighed and closed my eyes and thought about the session involving a full Lacoste tracksuit and the paint. The way I just spray painted myself and . . .
“Oooh, oh!” Skater Me exclaimed. “I know! Izzy, wizzy, let’s get busy!”
I opened my eyes at the ridiculous intrusion. “What?”
He didn’t get a chance to answer. There was a brief swirl of colours before my eyes, then a horrific wrenching noise and what sounded a bit like a discordant trombone. A moment later, we were there, at the previous flat, with Skater Me grinning inanely at me—and right in front of us was Lacoste Me, sat out on the balcony.
“Fucking Wizbit? Really?” I hissed. “I mean, that’s not even his ‘magic word’!” I glanced across to Lacoste Me, then asked Skater Me, “Do you think he can see or hear us?”
“Oh, so you remember his ‘magic word’, do you?” Skater Me asked, an eyebrow raised.
“Um, no, of course not!” I replied. It felt odd to be embarrassed by a younger version of myself.
“Sure, you don’t,” Skater Me said, rolling his eyes. “And, to answer your question, if he could see or hear us, I think he might have given some sign that he noticed us arriving.” He gazed around the open plan living area. “Wow, this is a cool flat!”
“Yeah, it was,” I agreed, looking around. It was then I noticed that the painted Tns we had been wearing had vanished. Skater Me was standing there with just one skater shoe on and I was wearing one neon Tn. I pointed to his white socked foot.
“Yeah. Makes sense, doesn’t it?” he replied, then cocked his thumb at Lacoste Me. “He’s wearing them now.”
“Great. Of course. Yes, perfect sense!” I said with exasperation in my voice. “So, what do we do now?”
“Watch, I guess. Enjoy our show! It’s a rerun for you, I suppose, and an advance viewing for me. Ooo, look at that camera! That looks way better than mine!”
“To be honest, I preferred the one you used . . .”
Skater Me had sidled up to the tripod in his excitement to get a closer look at the tech. He turned and pointed, mouthing ‘flip out screen’ with a giddy look on his face. I had just started to say, ‘Careful now!’ when his outstretched finger touched the camera with just enough force to cause the tripod to topple over. We looked on in horror as the camera hurtled towards the ground.
Lacoste Me noticed and launched into action, diving forward, just managing to cushion the camera in one hand before it hit the wood floor.
“Fuck!” exclaimed Skater Me.
“When did you become such a potty mouth?” I said, giggling before I could stop myself. “Oh . . . That actually happened.”
"What?" exclaimed Skater Me.
"That really did happen,” I repeated. “The tripod suddenly fell over for absolutely no obvious reason. But how . . .?”
We looked on as Lacoste Me inspected the camera and then started to adjust the legs on the tripod. I glanced across to Skater Me, who was grinning from ear to ear.
"This is not funny!" I scolded. I was a bit shaken now that I’d had a moment to think about what had just happened. "It looks like we can interact with things here. We need to be careful we don't change anything!"
"I didn't!” Skater Me responded. “You said that actually happened, so it's just as well I was here to make it happen. So, really you should be thanking me for giving you a perfectly reasonable explanation for something you had no explanation for back then."
"You call this 'perfectly reasonable'?" I said, spreading out my arms. As far as I was concerned, the whole situation was anything but reasonable.
"Any explanation which is the truth is a reasonable explanation, however improbable,” Skater Me countered. “Anyway, looks like we are ready for the show!"
I was about to continue the discussion before I decided it just wasn’t worth the effort. I looked out at Lacoste Me sat on the floor with a can of red spray paint in his hand. He was wearing a full white Lacoste tracksuit, a white Umbro cap, white football socks pulled up over the legs of the trackies, and the white leather Nike Tns. He pushed down on the can’s nozzle and sent a stream of paint across the tracksuit jacket.
"Oh!" said Skater Me, beaming. "You did the tracksuit too, with it still on? Wow! I bet that felt great!"
I smiled as I watched Lacoste Me sweep the paint across his legs and then the Tns. He shucked off the tracksuit top and laid it on the ground so he could continue to spray the trainers without getting any on the paving slabs of the balcony.
The spraying continued until every inch of the Nikes were bright crimson and, of course, the football socks did not escape the onslaught. He made sure the trackies were well and truly covered before putting the jacket back on. Then he sprayed the white cap on his head. That elicited a gasp from Skater Me, who turned to me and said with a hint of awe in his voice, “You got daring, didn't you?"
"Wait until you see what happened next . . ." I replied. Skater Me watched, eyes wide, as Lacoste Me pulled down the track pants to reveal the white Umbro boxers beneath. With no hesitation, he proceeded to spray those too. As a final act, the track top was unzipped to show a white Nike tee. Lacoste Me picked up the paint can and sprayed a large 'X' across the tee’s centre, then placed the can next to him on the floor and sat there motionless, staring down at his work.
“That must have felt awesome!” gushed Skater Me.
“Yes, I think it did . . .” I said distractedly, my attention drawn to the motionless Lacoste Me.
Skater Me noticed it too. “Has everything frozen?”
“No, the clouds are still rattling past,” I said gesturing to the sky. “And he, we, whatever, is still breathing. It is shallow but definitely there.”
“Then, what’s he, you, whatever, doing?”
“I’m not sure. I don’t remember this at all . . .” I replied and slowly moved towards Lacoste Me until I was stooped down right in front of him. Hands on thighs, I watched as his breathing became shallower. Without warning, his head snapped up and he looked directly into my eyes. When I stumbled back in surprise, Skater Me caught me just in time to prevent me from crashing into the tripod. I stood up and peered at Lacoste Me, who was still staring at the spot where I had just been.
“He’s just looking at the flip out screen on the camera!” reassured Skater Me.
“Oh. Yes, of course!” I said with relief. “Still, that was weird. I don’t remember that happening at all . . .”
“Shall we retire to the office room and find another remnant?”
“A remnant?” I replied. “That sounds far too foreboding.”
“I know! Cool, right?”
“Hmmm. Okay, lead on,” I answered, glancing across to the unmoving Lacoste Me. I was thoroughly confused about what had happened.
“Well,” Skater Me replied, “I would but I don’t know where it is—I’ve never lived here!”
“Oh. Yes, good point. Follow me . . .”
* * *
It had taken a few moments to find the earlier incarnation of the keepsake box in the large walk-in understairs cupboard. Soon after, Skater Me was gleefully waving a pair of trashed Nike Shox in the air. “Oooh! What happened to these?!” he asked.
“Ah, that would have been the circular saw,” I answered with a touch of pride.
“Power tools! Awesome! That’s where we are going next then!” He tossed across one of the Shox to me. “Let’s get them on!”
I peered at the destroyed shoe; there wasn’t much to ‘get on’. I sighed and put it on anyway. Copious amount of white sock showed through the sliced and ragged material.
“Same procedure, I guess,” Skater Me said. “You concentrate on the killing and I’ll interrupt you.”
“I’m really not sure that’s going to work. It seems so random,” I countered. But what did I have to lose? I let my mind drift back to that first adventure with the circular saw. The thrill of turning it on; it certainly was much louder than I—
“By the power of Greyskull!!!” yelled Skater Me.
The swirl of colours returned, followed by that horrific wrenching noise and the discordant trombone, and there we were looking on as another me was unpacking a circular saw from its box.
“Can’t you give me some warning before you jump in with your yelling!” I complained, my ears still ringing.
“It wouldn’t work then,” Skater Me replied matter-of-factly.
“And what proof do you have to back up that claim, hmmm?”
“Hasn’t failed yet,” he said cheerfully, shrugging his shoulders. “Also, you can’t prove a negative. So . . .”
I eyed him suspiciously; he was enjoying this far too much. My attention was drawn to Circular Saw Me as he slipped off the Nike Shox, revealing the bottom half of the black football socks on his feet. He set the trainers down on the cupboard, which he had laid down on the floor and covered with a large piece of cardboard. After steadying himself, he pressed the on button of the saw. A very loud noise filled the room and he abruptly turned it off.
“It’s a lot louder than I thought it would be,” said Skater Me.
“Yes, that’s what I remember.” I pointed and added, “Wait for it . . .”
Circular Saw Me peered ruefully at the saw. “Fuck, that’s a lot louder than I thought it would be!” he yelped.
Skater Me chuckled. “Oh, great minds do think alike!”
I ignored the comment and returned to watching the ‘show’. Circular Saw Me had seemingly got over the initial shock of the noise and had plunged the saw into the fabric of the toe box. He smiled with satisfaction at how easily the tool sliced through the material. The same smile was mirrored on the face of Skater Me. And, I’m sure, on mine as well. The saw continued to dive into the first shoe, then the other, sending little bits of minced Nike Shox into the air before they rested on the cardboard.
Soon enough, the saw stopped and was set down. The Shox were in tatters; the laces completely trashed, scattered in little pieces across the cardboard. Circular Saw Me held up the trainers and examined the incisions, occasionally inserting his fingers into the cuts to satisfy himself that they went all the way through. They did—at one point he managed to get a whole fist through.
Satisfied, he slipped them back onto his feet. He wriggled his toes; half of them were now plainly visible in the decimated toe box. The shoes looked exactly the same as when Skater Me and I had put them on our feet.
“Oh, bravo! How good was that?” enthused Skater Me.
“Yeah, and I wore them like that for the rest of the week,” I replied. I smiled to myself, remembering. “Right! Time to move on?”
Skater Me frowned. “Someone seems to be in a bit of a rush. Aren’t you enjoying this? I am!”
“Well, it’s different for you, isn’t it? For you this is all exciting and new—also yet to happen, which, when you think about it, is a bit of a continuity issue—but for me it’s just a repeat. Like a quiz show you’ve seen before but can’t be bothered to turn off because you’ve got nothing better to do.”
Skater Me’s frown deepened. “You don’t seem to have much regard for the past?”
“Oh, come on,” I replied. “You’re not so different. It’s just that I’ve got more to forget about . . . Hang on, it’s happened again.”
We both looked at Circular Saw Me; he was utterly still, just looking down at the ruined Nikes.
“And you’re telling me this didn’t happen either?” Skater Me asked.
“Almost certain it didn’t.”
“Well, that can only mean one thing . . .” he said, stroking his chin.
“Something isn’t right.”
I threw my hands skywards. “Well, thank you very much for that earth-shattering insight, Mr Sherlock fucking Holmes!”
“Wow, Mr Grumpy Pants!” Skater Me shot back. “Someone got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.”
“I wish I was still there,” I muttered, moving closer to the immobile Circular Saw Me. This was definitely not how I remembered it happening. Why was he just standing there?
“Err, remember what happened last time,” cautioned Skater Me.
“That was explained—he was looking at the camera—and this time, the camera is down there, knee height. So . . .”
Circular Saw Me remained absolutely still, except for the shallow rise and fall of his chest. That’s what was very odd indeed. My own breathing had slowed and become shallow, mirroring his; even so, I was aware of other small movements going on in my body. It just wasn’t possible for me to stand absolutely still; not now, not then. There was always a slight wobble, a tiny nervous movement or fidget somewhere, but here this younger version of me was, absolutely still. Completely motionless.
Then, he raised his head. It was a slow movement, and it stopped when he was looking through me at the camera. I still jumped, but only slightly this time.
“See?” I said smugly.
His head started moving again, causing me to jump a second time but hold my position. I heard an audible gulp from Skater Me as the gaze of Circular Saw Me continued its journey upwards. A few seconds later, we were almost face to face, noses almost touching. It was like looking into a mirror that de-aged you.
“Umm, what the . . .” whispered Skater Me with a worried tone in his voice.
“Don’t worry, he’s not looking at me,” I said. “He’s looking through me.”
“Yes, I know that. I’m stood right behind you,” Skater Me replied. “But I think he’s looking at me!”
“What? Don’t be ridiculous! Move to one side.”
Skater Me took a step to his left but Circular Saw Me kept looking straight ahead.
"See?" I said, glancing over my shoulder at Skater Me’s sigh of relief.
I returned to observing Circular Saw Me, amused by my younger self’s jumpiness. But my amusement began to crumble when I noticed a movement in the eyes in front of me. Something you wouldn’t even notice unless you were standing very close. It was slow, but both his eyes were definitely converging on his nose, starting to focus on something right in front of him . . .
“Fuck!” I cried out.
As I stepped quickly to the side, my foot caught in a loop of the cable on the floor. I stumbled and kicked the saw, which loudly sprang into action. Circular Saw Me turned, looking alarmed at the sudden sound, and quickly pulled the plug out of the mains. He hurried over to the saw and inspected it. A few moments of chin stroking later, he shrugged his shoulders and left the room. Skater Me and I just stared at each other.
“Please tell me the saw came back on when this originally happened to you . . .” Skater Me said.
“He . . . he started to focus on me! What the hell?” I sputtered. “And yes, the saw did come back on but I just assumed I’d only half-flicked the switch when I turned it off and somehow it flicked back on.”
“Well, that’s not likely to happen. That wouldn’t be safe.”
“Yes, I think I knew that. I never did use it again . . .”
“I think we should move on?” proposed Skater Me. He sounded very unsettled.
“Great minds . . .” I replied, already striding towards the understairs cupboard.
* * *
“Transform and roll out!”
A swirl of colours—check. A horrific wrenching noise and a discordant trombone—check. Once again, we had moved.
I swayed a little, unbalanced by only having one shoe on, and finally annoyed enough about it. “Oh, for fuck’s sake! This is ridiculous!” I exploded. I kicked off my single shoe and felt equilibrium at last.
“I don’t mind if I do,” Skater Me said, almost immediately slipping his free foot into my vacant Tn. “Thank you!”
I soon started regretting the decision as both my feet now only had the fabric of my Nike sock between them and the cold, hard concrete floor. I was unsure who looked more ridiculous, me with no shoes or him wearing one white skater shoe and one neon green Nike Tn. It was him, of course, I quickly concluded, partly to comfort myself; a cheap comfort but better than none.
“Welcome back to my office!” Skater Me said, swinging around, arms aloft. “Tell me you don’t have good memories of being here!”
I looked around the dusty, ramshackle outbuilding; I had indeed spent a lot of time out here back when I was still Skater Me. This is where ‘Mr Blowtorch’ was born and delivered his chaos and destruction, and a time of much fun with paint. It was also freezing cold and draughty, and I was not sure how much I would like it these days, but I sure enjoyed it back then.
“Hmmm. When exactly are we now?” I asked.
“Osiris D3 2001s. Spring 2007-ish, I think,” Skater Me answered. “About a year and a half before ‘my time’. I sooo loved this one. It felt so bad!”
This time, we were watching D3 Me as he took some shots of his baggy blue jeans and grey Osiris D3 2001s in preparation for some paint fun. He slipped off the chunky skater shoes, revealing a pair of black No Fear socks, and checked the photos on his camera’s tiny screen. Satisfied that they looked okay, he slipped his feet back into the D3s, then locked the camera in place on his tripod and opened a large rectangular tub of white gloss paint. He hesitated for a moment, then gingerly rested one of his D3-clad feet on the surface of the paint.
Slowly but surely, and with a look of anticipation that mirrored the mixed emotions I remember feeling at the time, D3 Me lowered his foot, the shiny white liquid steadily consuming the grey skater shoe. The toe box all but disappeared but the laces still showed. He paused briefly to admire his work, then resumed, pushing down until, with a lovely glooping noise, the paint completely enveloped the shoe, along with the frayed cuffs of his jeans.
He took a few moments to enjoy the sensation, then pulled his foot back out. He repeated the exercise with the still clean right shoe; evidently, it felt just as good the second time around. Afterward, he stood looking at his expensive skater shoes, now completely slathered in paint to the point where the exaggerated details of the shoe were no longer discernible. When he slipped his foot out of them, he seemed surprised that the black socks had remained largely unscathed. He soon remedied that by plunging his socked foot back into the paint. Without the artificial height of the trainer, his leg sank further in, and the coat of paint climbed even higher on the leg of his jeans.
Once again, after pausing to admire his work, he pulled out his leg and repeated with the other one. When he was done, he stood there, the paint pooling on the floor, his jeans, socks and trainers completely ruined. D3 Me looked at the mess with an impish grin.
“Ahh, how cool was that?” Skater Me exclaimed. A moment later, he asked, “Oh, do you think he’s going to freeze now?”
“I suspect so. Do you remember that happening?” I asked. “It wasn’t very long before your time, so your memory should be pretty clear.”
“You know what our memory is like! But, no, I don’t remember anything like that.”
“Hmm . . . Noted,” I responded. “Let’s get up to the loft in the house, and find something else to move us on.”
“You not want to stay around for ‘The Freezing’ then?” Skater Me said, sounding surprised.
“Really? ‘The Freezing’? Not everything needs to have a name; stop being so dramatic! No, I’m not sure we’ll learn anything. And, to be honest, they creep me out.”
“Well, yeah, there is that . . . Oh, I think it’s raining!”
“Thank you, Michael Fish! And? It’s spring,” I reminded him. “That’s hardly a surprise; it often rains.”
“Yeah, but we’re at the end of the garden and I’m not the one just wearing socks. Haha—loser!” Skater Me laughed before running out of the garage.
I glanced down at my shoeless feet and sighed. It sucked to be me.
* * *
“I still don’t think I needed to give you a piggyback!” fumed Skater Me, rubbing his shoulder.
“My socks were sodden and covered in dirt!” I pointed out. “It would have been pretty odd for our younger self to find a trail of footprints through the house, from the kitchen, through the hall, up the stairs, across the landing . . .”
Skater Me was not convinced. “Stop it!” he complained. “My back hurts just thinking about it!”
“Sucks to be you, I guess,” I chuckled. This time, we had gone back to the start of it all. “So here we are. The beginning . . .” I said with just a hint of nostalgia. “No photos, only memories. Just me burning the Nike BW I found in the hedge on the way home from school.”
“Yeah, I remember,” Skater Me responded. “We wrote down the experience soon after. It’s the only reason we remember it so clearly.”
“Indeed. Our memory, eh? I included this in the novel I wrote. Used it as a counterpoint to the bad things that happened. Context and all that.”
“Oh, really?” replied Skater Me. He seemed surprised. “That’s cool.”
We turned to watch as BW Me stuffed a newspaper-filled white sock into the trainer. It kinda looked like someone was wearing it. He was trembling with excitement as he struck the first match. The faint breeze blew it out. He tried again, this time moving the matchbox much closer to the sock. This time there was success and the sock slowly started to burn. It was a bit like a candle; slow and melted bits dropped off.
There was palpable excitement from BW Me and Skater Me. This is where it all began; my first sneaker burning; my first act of destruction. I was a bit surprised to find that, even after all this time, it still meant something to me.
The beautiful Nike finally started to burn, melting and twisting in the heat. I could remember how scared I was that someone might poke their head over the fence and catch me. I smiled as BW Me turned on the garden hose. Not to dowse the beginning inferno but to spray the air above it with a fine mist to keep down the smoke. Oh, I learnt so quickly to cover my tracks, I mused.
A fair amount of black acrid fumes was blowing across BW Me’s face, and I wondered what effect that contamination had on my young body. The trainer burned more fiercely now, and contorted and blackened until it was unrecognisable as the object it originally was. A small smile spread across my lips.
I turned my head and realised that Skater Me wasn’t looking at the ‘show’ but at my reaction to it. I quickly looked away.
“There he is . . .” he said, nodding at me. “Welcome back.”
I tried not to make eye contact. I had enjoyed reliving the experience but it had also made me pensive. “Yes, well, I guess that’s that then. The first killing. This has been fun—we must do it again sometime. So how do I go home?”
Skater Me’s brow furrowed. “But that’s not the real start, is it? We were enjoying wet clothes way before this. Don’t you remember? Getting into the bath fully clothed, sometimes with waterproofs on just to prolong the experience. Do you not remember the thrill of the water starting to trickle in? Then sneaking the clothes out of the bathroom afterward and stuffing them around the back of the insulation of the immersion heater in our bedroom? I can’t remember how we got into wet clothes, but we used to love it!”
“Yeah,” I said noncommittally.
“We could go back and see that, for old times’ sake? It’ll be fun.”
“No. I don’t want to go back further than this, thank you,” I snapped curtly.
“Oh, but . . . Oh.” He paused for a moment, then continued in a softer voice: “You said the novel you wrote was semi-autobiographical and that you described something bad in it. I just assumed it was . . .”
“No. It wasn’t that.”
“And I don’t want to talk about it now,” I said, cutting him off. “And I don’t want to go back further just in case . . . well, you know.”
He gave me an understanding look and offered, “Do you need a hug?”
“No,” I said firmly, folding my arms across my chest. I sat down on the steps that lead down from the back gate. After a short pause, Skater Me followed suit. A long silence followed.
Skater Me turned philosophical: "Evil destroys. It opposes even other evil. Evil must have good to feed upon. Goodness nourishes itself, and when evil has captured the good, evil dies. Then the good will grow again."
I cocked my head towards him. “Is that from Monkey?”
He nodded in response, adding a wink for good measure. “Monkey contains knowledge for the ages.”
“Yeah, I used to think that too—obviously,” I said. Another awkward silence followed.
Skater Me looked around the garden, then at the house where we spent our childhood, and finally to the charred remains of the Nike BW. BW Me had wandered off to a corner of the garden. “This is when it all started, wasn’t it?” Skater Me said. “The destruction was our escape; a way to hide and be someone else. A sort of shield.” He pursed his lips, hesitating. “I think you do want to talk about it. Why would you have ‘retired’ and laid down your ‘shield’ otherwise?”
Silence. It hung in the air uncomfortably as I looked everywhere but at my younger self.
He stretched out his leg and lightly brushed his foot back and forth across the crazy paving. “He shouldn’t have touched us like that,” he said softly.
“I said I didn’t . . .” I started defensively before giving a heavy sigh. “No. No, he shouldn’t have.” I paused, hands clenched together. “Maybe I should have been . . .” My voice trailed away.
“What?” Skater Me asked. “We should have stopped him?”
“Yes,” I finally answered. “We should have been more forceful.”
“He was older than us. And huge! We were just a scrawny, weak kid.”
“I guess,” I replied without much conviction. “And we were so shy. Maybe deep down we wanted . . .”
“No,” Skater Me said firmly. “No. We said no. We made it clear it was not what we wanted. He trapped us and made us do things we didn’t want to do. He had groomed us step by step.” He paused and looked intently at me. “And you need to say it.”
I stared at him, lip quivering. “I . . . I . . .” I stammered, voice cracking, struggling to find the strength to admit what happened.
“And then the good can grow again,” Skater Me said softly.
I swallowed hard, trying to fight back the tears. “He . . . He made me touch him. I told him ‘no’ but he made me anyway. Then he touched me. I wanted to leave but he had trapped me in a construct that I couldn’t escape from. I was confused and so scared. And then, afterwards, I was disgusted. I just felt so . . . dirty. I think that was the day I learned not to remember anything anymore.”
My younger self nodded. “Yes. He abused us. But it wasn’t our fault; it’s on him, not us. We cannot blame ourselves.” He looked up to the blue sky, inhaling deeply. “We’ve done that for too long already.”
I nodded, tears running down my cheeks. I guess there was one more wall that needed to come down for me to move on.
“I’m sorry I didn’t deal with this sooner, that I left it all to you,” Skater Me said quietly as he gently wrung his hands.
“You’re here now.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s why I am here now. I guess that solves that mystery. It wasn’t about getting you to trash again, it was getting you to tell someone, to say it out loud.”
“I don’t blame you for hiding it. For not wanting to confront it. Sometimes, it is just easier to leave the past in the past. But then you’re always running away, I guess. Never really arriving anywhere. And running all the time is tiring, for sure.”
Skater Me sighed. “Maybe this is why we have been so angry at the world all this time. Maybe now we can finally find some sort of peace.”
“Yeah, hopefully.” I wiped the tears from my cheeks. “It wasn’t our fault. Not even the slightest bit,” I said in a more confident voice, feeling the weight of all those years begin to drop away. All those years, I had harboured the thought that I was somehow to blame. I still felt guilty that I didn’t say anything at the time, that I couldn’t even tell my parents. Maybe if I had, I could have saved somebody else from the same fate. But we can’t change the past, only what happens next.
I looked across to Skater Me. “Um, can I have that hug now?”
He nodded with a smile and we warmly embraced each other.
After a few moments, he suddenly said, “Oh! So, what was the freezing all about?” He was referring to the disconcerting episodes when our other selves seemed to freeze in their tracks as we watched them.
“Ah, yes,” I replied. “This was the only time when it didn’t happen . . . But then we have a contemporary written account of this one . . .”
Skater Me tapped his chin thoughtfully. “Whereas with the others we had to rely entirely on our recollection of the event . . .”
“Indeed. And as we have the opposite of a photographic memory, I think we—I—corrupted them with my own perceptions.”
“Just at the end, though . . .”
“Yeah,” I said, thinking about it. “That was the moment each time when our other selves had to go back to the real world. I think subconsciously I was trying to delay that.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Skater Me mused.
“When nothing actually makes sense . . .”
We laughed and hugged again. Suddenly, just for a fraction of a second, Skater Me disappeared. Alarmed, I leapt up and whirled around to look for him—and found myself facing him again, back in my living room. Back in the present.
“Did you just . . .?” I started to ask.
“Yeah, I rather think this is time for me to go.”
“Aww, no! Already?”
Skater Me raised his arm and struck a power pose. “I think my work here is done!”
I laughed at his goofiness. “I didn’t really hate being you, you know. It was exciting and carefree.”
He smiled back. “And I don’t think my future’s ruined; I could quite easily cope with being you. You never know, I might even enjoy it.”
We laughed and then he was gone. I looked around, panicked; that really couldn’t have been it, could it? To my relief, he reappeared a few seconds later, but this time glitching; parts flickering in and out of my reality.
“Ahh, this really is it, I think!” he managed to say.
“I really don’t want you to go!” I called out. “I was just getting to know you again . . .”
“I’ll always be part of you, if you let me,” Skater Me said with a warm smile. “The past isn’t all bad, y’know. Not all of it needs to be left behind. Please, just don’t forget to remember all the good times . . .”
I nodded, but I couldn’t help feeling alarmed as parts of him vanished permanently. “I won’t. I promise. Send my regards to Christmases past.”
“And here’s to Christmases future,” he replied. He winked, then called out, “Beam me up, Scotty!”
And he was gone. I laughed; what a doofus!
I stood alone, the lights shining out through the dark Christmas Eve. Snow had started to fall, and the world seemed peaceful and still. I sighed and sat down on the sofa; it was time to reset. It was time to stop running. A new year awaited and we can only hope that each new year will be better than the last. That is the best gift we can give to ourselves: optimism.
“And the good can grow again . . .” I said softly, eyes closed briefly, drawing a deep breath.
I looked at my watch; thirty minutes until my partner got home and Christmas could begin properly. I shut my eyes again, eager to get the quick nap I had been denied earlier. Within seconds, I was drifting away. Yes, next year was a new year. Maybe I’ll get back to trashing next year. Maybe.
But this time I won’t be a moth to a flame.
Written by sneaked666
Edited by sz1415sneakers
Circular Saw Me
(c) 2021 everythingmustdie.com