Monday, 28 January 2008

Temptation and obligation

I was really pleased today to find a millipede crawling its happy way across the floor of the office. It was about 3cm long and had lots of legs. How symbolic, I thought to myself, that such a creature should choose this time to appear in this most barren of corporate landscapes.

How apposite that I have happened across this tiny messenger of nature, sent to remind me of the primeval spirit which lurks in all humanity and it's works.
I named him Gerald, on account of his very thin legs and ribby-bits, which were much in evidence. He seemed a Geraldy type.
And so I turn to the message brought by Gerald (...obviously not verbally. Oh no! Millipedes are not known for their powers of conversation. Dear me, no. Think how noisy the average woodland would be were that the case! The houmous would be humming with gossip and chatter. Indeed, perhaps, it is anyway!)

What I mean is that it is no coincidence that a millipede should suddenly appear in our midst.
What this says to me is "nature is here. Don't fight it." So, giving in to an animal urge, I went to the chocolate machine. If I can't indulge one of my major animal urges, I shall appease a lesser one.

As I walked into the coffee area, I became aware of a sensation of not being alone, like someone was watching me. I looked around, but it being relatively early, there was nobody I could discern who could see me. Puzzled, I reached for an Earl Grey teabag, detached the string preemptively and poured on the water.
"Life: Magnificent, isn't it!" said a squeaky but somehow still commanding voice, a hint of a sneer just noticeable around the edges. "Why be strong? One day you will be old and toothless. You will be overlooked, insignificant, the object of nobody's desire. Go on! release your spirit!"

I looked and there, on the worktop, was a small red figure about a foot high. Becoming vaguely aware of the brimstone odour, I regarded him suspiciously for some moments, while he stared back with a mixture of mischief and diminutive menace.
"Methinks you are spellbound, young sir!" He laughed at last, his large yellow eyes narrowing to a squint.
I still did not speak, wondering what manner of creature he was, but suspicion mounting of his identity.
He was a strange sight, his skin red and leathery, but like well kept shiny leather, as Doctor Marten's boots become after years of loving applications of spit and ox-blood polish. His grin, ever present and always slightly sideways, showed an array of small pointed teeth, kittenlike but with a more sinister aspect, possibly due to the leer. His forked tongue flicked delicately as he spoke. He was naked but for a red satin cape and a leather, studded pair of trunks.

"I know you!" I said at last, the accusing tone stronger than I had intended.
"Sir, you do not!" He replied with mock indignance. "You think you do, but I have taken great pains to keep myself hidden, though all your life I have accompanied you in your every movement, nudging here , coercing there. I am one of many of my kind, allocated at conception to you ephemeral but fascinating creatures"

The implications of this suddenly dawned on me in all their massive import, and I was about to
reply with the myriad of questions which suddenly broke the surface foam of my mind.

"Look!" Said the red bloke, swishing his tail in what I at first took to be irritation, but soon realised was eager amusement. "You ephemerals, you spend all this time agonising 'Should I do this? Should I do that?' and you just don't get it! That's all there is! Get on with it!"
His eyes opened wide now, vertical pupils widening momentarily before shrinking again to a mere black line. They glittered with some feverish, madness-tinged enthusiasm and bore into me as if to emphasise his words.

"If I were you, I wouldn't waste time. Do you not suspect that life could taste as sweet as the first strawberry of Wimbledon? If I were you, young sir, I should think no more about relative and debateable ethical concerns. Avail yourself of all the pleasures you can discover. One day you will be dust and all this will be as nothing. But for now, take your life in the palm of your hand and pour upon it a good measure of reckless abandonment that you may reach peaks of delight which cause you to gasp in astonishment and wonder. You know it makes sense! You FEEL this! I dare you: Contradict me!"
And with a puff of yellow smoke he disappeared, leaving only a vague whiff of sulphur.

Then, I heard the other voice, sweet of tone and clear in a way only other-worldly creatures can be, say "Ahem!"
Standing on top of the bin was another little figure, this time dressed in a white nightie, shining with a saintly aura. He stared at me for a moment in a most stern way. He opened his mouth to speak.
I quickly shoved him into the bin and scurried hastily away, clutching my kit-kat for all I was worth.

And the moralistic shiny little bastard can stay there for now...

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