Apostle of the Virtual
“Behold the pale wine, taste of its rapture!” the old man shouts into the face of the woman walking towards him. Twilight is settling on the dry vines of the clearing that was once a city park. The man is wrapped in at least three mostly-shredded suits that flutter with his erratic movements. The woman walks faster, averting her face.
“Taste of its death of sensation!” The man is brandishing a torn plastic bag with a tube extending from one end. It’s encrusted with residue. “Know that you are nothing. Your body is vile. Your meat is salted with sin!” As he shouts his stringy white hair, falling around his head like yet more rags, gets caught in his mouth. “Do you see the third earth? Hear the voice that leads us home?”
The woman moves very quickly past him. The man smiles: “I once was blind but now I see,” he shouts, lurching forward, brushing his hair away to reveal two black portholes jutting from his skull where his eyes should be. The dusk gleams in their unblinking lenses.
The woman swerves and continues, acknowledging him only with an ever-increasing speed.
“What use are brains here in this weighty decay? What use your mind’s eye but to remember the castoff light of dying fires? Damned is this whole existence!” The woman is gone; the man’s shouts echo off buildings. He coughs and sputters, shaking his head and swatting the air.
Kali watches the him from across the street. She’s leading against a flickering street lamp, thumb pushing pictures across her phone screen. Her tongue returns, again and again, to the numb spot on the roof of her mouth.