They see me, the sheep that will moo or oink over common speech. The rest of the flock smiles and trots the line back to a place safer and scarier than the slaughterhouse: a land of joy in horrific pattern. I am not scared, I am not sad, I am not anything. Indecisive, maybe. Run from the barking or purr back? Shall I join the herd and smile with my gaze locked on a portal to infinite knowledge? Oh to be corrupted with the plague of ignorance, and find solace where the inferior of mind scream with superior voices.
The hogs on horses with their spotlight armour, gorgon glares, and whip tongues make me yearn for the world of habit. Starting each day where it ends, the wheel spinning endlessly. But I know I must fight those tight, velvet chains. For how long can the same simple steps produce a smile? Can one be content staring at one painting their entire life? Reading the same book or listening to the same song? At what point do the colours of a painting, the pages of a book, or the rhythms of a song become a drug? The strings of addiction, without it you have nothing to lift you from the folds of fantasy.
This is what I think of as the Pattern Patrol approach me, a lone sheep trying hard to wear another skin. But all it takes is one squeal and I bleat, as expected, before rushing to the line of those much like myself – craving a new pattern but fear to break the old.
Marching back to the cushioned cells, I couldn’t stop thinking. I kept thinking as I consumed the sensations my taste buds knew far too well. The very same thoughts barred me from night fantasies I could never bring to light. All I kept thinking was why did I bleat again? An answer came to me, although I cannot explain how. Picking up a pen had always felt like reattaching a missing limb, but this time the pen felt as foreign to me as planets outside our galaxy are to anyone. And with this alien device I wrote something I both despised and adored at the same time:
I am but a man,
a light summer breeze on sea.
No ripples or waves.
This is an edited version of the story published in Creel 4: An anthology of creative writing (published by Wivenbooks in 2018 for the University of Essex: Centre for Creative Writing).