Certificate 40 

Certificate 40

His head was a camera, or it seemed like it to him; he saw everything as if framed for a motion picture. He had been given a certificate 18, when he reached a relatively young age, but now, with the years piling up on top of each other, even that was not sufficient to cover the scenes he sought out.

One day, he discovered a backstreet of his home town he had not previously explored in which there was a tall disused warehouse with a faintly glowing signboard on the vestigial gantries: he could just peer through the misted up lens and see the letters spelling out WAX MUSEUM. He tried to pan round but his feet were rooted to the crumbling pavement and his neck had stiffened: he felt a movement on his shoulders as if a creature had lodged there, squinting through a slot in the back of his head. Whatever it was, claws were penetrating his overcoat and finally his flesh, fastening on to the blade bones like steel. He tried to shake it off; it was all well and good to imagine being a camera but here he was actually being used as one by some frightful inhabitant of the night.

His eyeballs revolved in the sockets, and the WAX MUSEUM sign flickered out of freeze frame, scrolling like an old fashiond black & white television of the fifties. He desperately needed vertical hold: but that was the least of his worries: before long, he found himself going into cinemascope and edges of the scene he had previously not been able to view encroached and fluttered in from the sides: things like wriggling hairs and, then, insect feelers which often used to blemish projections upon the flea-pit screens of the sixties. The technicolor oozed back, and a blood-red haze gave the whole vista a dream-like quality. Like speech bubbles in comic strips, this was a token of dissolving ready-reckoner reality, a symbol of beliefs being suspended...

The whole vistavision screen was now acrawl with translucent moth-wings beating faster than the spread of the frames. He could no longer make any assumptions about his own sanity. He turned his eyes downwards as far as they would go without detaching the optic nerve, to see his cylindrical nose extending forth from his face: zooming in on the entrance of the museum: where he saw a camera filming him filming it: but surely it couldn’t be a real one, because it seemed to grow wonky and misshapen the more he stared back at it. However, he was pleased on discovering eventually that it was a female camera: but, as their noses came together across the street in some primitive ritual of a kiss, all he could see was the utter emptiness of his own blackscreen soul.

That’s when the thing on his back extricated itself from his bones and scuttled off somewhere, abandoning the tickertape of the film to flap uselessly... as it reeled off the spool and tangled up the inside of his skull; since it left no other room in there, his brain slithered out of the ear like a white worm in search of another lair.

It must have been a horror film, for why else would the place be called a WAX MUSEUM?


(Published 'Auguries' 1990)

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