Allergy

In front of a hundred witnesses, later replayed on television, still later made into GIFs. As he made his speech, his face began to blur horizontally. A video editing effect somehow now an actual physical event.

His limbs juddering like a stop motion puppet, taken away by uncomprehending paramedics. Rows of men with ashen faces. Folds under appalled jawlines.

The blur receded. Not a scene of gore, but completely blank skin. Like an eggshell. Nobody was sure if he was still in there.

Those infamous ancient symbols, perverted by the West, altered everywhere. Replaced in fabric and at a deep software level. Now a pattern of colliding dots, animated when it shouldn’t be. Even when on clothing.

Except in the temples from which they had been stolen; there, they remained the same.

Content farms and endless arguments and consumer goods. All obliterated under a dense sea of thick liquid colour, a brackish plastic apparition of blank yellows and reds and blues and greens. Nothing had been altered, hacked, hijacked. Something was changing it all in-between server and device.

Lurid purple jelly, smelling of melted plastic. Surging through places of power, mouths hysterical in close up. Laughter. Sodden and embarrassed people of might, sprouting odd appendages. Eyes becoming impossible, bones crunching as bodies transformed. More laughter.

The workers grew long scaly wings. Refused to come back down from the warehouse rafters. Laughed into the frightened electronic eyes that observed them. Remote voices begging, pleading, cajoling.

Police were called to assist other policemen as they became pocket realities in perspex boxes. Looking inside there was a perfect satire of each former individual.

All the buzzwords, acronyms that people had been saying. A sudden electric blue taste, a stunning wave, and then they physically could not be said. When anyone tried, strobing nylon sheets would unfold from their mouths. Typing them out would cause fingers to briefly elongate, fly everywhere.

An old blooded family spotted frozen by a roadside at night, standing in a line, grinning. Giant superstructures made out of bottletops, bits of dolls, stones – suddenly everywhere across East Anglia. You could spend days within a single one.

Books seemed to glow and condense, become elaborate and brief, not any genre in particular. Long lost video and film footage peeled off of aeroplanes, bubbled up from harbours. Music recombined into furious, complex balls of energy. Weapons turned into teeming masses of worms. AI systems, source code and all, took trips and returned as tiny screaming squares.

He was gone. A lost cause. They had tried piercing the eggshell with tubes – no point. On his million dollar corpse appeared two words:

MESSAGE INSIDE

In MS Comic Sans. A deliberate act of supernatural spite. At the autopsy the message was relayed to all:

I RUN A PICKLE FACTORY
BUT LIFE IS DULL IN THE PICKLE FACTORY
SO I GO AND TROUBLE UP PLACES
THAT ARE NOT THE PICKLE FACTORY

Maybe it meant something, maybe it meant nothing. A lot meant nothing these days, true, but this was a nothing rare to these times. An old and once respected nothing that had been shoved to the sidelines, and had chosen to strike back.

It was like reality itself had been angered, sharpened its pen, crossed out the errors, added better ones.