The Infinite Unknown…

Finding the meaning life comes at a bloody price when a coldly efficient fixer is hired to retrieve the mysteries of the universe.

Matrillo hurtles into darkness. The moon seems impossibly high in the night sky. A pinprick. All sounds from the outside world are abruptly shut off. The photographic studio might as well be another universe.

He decelerates and edges down the narrow corridors, clutching the automatic in both hands. The windows seem strangely out of reach. In some, Baconesque faces scream silently toward the parquet flooring.

A shadow spreads across the thousands of Polaroids that cover the walls and ceilings. They develop as Matrillo scrapes past them. Chemical blossom scours inside his nasal passage.

The Woman again, “How does it feel alone in the dark?”

Matrillo ignores her and tries to get a bead on her voice. The primordial soup of the Polaroids dissects his face with memories long considered buried.

Her voice scuttles beyond his eye sockets, a thousand razor blades ready to scratch away his soul. “Rattling around the void like the first man in space. What’s it like to see humanity for what it really is?”

Matrillo watches her shadow spider its way across the studio. He thunders after it ducking into a coffin doorway. His eyes laser through the gloom.

She continues, now the razor blades are leeches sucking on his corneas. “Billions of insignificant mouths gasping for air. Do you feel like a god in your nihilism?”

Matrillo tracks the shadow again. He raises the automatic.

“Shall we see?” The stem of his brain crackles with the electricity of her words.

In unison the fire escapes careen through the windows, malleable iron striking like alien appendages. The nearest crunches into Matrillo’s head sending him crashing to the floor.

The automatic spirals across the studio, lost in a Stygian vortex.

Despair.

“You know madness isn’t all about how you breakdown.” She emerges from the dark her face leering down on Matrillo. Her eyes and teeth are pitch black. She presses Matrillo’s face hard into the floor by standing on his neck.

Matrillo pictures the onion. Remembers how it looked under the microscope as a kid. How those larvae writhed. How the vapour made him feel. How he wasn’t going to lose consciousness.

“Madness is about break through. Gaze at your liberation.” Her voice pins him to the deck like gravity.

Below Matrillo a burning, pulsating galaxy replaces the floor. The Woman’s heel forces him to watch. His blood flow stalls, pumping in unison with the horrors underneath.

Matrillo’s head swims but he wills himself to look above the swirling chaos below. A sprint away lays salvation.

The automatic.

How will his legs propel him through nebula hundreds of light years in diameter?

Matrillo grits his teeth as his blood flows into his eyes.

Writhing vapour.

He reaches for something near the small of his back.

The Woman presses harder on his neck.

Matrillo’s head swims again. The galaxy burns brighter shredding his face in a brilliant white light.

Now her words are a nuclear flash atomising his soul. “Look at the potential for liberation and renewal rather than enslavement and death.”

Matrillo stretches again. His hand clasps the switchblade he beat that kid to death for.

The Woman’s black eyes look at the light rather than the immediate danger. “What a shame you can only grasp the present as it disappears.”

Matrillo swings the switchblade in a vicious arc slashing her Achilles. Thick black ichor sprays from the wound as she slides to the floor.

Matrillo bolts unsteadily for the automatic scooping it up in his right hand.

Behind him the Woman scrambles to her feet. “You heard me in the Lancet Arch. I am going to leave you with nothing.”

Matrillo spins and unloads half a clip into her body. The black ichor pulses from her wounds as she falls slowly to one knee. The bullet casings rattle to the ground.

He straightens his tie with a bloody hand and wipes his eyes. He ejects the automatic’s half-filled magazine, pockets it and slams home a fresh one.

Now it’s his turn to talk. “Sarphastian send you?”

The Woman smiles her pitch-black smile. “He wouldn’t know how. You and I Matrillo, together we are your defeat.”

Matrillo switches the automatic to his left hand just because he can. Below him the galaxy swirls tempestuously like Charybdis as he limps towards her. Stars wink in and out of existence before the studio returns to film noir darkness.

Sound again. Hurricanes flood his ear canals.

Matrillo jams the automatic between her eyes and pulls the trigger.

The gunshot forces the fire escapes to slither away in retreat. The Polaroids chitter, square insects of his mind.

He spits blood. Kicks the Woman’s corpse. “Apparently not.”

Matrillo staggers under his wound. He rips the nearest Polaroid from the wall. A rotten, maggot infested onion develops. He reaches into the photograph and plucks the onion out into reality.

Matrillo regards it.

Spins it in his hand.

The moon in his palm.

His old friend.

Matrillo takes a bite and doesn’t fall unconscious.

The microscope.

The photographic studio might as well be his universe.