Written by Hassaan Ahmed.
I’ve seen it happen with the inevitability and regularity of the tides. I’ve walked amongst the greatest empires that you so revere. I’ve seen them crumble in the face of your stubbornly weak-willed and obsessive natures. You begin lusting after something, be it money, sex, power, or owning other humans. You become possessed to the point of addiction; wasting away in pursuit of that thing. And every time when you hit bottom, you look to the past, wishing there was an undo button, pining for the ‘good old days’ when things were more ‘authentic’. Then you pick yourself up, brush off every lesson of the past, and say ‘this time it will be different’ for maybe a heartbeat before your traitorous natures fixate on something new.
The skin you see me in, that identifies me as one of your own, is something I won from a particularly vainglorious member of your species. This one hated sweat on his skin—he thought it made him unattractive and wished me to fix it. So, I took his skin for myself. Centuries of wear and tear later, it fits me perfectly, and you have no way of knowing that I am not one of you.
I can almost see the wheels turning in your head as you pass by my ‘shop’. You do want to come in and find out if my promise of a cure for any addiction is true, but you can’t do that while you’re with your friends. They laugh it off as another ‘pseudo-mystical-curio-bullshit’ store and you all move on. Your bodies do, at least. Your mind keeps repeating the same phrase, nonstop. What if. What if. What if . You finally crack and walk back alone, into my store.
You want to ask me directly, but your face betrays your embarrassment, your doubts. I decide to hurry things along and speak up.
‘Pray, don’t be hesitant, I know precisely what you seek. Please, come in.’
Your eyebrow arches, expression turning to scepticism. I modify my voice, hitting the right inflexions to allay your suspicions before you can voice them.
‘Indeed, I do know what brought you to my doorstep. You are weary. You tire of the so-called luxuries of the modern world. You desire escape, freedom. Being slave-bound to technology gnaws at your very essence. You long for the experiences of our generations past, indulging in the lost art of conversation, of human interaction.’
Your eyebrows slowly climb up as I speak, wonder and amazement at my knowledge nearly glinting off your face. How could I possibly know all this? Oh, you puny, barbaric species.
I bring it out then, a simple leather glove of an unfathomable colour.
‘This is it, the cure to your addiction.’
Your gullible face lights up.
‘Will this really do it? Will this break the hold my phone and my tablet and everything has on me?’
Your mouth may be forming questions, but your hand is already reaching for your wallet. I’ve already gotten to you.