CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
Jack said, “Yes, it’s marvellous,” and left the kitchen.
On the following morning he moved the soap and towels back to their proper places, then again on the next morning, and the next. This same thing happened to the objects on his living room shelving. He would move them back to their proper position only to find they would seemingly move again of their own accord. He came to seriously believe a poltergeist had taken up residence in his flat.
Due to his training, his senses were focused on detecting energy—both the energy emanating from all people, and also the energy they left behind—and he could sense the presence of this poltergeist in the same way he sensed the energy of a martial arts opponent. It felt as though some force—which was separate from Maryanne—had occupied his flat, though it had obviously been brought there by her, as though it were the mind of some malicious entity that had attached itself to her. In the kitchen, when he now picked up a jar, it would fall from his hands, its lid having been left unscrewed. He would tighten it, only to find when he next picked it up, it would again drop from his hands. His laundry was now folded differently and placed on the wrong shelves; his books, left open for convenience, were now tidied away; objects, which he lay in certain places as a reminder to perform certain tasks, would disappear; and in the kitchen he would take out a knife and a few seconds later would go to use it only to find it had vanished. It was as though some supernatural force had been set upon him to erode his sanity.
He began his daily practice by holding a stance for one hour in his living room. The following morning he was standing in the Praying Mantis Takes Flight position for forty minutes while pondering the poltergeist’s antics. He imagined a jar lid slowly turning and he could sense the poltergeist nearby, as an invisible cloud of energy. He watched one of his books fold itself up and levitate back onto the bookcase, and there too was that cloud and for the first time he saw clearly its intention. Its purpose in life was simply to oppose him. He imagined the cloud moving the cups in his cupboard around, destroying his efficiency, his economy; it seemed as though it were unpicking his every thought of the past eight years. Any design he developed, to either save time or space, or to improve flavour or texture, it seemed the poltergeist had been set upon him to destroy—to, perhaps, feed upon his designs. Perhaps (he mused) that was the purpose of such a force. It fed upon human designs and sought to restore the randomness of nature. Perhaps, perhaps.
He recalled Maryanne saying, “That was nice,” and saw her smiling face.
Of course he knew it was she who moved these objects and of course he said to her, “You keep leaving the lids unscrewed.”
“Oh really? How interesting,” she said.
 “Where are my shoes? I always leave them here,” he said on another occasion, to which she said:
 “No, shoes should go here; it’s more tidy.”
And when he said: “I left that there to remind me to pay the phone bill,” she said nothing, but merely glanced at him while deep in thought; and recalling this now, he could see the meaning in her glance. It was the poltergeist that was looking back out at him through her eyes and it was saying, “Yes, I am here to resist you; my purpose in life is to un-build human endeavours, and the more focussed they are, the more they attract me,” and, silently, from within Maryanne’s eyes, the poltergeist fixed him with its combative gaze.
As she watched him, her head steadily filled with a mass of words that swirled like a swarm of angry bees, until her face began twitching with the strain of holding them in. She reached out to touch his hand but then recalled the contorted look on his face when he pretended to strangle her—just to make it look as though he hated her. But she was not fooled by him, and she now became so enraged with his ploy that she withdrew her hand, stuck out a few fingers instead and violently prodded the back of his hand.
The letter rattled (a little like a basket of test tubes); his eyes glanced briefly up at her, then returned to wandering over the letter’s surface like someone stumbling through a dark mist.
She watched his wandering eyes (—Look at him; he’s still trying to pretend his trick in the living room worked, but it didn’t. And now he’s trying to make me think it did), and she said, “—But it didn’t work; it didn’t.”
He continued pretending to read the letter.
She told him, “Don’t think I don’t know that you can hear me.”
No response.
She shouted, “Listen to me!”
No response.
She snatched the letter from him and he watched it in her hands, now with a seemingly desperate expression, as if he were clinging to a mountainside at night‑time and she had snatched his only foothold from him and he could sense himself beginning to fall, down, down, into the terrifying darkness hovering beneath him.

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