My Divided Self
I am occupying a small private room in a medieval tavern. This windowless space forms a perfect cube, within which stands a heavy square wooden table, mounted lectern like on a thick box shaped support, both of which are perfectly aligned and centred to the sides of the chamber. Two low stools are placed on the floor, each by an opposite edge of the board, upon one of which I grimly sit, my forearms, laying on the desk, supporting my heavily slumping torso, my fists clenched and my features anxious.
I stare fixedly straight ahead at the single doorless entrance, placed precisely in the middle of the side facing me. The dark apartment is lit by a couple of high braziers, mounted halfway along each of the flanking walls. Their flickering flames cause a dramatic chiaroscuro, in which rich golds and warm rusty hues fantastically weave and mingle with the oak shades of the furnishings, and the inexorable opaques of nothingness.
I patiently await my guest. Who he is, when he will appear, where he comes from, what this encounter means, and how this meeting has been made to pass, I know not. Yet I’m certain that I must stay, until my fateful friend arrives and takes his seat across from me.
Suddenly the scene changes. I am walking through a maze of dim, narrow, low ceilinged corridors. I’m lost, yet compelled to go on, to reach the end, the conclusion of this confusion, as there appears to be no way back. I know not how I got here, where this is, why I’m here, and when I started stumbling through this bizarre labyrinth. Every attempt to return, to what I know not, takes me through frustrating circles or to dull dead ends. As I move forward, as much as anything is progression in this crazy place, the passageways get gradually thinner and lower, and I struggle more and more to restrain my simmering feelings of terrifying claustrophobia.
Then, almost at the moment of complete psychosis, I reach an exit, which leads into an open room. In the sombre shadows of this refreshing, liberating space I see a table, at which a man sits facing me, patiently waiting. As we look at each other, we instantly recognise that I am the one he’s been expecting, and that this is the place for which I’ve been searching, my escape, my release. As I take my seat opposite it seems that now I am both my own guest, and my own host.
And then the setting changes, to a large, chandeliered ballroom, with its many wide, tall, ornate windows letting in a bright, clear daylight. In this cool, echoey hall I am having a sword fight with another man. I’m dressed as adashing swashbuckler, with my half opened, baggy, white lace ruffle frill shirt gathered into my trimly belted, tight black trousers. These are tucked into my stylish, knee high black riding boots, while my long, straight, shiny jet hair is slickly tied back into a ponytail.
As we combat with verve and panache, I all at once notice that my assailant is a perfect doppelganger of myself, as well as being dressed exactly the same as me. Immediately upon this revelation he doubles, so now I’m fencing with two identical fellows, both indistinguishable from myself, forcing me to increase my efforts to hold them at bay. Again, upon this realisation the pair duplicate, so now I must struggle even more rapidly to parry four familiar ruffians.
This magically matrixed metamorphosis repeats twice more, until I am manically contending with sixteen attackers. Completely overwhelmed by these odds I desperately retire while they form a semi-circle around me, slowly edging in for the kill, as I frantically twist and turn in a last ditch effort to defend myself. Then, as they are almost close enough to strike, I deftly deliver a slick stroke to the right leading hand of the scoundrel at the left end of the arc. This disables his grip, while simultaneously causing his riposte to glance awry, and instead strike, in a similar fashion to my adroit thrust, the right hand of the next man in the row. A chain reaction occurs, as this second aggressor suffers the same fate, his injured hand similarly unwittingly assaulting the next man in the row, and so on down to the end of the line, with the speed and rhythm of a domino topple.
In a short time all my antagonists stand defeated, nursing their wounded paws while their weapons lay useless on the floor, and I flamboyantly raise my rapier on high in victory, boldly announcing “Touche”.