Art Pact 173 - Continuing Boredom


There's nothing like the threat of continuing boredom to stir up impotent dissatisfaction. We'd been sitting in the dining room for seven hours since breakfast, pausing (if that's the correct word) only to crawl to the kitchen and make boring sandwiches for lunch. Our plates stood there still, covered in crumbs, just at the maximum reach of our arms because putting them further away would have required movement, and it was into avoiding movement that we had put all of our effort that afternoon.

Diane, sat closest to the window, had at least shifted somewhat. As the day had progressed a sunbeam had chased its way up her body, lighting her ankles first like some Victorian pervert, then crawling seedily up her calves, her thighs, onto the fuzzy fabric of her pyjama shorts, across her belly, her chest, and then finally up onto her face, spurring an uncomfortable shuffle. Every few minutes the relentless progression of the sun would cause the ray of light to catch up with her eyes again, and each time it did she would grunt in displeasure and flail one arm up as cover. Then, discovering again and again that it was too much effort to shield her eyes that way, she would shuffled up like a drunk snake, just far enough to get clear of the sun again - although of course not far enough that it would not catch up with her again a few minutes later. I could see from where I was sat - or flung, rather, since I had collapsed on the ottoman in the manner of a man stricken with a paralytic disease - that she only had a few more inches to go until her head hit the wall, blocking off all further hope for escape. I thought perhaps that there was little point in me doing anything until she had reached that final barrier - if she were forced to move she would break the ennui on her own, absolving me from the necessity of moving first.

"So. Fucking. Bored." Lally said from her corner of the room, hidden deep in the tedious shadows of the piles of books that covered the big table. The sunlight that had trapped Diane threw an imaginary skyline across the far wall, but I was too far gone in my own grey fugue to find it attractive or inspiring in any way. I let my eyes roll naturally in their sockets to the place where Lally's voice had come from, her shape a crazy tangle of arms and gangly legs and chunky-knit wool sweater parts that did not always seem to correspond to rational limbs.

"We're all bored," I told her. "You can stop saying that now. It's getting boring."

"Ha ha ha. Fucking ha," she said.

A lackadaisical breeze rolled in through the upper window, the one I'd forgotten to shut last night. I thought about it, how perhaps I could make it my challenge for the next minute - to get up, to close the window and feel assured that tonight - definitely tonight - it would remain closed. But the thought that tomorrow would continue one just as the same as today, endless and forever, always the same until we became nothing more than furniture, that thought stopped me. I felt as though the window were a way out, a chance, however slim, that something might happen to us. Perhaps someone would break in through the window and attack us, perhaps they might steal all these hideous books that lay around us in their tepid piles. Something, anything. An open window, like a flag, a cry for help. The thought was ludicrous, but so ludicrous that I could not even laugh at it, just sigh at my own stupidity. I left the window open. Let it be a cry for something. No-one would come in. The air outside was stultifying, the heat of it packed close around you like packing foam, preventing you from moving, from doing anything worthwhile. That was why the people in this town were the way they were - they'd been bubble-wrapped by the atmosphere. They were in mint condition - several thousand brains and bodies, never used, perfect to sell off to the highest bidder. Someone on eBay would buy the whole town and keep it in a glass-shelved display cabinets, with hot halogen lamps beneath us to make sure that the temperature inside was suitable to maintain our oppressive atmosphere.

"You look like you're thinking deep thoughts," Diane drawled. "Stop it."

"You stop it," I said wearily. "Stop doing nothing and do something. Entertain us."

"If that's possible," said Lally. "If it's ever possible again."

"You entertain me," said Diane. "I'm so bored I could talk to Nestor again."

"God preserve us. God preserve us from Nestor and from boredom."

"He can't," I said, flailing one arm around until it crashed on the plate my ridiculous cheese and pickle sandwich had sat on. "He's too bored to do anything. He's bored with Earth. We bore him, we bore God. We're so tedious that he's gone away forever, to do something else, anything else, rather than watch over us for a single more minute. Our religion is boring, our atheism is boring, our sciences and arts. All boring."

"And we're the most boring of all," Lally added. "Sitting here. Lying here, moaning about being bored and being boring, the most tedious people on the Earth."

"Should we do something about it?"

"What can we do?" She shifted in a motion that looked like the vague hint of a ghost shrug, layers of multicoloured wool shifting over each other. I nodded, letting my head rest back onto the edge of the ottoman. My legs and arms suddenly tensed, fizzing out in a sort of cold paralysis. My heart jumped awkwardly, and for a second I was confused. Were these my limbs, my heart? What could they be doing, acting so-

I saw it. What I must have seen before I saw it. The shape, moving on the ceiling. The shape from the other side.

"Girls..." I said, slowly.

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