Filament by Jake Dean

I was stabbed in a bar fight that revealed my wire innards. It was a dingy place, so my assailant didn’t get a look at the fizzing mess in my guts, but there was enough time for me to press my fingers inside and find electricity coursing where there should’ve been blood and gore. There was no pain either, just a warm hum.

I made my escape amid the melee, narrowly avoiding a flying barstool, and stumbled down the street paralytic and confused about what was happening to my wretched body. First though, cigarettes and a Powerade. Servo ahead. Sober up. Gather thoughts.

I went to the bathroom with the intention of peeking inside the wound, but I couldn’t muster the courage, so I sat outside in the carpark smoking my cigarettes and nursing my sports drink in the cool dawn air. Goosebumps on my arms. The stench of petrol and French fries.

Ex-girlfriends had always told me there was no spark. Well, look at me now, I said aloud, currents surging through my wire veins and a dumb smile on my face. If I’d had a charger, I might’ve tried hooking up my depleted phone to my open belly. Maybe played a song on YouTube to lighten the mood. A woman in a chain chemist uniform looked at me strangely as she ferried her oversized takeaway coffee to her hatchback.

The sun began to illuminate the streets as I walked through the suburbs towards home. Birdsong. The first buses of the morning zoomed past. I thought about hailing one, but I needed to work out what to do about my open wound and what was inside. Besides, I didn’t know where the buses were headed.

I began to feel faint, but I didn’t know if it was just because I was hungover or if the knife had mortally wounded me. Who could even help me? An electrician? I debated messaging my mother to tell her I loved her, but then I remembered my phone was off.

At home, I found a note slipped under the door reminding me I was a month behind on rent. If I didn’t pay the full amount owed by the following week, I’d be evicted.

I slumped on my bed without taking off my dirty sneakers and I stared at the light bulb on the ceiling. Its wire filament, thin as a vein, soon turned from dull grey to blinding yellow, before the globe shattered with a cartoonish pop. I closed my eyes as tiny shards of glass rained down on my face and I felt my systems, moments from sleep, already beginning to recharge.

Jake Dean is a writer and wave rider from Kaurna country, South Australia. His words have appeared in publications such as The Guardian, Great Ocean Quarterly, White Horses, Surfing World and others. More of his work can be found here. He tweets here.

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