The Conscious Ape

Well of Anaïs

One of These Days

An ardent beam of light shone through the broken shutters, like daggers of incandescence going straight into her eyes; Anaïs woke up. She kept telling herself she’d have them fixed one of these days; she kept telling herself that for the last two years.

She got up from a creaking frame and stumbled into the bathroom, where she found the mirror. This small mere of doppelgängers. At first, there is nothing, but soon enough, the brain kicks in a higher gear and starts revving at higher levels of morning recriminations.

Who are they, she asks herself? Whose face is this, whose eyes are looking at her? A part of her says it is me, but who is saying it to her? Also her? If so, is she the one with herself or a split of illusions?

What do you see when you look into the mirror? Do you see yourself or creation by your consciousness? Is this moment real? How can we even try to ask if there is a God or a life-creating force when we are not even able to confirm or deny our own existence to be anything else than an illusion of the mind. Built on top of that, whose mind; the hive mind, singular mind, or maybe a teardrop in a river of creation called God?

These are the questions roiling through Anaïs’s mind. Every morning the same God-forsaken routine, the same joys stemming from waking up alive.

Constipation has again gripped her tight, oh thy wench of erratic bowel movements! “Coffee, I need some fucking coffee”, – she said to herself. She moved to her kitchen, still gliding on the planes between the first daily existential crisis and the need to caffeinate herself into a working, living, breathing office zombie. Recriminations upon recriminations, the daily toil of being just bright enough to ponder the philosophical questions and being just dumb enough to not die from putting a fork into the electrical socket at the age of three. A bonafide Mensa member.

Making breakfast is a simple enough task, Anaïs’s favourite, a mixture of almonds, hazels, peanut butter and blueberries followed by a nice glass of cashew milk and occasional intrusive thought of how this day and all its problems could be solved if she just swerved with her car into the closest tree on her way to work. She finds herself at her favourite spot on the corner of the couch from which she can sun herself while enjoying the morning repast. She always eats in silence because, God forbid, she allows herself to silence the inner noise with the external noise of a podcaster rambling on about his new favourite hobby. No, you should eat in silence and be mindful of the process; external noise messes up your morning routine and brings the anxiety level to that pleasant hum, that lovely buzzing that keeps you alert the whole day and gives you that beautiful feeling of the bowel wrenching kind. Yes, the blessed silence.

Anaïs put the coffee pot on; she filled the bottom chamber with high-quality tap water and the coffee filter with this fine Ethiopian blend that also has a fine price tag. Because what is the point of toiling away your precious hours and days of life in the corporate machinery if you are not fully embracing the consumerist mentality and buying expensive things for yourself to soothe the mental anguish. But hey, the coffee is good, and happiness lies in the small stuff. Small stuff like child slavery. Yes, the endless recriminations, how could she do without them.” One of these days, I’ll end it, but not today.”

She got ready. The office battle paints and the whole shebang, looking like she gave a damn or actually cared about her presentability even though she could do the same job in her sweatpants while being infinitely more comfortable and not spend two hours of her life on the commute.

Welcome to the Machine

That incessant buzzing started again, that inexorable battle cry of office 14 coming from the ceiling lamps suspended in the dead air of the office maze. Nothing soothes the soul as much as a good night of not having any sleep, a strong cup of coffee and buzzing sounds coming from decrepit lights. Anaïs has been working as a junior-level programmer for 3 years now, doing the menial tasks of maintenance of legacy codebases that are not unimportant but could be delegated five ranks down to a nobody with no better things to do at the moment. A dull, boring and repetitive carnival of wasting time to do the tiniest modicum of real change.

The oppressive and crushing rut that comes from being a small cog in a large corporate machine came crashing down on Anaïs like it rarely did, maybe due to the lack of sleep or perhaps a new level of intensity in the anxiety war that is fought on the grounds of her soul has been found. Whatever it was, the soul-crushing feeling of meaninglessness filled her to the brim that day. The inbox is, as always, overflowed with inane bullshit that could have been avoided with a bit more looking up stuff on the other side. The coffee machine in the communal break room was again having pressure problems, all small stuff, but shit like that keeps adding up. Soon enough, you find yourself searching online on how to get a one-way plane ticket for Switzerland to a specialized euthanization centre.

The machine went on clicking and ticking on; slowly but surely, the cogs of inner works moved and rotated on the axles of immovable ground. Always going but never moving. How long can one live in that hell of empty spaces without any real emotion or lateral movements? Never going deeper into the network of the soul, never finding yourself, only leaving room for tribulation. The lunch break came and with it another, of a deeper, sadder kind. But if there is no one to witness the break-off and subsequent fall, did any of it happen? Anaïs’s mind went on rumbling like this for the rest of the workday up until it came time to take off.

Delicate Sound of Thunder

In the corner next to the terrace door of Anaïs’s apartment opened a tiny pulsar of bright pinkish light. It warbled and bobbled in waves and patterns of geometric precision, like a vaginal crevice in the fabric of the time and space continuum. From the opening came sonorous sounds of dense clamour, metal hitting metal at high speeds, like incredible hulks of steel crashing in each other. The delicate sound of thunder woke Anaïs; she fell out of bed from the sudden crashing sounds; no recriminations, no existential crisis, only deeply embedded fear in that lizard part of her brain, pure instinct.

She gazed into the darkness in front and around her and saw nothing move except the pink flicker around the rim of the door’s sill. With hands trembling and sweat pouring in cataracts from her brow, she opened the door and looked into the living room, and there it was, a small pulsating source of pink light. She approached it without thinking in a daze, an empty slate void of thoughts. It called to her, the sound resembling a cavernous rumble of great rocks falling into the ocean. Time seemed to stand still, air undulating around her like a fine mist of cosmic embrace. Finally, she touched the pulsar, the hair on her nape stood up, the feeling of pure frisson like never experienced before. The thunderous sound of yore turned into a tranquil hush of now. It took her in, crushed her and then exploded her into particles of creation. IT turned her into a well of feeling and not feeling, full of enjoyment and suffering, bliss and excruciating pain, life and death. A well of Anaïs.

The well of her became the well of all; she took in creation, and creation took her in, all at once experiencing all that there is. Pleasure without limits mixed with absolute pain and torture, depravity mixed with virtue, frying her essence into crispy cereals for the macabre gods of this existence. Skin flayed, meat boiled, bones crushed, brain liquified, again and again, and again for eternity, looping in and out of each other like an ouroboros of anguish. What was Anaïs now was legion. Legion of nothing.

Comfortably Numb

The saline fluid slowly trickled. The heart monitor produced sounds in even time signatures. The respirator inflated and deflated. The sun came through the shutters and fell on her closed eyes. No movement, no recognition, no reaction. Just an empty bundle of flesh and bones devoid of the movement of the soul. Anaïs lay there in the sunlit gloom of a hospital room. Brain-damaged but comfortably numb. Alive but not living, saved from all the suffering and pain living entails and removed from all the joys life can bring.

The small table next to her, usually reserved for flowers and well wishes, stood empty, a blank canvas of a meaningless life next to an empty shell of a human being, an apt partner in this endeavour that leads to nowhere. Death came not so much as swirling down as it crawled slowly into her soul and ate away at the foundations that built it, ate away until it all crumbled down into a heap of rubbish without any meaning or wish for purpose.

A well of nothing is all that is left…