Hit Single

I come home to find Karla and her friends in my lounge preparing to shoot up.

“It’s OK, Leo, it’s not heroin,” she says. “It’s the latest thing—intravenous music. It’s supposed to be the ultimate trip, and it’s organic, so it’s like, all natural. It’s totally harmless.” She looks up at me and deliberately widens her baby blue eyes, willing me to believe her.

“Intravenous music...what a crock of shit,” I say.

“Fuck, man,” says Jordan. “Why do you always have to be such a purist?” He almost spits out the last word, pronouncing it in the same tone he would use for ’Nazi baby killer’.

“How many times do I have to tell you, Karla, everything you put in your body affects you long term, one way or another,” I say. “Everything.”

Karla’s expression turns sly. “That’s not entirely true,” she says. “You never did.”

One of her friends sniggers. “That’s brutal, dude.” I reel back clutching at the invisible dagger she has plunged into my heart.

And she depresses the syringe into her vein.

—§—

Karla lives in my spare bedroom now. It’s modified with soundproofing and padded walls especially for her. I know that I should turn her over to a state hospice, that I’m just being perverse, but this way I can make a liar of her. I am having an effect on her, a profound effect, in fact, as I’m currently the only thing standing between her and starvation.

The song radiates from every pore of her body, each limb broadcasting a different instrument, her torso providing a thumping bass line that beats in time with her heart. It was entrancing in the beginning, and I made a bit of money at first hiring her out to music festivals and rave parties until the novelty value wore off. Now I swear if I ever hear that fucking song again I am going to kill myself, so I always wear noise-cancelling headphones when I go into her room.

Feeding her is a challenge, because she never stops dancing. I have learned to play the flute, and have become attuned to her steps, dancing with her as I position the end of the instrument between her lips and blow notes into her open mouth, all the while feeling like some kind of fucked-up Pied Piper.

It’s easier to let her go naked. The soles of her feet are stained blue with the flat notes and discordant tones that dribble down her legs, and several times a day I have to dart in and mop up around her.

And she never. Stops. Dancing.

Ω

Tracie L McBride is a New Zealander who lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children. She is a member of the Melbourne-based speculative fiction writers group SuperNOVA. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in over 40 print and electronic publications, including Pulp.Net, Coyote Wild, Abyss and Apex, Space & Time, Sniplits and Electric Velocipede. She won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best New Talent for 2007 and the Williamstown Literary Festival's Seagull Poetry Competition in 2009.