even in sleep he could not escape the fever. what had started as needling tremors in his muscle tissue had boiled into full-blown shudders, jerks now reaching a kinesthetic crescendo. but it wasn’t music—there was something unworldly about this shuddering. it was as if a master marionettist had decided to go against the tradition of making their puppet’s movement seem “believable”. foregoing all previous training and rejecting tradition, they renounced animating the avatar’s limbs in the likeness of humans. perhaps the master was bent on creating one final absurdist performance piece that would distinguish themselves as being the most avant-garde artist of their generation.
he realized that in this configuration between puppet and puppeteer, the marionette’s job is simply to receive. for the puppet at least, it was an unemotional exercise.
though the physicality of his fever was almost comical, he felt its burn growing with each passing moment, breaking each previous record and shattering each previous expectation of what a fever could do to a person. it was almost as if the act of belief in an end would be picked up by the fever, to which it would respond by increasing the intensity of itself. in this sense the fever was very much a living thing. using what he knew about string theory, he imagined there was something with a conscience sprinting through the chutes and ladders of his body, escaping capture, leaving nothing except scalding sensorial graffiti on his inner walls, announcing nothing except the words: "i am here". it was during the appearance of this text that he contemplated naming the fever. he wondered whether it would help as a makeshift, last-ditch effort to establish some sort of control over the creature. but, sometime during this philosophical exercise of naming the thing—which he would later learn was only a subconscious defense mechanism against the mounting heat—his eyes adjusted to the dark, and he realized with a sense of dread that he was somewhere very far away from where he’d fallen asleep. had somebody moved him while he was unconscious?
some time later, the burning and pain had rendered clarity impossible in his observations of anything. all around him was a heavy drone, a mechanical growl stretched beyond recognition. it was punctuated only by the soft click-and-buzz of what felt like a monitor fizzling on and off—but he couldn’t be sure anymore. his cognition had been fried to a permanent low-resolution, a torturous rendering process fated to load but never finish. yet, those words: “an unemotional exercise”—they continued to bother him, though he could not fully say why.
- Rohan Mills