Wednesday, April 28, 2010


It woke me up at 4:20 the other morning.

I knew something was wrong before I even woke up. My consciousness sprinted to play catch-up with my senses, some of them screaming that if I didn’t figure out what the wrong thing was, I might never fully wake up. The sheets on my bed were dry and smooth, they reassured me that all was not lost. I could see nothing in the dark of my room, so fire probably wasn’t it. I was hearing something.

It was the wrong thing. It growled like a swarm of bees trapped in candy bar, hundreds of primal minds full of energy and a desire to expand and conquer. I was alone with them.

In the elapsed seconds, I’d figured that I was in my bedroom, and in the direction the sound was coming from were a lot of my more expensive electronics, my desktop computer being the biggest and best of them. I’d lost my external hard drive a few weeks ago, and had only recently gotten new copies of the material on it saved on my main drive. In those files were days of media and years of my own creative works, files I would not be able to recover a second time, and if they were lost, so to would be lost a part of my soul. If the sound was coming from there, a device that was supposed to be completely off, that would be very wrong indeed – raping God’s sister level of wrong.

But the wrong thing wasn’t my computer. It was sitting right next to it, watching it. Watching me. It wanted to know what would cause the most damage: hurting me directly, or hurting what had most of my work in it. I should have known.
It was my electric razor, and that night was the night it would try to kill me.

Seeing the opportunity, it leapt from the dresser for the quick kill, and if I’d been fully awake it might have worked. Too much instinct was in control, and like my ancestors catching snakes in the trees, I caught the sound in mid-air, and its source along with it. Now as most men know, once you get an electric razor in a good grip, there’s a pressure point you can hit that will put the thing to sleep, and that’s exactly what I did.

It didn’t pass out. It just kept screaming. I pushed and I choked and I beat at the point but it just kept screaming. The wrong thing had become clear: the razor had moved its pressure point to a spot I couldn’t get at. I was dealing with the Malcolm Reynolds of electric razors, and it aimed to misbehave.

Since technique wasn’t going to carry me through the night, I had to switch tactics. Me being an adult male human, and it being a small object, I had some advantages. The ones I elected to use were my size and that mainstay of man-vs-everything: opposable thumbs. I ripped the teeth off the head so I could get at the rotary mechanism, and held it back with my thumb and forefinger, figuring that if I could make it work hard enough, it would run out of juice and give up that much quicker.

To anyone that might find this chronicle, I must warn that such a maneuver is not easy or gentle. The mechanism will strain and jolt relentlessly, and even if you manage to wedge the thing tight enough to wear it down, whatever you wedge it with will hurt. It will tear through paper and fabric, and anything strong enough to not suffer is going to be too big and unwieldy to jam into the small opening. About the only thing that works are human digits, and the only ones I had access to were mine.

I had to change my grip a couple of times a minute to prevent my mind from breaking. The sensation of so many oscillations a second going from the tips of my fingers up my arm was not one any brain was meant to handle. It was only after I gave a fingertip a break that I could detect the threat those vibrations posed to my flesh, but in the face of a homicidal shaver I had no choice. Five minutes passed and the beast showed no sign of slowing down. I cursed myself then, cursed myself for insisting on a waterproof razor; how much quicker and simpler my current task would be if I had the option to drown this monster.

Three more minutes left, and by then I had no finger that was not shaking for the stress. Though my boys were strung out they could not be allowed to rest here. They were my only line of defense against this traitor, and like the heroes of old they braced up and carried the fight.

I thought I could hear the thing losing strength. Experience had taught me that the first signs of fatigue are followed swiftly by the last. My fingers wanted nothing but to let go then.

“It is weakened, surely we can let it die on its own now. Another minute by our efforts or another five to let it bleed out on its own, not so big a difference, is it?”

I nearly acquiesced. I came so close to listening to passivity that looking back I think I must have been mad. As I considered the option, the razor’s life flashed before my eyes. It had behaved itself, if not admirably at least adequately. It removed my hair as it was told, usually careful not to nick my skin. Especially around my neck, where a few millimeters of skin are all that separates my life’s blood and the cold, unforgiving harshness of the open air. It wouldn’t take much to breach that, this was common knowledge.

I made my decision. This would be the final push. Though they moaned and cried, my fingers kept pushing, past their own pain and past the wailing of the razor until, two minutes and inches of raw skin later…

…the wrong thing finally died.

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