"Wait. No stop"
Fingers coiled up into her bag. Another hand felt the bone of her hip.
The hand smoothed over her arms and tentatively moved into the warmth of her armpit.
“If you feel anything is inappropriate you must nod.”
She stood frozen in obsequious delight. Inside, a wealth of excitement bubbled and gorged through her system. The hand in her bag groped her keys and shuffled passed the loose change in there.
The mystery of other people's belongings, the filth of the fluff of someone else's pockets. The men moved in to the light.
"Miss, you seem to be carrying A Voucher"
"Really? This was given to me just now by a taxi driver, foolishly, I didn't check and assumed it was change"
"Clearly. I will exchange The Voucher for the experience, in accordance with legislation”
"Please… I remember the driver's code, perhaps you would like me to reel it off for you?"
She knew they were not interested in how she obtained The Voucher, nevertheless, she was keen to extend the conversation before the unavoidable consequences.
The man removed a pock-machine from his pouch. As he leaned his head in the light, it appeared dented; the skin over his skull was soft boiled, no hair then eyebrows. The machine head was placed on the woman's forearm and he pumped the switch. In an instant, the woman was wailing horrendously and her right knee had dropped in concert with the shrill scream. It had removed a disc of flesh from the horizontal layers of skin, revealing raw tissue in a perfect circle.
"Voucher will be replaced with experience"
The woman gripped her elbow with her left hand, she had quietened; gulps of breath punctuated soft whimpers.
A second figure revealed carrying a small foil-topped plastic container, with the diagonal corporate branding of a pharmaceutical company. The man popped the foil with a knife to reveal a strange black worm, moving horribly as if formed from hot solder; morphing into itself as a continuous flail of liquid. With precision, he scooped the worm from the plastic and into the woman's wound.
The woman began to nod.
"Oh? Inappropriate? OK we'll stop. You're done now anyway"
"Did the worm go in?"
"Yes, enjoy the experience!"
The woman scurried out of the room clutching her arm. The worm had formed a hard black cap across the circular hole in her flesh.
Once home, the changes began to happen. Seated on the chair, her gaze softened, her head tilted towards the window. Her teeth began to feel bruised in her gums; her tongue swelled between her bite. Skin around her wound was turning grey, pulsing gently from the black worm in her skin. Scratching the chair with her fingernails, she waited, surrendering to the worm's will.
"Squeak. I'm inside you, I'm the worm inside your arm, releasing chemicals of experience into your body."
Her tongue began furiously rubbing the roof of her mouth. Pump went experience; rushing up her central nervous system grappling with memory cells and liquidating into her brain. Tubes of phantom food memories collected in her gullet and slipped into her stomach. Leg muscles twitched spasmodically, implying months of imagined journeys. Emotions splurged over her, at once, attacking her frontal lobe. With the lack of grace that comes with complete sensory assault, she stiffened in her chair; her fingers became brittle poised claws and her left leg cocked away from her body.
Half an hour passed, she was mumbling incoherently, her eyes flicking left to right.
"Ah! I see you have spent the Experience Voucher I purchased for you for your birthday. Ho! Ho!" Her husband had returned home from work, and was watching his grey wife squirming from her stiffness. Her eyes could fix on him by this point; she formed a smile through the grimace of the worm's muscular contractions. "I can see you must be nearly done... I'll just wait and you can tell me all about it"
Gradually, florid pools of colour returned to her skin and her frame became looser, returning to a normal pose.
"Wonderful!" The word passed lightly out of her skull. "What a wonderful experience, thank you so much"
The black worm had returned to its original shape and the teat of its head was searching to the best direction to move in. Slowly now, the worm shifted clumsily over the skin, down her arm and fell onto the floor. The husband moved stealthily towards it and crushed it under his black semi-patent loafer.
“So, has it given you something to talk about?”
“Yes, the worm decided I could have all the experiences we anticipated, the cream of happiness and the belching crux of dilemma and pain.”
“Amen!” The husband’s eyes revealed their whiteness and as he thrust his right arm into the air, his suit folded between his neck and shoulder. “Happy Birthday, my love! Now we can get to know each other all over again.”
With that, a tickle of sorrow wriggled in the woman’s brain, and a small pump twitched the base of her spine. She looked down to the black stain at her feet then to the black loafer of her husband, then spoke: “Experience is a worm, coating the wheels of my mechanisms, burrowing through the logic of my decisions. The worm is dead and I am left with visceral traces of imagined glories and filth.”
The husband knelt next to her, holding her hand, “Look how interesting you’ve become! Tell me everything! Drench me in opinions!”
The woman softened her gaze once more and looked back toward the dead worm.
The ideas ruptured inside her brain and tweaked neurones into giving him word-sounds.
“Pump pump” she mouthed, “pump, pump…”