The Wrapper

by Gordon Mooney 2004

Soft and sensuous to the touch, its rounded protruding globules glitter in the light like a silver sequinned dress. It rustles dryly when moved, as a woman rustles in her silken ball-gown, or as dry autumn leaves rustle when blown by a western breeze. It gels in perfect crystal domes like iced raindrops hanging on a window pane or as water formed into gleaming mercurial ovals on the waxed surface of a car. The air-filled opals of soft cushioning collapse with a click and crack when squeezed between thumb and forefinger. Light as a feather, the thin gossamer is unyieldingly strong when stretched, pulled or torn. Rows and rows of circles flow in a silver, shining honeycomb made for plastic bees and their larvae or for stored invisible nectar. Inside those bubbles, what air is trapped? Is it the perfumed air of Asia, or the stinking poisoned air of a choking city? Does it contain the life giving breath of Spring, or the foetid toxicity of Death?

Bubble wrap is a flexible, tear-resistant, transparent, lightweight plastic packaging material. The air-filled bubbles protect against, shock, vibration and water damage. It is an economical way of protecting surfaces and products during storage or transportation. There are so many uses for this material, in packaging, wrapping, insulation and for all sorts of fun. For some this plastic sheet has a subtle sexuality. There is something compelling and deeply erotic about the feel of the soft bubbles and the need to squeeze them.

For J it was impossible to hold this plastic without involuntarily popping one or more of the bubbles. He had started using bubble wrap when he emigrated to Canada 15 years ago. How he hated the Arctic Canadian winters and the hot sweltering humid summers. The dramatic climate, swinging between sudden sub-zero temperatures and searing heat and suffocating humidity, played havoc with his musical instruments. The heat and desiccating cold in quick succession, blew the atoms of the wood and metal in different directions causing distress, cracking and bending his instruments. His hatred and torment increased with every passing year and their torment gained more and more ascendancy in his obsessive imagination.

J had discovered that if he wrapped his flutes, whistles and bagpipes in polythene, cling-film and bubble wrap, they were protected from the harshness of the climate. He began by wrapping his instruments carefully before he went out. Then he took to wrapping and double wrapping them inside their cases. Then he wrapped the case with a double skin of bubble wrap and finally enclosed the whole bundled case in a sealed plastic bag. It started as a practical solution but gradually became a daily, then twice or thrice daily ritual of unwrapping, re-wrapping and wrapping again. He loved the feel of the bubble wrap, the silkiness of the cling-film and the rustle of the polythene. It had the soft sexiness of nylon stockings and satin underwear; the soft smoothness of female flesh. Sometimes it reminded him of the touch of a woman’s hair - those tiny soft hairs on the nape of her neck and that same downy softness on her belly. J loved to wrap. The process of wrapping the things that he treasured excited and comforted him. giving a deep fulfillment from the activity of protecting and coddling. had most value to him. His bubble wrap cocoons he created had an aesthetic beauty, with their ‘Skin of Air’, shimmering, silvered, in tidy sealed sensuality; begging for his touch and attention. But only for him, no-one else must dare to violate his perfection of packaging.

J was a Collector with a capital C and was a very rare and special species. He had a quasi-religious enthusiasm for his desired objects. He thought about his collection incessantly and devoted all his waking life to the pursuit of his acquisitions. Over a period of 25 years he had accumulated a huge collection of musical instruments. He specialised in bagpipes, flutes and whistles and had acquired examples of the best instruments made by the top makers. Curiously, he never played the instruments. In fact most of them had never been played since the day he bought them shining new and virginal, fresh from the loom and lathe. He would make sure that no-one would play them, not even himself, because he soaked them in thick oil, packed them in airtight boxes then wrapped them in layer upon layer of polythene, cling-film and bubble wrap. However it wasn’t just instruments that J collected. Over the years he had also acquired a significant collection of women that he kept for his pleasure. He was a serial seducer, or so he liked to think.

J stayed up later and later wrapping and packing, and the more he worried about his packages the worse became his problem. He told himself he wasn't really impotent, (you understand) just tired with all the work, and worry. His apartment had become virtually uninhabitable with the amount of packages and boxes it contained. He lived on pizza and chocolate chip ice cream and slept behind a pile of boxes on a bed made from layers of bubble wrap. He had discovered that several layers of the large bubble wrap made a nice cosy , air-sprung bed, and sheets of the small bubble wrap made warm blankets.

A big turn-on for J, and something he truly relished, was acquiring the instruments that had belonged people now dead. He greatly admired the old pipers and flute players of Irish, Scottish and Northern English music. When they died he went to great efforts to visit the widow or the deceased’s relative and make them a good offer for the dead musician’s instrument. These he particularly prized. He just loved parceling them up in oil and plastic and taking them out of circulation, out of the gene pool of music. Never again would they play sweet tunes and make feet dance. This was his true vocation: to enjoy the aesthetic sensuality of exotic woods - blackwood, rosewood, boxwood - glistening keywork, silver mounts, ivory, rich leathers and velvet. He caressed them, reveling in the voluptuous joy of rich colours and gleaming, dense, valuable and rare materials. But he was afraid of their obscenity which invited others to touch them, play and fondle them. He could not allow this depravity. They must be wrapped and sealed, put out of reach where no one else could touch them.

When a beautiful young woman acquaintance, Emily, was hit and killed by a runaway truck. Her antique wooden flute somehow survived the mangling. J visited her parents the day after the funeral. He told them how much he had loved their daughter's playing and offered to buy her flute, make a shrine of it and play it every day in remembrance of her. The bereaved, grief-stricken parents were taken in and gave J the flute. He rushed home and gleefully consigned the instrument to eternal preservation in oil and bubble wrap.

J found a special delight in sealing this flute forever. It was an embalming of the essence of Emily. He felt that he had gained some possession of the dead girl's spirit in the now neutralised flute and he could take it and hold it - gazing through the plastic skin as a voyeur gazes through a peep hole or as a lecher steals a look at a young girl's breast or buttock. Secretly he wished that he could have preserved Emily so that he could gaze on her beauty whenever he desired. There is no cure for musical instrument lust, even poverty isn't a cure and there is certainly no cure for sexual lust!

He could have been forgiven if he was collecting for some academic or cultural reason. Botanic Gardens collect rare plants; a zoo keeps rare animals and breeds them; collectors of artworks form trusts or build galleries to show their paintings to the public, but J's reasons for collecting were selfish and sinister. When asked why he collected he could never give a convincing reason. He would say that he was going to open a museum one day but in truth the very thought of the public looking at his prizes made him wince and shudder. J's collection had long ago ceased to be a personal indulgence and now it had assumed its own identity. In fact, it had become a thing in its own right - rather like Frankenstein's monster.

His phobia began many, many years ago. His father died when he was 3 years old and his mother had become deeply depressed. She had neglected J; left him crying in his cot when in need; denied him comfort, and cuddles. As an adult his insecurity, fear of loss and need for comfort transferred to a compulsion to collect and to wrap. After his father died. J had felt terrified and lonely. Collecting brought relief from the terrible feelings of abandonment and loss. We all love to be held close, it gives us a sense of being loved, of security and it is a natural and beautiful part of relationships but J had suffered a trauma in his childhood. It was so long ago, and so early in his life that his conscious mind scarcely remembered. Collecting built a wall of protection around him. Wrapping himself to sleep in the plastic bubbles recreated his earliest memories and feelings of being held close and loved. If someone would bind him and tie him it represented to him that they loved him. He had persuaded some of his girlfriends to tie him up. None of them had really understood why he needed to be restrained and they had tired of this fetish and left.

One by one they abandoned him so he experimented with tying himself up using ropes and bondage equipment. But this hadn't fulfilled him. Then he accidentally discovered his greatest enjoyment came when he wrapped himself in bubble wrap or cling film. By rolling over and over naked in the plastic it stuck and clung to his bare flesh. The way it clung intimately to his skin, together with the soft warm protection of the bubbles, reminded him of swaddling and he awoke in a primal ecstasy of safety. He would lie quietly and peacefully for many hours in a semi-hypnotic state, awake but staring vacuously.The wrapping would calm him, and for a while, steady his otherwise jumpy, nervous, twitching persona. He called this the 'Joy of Wrapping' - of being wrapped, protected, coddled and cocooned.

We live in a well wrapped society. A society obsessed with wrapping and packaging where everything we buy is double-wrapped for freshness, sealed for flavour, hygienically wrapped and vacuum-sealed. Food is packed in hermetically-sealed plastic, then put in thin plastic bags, then just to make sure it is properly wrapped, it is placed in a thick polythene bag. Some packaging is so effective it is almost impossible to penetrate the armoured skin and the flexible yet unyielding curtain of visible translucence. Somehow it becomes vital that we are the first and only person to penetrate the protective skin. We have purchased the object and expect it to be pristine, virginal and only for our personal delectation.

Whether they need to be or not, books, tapes, papers and boxes are all wrapped, double wrapped and kept 'fresh' for later consumption. We eat 'wraps', buy burgers in boxes, fruit sealed and triple wrapped. Packaging is an art form, a necessary part of a product, to enable display, protection and attraction. Damaged goods are rejected. Is there a fear of contamination or a compulsive eroticism to preserve the pristine newness? Could there be some atavistic hunting memory - a delight at being the first to devour the slain flesh? Then there is that familiar excitement that we all recall and relish when we receive a gift-wrapped present. The tearing, squealing fun of Christmas morning or a cake, ice-cream and jelly birthday party. We have all enjoyed the expectation and the delight of opening the parcels. We have our own wrappings, our individual clothes, sealing our bodies and presenting ourselves in the market place of life. Do we offer ourselves to be admired and loved or to be consumed and eaten?

J loved women and was always thinking about them. He thought of women and the ways they wrap themselves in nylon, silk, satin and lace or in sleek ball gowns and negligees. He loved to see young, firm, fit women in shaped and tailored business suits with crisp blouses, sheer nylon legs and patent heeled shoes. He loved them as objects, their shape, curves, smoothness of skin, lush hair and tapered waists. They were such pleasing sensual objects but he could never reconcile himself to the idea that they were anything more than just sexual objects for his visual or carnal pleasure. Unfortunately they were bitches who argued with him, rejected him, insulted him and laughed at his fumbling attempts at seduction and his impotence. He had come to the conclusion that like the instruments he collected, the most enjoyment he would get from women would be if he silenced them. He fantasised about having them preserved: static, mute and trouble free. He longed to collect and wrap them. Psychologists say that anything that either arouses or relaxes or induces fantasies can lead to addiction. Collecting does all three, and so is especially addictive.

J first got the idea of preserving bodies when he visited the British Museum. He saw bodies that had been preserved in a peat bog for centuries. The acid conditions prevented bacterial decay and with no air there was no decomposition. No rotting, just a frozen state of mummification. Anaerobic preservation or airless preservation was a good way of storing an organic object.

Deep freezing was another method. Like the 'Ice-man' found in the Alps, humans have been preserved for centuries when they were caught in an ice flow or glacier. Freezing bodies in liquid carbon dioxide or nitrogen, offered another long term storage option but J disliked the idea of cold bodies and there was also the technical problems of maintaining a low temperature store.

J knew that the Egyptians were famous for their perfection of the art of mummification. Although mummification has supernatural trappings, the process is as mundane as fish preservation.

In the museum J discovered that Egyptians dried the body by using a salt mixture called 'Natron' whose preservative properties rival those of salt. Natron is a natural substance that is found in abundance along the River Nile and in several African lakes. Natron is superior to salt as a drying agent because it chemically attacks and destroys grease and fat. Natron is made up of four salts: sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride, and sodium sulphate. The sodium carbonate works as a drying agent, drawing the water out of the body. while, acting at the same time, The bicarbonate, when subjected to moisture, increases the acidity and creates a hostile environment for bacteria. Its preservative qualities must have been immediately apparent from its effects on wild life which drowned in these lakes. The Egyptian climate also helped the mummification process, being both very hot and dry. At several localities in the Libyan desert and Upper Egypt the natron has accumulated in beds and incrustations several feet thick. This material has been mined and traded from these localities for thousands of years.

Natron, J reasoned, was therefore a perfect material for mummy purification and preservation of a corpse. About 270kgs (600lbs) would be required to treat the average body. In Egypt, dry natron was sprinkled over the body, perhaps mixed with sawdust or spread with linen clothes. By eliminating moisture the source of decay was eliminated. A dry body is easily bandaged and stored.

J’s further researches revealed that modern methods of dealing with dead bodies are crude by comparison. When buried in a coffin the degradation of human corpses normally takes 10 to 12 years. The degradation process rate is dependent on microbial decay. The process results in organic products including ammoniacal nitrogen which can pollute groundwater. Half of all human burials involve some embalming using formaldehyde or gluteraldehyde. These are biocides with toxic and carcinogenic properties and are also highly corrosive. Pathogens or organisms harmful to human health may be present. Burial is therefore a very polluting practice. Formaldehyde or glutaraldehyde are toxic and often result in poorly executed embalming with decomposition, putrefaction in delayed burials, persistent 'skinslip', tissue gas and miasmatic mausoleums. J read that all modern chemical preservatives will fail under certain circumstances due to factors of chemical inhibition, infusion, cross-reactions and bad luck. In addition the chemicals produced rigidity and a grey death pallor to the corpse, and there was a smell which might draw attention.

He also looked into the idea of using silica gel as a desiccant. Silica gel is an amorphous form of silicon dioxide, which is synthetically produced in the form of hard irregular granules or beads. The beauty of silica gel is the physical adsorption of water vapour into its internal pores. There is no chemical reaction, no by products or side effects. Even when saturated with water vapour, silica gel still has the appearance of a dry product, its shape unchanged. Gently heating silica gel will drive off the adsorbed moisture and leave it ready for reuse. It is a very inert material and it will not normally attack or corrode other materials being non-toxic and non-flammable. J experimented on large chunks of meat from the butcher. He found that the silica gel worked very well but realised that he would need large quantities and in addition some preservatives and disinfectant anti-bacterial agents.

J was greatly attracted to the methods used by the Ancient Egyptians, particularly their complex wrapping rituals, which insured that the body could carry the spirit over into the afterlife. The rituals of wrapping and mummification were carried to great lengths by the ancient Egyptians. Complex rituals evolved to prepare the body for mummification and embalming, because a well-preserved

After the body had dried out, it was washed with palm wine, anointed with sweet oils of cedar, myrrh and lotus, wrapped in linen then placed in a coffin. The dried internal organs were placed in canoptic jars beside the coffin. The jars were decorated with the images of gods. Imsety the human-headed god looked after the liver. Hapy the baboon-headed god looked after the lungs. Duamutef the jackal-headed god looked after the stomach. Qebehsenuef the falcon-headed god looked after the intestines. These guardians would ensure that the spirit passed safely to the underworld.

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It pained J very very much if he wasn't loved by a woman. When he wanted a woman he would use all his charm and chat to seduce her. Surprisingly for such a small, unattractive runt, he had considerable success with women. But he wasn't interested in the easy conquests. It was the women who rejected him that he needed to possess and collect. At last Jane, beautiful Jane, would be another item for his collection.

She didn't know what happened. It was all over in a few seconds. The long blade pierced her beautiful Gucci suit and travelled effortlessly through to slit the creamy silk blouse before pushing into her soft white skin. That skin with its little freckles and that single brown mole, just below her shoulder blade where the knifepoint entered. The blood spurted as the point of the blade travelled onward cutting through the outer layer of her skin, then slipping smoothly and deeper into the fatty layer; slicing cleanly through fibre and tissue to find the pulsating heart that powered her beautiful firm body. The blade reached her heart, skewered the beating muscle and stopped its pulsating joy, instantly and forever. She died a few moments later, trembling and twitching, his hand gagging and smothering her last squeals for help and her dying moans.

J decided that he would more or less follow the Egyptian method of preservation with some modern adjustments and improvements. He began by stripping the body and then made an incision into the left side of the torso to remove the internal organs. This was a slow, messy yet salacious process for J. Then he removed the brain. Like the ancients J believed the brain held no value. With the corpse lying on its back, he inserted a hooked needle through the nose and managed to pulverize the brain tissue into an almost liquid state. He then turned the body over onto its stomach, and the liquefied brain tissue drained out through the nostrils. He used Palm wine and frankincense to flush and clean the cranial cavity. Like the Egyptians he packed the body cavity and the skull cavity with his own type of Natron. This was a combination of finely ground silica gel in sachets mixed with sodium bicarbonate. A number of small sachets spread around body would reduce the relative humidity at a faster rate. He had obtained large quantities of silica gel by mail order. The powdered type was sold in large bags for use in the floristry business for drying flowers. The 'bicarb' he obtained in the home baking section of the supermarkets. He called his preservative 'Neo-Natron'. On the Internet he purchased large quantities of various essential oils for the embalming process. The ancients used the prized resins and essential oils of myrrh, frankincense, oil of cedar, palm oil and wine

Frankincense and myrrh are both aromatic resins obtained from small rare semi-desert trees. They were hugely valued throughout the ancient world for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Both have anti-microbial properties. The aromatic lotus oil was used in the ancient Egyptian burial rituals. In ancient Egyptian religion the lotus flower played a prominent role in their creation story. Before the universe came into being, there was an infinite ocean of inert water named Nun. Out of Nun emerged a lotus flower, together with a single mound of dry land. The lotus blossoms opened, and out stepped the self-created sun god, Atum, as a child.

Once the internal organs were removed J rinsed the abdominal and thoracic cavities with palm wine and myrrh. This had practical roots as it provided a more pleasant aroma than that which typically emanates from a dead body. These cavities he then stuffed with small bags of neo-natron to dry the corpse from the inside out. In the meantime he needed to dispose of the heart, lungs, bowels, liver and stomach. The Egyptians used to put these into canoptic jars to accompany the dead to the afterlife but J wasn’t interested in the deceased or any afterlife. The quickest means of disposal was to reduce them in the liquidiser and then flush them down the toilet - a rather demeaning end to those once vital organs.

J had constructed in advance an embalming table to match the specifications of those that had been found in Egyptian tombs. This table was six feet wide; this width was needed to keep the body completely surrounded with the bags of neo-natron. He maintained the temperature in the room at about 115'F (46'C). The humidity was kept under 30 percent. These were the same hot and dry conditions as those found in Egypt. After 35 days buried in neo-natron, Jane was completely desiccated. The moisture that she had lost amounted to 80 of her original 125 pounds. Now that the drying process was complete, the bags of neo-natron inside the body could be removed. He swabbed the empty cavity with palm wine, and packed it with spices, myrrh, and muslin packets of wood shavings. Finally he rubbed the body with a mixture of five oils: frankincense, myrrh, palm, lotus, and cedar. The aroma was heady and intoxicating and very beautiful. J was very pleased with his handy work and in three months time there would be no bacteria present in Jane’s body. He could now start wrapping the body.

In the Egyptian method the head and neck were first wrapped with strips of fine linen. Then the fingers and the toes were individually wrapped. Between the layers of wrapping, the embalmers placed amulets to protect the body in its journey through the underworld. A priest read spells while the mummy was being wrapped. These spells would help ward off evil spirits and help the deceased make the journey to the afterlife. The arms and legs were tied together and a papyrus scroll with spells from the Book of the Dead was placed between the wrapped hands. More linen strips were wrapped around the body. At every layer, liquid resin helped to glue the bandages together. Early observers believed this resin to be bitumen. The Persian word for bitumen is ‘moumia’. This is how mummies got their name. The entire wrapping process would have taken several days and required more than nine kilograms of linen. A board of painted wood was placed on top of the mummy before it was lowered into its coffin. The first coffin was then put inside a second coffin. The funeral was held for the deceased and his family mourned his death. A ritual called the 'Opening of the Mouth' was performed, allowing the deceased to eat and drink again. Finally, the body and its coffins were placed inside a large stone sarcophagus in the tomb. Furniture, clothing, valuable objects, food and drink were arranged in the tomb for the deceased. Now his body was ready for its journey through the underworld. There his heart would be judged by his good deeds on earth. If his heart was found to be pure he would be sent to live for all eternity in the beautiful 'Field of Reeds'.

J didn't think much of the Egyptian wrapping method. It was too cumbersome, slow and messy and contained too much ritual, superstition and reverence for the dead. His method of wrapping was much quicker; avoided the use of sticky resins and resulted in a lighter more manageable mummy. He would use his favourites 'Cling Film' and 'Bubblewrap' - they were clean, efficient and fundamentally satisfying to hold, touch and to bind with. J's real pleasure and delight was the wrapping process. He started wrapping the fingers and toes with his favourite 'Clingfilm'. It sticks to itself so it does not leave a residue on clothes or hands. Once the whole body was shrouded and sealed in the diaphanous cloak of plastic film, he began wrapping with bubble wrap. Firstly he would wrap with the small light ‘Bubble Pack’. He applied layer after layer, then moved on to the larger gauge wrapping. He had been taping and binding now for several hours; meticulously wrapping her body. Finally J used the 'Black Stretch Film' to keep his 'mummy' protected from the damaging effects of ultra violet radiation and from prying eyes. The tear-resistant black film holds without tape or adhesives and would keep packages together even under the roughest handling conditions. So strong, in fact that it will not crack even in cold temperature conditions such as the Canadian winter. This would be the modern equivalent of the cerecloth or cerement - a wax coated cloth in which corpses were once wrapped.

Mummification was a religious and spiritual practice in ancient Egypt. This was a profoundly significant fact that J had failed to grasp. By mummification, the Egyptians believed they were assuring themselves a successful rebirth into the afterlife. They believed that there were six important aspects that made up a human being: the Physical Body, the Shadow, the Name, the Ka or spirit, the Ba or personality, and the Akh of immortality. Each one of these elements played an important role in the well being of an individual. Each was necessary to achieve rebirth into the afterlife. With the exception of the Akh, all these elements join a person at birth.

A person could not exist with out a Shadow, nor the Shadow without the person. A person's Name was given to them at birth and would live for as long as that Name was spoken. The Ka was a person's double. It is what we would call a spirit or a soul. The Ka was created at the same time as the physical body. The Ka existed in the physical world and resided in the tomb. It had the same needs that the person had in life. The Egyptians left offerings of food, drink, and worldly possessions in tombs for the Ka to use. The Ba can best be described as someone's personality. Like a person's body, each Ba was an individual. It entered a person's body with the breath of life and it left at the time of death. It moved freely between the underworld and the physical world. The Ba had the ability to take on different form. The Akh was the aspect of a person that would join the gods in the underworld being immortal and unchangeable. It was created after death by the use of funerary text and spells, designed to bring forth an Akh. Once this was achieved that individual was assured of not "dying a second time" a death that would mean the end of one's existence. An intact body was an integral part of a person's afterlife. Without a physical body there was no Shadow, no Name, no Ka, Ba, or Akh. Without the funeral rituals the Ka, Ba and the Akh could not cross to the afterlife and would remain trapped between the physical world and the underworld. There they would drift restless seeking vengeance on whoever had denied them entry to the afterlife.

From time to time J would think about unwrapping his women but the thought of confronting them disturbed him. On reflection, it was better that they remained tightly wrapped. He felt guilt about what he had done to them but there was such irresistible deep pleasure and passion in the embalming and wrapping. There was such deep pleasure and delight that he couldn’t resist or renounce it. His love for the bodies of the dead women obsessed him; his necrophilia had become all consuming.

The rain drops formed what seemed like a sheet of bubbles on the window. It wasn't a uniform ordered sheet like bubble wrap but a chaotic mass of globules of different sizes and shapes. As they ran down the glass, J shivered. He found the effect very unsettling and the lack of order disturbed him. What could never have been written was there, all the dreams and anguishes of his childhood, the hunger for food and sex and security, the terrors of night and death, the thirst for life and the hope for survival.

Then the nightmarish dreams began. He dreamt of the figures on the lids of canoptic jars. He saw the animal shaped heads of Egyptian gods and the four sons of Horus. The guardians of the entrails would give him no rest. He dreamed that Imstey ripped out his liver; that the baboon god, Hapy was suffocating him; that a jackal tore at his stomach while a falcon fed on his intestines. Fear of the dreams repeating themselves kept him awake and he dreaded falling asleep. But sleep was inevitable and when it came so did the nightmares. The dreams became ever more terrifying; filled with hieroglyphs, images of Horus, of dog headed gods, sphinx's and huge Phaoronic eyes - staring, penetrating, and accusing; eyes filled with hatred and vengeance. He awoke from these dreams in a panic, sweating and shaking. His fear and paranoia increased daily and he resorted to his old comforter and swaddled himself in clingfilm and bubblewrap.

The wrapping needed to be tight. It needed to be very tight if it were to give him security, reassurance and comfort. He lay for hours sweating in the heat of the plastic film. He tried to find calm, peace and repose but it would not come. Disappointed, he realised that he would not find comfort and reached for the loose end of the wrap to release himself. He couldn’t find the end of the wrap. Then he couldn't find the knife to cut himself free. He began to panic. He had left the knife at his side so he could reach it easily with his free hand. He was always meticulous with his safety precautions. Then he saw the black obsidian blade, hovering above him and suspended above his heart. A cold terror swept over him.

Then the pure woody tones of a flute drifted into his consciousness growing louder and louder. He recognised the haunting air as the old Scottish tune that Emily used to play - 'O'er the Hills and far awa'. Then through the blur of the plastic film he saw the blade rise and fall, its gleaming, razor sharp, black edge plunging through the bubble-wrap and cling-film.

A myriad of magnifying lenses in the bubble wrap produced a translucent rainbow sheen changing to a jewelled kaleidoscope of lotus flowers, dismembering sunlight. The silvery distortion of the world as it ends drowning in the thick resinous stench of myrrh, frankincense and lotus oil.

O'er the Hills and far awa,

The wind has blawn my plaid awa'

Wind and weet, cauld rain and snaw

It's no my plaid it's my winding sheet,

O'er the hills an’ far awa'.











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