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ENOUGH ICE by BRAM E. GIEBEN (AKA TEXTURE)

The skin on my calf is mottled red and brown, a mess of pinpricks behind and over the faded tattoos. Been sticking the hypodermic in and in and in, as though my leg was a goddamn pincushion, but I still can’t find a vein. I’m sweating. It’s hot tonight.

That’s the problem with ice: it literally collapses the veins; crushes them. Not like smack. Shooting horse was like a fucking tea party compared to shooting ice. Find a vein, pull it back, beat, plunge... and drift. Ice is different.

You hunt an unfucked vein for ten minutes and find nothing, drip-feeding tiny droplets into small capillaries and barely a tingle for your trouble. Very different to how you start out, slamming that needle down into a hot, strong vein inside your elbow and letting it hum in your bloodstream.

Dex sees I’m struggling, moves over beside me on the filthy couch and watches as I play hunt-the-vein. ‘You just gonna sit and fucking watch, Dex, yeah?’

‘Fuck d’you want me to do.’

‘Hold this.’ I flex my calf muscle, turning awkwardly, passing one end of the rubber tubing around my knee to Dex.

‘Hold this and don’t fall asleep.’ He pulls the tubing tight. I move my lower leg up and down like a synchronised swimmer, pointing my toes. Finally, a vein pops out behind my knee. I lunge at it with the hypo, slam the needle home.

That’s it. That’s the money shot. My leg goes briefly numb as I feel the ice rush up my body towards my brain. My face goes hot, flush, eyeballs straining at their sockets. ‘Shhhhhhheeeeeerides!’

Dex lets go of the tourniquet. His eyelids flutter suspiciously. ‘Perk up Dex,’ I say, cuffing him with my forearm and grinning. Dex is narcoleptic. He falls asleep when he gets stressed, or when he feels any strong emotion. Happiness, sadness, anger – they put him to sleep faster than you can sing Mister Sandman. Only thing keeps him awake is the ice.

I’ll fix him up in a second.

First, I dive over to the other couch and search beneath a pile of discarded food wrappers, filthy clothes, plastic bags full of rubbish which Dex has failed to throw out. There is rotting food inside the bags, it sears my nose. The ice is rushing through me so fast I don’t care. I just want sound.

Music. Motion.

Dex lives in filth because keeping the place tidy and clean stresses him out. Every time he starts to clean up, he passes out.

There it is, slipped down behind the brown couch cushions – a battered old tapedeck. Dex has one cassette – Iggy and the Stooges. Raw Power. I press play, and the racket vomits tinnily from the dented speakers of the deck. I snap my fingers in time. I sing along. ‘Dance to the beat of the living dead! Lose sleep baby stay away from bed!’

Dex has passed out, sure, of course, what else would the fucker do. I kick him and scream the song into his face. ‘Raw power is sure to come a runnin’ to you...’ The raw power of the ice is in my veins. Cold, impassive, ruthless.

I am a superhuman.

While Dex is out, I take his glass pipe and load it up with a few crystals from his small ziploc baggie. I toast the bottom of the pipe bowl with a plastic lighter: its tacky green see-through plastic glitters like an emerald as I caress the bowl with flame. The white smoke curls into my lungs: pale, flickering electric maggots, eating my insides, filling me with white light. I fill the bowl again and shake Dex awake.

‘Dex. Dex. Dex. Dex. Dex. Wake up, man. Time to take your medicine.’ He comes round. I place the pipe stem on his lips and warm the bowl for him with my emeralds. His eyes widen as the ice goes down his throat. He is awake now. We are both awake. Cold. Calm. Superhuman.

Outside, the city burns. The night sky is black and orange. You can feel the heat, even from the schemes on the edge of town. There is screaming. Sirens. They bleed into the cacophony of the Stooges, a howling counterpoint to the shredded riffs and howled vocals.

Everything burns. The fire came from the bush, licked at the edges of the town until the tenements burst into flame, trapping families in smoke filled rooms to choke their last.

Fuck ‘em.

Two doors down, Spider’s body cools, thick blood congealing around the gaping wound in his stomach. The city is on fire, but we have Spider’s ice. A hundred tiny Ziploc baggies. Enough to keep Dex awake for a week or two, at least, until someone comes to douse the burning buildings.

The city lights are going out one by one, replaced with heat haze and orange, yellow violence, lapping hungrily at the black sky.

Dex and I killed Spider, and we have enough ice to outlast this fire. Let it burn, let it come. We have enough to keep Dex awake. Enough for me to sing Raw Power until my vocal cords snap. As long as I can keep finding a vein to put it in, we have enough ice.

The tape shudders noisily in the corner, and we sing along: ‘If you're alone and you got the fear, so am I baby let's move on out of here, raw power will surely come a running to you.’

Dex laughs, high and long, like a scavenging Dingo howling in the outback. I can smell the burning city through the open window, or perhaps the smell is coming from below us. My senses are alive. If I concentrate, I can still taste Spider’s blood. It spurted into my mouth as I stabbed him. I can still feel how his flesh ripped and tore as I pulled the knife upwards through his guts. It is so hot.

I am cold. I am clean. We have enough ice for the fire.


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