The Deflated Person

Surrealist short story about a man who starts to lose himself.


1. The Deflated Person


It first started during a conversation with a man at a party, when for no clear reason, a pint of thick dark goo had spewed from Wallace’s mouth onto the floor between them. This goo seemed to have previously formed some of the substance of the inside of Wallace’s head as parts of his face had now recessed inwards and the empty skin of his nose had been left dangling onto his upper lip. For a minute or two, both of them tried to ignore that this had happened but Wallace could tell that the putrid scent of the matter on the floor was making his conversational partner extremely uncomfortable and the man was obviously trying hard not to stare at his sagging nose, so Wallace mumbled an apology and wandered home.

Over the next week, this began to happen with increasing regularity; Wallace would be in a perfectly normal conversation when without warning another part of the inside of Wallace’s head would be emitted from his mouth, often drenching the person he was speaking to in the black rotten smelling substance. No matter how much Wallace apologised, it was extremely difficult to continue a conversation after this had happened and it was really beginning to trouble him that this was occurring so often. Not only was this making it difficult to socialise but the drooping pockets of skin these events left behind were not at all attractive.

Things took a further turn for the worse at an interview for a new job. He was introducing himself to the person who was going to be interviewing him, when his tongue dislodged itself from his mouth and was propelled at the wall. Both Wallace and the interviewer watched in silence as the tongue slowly slid down the wall, leaving a trail of black mucus behind it. Wallace picked up his tongue, deposited it in the bin and tried to apologise, which served only to produce a sound similar to a wet balloon losing air and to spray the interviewer with a mist of the black mucus.

By the end of the second week, the whole inside of Wallace’s head had been completely purged and the empty flesh now hung scrotally from the top of his neck. To see where he was going, Wallace would support this sack of skin with one hand, directing his protruding eyes in front of him. Doing so made his mouth hang ghoulishly open, and the now constant dribble of dark material would run down the fold of skin which used to be his chin and onto his torso. The sight of this was attracting a lot of glances from people passing by and this was really making Wallace feel very embarrassed. Wallace briefly considered giving the doctor a call but dismissed the idea; since the loss of his tongue, speaking on the phone had become a real chore.

Wallace had a brief respite from these problems when he discovered helium. The helium allowed him to temporarily re-inflate his head and the fast high pitched chatter the helium made as it left his mouth could pass as small talk to an undiscerning ear. As an additional benefit, the way the helium made him float slightly off the floor attracted a lot of admiring looks from his peers, and as a result of this Wallace’s social life was now better than ever. However, this method wasn’t without its downsides; when he inevitably deflated again, the force of the helium leaving his body would increase the rate at which the bile sprayed out, meaning that after each helium session Wallace was left with more hanging skin and less useful body.

As Wallace continued to empty out he began to need more and more helium to inflate himself back to his normal size. At one house-party, Wallace made the mistake of using a whole tank of helium at once, which caused him to float up into a corner of the room with his eyes bulging from his grossly distended head. Throughout that night, Wallace noticed the way people seemed to stare intently down into their glasses, as they tried not to glance at the horrific swollen man, bobbing alone by the ceiling and dribbling noxious dark gunk on the heads below.

In the morning, by the time Wallace had finally deflated and come down from the ceiling, so much bile had poured from his mouth that his upper body was now completely empty and dragged uselessly behind his legs from his waist. This made Wallace’s walk home a difficult one, as he was not used to navigating with his face being dragged behind him and pointing straight up into the air. As his head and the end of his arms scraped painfully along the gravel, removing a layer of skin and trailing a mix of black mucus and blood behind him, Wallace decided that it might be an idea if he popped into the GP the next day.

His trip to the GP was not to be though as the next day Wallace found that his situation had got worse. While he slept, it appeared that remaining substance in Wallace’s legs had seeped out and he was now completely unable to move from bed. For several weeks Wallace lay there in a growing pool of stinking black goo, completely unable to move. When he was eventually found, his bed clothes were thick with the substance and it had seeped onto the floor around his bed, making it look like the floor of his bedroom had been tarred. Realising that something might be wrong, the person who found him called an ambulance and Wallace was carried away. Wallace was taken to a building which housed many other people who were similarly deflated. Each person was hung up on a line which stretched across the room and a bucket was placed under them to catch the black goo which dripped from their sagging mouths. Once a day everyone in the room was hosed down by a nurse and left to dry on the line.

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