The text squirmed against the yellowing page, either from weakness of the eye or a trembling of the hand, or I had found the Living Ink. I closed my eyes, but still I could read the text, as if my eyelids had become invisible or the text itself had burnt its way onto my retina.
Minutes passed before I dared comprehend what I was reading: a mundane list of chores that some ancient farmer had jotted down against faulty memory. We had been taught that literacy had belonged to a privileged class in the past; how had the farmer learned to use the Ink, let alone had such a quantity that he would waste the wonder on a simple list to be crossed off and disposed of?
I touched the paper to my tongue before I thought about what I was doing. A prickling and the stench of old fruit gagged me and I bit down on my lip, drawing a bit of blood.
Did a word get inside? I felt my stomach clench. Wasn’t the last item on the list “Organize Fuck Cattle”? And now just “Organize Cattle”. I must have read it wrong in my excitement, a sort of reader’s Tourette’s. Or did that “Fuck” slip right in my chewed lip?
I would wait. Sharpen a small knife. See where it went, what it did. If it stayed in my lip or spread. If it went for my brain, I would have to cut it out. I knew that much.