Reports are surfacing of a dangerous and disturbing new trend amongst young Millennials. Not content with eating dishwasher capsules, or ‘pods’ as they are known to the thousands of addicted youth, the new game in town appears to be that of cutting off one’s own legs.
Youth service workers are calling the spate of leg cutting as a ‘desperate cry for help from young people whose needs and desires have been criminally ignored by the capitalist state and the sins of the patriarchal society to which we are beholden’. More moderate commenters on the spate of lower limb bloodletting describe it as ‘a bunch of nutters who must be off their heads on pods’.
Not really believing that such acts were even possible I ventured into the seedy bowels of Morley High School in Perth, Western Australia, where I spoke on condition of anonymity with some of these young people who have been sucked into the desperate trap of leg cutting addiction.
I was led down a long alley to an abandoned library, the smell of old books heavy in the air. Even though it was long disused I still felt a sharp pang of fear that an elderly librarian was going to accost me for photocopying pages out of early Eric Van Lustbader novels. There in the bowels of the dusty room that used to host a chess club I met “John”.
He was perched on a chair, the bloody stumps that were once his legs jutting out like half finished cigars. He offered me a pod, Finish to be exact – a good brand, but I turned it down and lit a cigarette. I asked him how it all started.
“The others used to meet behind the woodwork shed,” he told me. “We was wondering what they were doing, ’cause they were all the cool kids. We went down there one day when we cut our gender studies class, which was easy ’cause all ya have to do is to say that you identify as a toilet bowl and they let you go no questions asked.
“So we went down there, and it started off all simple like. Just shit like cutting our toenails, stuff like that. They were getting us in early, sucking us in. And then one thing led to another and before you knew it you were cutting off your own legs.”
“All at once?” I asked.
“Nah, just a bit at a time. But you start getting desperate at one point because you start to realise that you’re running out of legs. Things get really bad when you get above the knees.”
“What are you going to do now?”
He shook his head, his dirty matted hair cutting into his eyes. “I don’t know, man, I don’t know. Some other kids are talking about cutting their arms but I don’t want to go there. How would I play X Box?”
Then he leaned forward and grabbed my shirt. “Don’t tell my folks, okay? They’ll be right pissed if they find out.”
Local police representative Harry Whitler declared that the police were not going to stand for anyone found cutting off their own legs. “These idiots have to cut it out,” he declared. “We have a new crack leg cutting unit going around. We’ll find them and then they’ll be sorry. We’re not going to put up with this delinquent behavior. It’s a really racist thing to do and the local Somali community are terrified. They reckon that they’ll be next.”
I tried to ask him what Somalis had to do with moronic Mellinnials cutting off their own legs but he threatened to plant toenail clippers on me if I didn’t stop asking awkward questions.
Meanwhile on the troubled streets of Perth, danger waits on every corner. Under a dim streetlamp lurks a figure on crutches. As I walk by he whispers the name of a known kitchen appliance brand and he opens his coat to display a range of scissors and pen knives. I hurry on by, my heart catching in my throat. It would all be so easy; just one quick slice to see what it was like, nothing more. But we all know where that would lead – the perils of addiction.
I quicken my pace up the street to my hotel, my coat pocket heavy with the elicit copy of The Ninja that I liberated from the old library that very afternoon. Hopefully its gory tales would keep me safe from the lure of that first cut.