Merry Monday to all. Hope your weekend was good. I would love any thoughts on this story I'm not sure what I think about it yet but it was fun to write. Hope you enjoy!
The Oldest Man
Word Count: 1014 words
Writing: 1 hour
Editing: 18 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 18 minutes
“When you look at me, what do you see?” It was a loaded question.
“What do you mean?” I asked. He chuckled lowly.
“I mean what are you looking at right now, who are you looking at right now?” He continued staring out the window as the words rolled off his lips with a nonchalant force that made me afraid to answer. His body was older than any I’d ever seen before, no one let their bodies wrinkle anymore let alone shrivel as this man done.
“I see a wise old man.”
“Ahh, a wise old man,” he paused and seemed to focus harder on something beyond the glass of the window. “An old fool more like it. Simple. Stupid. Moronic. Old. Fool!” His face was scowling at the glass of the window and I was certain it was his own reflection he stared at. Angrily staring at the old and tired body for the…what had he said? Seventy-fifth time? Seventy-eighth? It was written down somewhere.
“What makes you a fool? Some would say you’re the complete opposite of foolish, people have even said you’re the smartest man in the universe. So how does the smartest man in the universe consider himself a fool?” Silence. It dwelled deeply in the room, leaving for only minutes at a time.
“To not realize our foolishness is what has made this world the walking disaster it now is. Perhaps it’s why they say I’m the ‘smartest’ or ‘wisest,’ because everyone else has yet to realize we’re nothing but a population of blubbering fools.” The last words were spat toward the window and the angry energy could be felt through the heavy absence of noise. I waited, hoping he would continue without prompt. No luck.
“But without you, none of this would even be possible. Are you saying you regret creating Phoenix?” Another chuckle.
“Regret is one word though it in no way has enough complexity to describe the feeling I have for Phoenix. It goes much, much deeper than regret.” He inhaled deeply, “let me tell you a story for this interview of yours. Something I would very much appreciate you telling the people who read your news brief.” He paused and cleared his throat, his eyes never left the window.
“Once upon a time, hundreds and hundreds of years ago, before Phoenix ended birth by prolonging life. There was a regular little boy. He played with toys, read books, did puzzles, your everyday average little boy. Well, this little boy was walking down the sidewalk one day with his friend, they were simply enjoying the outside air. A noise like an explosion echoed from somewhere behind them and all of a sudden another, and another. The little boy’s friend jumped into the bushes and curled up near a fence while the other just stood on the sidewalk staring. The world spun for the average little boy, something was happening but he couldn’t tell what. A look of utter confusion covered his face and he fell to the ground. Blood covered the sidewalk as the boy’s friend held him in his arms and watched the light fade from his eyes.” The old man took another deep breath and let the silence reset the tone of the conversation. I said nothing, simply taking notes and listening.
“The boy who watched his friend die in the story was me. A random attack on the house of someone on the corner caused a stray bullet to hit my friend dead in the middle of his chest. No rhyme or reason to it, we were simply out taking a walk.” He stopped talking and wiped a small wet spot from under his eye. Again I waited for him to continue without prompt, and again, I had no luck. I never really felt like he was talking to me. It was as if I was a ghost in a room full of memories an old man traveled for himself. A simple passenger on his coattails of nostalgia.
“Why is this story so important to you for people to know? It’s a tragedy, and I’m sorry for your loss, even all these years later.”
“Pahh,” he spat, “keep your sympathy reporter. I’m in no need of pity, I have enough of it on my own. To answer your question, that was when a young, traumatized, grief-stricken boy decided that one day, he would build something, or make something, to keep people alive forever. It was the birth of project Phoenix. Created by a stupid, sad child.”
“So you were a genius even then. I see nothing stupid or sad about that. I’m sorry you lost your friend but because of it look at what humanity has achieved. No more death, no more overpopulating, no more sadness. You’ve saved the race with Phoneix’s rebirth, because of you humanity will survive…maybe until the end of time itself.” I spoke with passion, I was young and naïve then, I thought I ruled the world after I’d only died four times by then. The old man laughed at me, not a chuckle this time, but a laugh. “What’s so funny?” I asked. His eyes watered and he took a deep breath before answering.
“You’re just as foolish as the rest of them. Haven’t you listened to a word I’ve said? Life is death. We’ve cheated it here on Earth, taken away the chance for new ideas, new loves, new life. We’ve condemned ourselves to this eternal circle of foolishness, repeating the same mistakes, having the same loves, reliving the same life over, and over again. For what? Tell me reporter, what is the point of your life?” He’d turned from the window and his old eyes bore a hole through my skull as if he was reading the thoughts hidden in my skull. I tried to come up with an answer,
“I don’t know,” was all I could muster.
“Ahh,” he said with a sigh and turned his ancient eyes back out the window. “That is the only smart thing I’ve heard you say this entire interview.”
Hey everybody, sorry for the delay with the story this week. That damn real job gets in the way sometimes. Here is the newest story, number 11 in the series, and I have to say... it's eh. Not my favorite but hopefully you'll like it. Have a good Tuesday everyone, and if you haven't check out Stepping Stones Press
for more stories. Enjoy.Beard & Glasses Word Count: 883Writing: 1 hourEditing: 17 minutesTotal Time: 1 hour 17 minutes
“The air was thicker, it felt musty. In my time the air is much cleaner, we’ve taken better care of our environment.”
“Is that so?” asked the man with the glasses.
“Indeed, we’re big on protecting our planet,” the man with the beard grabbed a handful of nuts from a bowl on the therapist’s desk.
It had been a month since this patient, the man with the beard, had been admitted in St. Mary’s Home for the Emotionally Distressed. So far it’d been the most interesting month in the therapist’s life.
“Can we talk about where you’re from again?”
, haven’t we re-hashed that enough for your liking? Every day, for the last month we sit here and you ask me about where I came from. I’ m sorry doc but it’s not fiction, I’m not going to forget a part or slip up retelling it, because it’s the truth. I don’t have another story.”
“Humor me,” said the therapist with a smile. The man with the beard sighed and grabbed another handful of the nuts.
“Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, there lived a magical…”
“Come on,” the therapist paused, “How about if you tell me today, this will be the last time that I ask to hear it?” The patient’s eyebrows rose and he sat up, leaning forward on his seat.
“Deal,” he said offering his hand across the desk. The therapist took it, smiling,
“Deal,” The man with the beard sat back down and took a deep breath.
“Well,” he said as he exhaled. “For the thirty-first time this month, I was just out taking a walk. Me, Myself, and I, just walking outside on a beautiful spring day. The air was crisp and fresh, birds’ song carried across the wind and played a soundtrack to my happy day. I was thinking about what to get at the market later for dinner,” his eyes were closed and even through the thick beard a smile could be seen.
“It was then, something changed. Like I said, I think it was the air that gave it away. But then I started to notice colors were different, darker. Then I saw the cars, emitting all that noxious waste, we don’t drive those cars, they’ve been a thing of the past for decades now. Your planet would thank you if you’d do the same,” said the patient, opening and meeting the therapist’s eyes.
“I agree we would,” said the therapist calmly. “What happened next?” The man with the beard sighed,
“You know what happened next.”
“I want you to tell me, one more time.”
“I freaked out. Started running up to people, asking them what year it was, where were we? It was a lot to take in is all. I can feel it inside of me now tearing me apart, but the drugs they give me here make me not care,” he said.
The therapist silently scribbled some notes down on his yellow pad across the table. This man had interested him since their first meeting. The patient truly believed he was from another reality, one that was almost identical to the reality the two men currently occupied, yet completely different in many ways. Originally the therapist had thought he was a man high on LSD or some other hallucinogen, and as soon as he came down things would begin to make sense.
But after each meeting the therapist felt more and more like not only was this man not crazy, but he may be telling the truth. He’d either have to be the most elaborate liar in the history of psychology, creating entire worlds, with different presidents, cars, ways of life. An Earth based primarily on peace instead of war. The impossible achieved. Or he was telling the truth. There was always the case of the money and credit cards.
When the man with the beard had been taken into custody he was carrying two credit cards and one-hundred dollars in twenties. The police didn’t notice until later that names of the banks on the credit cards were non-existent and that the twenty dollar bills were not the Jackson’s they were used to. Instead each bill showed the face of Andrew Garfield.
“You’re doing some serious writing over there Doc, did we just have a break through?” Asked the man with the beard, snapping the therapist out of his thoughtful trance.
“Just notes,” he said and smiled, deciding he did believe the patient. It was the sparkle he had in his eyes, in all his life on Earth the therapist had never seen anything like it in a human. An alarm beeped on the desk. “Our time is up,” said the therapist, silencing the screaming electronic. The man with the beard stretched his arms dramatically.
“So soon?” He asked sarcastically as he stood up from the chair. He grabbed one last handful of nuts. “See you next week Doc, I’ll get that same tired story you ask for every time warmed up.”
“See you next week,” said the therapist. But as the man walked out the door the therapist wondered if he would
see him again, or if he may simply walk back into his own reality. And the man with the glasses couldn’t deny the longing inside of him to follow.
This is story number 10 of 40. We are on the way! I hope you enjoy this one, it was fun to write though I am not the best at using the first person so I'm sorry ahead of time if there are any messed up tenses. Let me know what you think.
Word Count: 952
Writing: 1 hour
Editing: 14 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 14 minutes
The front of the disk says Bach. I have no idea what the word means, but the sound that’s stored in the shiny plastic is otherworldly. At first I thought maybe it was just the thrill that was making the music so sweet in my ears. But the more I listened the more I understood, the more I knew. And with each passing note I cared less and less whether they found me and, secretly, I think I want them to. What better way to die than by listening to this thing called Bach? After the many hours I’ve been sitting here, listening to this disc over and over, it’s plain to see why the machines banned the music when they took over. Why it’s penalized by only one punishment, which, of course, is death.
I remember the first time I heard music as a boy. My mother and I were walking down the street, on the way to pick up our daily rations. I heard a strange and unfamiliar noise behind us. I turned and saw a man with a smile spread across his face, and he was humming. It was terrifying, I felt cold as the noise crossed my ears and hoped that you couldn’t get in trouble for accidentally hearing music. Then, a loud bang echoed across the line of people. The man’s body jerked and I watched part of his head splattered on the ground as he fell. I remember how he was still smiling, so content, looking up at me from the ground. My mom jerked my arm and everyone just kept moving forward as if everything were just fine and normal. Which I suppose it was.
I swore then to be a law abiding citizen, do my job, eat, go home, sleep, repeat. And I did, for many years. Yet here I sit, with these speakers over my ears, from this strange and lucky find that makes discs play in your hand, listening to the noises repeatedly. My mind racing with ideas as the ancient instruments make high and low noises, soft and strong, some boomed, others hummed gingerly. I can feel the stories being told through the sounds like an unfamiliar language. Pummeling information directly into my brain, and after one taste, I fear I’ve been thoroughly addicted.
Already the thought of going back, living without this Bach, makes my breathing fast with anxiety. It seems now like the equivalent of continuing life without ever eating or drinking again. Senseless.
I have an idea. How many hours have I been gone? Surely they won’t be looking for me yet. I think about turning off the music, but there’s no way I can. The addiction is too strong now, I’m in love, and as any blinded fool, I must do something stupid and brilliant to show my love for this new thing called Bach. Perhaps giving people a taste, no matter how short, will be enough.
I look across the clearing toward the shift lead’s announcement booth. It’s far, just a dot in the distance on the dark horizon. Surely if I’m even glimpsed running across the courtyard this far after curfew I’ll shot dead, or worse imprisoned. No human has ever come out of a machine prison, and the legends of what happen in there are sure to cover any person’s skin in clammy sweat and firm goosebumps.
But they won’t see me, not even my shadow. I know I’m fast and they have no reason to be covering the courtyard tonight. Not yet at least. And so what if they do see me, as long as I have this music propelling me, pushing me forward with the inspiration the machines so thoroughly fear, I can die happy. Maybe even die free.
One, deep breath, I stare at my target, my eyes cannot leave it for a second or I’m as good as dead. Two, deep breath, full speed, full force, or I’ll never make it through the door. Three, a low, honking noise blares in my ears as if Bach is telling me to go. I feel my body jump over a small wall, then my feet are smacking against the ground, pushing me harder and harder toward the small booth. But I’m not with them anymore, I’m with the heavenly noises that echo into the deepest parts of my brain, flying on the wings of each and every instrumental voice.
The door is just a few yards away, I push as hard as I can giving any and all extra, stealing from the energy of the Bach and using it to break through. I brace myself and feel the hardness of the door push back, trying to stop my force dead in its track, and failing. My shoulder hurts as the door gives way and I’m sure it’s broken, shattered most likely, but that doesn’t matter now. The alarm is sounding, no time to try and stop it. I jump to my feet and move to the announcement block.
For so many years, I’ve sat here, playing the machine’s announcements, once a day every day, and for what? I don’t want to sweet noise to stop, but it’s time now. I pull the disk from the ancient cd player and load it into the computer. The familiar window opens and asks if the announcement should begin. With a steady hand, I crank to volume and click yes.
I barely feel the bullets as they tear through the small booth. Nor do I feel myself hit the ground. But I can feel the smile, spread all the way across my face as I hear the light hum of Bach coming from under the ground.
Good Monday all. Here is this week's story which I did a little differently. This one I wrote last night and edited this morning. I decided to go with something more in the horror genre because it's been a while since I have. I think it's okay, but I'll leave the final analysis up to you. Please enjoy.
Word Count: 1057
Writing: 47 minutes
Editing: 27 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 14 minutes
It's always so quiet after the screaming is done. Each time I wish it was me, each time I wish that I could have my turn at screaming. My turn at dying. They seem to be fond of me though. The way a cat is fond of a mouse in it's last moments of life. I try to remember my first night here, but with each passing minute I forget a little more what I was. Who I was. Most days trying feels more and more like a waste of time and energy, I'm not even sure if there was anything before this.
The scratches on the wall remind me though, they keep me sane. All seventy-five thousand three hundred fourteen of them. There are no days here, wherever here is. So I mark a new one every time I open my eyes. Each time as I gouge deeply into the flesh of the wall I hope it's the last. Yet new tick marks keep appearing, dismal time kept by nothing more than a toy.
I have a dream sometimes. I go to a wonderful place, full of color. There are others like me, men, women, people. At least I'm pretty sure that's what they're called, what I'm called. It's been so long though—I think. I see a woman sometimes, she's wrinkled with silken gray hair. She reaches down to me and I stare into the deep brown of her eyes. There's a life in those enchanted orbs that makes me yearn for what it is I've lost, the memories that slip through the cracks of my mind. She smiles at me and says something in a language I can't understand, but it's nice, I can feel it in her tone. I reach for her, longing to touch her, she's warm. My hand is almost there, slightly brushing her face and lips with my fingertips. That's the good part of the dream. The happy part. Then she turns, to one of them. Teeth razor sharp, eyes yellow and sick. I try to pull away, but it's too late. It has me in its grasp and it wants to play.
My hand disappears into the mouth, past the sharp teeth and onto the wart-riddled, slimy tongue. The deep crunch from where it's strong teeth easily shatter the bone and tear the skin like weak cloth stays with me even when my eyes are opened. That's the bad part of the dream. The true part.
I don't know what the monsters are nor how many different species live in the cages that line the walls of the giant rooms. I've always called them goblins, it's the only name I remember, can't tell you why. The noise here is enough to drive one mad, but I've grown to accept it. The wails even harmonize in pain if you listen close enough. So many living beings, living so close to each other in such captivity only to fulfill the sick pleasures of the torturous captors is astounding. They seem like children to me. The goblins I mean. Taking out there toys, playing with them, pushing them to the limit and discarding the ones that can't take it. The ones that break. The ones that scream.
Maybe that's why they leave me, I never scream. Not that I don't want to, I do, more than anything. With screaming comes freedom. The toys scream and then they are gone forever, no more torture, no more playtime. Peace. But I can't fake it. I've wanted to for so long, for so many tick marks on the wall I've thought that the next time I'll scream, I'll free myself. But I can't, not unless it's true.
I examine the scars on my body, the tick marks they make on me, and I wonder if I'm the oldest. The most durable. I don't know how that could be possible, I was never anything special. Or, if I was I don't remember it. But how could I have been, would a special someone end up in a place like this? A room that smelled of excrement and death, full of caged creatures, captives of evil revolting giants. I try not to look at the pile, but my eyes wander sometimes.
It makes freedom a little scarier is all. Makes it feel a little less free. Even though I know they've gone to a better place, the discarded toys still make me sad sometimes. Staring at them, piled high in various forms of dismemberment. An arm here, a head there. The worst is when I accidentally catch the eye of a broken toy. The vague shine that comes from the room with the light when the door opens ever so occasionally, glinting off the drying pupil of a being that once lived a life, not in a cage. Not as a toy. It makes me feel like I'm sinking, but into what who knows.
The door is opening now, the room gets quiet, it's the only time the cages fall silent. Every creature sure that if they make so much as a peep it will be their turn. I hope they pick me though. Each time the footsteps echo in the room I hope it's me. Hope I can scream.
I hear the familiar sound of the gears grinding. My cage moves down. Here we go again. A sickening excitement warms my belly, perhaps today is the day. I make sure to keep my eyes only on the goblin's when he pulls me out. Deadlocked with the yellow and black, the eyes that so inquisitively stare through me. Noise starts up again in the room from every cage once the others know they're safe. They've survived another play time with the monsters.
Pain. I feel it stabbing sharply through my guts but don't bother to look at what game they are playing with me today. It doesn't matter at the moment because I know. I realize for another time in my life here, that as much as I want it. As much as the screams should be flowing from my body like the warm red liquid I can hear splattering to the floor. It would appear that there will be another night of silence, and another tick mark on my wall the next time I open my eyes.