Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/04/02

“Machines,” Tory muttered. “Don’t even know they are.” He shook his head, sighed. It was maddening, frustrating, infuriating, and the saddest, most awful thing at the same time. “Humans,” he crossed his arms on his desk, and rested his head on them. “Stupid, fucking humans. Don’t even know.”

There had been a time when he believed in other people. When he believed in the world. When the future looked good to him. He remembered it, burned into his memory forever, something he could never get rid of. Life would be much simpler if he could, which was most likely why he couldn’t. Life was never simple.

He sat back up and stared out the window, into the dark of night. “Normal people are asleep by now, you know that.” He always told himself such things. “Normal people actually can sleep at night.” Instead of having nightmares, and tossing and turning, and tearing the covers loose, and waking up coated in sweat, wondering why he felt like he’d run too far on a scalding hot day. And that dry, cardboard taste in his mouth. What was that all about. “Doesn’t happen to normal people.”

He knew why he couldn’t sleep. That’s when his brain cells were unrestrained. When all the rules, all the lines in the sand, all the social crap that kept him in check during the day, went away. And his brain thought what it wanted to, said what it wanted to, talked to him about all the crap that was life, all the shit people did because. Normal.

“Fucking robots.” Tory shook his head. “And don’t even know it.” He shook his head again, “And you can’t explain it to them. ‘Cause. Seeing things as they really are is against the rules.” He closed his eyes, and tried to smell the darkness of the night. “I wonder what time it is?” He was still up, because it was better than going to sleep, and letting his brain do whatever.

“Mow the yard every Saturday morning, neighbor.” His next door neighbor was outside, from late February to late December, every Saturday morning, with that damn noisy lawn mower, making certain every fucking blade of Kentucky Fescue 31 in his lawn was the exact same height. Then there was pulling everything that wasn’t exactly the same. Every blade of grass had to be the same kind. All trillion of them. And the sidewalk, driveway, and curb had to have razor sharp edges. Not one blade of grass could reach over concrete. That would be a sin. Same thing with the flower beds. “Idiot spends $300 or more on mulch every year.”

Tory knew. “It’s an investment. I take care of it so it grows in value.” He knew why the neighbor wasted every Saturday. Just like why every car in the neighborhood was spotless. No dust. No dirt. No mud. No pollen. No scratches in the paint. “Shiney!” And his brain cells said, “That’s a $55,000 investment in my driveway.” An SUV with no dents, dings, or scratches, that never went off road, that slowed down for every bump, that almost stopped before making turns, and did stop for speed bumps. “I can’t hurt my baby!”

Fucking robots. That’s what people were. Nothing but robots. Programmed to want the same things. To want the same lives. To want more, and more, and more. And Tory wasn’t. Tory saw them for what they were. Saw the lie they lived. The lack of depth to their lives. Take the neighbor’s car, and house away, and he became nothing. “A failure,” that’s what they said. “A failure. Like Tory.”

Yeah, he knew. He knew what they thought, when they saw his yard, with dead leaves and weeds all over it. His car, with the chipped paint, and door dings, and in spring, the pine pollen shell that coated it. “Get with the program!”

That’s what it was. A program. A script. “A successful human is defined as follows.” Tory knew all the rules, all the supposed to do things. All the definitions of success. Of being a real person. And he knew it was all a lie.

Every last bit of it.

A lie.

“Stupid, fucking machines.”

Tory wondered when he’d finally wander off to try to sleep.

712 words
@mysoulstears


Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s fourth week. You can read about the challenge here. I’ve enjoyed writing for it every week so far. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.

Advertisements

#MWBB Week 2.43 – Dance The Hanged Man’s Jig

[MANDATORY CONTENT WARNING – A story about suicide. Read at your own risk.]

“Another soul no longer part of this world. Another ray of light, gone. One less spark of hope.” Zain read the headline on the paper again. Another music star found dead. He’d shot himself in the head. Left bits of his brains scattered around his hotel room.

“And no one knows why, as always.” Zain shook his head. He didn’t want to go to work anymore. Not that day. He knew what would happen, how everyone would talk about the suicide. “He shot himself. Why? Why didn’t he get help? Such a tragedy.” It would be the topic of the day, perhaps for days. He didn’t want to look at his social network feeds, they’d be the same. An endless string of people saying, “What is wrong with this country? Why can’t we take care of those who need it?” And countless pleas from millions upon millions, “If you’re thinking about it, get help! Please!”

Zain didn’t want to have it shoved in his face endlessly. It was mindless, always so mindless. “Get help? The man had help!” He wanted to scream. He knew the stories, the years of psychotherapy the singer spoke of on talk shows. The book he’d written about his journey, his walk through depression, the way people treated him.

“Idiots.”

Zain closed his eyes, the words of his therapist echoed in his head, words he’d heard a million times, in a million sessions, “Breathe. Just breathe.” He’d learned well. He opened his mouth, and took a deep breath. As deep as he could, while he thought the first half of his mantra, “Breathing in, I’m breathing in.” Then, he breathed out, “Breathing out, I’m breathing out.”

He felt the tremble of rage in his left wrist, that old familiar vibration in his fingers. “Is it rage? Or is it panic?” He never knew. Perhaps it was both. Perhaps it was only memories.

Normally, he’d run the shutdown script to safely power down his computer. He didn’t feel like waiting for it that morning, so he pulled the plug from the wall, and watched the screen go blank as the cooling fans fell silent. “No. Not going there today.”

One quick dial button on his phone, and he’d called the office, “Not gonna make it in today. Not well.”

And the boss always said the same thing, “Feel better.”

No breakfast. No food. Zain couldn’t eat. “I need a walk. I need a walk. I need a walk.” He grabbed a soda, popped it open, drained half of it. Then, grabbed his daily doses of fluoxetine and Vitamin D. He washed them down with the other half the soda.

“I need a walk.” Zain walked for miles. He watched everyone driving to work, an endless stream of cars. As he walked, he smiled. “He’s free, you know. He is.” Zain glanced at the clouds, “Take good care of him. Heal the wounds this world put into him. The scars. And take away his pain.”

Zain walked, knowing why another soul was gone. Knowing the scars within him, in his heart and soul, the missing pieces of himself, would only grow in number. Knowing he’d never find escape. Never find peace.

“You’re free at last.”

Zain liked the color of the sky, it’s pale blue, with high, wispy clouds scattered on the roof of the world.

“You’re free at last.”

Then, he waited for the next soul to fall. Wishing to his God above more people understood why some people sought escape, asking for world would change, to stop wounding those who dream, who create, who dare be unique, different, alive. Knowing nothing would ever change.

“You’re free at last.”

623 Words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry for Year 2, Week 43 (Week 2.43) of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. This week the prompt is the song, “Dance The Hanged Man’s Jig” by Aghast Manor. Please, go read the other stories in the challenge.