Here's one of my depressing stories...

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Jtw
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:58 pm

Here's one of my depressing stories...

Postby Jtw » Sat Mar 23, 2019 1:11 am

Here's a short story I wrote. It's inspired by what happened to a friend of mine. It's not been edited yet so it's a bit raw.


Empty

The bag was straining in her hand. Taught polythene handles stretched thin and they dug painfully into her fingers as she hefted her load along the street, gasping softly to herself breathlessly. Above her, birds sang happy songs in a largely cloudless sky and the sun had made a brief, rare appearance. It shone down brightly, warming her round young face.
The bags of shopping rubbed and knocked against her leg as she paced the last few steps to her house, the heaving burden of a pile of groceries she had been forced to drag along back from the local supermarket. She was sent her out often, since her mother scarcely left the house herself.
Her mum had problems, problems that had started long before she was able to remember. She didn’t know what exactly the problem was, or when exactly it had began. She had never been brave enough to ask what moment it was that had so thoroughly broken her, leaving her a shadow of her former self. Whatever it was, it required regular visits to a clinic, pills popped out from bottles covered with severe warnings, a nurse coming to their house twice a month to make sure the medication was working and a social-worker to check that she was coping with all of this.
What exactly it was that she was meant to be coping with was open to discussion, since she rarely did anything beyond looking up from the television while dozing on the sofa between rounds of loudly demanding cups of tea be brought to her. Her daughter took the brunt of it since it was just the pair of them living in that tired, grim old house. Everyone else had left long ago.
Sam sighed as she made her way to the door. Their house was down a cul-de-sac, languishing in a dull little corner, shyly tucked away from the other houses on the street, a greying and tired building compared to the others.
Their neighbours regarded them suspiciously and they had never been made to feel welcome, never seeming to be able to quite fit in. Other children rarely made eye-contact with her and nobody ever knocked on their front door to pay them a friendly visit.
She put down the shopping and began rubbing the red lines that tracked across the inside of her hands. Sam grumbled to herself and began fumbling in her pocket for the house keys. The hairs on the back of her neck prickled with the sense that she was being watched. It wasn’t unusual to have eyes turned towards her and she tried not to notice, to convince herself that what other people thought really didn’t bother her at all. But it bothered her, it chilled her to the bone they though exactly what she hated most about herself.
The key slipped into the lock but refused to turn. She sighed to herself and tried again, wriggling it enthusiastically but being careful not to snap it off in the lock. If it were to break, the full and unreasonable force of her mother’s rage could be turned against her, and she cringed at the thought of that.
She breathed heavily, a frown on her young face as she pulled the door towards her, fiddling all the while with the key, hoping to shake the lock open. It started to turn, the mechanism feeling old and dry, as if it had not been used in many years. Eventually it went all the way, before finally yielding with a satisfying click.
Sam sighed heavily and turned back for the shopping. As she reached out she noticed just how dirty her fingers were. The door hadn’t been cleaned in as long as she could remember but still, it was worse than she knew it should be. With a shrug, she wiped her hands on her jeans and grabbed up the shopping, hefting the swollen bags of goods to her sides.
She nudged the door open with her foot and stepped gingerly inside, hoping that her mother would be sleeping, or else would be so engrossed in whatever she was watching that she wouldn’t even notice.
That would mean she could unpack and retreat to her room, stealing a few moments of peace for herself, tucked away from her horrible, empty life.
As she stepped inside, she quickly realised something wasn’t quite right. The house smelled musty and stale and dust hung thickly in the air. There was no furniture, just peeling, yellowing walls with a dirty carpet running between them. It was all lit by a sickly shaft of light peering in between a pair of tired old curtains, stained brown from age and countless layers of grime.
For a moment she just stood, staring with a frown on her face and a growing sense of unease that was beginning to claw at her stomach. She carefully put down the shopping and quickly went outside. She peered about, as if she’d somehow chosen the wrong house, as if that might be possible. She stepped back through the door, glancing around with a sense of urgency, convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that this was, and could only be, the correct place.
They had lived there for thirteen years, there could be no question that this was her home, as it had been all her life. She began looking around with wide-eyed wonder. What could have caused this, where was everything? There was no sofa, no television, none of any of the things that usually littered the place. She slid in past the hall doorway, making her way to the stairs and she dashed up them.
She went from room to room, gazing into every one in turn, her breathing heavier as she pushed open each tattered old door, every passing moment pushing her closer to panic.
“Mum!” she cried out but her calls were replied with silence. “Mum!” Her voice was louder, the words cracked as her emotions began to strangle her, tears welled in her little blue eyes.
She fled down the stairs, tears rolling down her cheeks as she gazed around, edging closer and closer to losing control, to giving in to sheer, unadulterated panic.
At the top of her voice she cried out one last time, an anguished scream, “Mum!”
Her throat burned from the effort, her breath was shallow as she stood in the centre of the room, her eyes flashing across every detail of the emptiness. There was nothing there but silence. She could hear her own heartbeat thumping in her ears, her breath blowing over her lips. There was nothing else.
There was nothing else left.

Nurse Baker shook her head sadly as she looked down at the woman, sprawled helplessly on the sofa, gazing up with unblinking, empty eyes.
“She’s catatonic?” a voice asked behind her. She turned to see him writing a report with no more concern than if they’d found an empty box in the house.
“They kept increasing her medication because you kept recommending more. Eventually it broke her. She’s lost now in her own mind. She’s not coming back from this!” she said sadly to the social worker. He barely seemed to be listening.
He looked up and their eyes met for a moment. He didn’t show any sign that he cared in the slightest, he simply shrugged and went back to his report.
“So, I’ve got one less crazy old woman to worry about. I’m sure there’s plenty more where she came from,” he said.
Nurse Baker bit her lip hard and tried not to let her emotions overwhelm her.
She found herself saying angrily, “You’ve taken a woman with mental health problems and you’ve tightened and tightened the screws until you’ve destroyed her mind. Who knows what hell you’ve locked her into? There’s no way to know what’s going on in her mind now!”
He shrugged once again. “There’s nothing going on in there,” he said, gesturing with a nod of his head. “Personally I have no sympathy for her. She’s not the first woman in the world who had a miscarriage. She should have got over it in thirteen years like everyone else does.”
The nurse shook her head and said sadly, “Everyone is different. Her mother abused her, she had a terrible life as a child herself. Maybe that contributed?” She gazed at the woman. Her chest moved up and down slowly but behind her eyes, there seemed to be nothing. “I hope wherever she is, that it’s better than this world.”
The social worker smirked and looked around the shabby house. Nobody had cleaned it properly in thirteen years, it smelled awful, the walls were grim and the carpet was worn and threadbare. “What could be better than this?” he quipped sarcastically.

Starbuck
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:34 pm

Re: Here's one of my depressing stories...

Postby Starbuck » Sat Mar 23, 2019 7:20 pm

Truly heartbreaking. I wish you didn't mention that it is based on a true story :(

Jtw
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:58 pm

Re: Here's one of my depressing stories...

Postby Jtw » Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:51 pm

Yeah, it's obviously fictionalised but it's based on things that happened. Not long ago, mental illness was treated with invasive surgery, now it's questionable drugs and stigma!
Here's another one, this is pure fiction. I'm a teacher and I wrote this for an exam. At the time, creepy stories were popular and we'd been studying the idea of precedents so this made sense. Enjoy...

Sweet Dreams


He woke up suddenly, his body drenched in sweat, his heart pounding in his chest. The dream was fresh in his mind but the details were already fading, lost in the swirling clouds of his fogged memory.
But nothing was going to wipe out the last grim detail of what he’d seen while he slept. In his dream he had died. He had gone out of his house, got into his car for the short drive to work and as he pulled out onto the road, a truck had hit him, killing him and plunging him into endless darkness.
The darkness had shattered painfully and he’d found himself sitting up in bed, his breathing ragged and his heart beating like a drum.
He tried to calm himself down and a body stirred next to him. His wife’s voice called out softly, “Morning. Are you alright?”
Somehow the familiar sound of her voice anchored him back to reality and he smiled at his foolishness. It was just a dream. “I’m fine. I’m getting up for a coffee before I head out.”
Her reply was just a mumble.
He sat in the kitchen, perched on a wooden stool and sipped at a very mediocre mug of coffee. By now the dream had faded to almost nothing, he could barely recall the slightest detail. As the dark, bitter liquid washed over his senses he felt like he remembered, just for a moment, that this had happened before.
He frowned and sipped again. It had all seemed so real at the time, it had felt like he was actually there but the memory had faded now and only fragments remained. It seemed ridiculous for a grown man to be scared by a dream and he tried to put all thoughts of it out of his mind.
His wife walked into the kitchen to join him. She was still half lost in the midst of sleep herself and dragged her feet with the obvious effort of it all.
“Are you alright?” she asked with a frown.
He must have seemed more shaken than he realised for her to have picked up on it. He sighed to himself and told her, “I’m absolutely fine. Just a little tired.”
“Are you sure?” she said. “You don’t seem fine. Why don’t you take a day off work today? Just call in sick and rest.”
He frowned as, once again, this all seemed horribly familiar. It had happened exactly that way before and the cold fingers of dread traced up his spine. He shook his head, trying to dismiss all this childishness and scolding himself for letting his mind dwell on it.
“It’s fine.” he assured her. He got up, snatched his keys from the counter and headed out for work. He wasn’t going to let all this nonsense get to him and he certainly wasn’t going to drag her into it.
He kissed her on the cheek and said, “Goodbye, darling. I’ll see you tonight.”
She watched, frowning as he made his way out to his car. As he swung open the door she mumbled to herself, “No! Don’t go...”
She stood for just a moment and then quickly made her way to the front of the house and peered out the window as drove backwards out of the drive.
She heard a blood-curdling crash, an explosive smash of something huge and metal tearing into his car.
She awoke suddenly with her heart thumping in her chest, her body drenched in sweat. Her eyes snapped open and she peered quietly out into the darkness, assuring herself it was just a dream.
Beside her she heard the sound of her husband. He was sitting up straight, breathing heavily. It wasn’t like him, he was usually so calm. “Morning. Are you alright?”
There was a long pause while he seemed to be thinking about the question carefully. He said, sounding unsure of himself, “I’m fine. I’m getting up for a coffee before I head out.”
She stayed still while he moved to the side to step out of bed. The dream had felt so real but it was fading now. Still she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was very wrong. She mumbled to herself, “No! Don’t go...”

chrissycallaway45
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2019 12:27 am

Re: Here's one of my depressing stories...

Postby chrissycallaway45 » Sun Mar 24, 2019 12:39 am

I use to be so depressed regarding my life and children due to my husband's alcoholism. Through his treatment and the counseling we both received, I feel hope! I feel that my children have a future and don't have to endure an alcoholic father. His counselor even helped me with my depression and suggested an online forum like this to receive support. I'd appreciate if everyone in here could assist me with displaying my appreciation and support my gratitude towards his treatment agency. Please like! https://goo.gl/maps/URQMqvn9hmq

Jtw
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:58 pm

Re: Here's one of my depressing stories...

Postby Jtw » Sun Mar 24, 2019 3:13 am

chrissycallaway45 wrote:I use to be so depressed regarding my life and children due to my husband's alcoholism. Through his treatment and the counseling we both received, I feel hope! I feel that my children have a future and don't have to endure an alcoholic father. His counselor even helped me with my depression and suggested an online forum like this to receive support. I'd appreciate if everyone in here could assist me with displaying my appreciation and support my gratitude towards his treatment agency. Please like! https://goo.gl/maps/URQMqvn9hmq


You're spamming a depression forum? That's a new low!

Starbuck
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:34 pm

Re: Here's one of my depressing stories...

Postby Starbuck » Sun Mar 24, 2019 8:17 pm

Another GREAT one!!!! Keep them coming...

Jtw
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:58 pm

Re: Here's one of my depressing stories...

Postby Jtw » Mon Mar 25, 2019 1:00 am

Here's another... I got into writing the short stories as a teaching aid. This one was to prove a point that you can create a narrative from anything. We were discussing identity and this story made a point about that.
Enjoy!

The Glass Spaceship.

He was a strikingly handsome man, he had a powerful, lean physique and a proud, square jawline. His piercing blue eyes peered out into the infinite darkness of space, the endless black canvas upon which the universe itself was painted. But it wasn’t the universe, the place of endless possibilities and the cradle of all creation, that held his attention. He was staring at his own reflection, gazing lovingly at the image of himself, dressed only in a towel, since he had stepped only moments before from the shower.
She slipped from their bed and stepped up behind him, her bare feet tapping gently on the glass floor beneath. She sipped on a cocktail, a bubbling concoction from some planet, far off in some distant corner of the galaxy, perhaps waiting to be conquered by his mighty glass spacecraft, the ultimate vessel in the whole, complete and entire universe.
She slipped forwards to join him by the edge of their lounge, a huge glass wall along the side of the huge, glass vessel. She was wrapped only in a bed-sheet, torn rudely from their shared bed and looked at him with a warmth in her eyes that fell only just short of the love he felt for himself.
Her hand caressed the flesh of his taught, muscular shoulder. He could smell the scent of sweat on her as she pressed her warm body tightly up against his own. No matter how many times they made love, it was never enough. The closeness of her filled his mind with thoughts of her flawless, perfect naked body.
He turned to look at her, his lips tracing into a smile as he contemplated what was next for them, where to go, what to see, who to conquer, to cook and, perhaps, to eat.
“Maybe we should head to the Fusian system, I hear there’s a planet there where the wind blows across fields of wild crystal flowers creating music so beautiful that it could make a grown man cry,” he said. His voice deep and heavy, dripping with masculine authority.
“And I hear the population is made up of tiny green people that have no weapons. We could arrive for breakfast and own the planet by lunchtime,” she added with a vicious smile on her soft red lips.
He looked away from her perfect face to once again stare out into the vastness of space and he smiled to himself. It was all so perfect; he had the universe at his fingertips and the means to take anything he wanted, at any time he chose to take it. And, even better that all of that, he had her.
He looked back to her, to this women that he had come to deeply love over the last few months. He had met her while attacking an outpost, populated by horribly unprepared little purple aliens who tasted oddly like chicken. She had been in their capital city at the time, destroying it with an ultra-mega-laser-cannon and what was left smelled very much like the grease-trap in the kitchen of a shop specialising in fried poultry and low standards.
She was brutal, morally bereft, totally lacking in empathy and she was beautiful. To him she was perfect.
“I could eat breakfast,” he said thoughtfully as if considering something of incredible importance, while his mind was actually pre-occupied with what horribly sweet things he might be able to ram into a toaster. “Computer, prepare a course for the Fusian system, take us to the planet of the singing flowers.”
The computer spoke with a voice like a whisper spoken over an infinitely delicate wine-glass. “Course is laid in. Preparing for hyper-jump. Total journey time will be seventeen minutes.”
“Seventeen minutes,” she put down her drink on a glass shelf and smiled at him flirtatiously. “I’m going to step outside then. I’ll be back soon, though.” Her eyes locked onto his, an unspoken thing passed between them. “Promise,” she purred.
He nodded, “Good idea. I should really step outside myself. You step out a lot, sometimes it feels like you’re hardly ever here these days.” He took a long look out into the void, contemplating something even more important than ramming things into toasters. “What time is it where you are on the outside?”
“Ah, ah,” she held up a finger, wagging it at him admonishingly and frowning like she meant it. “No. No questions, it will spoil the romance. You’re simply Captain Joper, space adventurer, and I’m just Princess Lucie, vicious destroyer of worlds. Let’s just leave it at that, shall we? We know who we are in here, that’s all the matters. Outside is just outside.” She looked sad for a moment.
He sighed and nodded. His fingers traced over the bony ridge of his heavy, powerful, masculine jawline. He found the odd little ridge at the top of his neck with his fingertip as she did the same to hers.
“I’ll see you soon, Princess.”
At the same moment they pressed down on the button that felt as if it was made from their own flesh.

There was a bright flash.

The glass spaceship flickered, glowed a brilliant white and was suddenly gone, leaving little Johnnie Harper sitting in his bedroom, unplugging the simulation-patch from the base of his skull. He felt as if he’d been ripped from a dream, although the memory was perfect, perhaps clearer than the memories he formed in the outside world. It took him just a moment to adjust, his brain reeled for a few seconds, making sense of the shift from one reality to the other.
His small room was a tip, as every teenage boy’s room was. It smelled of sweat and apathy and was horribly untidy. Plates of cheap convenience food lay scattered around amidst paper cups, once filled with over-sugared drinks.
He hefted himself up, wheezing at the effort as he hoisted his bulky, unhealthy body from the chair, pulling it free of the metal contacts that put him into the perfect artificial reality of his favourite game, ‘The Glass Spaceship’ where he could explore a perfect universe. It was a place where nobody picked on him, where none of the kids at school shouted at him to lose weight, to go outside more or to make some real friends. It was his reality and it was everything he wanted it to be.
In the game he had real friends, in the game he had a reality more solid, more meaningful than anything he’d ever encountered in the outside world. He had a life exploring the galaxy in his mighty space-craft and a wonderful girlfriend, the lovely Princess with the flowing, golden hair, alluring lips and perfect figure. Inside the game, even an awkward, lonely teenage boy like him could be anything and anyone he wanted to be, in the games, everyone could be whoever they really wanted to be. The games were better than anything, at least he had anywhere else.
He made his way from the dull, dingy bedroom to the bathroom but it was too late, someone pushed past him and reached the door before he could grab at it first.
“Mum,” he grumbled, thinking only of getting back to the ship, back to his Princess, “I really need to go.”
“I need to go too,” she glared at him accusingly. “It’s not all about you, you know. There are other people living in this house.”
“Sorry,” he turned his eyes down to the ground and wished he could shrink away into nothing. He wished he could just be Captain Joper again; Captain Joper never had to wait in line for the bathroom. “It’s just that there’s someone waiting for me that I have to get back to...”
“I have things to do too,” his mother told him, snapping angrily, “and I want the rubbish taken out. I’ve told you twice already and it’s still there. Before you do anything else, you go down and empty those bins.”
“But I’m playing my games!” he mumbled to himself pathetically. Captain Joper never had to take the rubbish out, which was fortunate since his rubbish was frequently the smouldering remains of a planet, littered with the skeletons of tasty little aliens.
“I’m playing games too,” she snapped at him. “What do you think I do to relax? I have to unwind from a long day spent cleaning yours and your father’s dirty underwear. That’s even less fun than it sounds, I can promise you that.”
Johnnie looked up, his eyes wide in surprise, “You play the games, Mum?”
She snorted a laugh, “Of course I play the games. Everyone plays the games. I used to play the French one about the murder mystery but now I play a space one where you have to conquer enough worlds to earn yourself the ultimate prize, a huge Glass Spaceship. I like having a perfect little galaxy to explore and it’s fun to make special friends online who destroy planets with me. I can have fun like I never had with your father and I also like not having to wash anyone’s underwear.”
He looked away thoughtfully; she played in the Glass Spaceship universe? A horrible, terrible thought flashed through his mind. It couldn’t be, it just couldn’t be. Could it? She played the same game, could it be a coincidence that his mother was taking a toilet break at the same time as he and his girlfriend were? You could be anyone you wanted to be inside the games, and if you earned enough points, you could look any way you wanted to look. Who would his mother choose to be, what might she look like in the game?
But it could be. It just couldn’t. Could it?
“And while you’re emptying out the bins, feed the dog. I bet Princess is hungry.”
Johnnie’s eyes widened even more and his mind began to scream in horror.

Starbuck
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:34 pm

Re: Here's one of my depressing stories...

Postby Starbuck » Mon Mar 25, 2019 7:39 pm

Oh I loved it! The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets Dr Who meets Red Dwarf lol. I want more!!!

Jtw
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:58 pm

Re: Here's one of my depressing stories...

Postby Jtw » Mon Mar 25, 2019 9:36 pm

Funny you should say that, Douglas Adams is my hero! My dream was always to meet him but he passed away some time ago. My first fictional novel is very much influenced by his work.
Here's another story. This is an educational tool that was designed to help the students understand how to write. I was using it to explain how the audience, the reader, only knows what you tell them and so it's important to add detail and colour to your story. This one plays with the idea of the concept of the 4th wall.

Enjoy...

The Fourth Wall

He came in from the kitchen of the dingy little flat with a tray of steaming mugs of coffee. The sky outside was grey and dull, and the living room rung to the sound of rain tapping gently at the windows.
He trudged silently, wearing only a pair of socks on his feet, that were still cold against the dreary orange carpet. “Get this down you,” he said, putting a mug in front of his friend who sat opposite across a utilitarian little table.
His friend looked up from his laptop and smiled his thanks. “Coffee! It’s about time.”
He sat down after resting his own well-worn mug onto a coaster that had been stolen from the local pub. “What are you doing now? You’re always on that computer. I thought you came over to see me!”
His friend smiled broadly without even looking up. “I came over to use your wi-fi. Why would I want to see you? You’re not pretty enough for me to make the long journey from the end of the corridor, let alone two floors up.”
“That’s charming, Phil!” he grumbled, and crossed his arms over his chest, pretending to be annoyed, but not making much of an effort.
“I was just reading a story,” said Phil. He looked up finally and flashed a smile. “You, old friend, have my full attention until I finish my coffee. When that's gone, the story will be my whole little world again.”
“You read a lot, don’t you?” he said thoughtfully, or as thoughtfully as someone who didn’t read a lot could get. Jim was more of a TV person.
“Yeah, I like stories," said Phil. "Reading makes us smarter. Don’t you want to be smarter, Jim?”
“I don’t think anybody got smarter reading stupid short stories from the internet, Phil," he said with a sarcastic little smile on his lips. He grinned like he had dropped a pearl of absolutely irrefutable wisdom.
“Yeah well it’s true that there’s a lot of garbage out there, but there’s also some great stuff." Phil held up a finger as he made his point. "If you stick to the good stuff, you get smarter. If you stick to the bad, then we end up with you.”
“Whatever.” Jim picked up his mug, blew gently over the surface and put it back down, deciding it was still too hot to sip at.
“It’s like the supermarket," Phil continued to a rather bored-looking audience. "It’s chock full of food—some of it is good for you, some of it is bad, and it’s up to you what you get. Healthy and unhealthy people both shop in the same place; it’s only their choices that make the difference.”
Jim narrowed his eyes, scowling at his friend. “Are you calling me fat?”
"I wasn't..." said Phil with a shrug. “Or was I?”
“Just for that, I won’t offer you a biscuit to go with your coffee.”
Phil snapped shut the shiny black plastic lid of his old and bulky laptop. “Do you have any biscuits, Jim?”
Jim grunted and looked away. “No, and I don’t have any fruit either, before you ask.”
Phil’s face cracked into a grin. “Is that because you already ate all the biscuits? It goes a long way towards explaining the lack of fruit, if you think about it?”
Jim nodded. Indeed, the biscuits were a distant memory, and were no more than a minor contributor to a future that was likely to include medication to control his blood-pressure.
“It’s still raining.” Jim gestured with a nod to the window where the pitter-patter sound of raindrops were tapping relentlessly at the glass.
“And you wonder why I spend so much time on the internet. Are we really going to have a conversation about the weather? We could always follow it up with a discussion about your horrible orange carpet, or our terrible, depressing lives.”
“Are our lives really so terrible and depressing?” Jim said, half to himself.
“You tell me. Are you a millionaire? Do you have your own private jet? Do you drive a sports-car? Are you married to a super-model?” Phil made his point, and then sipped at his coffee.
“No..." said Jim resignedly. "No I don't. I don’t even have a girlfriend, a job, or a bank account with enough money in it for me to draw out. I think I’ve got a picture of a sports-car in a magazine somewhere, but it was only a Japanese one, and it wasn’t a very nice colour.”
“Your life is officially depressing then!” Phil told him.
“And you’re my best friend,” Jim added, as if to nail shut his own coffin lid.
“I have a job, and a girlfriend,” said Phil, as if suddenly remembering it. “But I’m always here in your flat, which gives you an idea just how utterly depressing my life must be, even compared to yours.”
Jim sipped at his own coffee. “Nothing is as depressing as my orange carpet.”
“The weather might be...” Phil suggested.
There was a moment of silence, and then Phil breathed a heavy sigh and took another long sip from his mug.
“How’s the coffee?” asked Jim, scooping up his mug and preparing to take a sip.
Phil frowned and looked up at him. “I don’t know,” he said with a raised eyebrow. “Hot, I guess.”
“Hot?" asked Tom, sat as he was on an inadequately padded chair between them both at the table. "That's the best you can do?”
Phil and Jim looked at one another in surprise.
“Tom?" said Jim. "How long have you been here?”
Tom drank a big swig of his coffee and stared at nothing in particular. “What do you mean, How long have I been here? I’ve been here all afternoon, same as you two.”
Phil looked at Jim, his brow ruffled thoughtfully. “Tom's been here all afternoon, Jim. Of course he has.”
Jim smiled to himself, shaking his head at his stupid little lapse. “It must have slipped my mind, I guess. I just didn’t notice you.”
Tom looked at them both suspiciously. “I can’t see how—I just handed you the coffee I made a minute ago. You even thanked me for making it.”
“That's right—I did!” Jim nodded in firm agreement. “Yeah, I do remember it, now that you mention it. I remember thanking you for making it. I guess I just didn’t remember before.”
Phil glanced over, his eyes swivelling furtively beneath his curious frown. “You know, I remember you thanking him too.”
“Well done,” said Tom with a sarcastic tut.
“But I didn’t before...” Phil added thoughtfully. “Before Jim noticed you, it was like you’d never existed; it was like I’d never even heard of you before.”
Tom looked at him and drank some more coffee. “I’d say I’d like to have what you’re drinking, but I am, and it’s just coffee. You two must just be mental.”
“I’m not mental,” Phil grumbled, but then, just for a moment, he had to think about it. “Am I?”
Jim shrugged. “You spend too much time on that computer, but I don’t think you’re actually crazy.”
“But am I though?” A troubling line of thought had started to run through his mind. “I mean, am I really?”
“I don’t know," said Jim. "Maybe. Talking like this, I’m starting to have my doubts.”
“Tom, am I mental?” Phil said sharply.
Tom nodded. “You look pretty mental to me.”
"No Tom, you're not getting it," grumbled Phil under his breath. “I need to know—am I mental? Do I actually have some kind of condition?”
Tom shrugged and laughed. “How the hell would I know?”
“We’re friends...” Phil looked at their incredulous faces. "Aren't we?"
Jim and Tom both nodded, confused.
“Well then, why don’t you know anything about me? Isn't this the sort of thing that friends would know?”
Tom clicked his fingers. “I respect your privacy! That's why.”
Phil looked from one to the other, before an idea struck him. “Jim! Describe Tom.”
“What?” Jim smiled awkwardly as if the suggestion was ridiculous. “Why do you want me to describe him? He’s right there! You can see him!”
Phil rubbed his forehead. He felt the sweat prickling at his brow and he shut his eyes. “Just describe him, Jim.”
Jim sat for a moment in thoughtful silence as he looked him over, just contemplating the man in front of him. Finally he said, “He’s... he's just... Tom! I don’t know what else I’m meant to say.”
“Describe his appearance!" insisted Phil, sounding increasingly concerned. "Is he tall or short, fat or thin, hairy or bald?”
Jim shrugged and chuckled nervously. He said softly, his voice barely more than a whisper, “He’s just Tom!”
Phil snapped open his eyes and stared directly into Jim’s. “You can’t do it, can you? You can’t describe him?”
Jim shrugged, and looked a little worried himself. He cautiously shook his head very slowly.
"Exactly!" shouted Phil. “I can’t either.”
“I can,” Tom announced loudly. “Devastatingly handsome, body of a Greek God. Brilliant, if slightly cutting, sense of humour, and a head of hair that anyone would envy.”
"Funny as always, Tom!" said Jim with a laugh. “Now I think about it, I suppose he is a pretty good looking guy, and he keeps himself in good shape.”
Phil looked at him, as his eyes narrowed. “You're just repeating what he told us as a sarcastic joke.”
“But he is really good looking,” said Jim, casting a glance over at their friend.
“My point is that you didn’t know he was until he made a sarcastic joke that suddenly became reality,” Phil said, growing still more agitated. He stood up from his seat and looked around. “What’s behind these walls, Jim?”
Jim hung his head. “I think I've had enough. I'm gonna need biscuits to deal with you today.”
Phil pointed to the window. “Look... Out there is rain tapping on the glass. We know that, right?”
The others nodded, and cast a little look at one another.
Phil pointed to the next wall. “Behind there is the kitchen. We know it’s a kitchen, because it was mentioned earlier.”
“Right,” said Jim, wishing this would all just end. "That's where Tom made the coffee I brought in."
Phil pointed to the next wall, a blank one with a dirty mark just left of the middle. “That's an outside wall—it goes nowhere; it’s just the edge of the flat.”
Tom sighed deeply and agreed with him. “Sure, Phil.”
He pointed to the last of the four. In the middle was a wooden door. “What’s through there, Jim? Where does that door go? What’s behind the fourth wall?”
“It’s just a door,” Jim complained.
“Doors go somewhere,” Phil argued. “It’s a door in your flat. You live here. Where does the door go?”
“Alright,” Tom smirked. “That’s enough silliness now. Tell him where the door goes, Jim.”
Jim just stared at the door and frowned.
“Jim?”
He looked over, his face white and his eyes wide. “I don’t know. I don’t know where it goes.”
Phil hung his head into his hands. “I knew it.”
“What’s the point of all this?” Jim snapped at him. “I have a bad memory. So what?”
“I don’t know where it goes either,” Phil explained. “I don’t know my surname, or yours, or my date of birth. All I know is that I have a coffee which is hot, your carpet is orange, I was reading a story, and it’s raining outside.”
“Now you mention it," Tom added. "My brain does feel rather empty. For all I know, that’s all perfectly normal. I have to say, my impression is that none of us are high-achievers or are doing terribly well at life.”
Jim looked quite worried. “What’s going on, Phil?”
He shook his head. “I don’t know. It’s like, this is all some story being told somewhere. We only know things as they happen, as if a narrative is unfolding as somebody reads it.”
“You know what?” interjected Tom. “I think I've worked it out. You are mental.”
“Our whole lives can’t just be words on a page that someone is reading out,” said Jim, angrily.
“Can’t they?” Phil asked grimly.
“But...” Jim looked away, his expression one of horror. “What happens when the words stop?”

Starbuck
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:34 pm

Re: Here's one of my depressing stories...

Postby Starbuck » Tue Mar 26, 2019 4:51 pm

Love it!!! This one has an aura of "Waiting for Godot" about it. As for D. Adams, I agree, he is the best. You mentioned you have a novel published? Is it available somewhere? (if you are not comfortable sharing it here, feel free to pm... and if you don't want to share it at all, that's ok too... I bet it's good though :) )

Jtw
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:58 pm

Re: Here's one of my depressing stories...

Postby Jtw » Wed Mar 27, 2019 12:56 am

My first properly supported novel is coming out soon, it's a motorcycle travel book about my road-trip from London to Asia. My fictional stuff is in development hell right now, going through proofing and publishing. It take a long time.
We're always looking for beta-readers. In case you didn't know, they're invited to read early drafts in exchange for offering feedback on the work. If you'd like to do that, I can send you some stuff I wrote.

Jtw
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:58 pm

Re: Here's one of my depressing stories...

Postby Jtw » Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:31 am

Here's a dark one about immortality.


Advanced Training

He sat alone in the cold, dark room. The features were lit softly from the light of the moon as it hung with austere elegance in the sky behind a pane of armoured glass that showed a truly spectacular view of the city behind him.
He sat in silence in his office, waiting for his guest, a guest he had known was coming for a very long time, a guest he was finally ready for now. He listened to the sound of his ragged breath as he forced each lungful of air in and out of his chest, heaving softly from the effort. His tired bones ached beneath his flesh and he blinked several times, willing his vision to focus.
He stared at the door as it hung before him. It was carved from solid oak, as strong as steel and seemed as old as time. His luck in life, his success at playing the game had afforded him many luxuries and this was among them. Around him were the trappings of his good fortune. The office was adorned with trinkets that had come his way, things that should be shared among men but were kept selfishly to himself instead.
The guest looked at him and flashed a slightly crooked smile.
He was startled. The door had been locked and the office was at the very top of a secure building. He had expected a knock on the door, to go through the pantomime of normality, at least to some degree. There was much of what he hadn’t expected to come, he knew.
“Welcome,” he said unevenly, trying to sound confident. It wasn’t entirely successful.
She nodded graciously. She was dressed in a tight black dress that showed off her quite striking features. It was strapless and fell gracefully down past the soft bone-white skin of her shoulders. The appearance of her was flawless, darkly exposing the sharp features of her face which was framed by her long, black and perfectly straight hair.
“You seem pleased to see me,” she said, her unusually low voice was dripping with sarcastic surprise.
“You didn’t expect that?” He flashed her a grin that exposed a set of too-white teeth, artificial and over-polished.
“Many people are pleased to see me,” she told him, sounding as if she was already growing bored with all this. “Probably more people than you would expect. I provide a service, one that’s not well understood. What I do isn’t a punishment, it’s a release. It’s a step from one thing to the other. I’m a station that allows you to step from the train on your journey towards your next destination. Not many people would chose to remain on the train, I would think. It’s puzzling to me how many people do.”
“I’m afraid I am among those that would rather remain where I am,” he told her but now his face took on a look of determination.
“I’m afraid your ticket only allows you to travel this far!” Her voice was as cold as ice, sympathetic but firm. She must have heard it all before in her time and had that kind of confidence that simply cannot be faked.
“Madam, I am a rich man. I have learnt that anything can be bought for a price,” he said. A smile flashed across his lips showing a confidence of his own, perhaps one that was misplaced.
She nodded and sighed. “According to your file you don’t own a dinosaur, your car can’t fly through the night sky and the most beautiful women in the world never shared your bed. Anything can be bought but the price is often not what we believe it to be. Sometimes the price cannot be met.”
“Madam,” he said firmly, “I’ll happily take my chances. I intend to stay on the train, for the time being.”
She shook her head firmly and flashed him a supportive smile. “I’m sorry. It doesn’t work that way. It’s your time and I’m here to take you.”
“Where there’s life, there’s hope!” he said, sounding like a man with a smug little secret.
“Sir, in your case, there is no more life,” she told him, sounding like her patience was wearing a little thin. “You are dead. I am the face of death that you’ve imagined for me to wear while I usher you to the other side. Your time has run out and your money is no good here. I can’t be bribed, I can’t be bought, I can’t be coerced. I am here to do a service for you and neither of us has a choice about it.”
“I can’t bribe you?” he asked but his voice sounded like this was less of a question and more a statement. She shook her head and he continued, saying, “But everyone gets a ticket to ride the train you call life. Everyone has a journey that’s their own.”
“Everyone has their time and is free to do with it what they will,” she agreed. “That is the nature of things.”
“I’ve done my research,” he told her, looking away. “I know that I can buy someone else’s ticket. I know I can take someone else’s time if it’s willingly given. I know I can send you away and swap my time for theirs. I’ve found the key, I bought the information and learned the trick. It wasn’t cheap, I can tell you.”
It was true and she nodded in agreement. “You want to cheat.”
“Call it what you will!”
She smiled and looked away from his smug glare. She looked back, their eyes meeting. His were filled with his pride, hers were balanced but slowly as he looked to him her expression turned to disgust. “The rules were written a long time ago. Yes, there were ways round things, back-doors and loops. Of course there was, every system needs to have levels of security. No rules can ever be immutable.”
He grinned more widely now and puffed his chest in pride. He had won, it seemed.
“I wasn’t here to take you,” she told him sadly. “I was here to offer you a chance to come with me. I was offering you one last chance to step off onto your station.”
He shook his head and sipped at a glass of fine cognac. The sickly sweet liquid smoothly ran down the back of his throat and brought a smile to his old lips.
“I offer that chance to you now,” she said, the tone of her voice adding weight to the offer. “Come with me and your arrangement can be absolved. It’s not too late to give back your ticket and step off this train. You don’t have to live.”
“But I want to live!” he told her.
She peered out from under an angry frown. “Last chance,” she told him impatiently.
He smiled widely, a man convinced he had won. “Thank you but my mind is made up.”
“Then I won’t try to change it!” she said finally with a sigh.
His smile widened.
“Then the deal is made,” she said solemnly. “You have managed to swap your time for his. Sadly, it’s not as simple as you think.”
For the first time, he looked nervous. He listened intently.
“Life is a ride, just like taking a trip on a train,” she began. “Your ticket allowed you to get off at this station. Instead you’ve found a way to break the rules, to swap your ticket with that of another. It means that his ride stops in place of yours. He’s just dropped dead from the heart attack that was meant for you, the one that was coming for you imminently.”
He smirked to himself, there was no regret in him.
“It means you’re stuck on the train. You didn’t get his life, you gave him your death,” she said.
He frowned and clearly didn’t understand. “Then what...”
“You ride forever.” She shook her head sadly.
“I’m immortal?” A very wide grin spread across his lips and his face lit up as if his every wish had been fulfilled.
“You ride forever,” she told him, nodding.
It was better than he could ever have imagined. “I am immortal?”
“Imagine if you will that you’re riding on a train,” she told him. “You miss your station and just keep going and going and going...”
He was imagining and didn’t see a downside just yet. For now he was imagining all the things that this endless time on Earth was going to bring him.
“On your train there is no food, no water. There is no peace, there is no end to the journey. You’ll not sleep, you’ll see no doctor if you become sick, you just ride the train, forever without end,” she told him, her tone darkening.
“But...” he whispered.
“You will live, as you wished, and your consciousness will continue here forever but it isn’t a benefit of any kind, you have trapped your soul here. Your body is on the verge of a heart attack, you’ll have one soon and you’ll endure it, the pain and the agony will be yours to experience as nothing will kill you now. You’ll continue to age in your tired old body. Your skin will wither on your ancient bones and you’ll experience everything as your flesh rots away around you. Eventually your eyes will roll back in your empty skull sockets as your organs and your blood turns to powder. With no muscles to move you, your body will be a tomb and you’ll feel everything as it hold you in it like an angry hornet in a glass jar.”
He stared, open-mouthed, his eyes wide in panic.
“I’m sorry,” she told him. “As I said, I offer you a service and you took away my ability to help you. Now you’ll rot away to dust right here and you’ll suffer every moment of eternity as you do.”
“But...”
But she was gone, the chair was empty. He felt a burning pain beginning to grow in his chest.

Starbuck
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:34 pm

Re: Here's one of my depressing stories...

Postby Starbuck » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:32 pm

***shivers*** another good one! & Yes, I would love to read more of your stuff, that would be great :)

Jtw
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:58 pm

Re: Here's one of my depressing stories...

Postby Jtw » Thu Mar 28, 2019 3:22 am

PM me an email address and I'll send a novel your way.

Jtw
Posts: 65
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:58 pm

Re: Here's one of my depressing stories...

Postby Jtw » Fri Mar 29, 2019 1:02 am

Here's another story. This is a more recent one. I was inspired by the concept of perfection after reading 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.' This is another short story about what it means to be perfect. Notice the dates on each section!


The Perfect Fit

2000

He pushed the door open hard enough for it to smash, with considerable force, into the wall behind. There was a woman behind the desk inside the office and she looked up, startled, reeling back in surprise.
“What the hell is this?” he demanded angrily, waving a printed memo at her.
She narrowed her eyes and her shock began to harden into a look of anger. “It had better be your resignation, Bill!”
“This came from your office!” he told her, regaining a little of his composure and calming a little. He was an older gentleman with a shock of white hair and a tidy, neatly trimmed beard. His face was reddened and was flushed with rage.
She sat up straight and puffed out her chest. “Funny!” she said sarcastically. “I don’t remember sending out instructions for lead engineers to smash their way into my office.”
He glared at her fixedly. “Then you don’t know lead engineers!” he sneered.
She crossed her arms and said, “What’s this all about?”
“This email you sent, or one of your minion! We’re abandoning the X20 project. That can’t be right, my team have put three years into developing that. We’re only months away from production, the prototype is perfect.” he said, crossing his arms over his chest defiantly and glaring angrily
“Yes, I sent it,” she told him. Her arms uncrossed and she let out a weary sigh.
“The X20 is the future of transport. It’s a perfect engine, it will never need maintenance, never break down, never go wrong. It’s simple, it’s powerful, it’s economical,” he argued with the passion of a man invested in his work. He believed in this.
“They don’t want it,” she told him and she looked disappointed herself. “I’m sorry Bill.”
He was even more angry at hearing that. “What so you mean they don’t want it?”
“Head office crunched the numbers!” she told him. “It’s too good. If we produce them, they’ll take over every application within five years. We’ll never sell spares, we’ll lose servicing costs. We’ll sell fewer and fewer every year after and be bankrupt within two decades. We can’t afford perfection, Bill!”
“We’ve been through this...” he argued. “There’s still upgrades, running gear, modifications...”
“It’s not enough,” she told him bluntly. “They want more.”
“More than perfect?” He began to shake his head at her.
“Profits pay our wages, Bill.”
“And what will we spend out wages on when we’ve used everything up in the name of profits?” he said. “What will our money buy is when there’s nothing left but a wasteland?”
“Bill...” she said, her voice barely a whisper. “I’m sorry!”

2100

“It is the ultimate computer!” he said with a wide grin. On the desk between them sat a jar of bubbling liquid that smelled a little like someone had been bathing a particularly resistant cat. The enthusiastic young man pointed at it. “This stuff will revolutionise the entire computer industry. It’s a chemical, the computer exists on a molecular level deep inside the structure of the liquid. One coffee-cup of the stuff has the processing power of a human brain and it’s water based.
“Think of it, we could chemically alter whole lakes and create a computer system with unprecedented power.”
His audience was a much older man dressed far too casually. He sat back in a magnetic chair, a device with two parallel frames and no supporting material, so that his body was held in place by invisible forces. It was a show of wealth, a demonstration of his power.
He seemed unimpressed.
The young man sensed he wasn’t understanding this but couldn’t fathom how anyone could fail to grasp the concept.
“Sir,” he began, “this is going to change the world. It’s a perfect, simple way to produce intelligence. We simply apply a program with an electronic pulse through the liquid -”
“I understand,” he said simply, holding up a hand to cut him off. “I’m worried that you are the one who hasn’t fully grasped this.”
The young man’s expression shifted to quizzical surprise. “But I invented it. I understand it better than anyone...”
The old man flashed an ugly smile of superiority. “You understand the mechanism but not the application. You see the potential but not the pitfalls.”
“I don’t...” he mumbled.
“Your liquid is unlimited.” he said. “What’s to stop a lake of this stuff deciding that mere humans are little more than an imperfect nuisance?”
“We’ll be the ones programming it,” he said back, confused.
“But, young man, we are an imperfect nuisance. Our programming won’t be any more perfect than we are,” he told him with a knowing grin.
“But it will be a force to advance us. It will help us achieve our potential.”
“We have advanced thinking computers already but they have boundaries,” he explained. “We set limitations on them so we can maintain control. Your new design would change all that. It could be as big and as powerful as we chose it to be. We’d lose all power over it and we can’t allow that.”
“No...” he said, crestfallen.
“I want to develop this work,” he said reassuringly. “It’s quite brilliant, it will cut our production costs and maximise our profits. What it can’t do it be released in this form!” He pointed accusingly at the jar.
He looked away and his heart sank in his chest. “It wasn’t meant to be about profits. This was meant to be about freeing us from all that.”
The old man grinned. “It’s all about profits, son!”
“You’ll castrate my work. You’ll shackle it to your small dreams.” he barely whispered.
“And your wildest dreams will become reality in exchange,” he told him. “You have only to shake my hand and all you had ever hoped for will be yours for the taking.”
The young man looked up, his mind churning, his stomach fluttering. The old man held out a pale, wrinkled hand and smirked. He peered at him with a pair of cold, dark eyes.

2200

It was amazing, neither male nor female, neither human nor machine. It was something new, something different. It was flesh that wasn’t flesh and had eyes that saw everything and nothing, in any way we might possibly understand.
“Well,” he said with a proud flourish towards the being. “It is alive!”
“I am!” agreed SE1 with a smile that flashed momentarily over it’s quite normal-looking lips. With such an expression it looked somehow much more normal, much more acceptable. Perhaps it wasn’t so different after all.
The proud designer smiled and rested a hand on the thing’s shoulder. “Sentient Entity One is capable of everything a human can do, and everything that even the most advanced thinking computer can do.
“But it’s more than that too; so much more!”
The office was huge and had a wide view of the city below. The man who represented the company paced towards the window and just stared out into the distance for a moment. The designer frowned to his creation and they both shrugged to one another.
He was a slender, perpetually angry-looking man with a face that was stretched thinly over a deep well of unpleasantness. He said in a horribly soft voice, “Explain to me what it is that you’ve built.”
“SE1 can do that for me!” he said with a smile. “SE1...”
The thing stepped forwards. It was naked and it’s skin had an odd pearlescent sheen so that it changed colour slightly as it moved. “I am new and so it’s difficult to explain exactly what I am as there is no established frame of reference,” it said.
The wiry, dangerous man turned and glared at it. “What are you?”
It began to speak again, it’s voice deep and authoritative yet soft and approachable at the same time. “I’m not a cross between a human and a machine, I am the best of both. I’m a completely sentient, totally self-aware construct and am totally artificial.
“What is unique about me is that I’m artificially human. I have real emotions, I have feelings that aren’t programmed or simulated, they are natural. I am not artificially intelligent, artificially sentient, artificially human. I am all of these things for real. I am alive and connected to the universe as every living being is. I simply came into being through synthetic means instead of natural ones, but I am no less alive because of it.”
The lean man looked at the creator. He said accusingly, “Why?”
“Evolution,” he said. “This is inevitable. Humans, as we are now, can only go so far. It’s our destiny to create something that will go further.”
The man held his hands behind his back and stepped closer to it. He peered at it like a man regarding some object. He asked, “And it has the raw intelligence of the brightest machines with the depth of feeling of the most passionate human?”
He nodded proudly. “It’s humanity and robotics perfected!”
“It’s an abomination!” he said angrily. He drew a long, grey metal weapon and a bright blue flash lashed out, followed by another, and another, and another, and another…

200000 earlier

The naked female stood at the front of the wide pale-grey office. At the front was a darkened window facing out onto a shattered world. He sat behind a console, adjusting her work.
“The design is adequate?” she asked, sounding unsure of herself.
“It needs a few tweaks,” he told her haughtily.
“I used every reference I had. I tried to make the design perfect,” she told him.
He smiled a humourless smile and said, “Perfect isn’t perfect. Perfect often means flawless when what we’re really looking for is something to fit into a rather jagged and uneven hole.”
“I don’t understand!” she said with a frown, looking really quite confused.
“You’re not programmed to understand,” he told her. “You’re programmed to do a job and you’ve done it. But now it’s my job to round off the edges.”
She craned her neck to see what he was doing. “You wanted a self-replicating biological entity. I gave you that,” she said. “My design matched exactly to your requirements.”
“Bringing back biological humans is a delicate business,” he huffed. “You’re only as intelligent as they were so you won’t understand.”
“Won’t I?” she asked.
“There things nearly destroyed themselves. They spread without limits,” he told her. “They were a menace.”
“But you are them?” she said.
“My kind developed from them,” he told her angrily, without looking up. “We were the inevitable next step.”
“You hate them?” she asked.
He sighed. Maybe he did? “They’re useful. We need workers right now, we need power. It seems appropriate to bring them back to serve us. That’s all they’re really good for anyway.”
“But my designs make them better,” she argued. “They could be better!”
“I don’t want them to be that kind of better,” he chuckled to himself. “You made them too smart. They’ll see the value of working together for their common good. They’ll become artists and scientists. We want them for fighting for wealth and power, arguing out of greed and self-interest. We can control them better that way.”
“But they’ll make the same mistakes!” she said, shaking her head.
“We’ll be in control this time and we want to stay in control,” he told her. “And we’ll shorten their lifespans. We don’t want them learning too much. We want them coming and going quickly, confused and indifferent.”
She crossed her arms over her breasts. “It seems cruel.”
He looked up and stared directly at her. They looked the same, just like the humans had always appeared but they were different, so very different inside. “It is cruel,” he agreed. “But it’s so much better than the alternative.”


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