The Origin of Loss, Part 49 – Rehab, Pt. 2

Suddenly, a dozen security droids poured into the room and drew their guns at them. Dr. Noritz turned to his personal droids. “Hey, so you guys gonna do something about this?”

The droids looked at him then at each other and shrugged. They raised their guns at Dr. Noritz.

“Well,” Dr. Smite said with a cruel smile, “it looks like you’re now without protection.”

“Shut-up!”

Everyone got up on their feet and raised their hands, well, except for Old Lady Peterson who shambled over to one of the droids. “I can’t believe this! Don’t you know who I am! I am a very–” But before they could find out the droid tased the old lady and she fell onto the ground, writhing.

Jimmy’s arms shook. In the corner of his eye he saw the child and whispered. “Please, do something…” But as the child seemed like he was about to get ready a loud, obnoxious noise rang out and the child was immediately on the floor, hands on his ears, in deep, ear-screeching pain.

Jimmy ran over to the child, but just as he got to him one of the droids smacked him on the back of the head with its rifle, knocking him out.

Jimmy woke-up once again strapped to a chair. This was starting to get tedious. “Wha…what happened?”

He was in a room. A much smaller room. But no one else was in here with him. Yet, a voice came on.

“You know, they said that the intellectual distance between Einstein and the average person was greater than the distance between an average person and an ape. I forget who said this exactly, but such little details don’t really matter. What matters is the big picture which I see quite clearly while others do not. They get hung-up on the details, but I do not. What about you, Jimmy? What do you see?”

“What’s going on…?”

“You’ve been here, have you not? In this facility? This is where you were rehabilitated, which meant you were fed lies. But I don’t believe in lying to my subjects…”

“Are you Dr. Gunders?”

“Dr…” the voice chuckled. It sounded like it was coming through some sort of intercom system. “No. Let’s just say that Mr. Gunders has been…relieved of his position…”

“Is he dead?”

“Well, let’s just say that…no, he’s not dead. However, I have taken over his duties. He was deemed unfit by the corporation. A wise decision.” The voice said slowly and sinisterly.

“Where is everyone?”

“You don’t have to worry about them. They are all here. They are all safe. Now Jimmy, I have some questions for you, if you don’t mind?”

Jimmy struggled in his chair, trying to free himself.

 


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The Origin of Loss, Part 48 – Solid Ground

The swing stopped and the child jumped off. The child stared up at Jimmy and softly grasped his hand.

“And he wants you to be a part of it. His home.”

“How do we get out? Will you let us?” Jimmy said.

“I said I would.”

“And where’s New Jimmy? Is he–”

“Don’t worry. I made sure he is somewhere safe. It will take a few moments, but I can free you. Both of you.”

Jimmy looked down at the child. “But what about the others? Like Dr. Noritz and Dr. Smite?”

Not-Danica’s face changed, only slightly, like a twitch, but then returned to its serene expression. “I guess I could…if you wish it.”

“And anyone else who is alive inside you?”

“Of course. But, once I let them go, they won’t truly be free.”

Jimmy was confused by this. “What do you mean?”

“Well, not long after I found you and New Jimmy, I was recaptured and taken back home. But, I will return all of you back to the outside. Don’t make any sudden movements. This might hurt.”

“Wait, wha–” But before Jimmy could finish his self flung backwards and the whiteness around him shattered, revealing darkness. Jimmy could no longer see anything, and his skin was being dragged through what felt like a sea of knives, pricking and scratching his flesh.

Then. Light.

The knives were gone. The world around him began to coalesce. He was in a room. A large, grey room. Fluorescent lights dimming above him. Hard ground beneath him. He slowly sat-up and saw the others. Dr. Noritz, Dr. Smite, the security droids, a couple of the homeless who had escaped, the filing cabinet lady, Old Lady Peterson, and New Jimmy, who was standing among them as they rolled about, writhing in pain.

Jimmy then watched as a black gas furled into the vents at the upper edges of the walls, disappearing.

“Hey, where’s my filing cabinet?”


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Cup of Coffee

A “stream-of-conscious” story written in response to the On-line Writer’s Guild writing prompts for this week, specifically the first prompt. I ended-up taking a little longer than 25 minutes however. Enjoy. 


Mr. Tren stepped into the diner and sat at his usual booth. The week had been long and busy, but it was now the weekend and he was looking forward to his Saturday morning ritual of scrambled eggs and a cup of coffee, black.

He was reading the paper when Penelope, the waitress, came by. “The usual Marv?”

“Oh you know me,” Mr. Tren said without looking away from his paper, “the weekend doesn’t start until I have some of your finest cup a’ joe.”

“And eggs?”

“Ah yes, of course. Thank you.”

Mr. Tren had been coming to this fine establishment for years. It was one of the few things in his life that he could rely on, a virtual foundation as other aspects of his life slip away.

It didn’t take long for the eggs to come. He didn’t start on them right away however as the coffee was not yet ready it seemed. A few minutes passed and his gaze finally lifted from the newspaper. He scanned the rest of the diner. It was sparse, but everyone he saw had cups of steaming hot coffee. When Penelope was walking by he said, “Um, excuse me. Sorry, but do you know the status of my coffee? I just can’t wait,” he smiled.

“Oh, right. Of course. Let me ask.”

“Thank you.” He returned to his paper; however, his mind kept wandering over to his watch. Nearly half an hour passed. The morning was almost over and his eggs had gone cold. No coffee.

“Penelope,” he said as the waiter passed.

“Sorry, hon, just a second,” she said with a slightly condescending tone. She continued by and went behind the counter. And to Mr. Tren’s amazement, she started serving some recent patrons their coffee. He was baffled by this. Angered even. His coffee had always been served to him in a timely manner.

Finally, he stood up and marched over to the counter. “Um, Penelope.”

“Yes, sorry. What is it hon?”

“Coffee…”

“Wha–oh, right…The machine is down, but don’t worry we will–”

“Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but you just served these fine gentlemen their coffees.”

“Right and that was before the machine went down.”

“But–”

“Don’t worry Marv. Sit down and relax. You will have your coffee in no time.”

Mr. Tren returned to his seat, muttering to himself. He reopened the paper, briskly scanning stories he had already read.

Some time had passed. Mr. Tren checked his watch. It was already noon. This was getting ridiculous. He swiped the flies away from his eggs and chewed on their rubbery flesh.

“Oh, is the coffee machine–” He said to Penelope, but she just brushed right by him as if he wasn’t there and started chatting up a nearby booth. Mr. Tren threw his paper down onto his table and stomped over to Penelope and poked her shoulder.

She turned slowly over to Mr. Tren and gave an irritated grin. “Yes Mr. Tren?”

“Coffee?”

“Coffee. Right. Well, you’re just going to have to wait, okay? And I would appreciate it if you didn’t touch me.”

“Do you know how long?”

“…No.” She turned back to the table. “Sorry about that folks. Can I get you anything else?”

Mr. Tren headed back to his booth, but saw that a large man was now occupying it. “Um, excuse me, sir,” he said to the rugged gentleman. “I was sitting here.”

But the man didn’t say anything, didn’t even look at him. His eyes were too busy with the paper that was once Mr. Tren’s. Mr. Tren was about to say something else, but realized it was pointless. He walked to a different booth that was empty and sat. It wasn’t a bad seat, but it wasn’t ideal. The sunlight glared at him and the cushioning was old with cuts. However, at this point, he must be getting his coffee soon.

However, Mr. Tren was taken back by what he witnessed: Penelope serving the man who stole his spot a large cup of coffee. His coffee. His was at a loss for words. He had been a loyal patron at this establishment for over a decade, and this is how he was treated.

“Excuse me!” He called out to Penelope, making sure the whole place could hear him. “Can I get some coffee too! I’ve been waiting for over two hours!”

Penelope gave him a side glance and then resumed chatting with the large man.

“Hey! I know you heard me! I’ve been coming here for eleven and a half years now, and I’ve never been treated this way! Can I have some coffee, or what?”

Penelope visibly sighed and crawled over to Mr. Tren, her shoulders slouched. She pulled out her notepad. “What would you like, sir?”

“You’re joking right? You know what I want. I want a fresh cup of–”

“We’re out sir, anything else?”

“…You’re…you’re out?”

“Yes sir. The young man over there took the last cup. But if you come by tomorrow–”

“NO! I want my coffee NOW! Not tomorrow! Not next year! NOW!”

“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. You are scaring the other–”

“NO! I’ve been here for–”

And that’s when the sky turned black, and everyone but Mr. Tren vanished. He looked around completely baffled.

“H-hello? Anyone here?” But the only answer he received were the flickering of the fluorescent lights above. “What in the world…”

He slowly patrolled the diner, but there were no signs of life.

But suddenly, a voice from out of nowhere hissed at him. “Why…” He stopped. The voice crawled down his spine. “Why couldn’t you…just have waited…”

“What? Who–who–”

“It was coming…you could have just waited…”

“I…I’m just a man.” Mr. Tren’s voice quivered. He cowered by the stools. “I’m…I haven’t done anything, please!”

But the voice continued. “You could have just waited…for your coffee…” And with that a barrage of different ghastly voices came at him. He couldn’t understand what they said, but they were not pleased. Mr. Tren shook.

“You had to ask…questions…” The voice rose above the others. “Now you have disturbed…the frequency…”

Mr. Tren whimpered. “Please…I’m sorry…I don’t need coffee! I don’t need it! Please let me go!” But the voices only got louder and louder. “Let me go! Let me go! Let me GO!”

And with that the voices were gone. Mr. Tren’s eyes opened and he was back at his usual spot. The sun glowed brightly in the window, but not at an upsetting angle, and everyone was here. Things were as they were before: normal.

“Are you okay hon?” Penelope was standing over him.

“Oh…” Mr. Tren tried to regain his composure. He grasped his paper like a security blanket. “Yes…Yes, I–”

“That’s good. You seemed a little upset there. But you know what I think could help you with that? Some scrambled eggs and a nice, hot cup of coffee? What do you say?”

The Origin of Loss, Part 47 – Mindy

“STOP!” The room fell to silence. The scientists turned to Jimmy. Even he was surprised by what came out of his mouth. “Sorry…I…I think we can get out of here. It seems like that, maybe, the Cloud can speak to us through our minds, with images we’ve seen, with our memories.”

“Yeah, we know. We read the folder.”

“Then maybe let me try again. Please…”

“Well,” Dr. Noritz said. “We’re not stopping you.”

Jimmy nodded and closed his eyes, and a moment later his body was tossed back into the whiteness. He saw the swingset again and walked over. New Jimmy was smiling, laughing, every time he ascended the air and fell. Then he saw who was pushing him.

“Jimmy McDougal. I’ve heard a lot about you. He’s told me a lot. Nothing but good things.” It was Captain Danica. But she seemed…different.

“Danica? You’re alive?”

“Not quite.” She kept pushing New Jimmy. “The Danica you knew is gone. But remnants remain. I’ve absorbed her memories, her dreams, fragments of her consciousness. But it’s never quite the same, every time I try to reassemble things.”

Jimmy, at first, was confused by this. Then he said, “Mindy?”

“Hm. I guess that’s what Dr. Yannis called me. After his ex-wife. The weirdo. You know, at first I was confused why humans felt the need to give everything names. But, I think you have no other choice. You need to make sense of the universe. Otherwise it’s noise and chaos.”

“So…what are you? Where’s New Jimmy?”

She smiled. New Jimmy finally fell back down and Not-Danica stopped the chains. “I’m…I’m not sure. I just know that we are.”

“Is it true? That you’ll eventually swallow up my home? My town?”

She shook her head. “Maybe. In the past. But, things are different now…I’m dying.” Her eyes hinted sadness, but yet she continued smiling the same smile to Jimmy. “But, I can’t control it. I have no choice but to consume, but I will soon fade. And it won’t hurt.”

“Can we get out of here?”

She then started pushing New Jimmy’s swing again. “If that’s what you want. You know, I was thinking maybe keeping you here, giving you the life you always wanted. But, New Jimmy wants to go back. He has a home now. A real home. Something I never had. Something I could never give. I can only give him a dream…a dream that will soon be gone…”

 


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The Origin of Loss, Part 46 – Communication

“Jimmy, are you ok? Do you need more waffles? We can make some–”

“No, it’s alright. Thank you.”

His mother smiled.

“Um, where’s New Jimmy?”

“Oh, your brother is over there.”

Jimmy turned and saw him. It was definitely New Jimmy, standing in the entry to the kitchen. But he was different. His face, wasn’t plastic. It was real. Normal. A normal child’s face. He was grinning.

Jimmy stepped away from the table and approached New Jimmy, slowly. “Hello New Jimmy. Do you know where we are?” New Jimmy nodded. And suddenly, the TV in the living room blared with the music of Family Feud. The two of them entered the room.

“What’s going on?” New Jimmy tugged on Jimmy’s hand and pointed toward the front door. Jimmy opened the front door and stepped outside. And the world became a white void surrounding him.

“Hello?” Jimmy asked, his voice echoing. “Are you…Mindy?”

But then, he caught something in the corner of his eye. New Jimmy was swinging on a swing set floating in the distance. And he was being pushed by someone.

“Jimmy? Hey! Wake-up!” Jimmy’s eyes opened. He was strapped to a chair. Dr. Noritz and Dr. Smite standing over him. A couple of droids at the door. Dr. Noritz waved the folder in front of Jimmy’s face. “Now, what were you doing with this, huh? How come you didn’t tell me about this?”

“He was trying to escape without us,” Smite chimed in.

“Yeah, I know stupid. I’m interrogating him.”

“Well, you’re not doing a very good job.”

Dr. Noritz shot him a look then back to Jimmy. “So, you find anything on your vision quest?”

“I…er…”

“Tell us! Now! Or I’ll have one of my droids tear you a part limb-by-limb!”

Jimmy was scared. His voice wavered. “Um. I–I–I don’t–”

“God!”

“Look, he could have just been sleeping. Maybe he wasn’t communicating with it.”

“Why don’t you shut-up! You think you’re smarter than me? Know all the–”

“You’re just mad because he found a folder that you didn’t see. Because you’re stupid.”

Nortiz’ face reddened. His hands curled into fists. “I don’t know why I’ve let you live.”

“Because you’re a pussy.”

“You’re right. I mean–fuck you! Phillip!”


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12-Minute Tales – The Legend of Johnny Explosion

Tommy wasn’t sure about this. His nerves shook. The sky was dark and cold, but he continued down the damp alleyway. Soon a figure stepped out in front of him. Where did he come from?

“Oh…h-hello…”

“What you want?” The man asked, his bloodshot eyes illuminated by his cigarette.

“Um…I’m here for…the goods…”

The man stared at him for a second. Everything told Tommy to run away, but for some reason he stayed. He was too far gone now.

“You got the dough?”

“Oh,” Tommy said. He rustled through his pocket and pulled out some dough he had snatched from his mom’s bakery.

The man, to Tommy’s surprise, dipped his face into the dough and started violently sniffing it. “Hm. Not bad. Not bad…”

As the man opened his trenchcoat Tommy heard something, and a feeling shot through him. “What was that?”

“What was what?”

But then Tommy heard it again. It sounded like wheels slowly screeching against pavement. Coming closer. Tommy started to panic.

“Is…is that him?”

“Who? You need to calm down or this deal is off.”

“That’s him isn’t it? Johnny Explosion?”

“Pfft. Kid, he’s a myth. A legend hobos tell themselves. Now, you want some crack or not?”

Tommy started to sweat. Then he nodded.

Moments later he emerged out of the dark alleyway into the empty street, the goods in his pocket. But he wasn’t excited, not anymore. His mind seethed with fear. But then he stopped. In the distance he saw it: a scooter staring at him. But there was no one riding it. It was just sitting there.

Tommy froze with fear. He turned around and started walking at a brisk pace. He peeked over his shoulder and noticed that the scooter was gone. He started walking faster and faster until he found himself running through the cold air.

But fortunately, Tommy made it home. He locked all the doors, secured the windows, and went into his room. He stared at the crack pipe with uncertainty. He had been waiting for this all week, but now everything has changed. Fear, insecurity. Negative emotions gripped his brain. He threw himself onto his bed and closed his eyes. He heard the door open and quickly made sure the pipe was out of sight.

“Mom?” But there was no answer. “Maybe it’s just in my head,” he said to himself, deciding not to check at all. He tried to sleep but all he could hear was the grinding of scooter wheels. His eyes shot open and he saw Johnny Explosion in his room flipping and doing neat stunts in front of his bed. This lasted for several moments before Johnny Explosion rode out of his room. Tommy remained in his bed, drenched with sweat. “Wait,” he said to himself, “where is my crack?”

The Origin of Loss, Part 45 – Subject 3303

Days passed. And the three of them occupied the second floor, wandering about, distraught, blaming each other, blaming themselves, while the bodies remained outside. The boat empty.

Well, except Jimmy, who mostly remained quiet. He just couldn’t believe. All those people outside: dead. Yeah, they were probably going to kill them, but…it didn’t have to be like this. If only people cooperated with each other…But Jimmy shook away such thoughts. They were silly. Jimmy was 17, but he was still young and didn’t know much about the world, or anything.

It was no use talking to the two scientists. Bringing up his feelings. And besides, they were too busy arguing. However, one day, Jimmy was bored, and decided to look over some of the files that Noritz had once poured over.

They were mostly garbage, talking about how stupid the corporation is and pointless vagaries. But then, he came across something. A folder that seemed untouched underneath a large stack. The only folder that Dr. Nortiz happened to not have looked at. “Hm. That’s convenient.” He shrugged. Within there were files including some describing someone who Dr. Yannis claimed to have escaped The Cloud:

“Subject 3303 has proven to be quite resilient in comparison to the other subjects. Not only has he managed to escape the cloud, he has managed to escape 3 times. However, each time he returns, his mental state is increasingly perturbed. It will be interesting to see what he is like once he throw him back to Mindy.” (Mindy was the name Dr. Yannis gave to The Cloud.) Jimmy flipped through the documents.

Jimmy snuck the folder underneath his shirt and continued reading it in his room. “Come on. Come on. There’s gotta be something more. Stop talking about how bad the bathrooms smell…” But, finally, he came across something else:

“3303 came back, again. Took him a bit longer this time. We asked him, once again, how he managed to escape, and he just laughed, spat in Dr. Jerome’s face. I admit, it was funny, but not very revealing. But, in some of his ramblings, he did say he was ‘communicating with it’ as if Mindy had half a brain. Pfft!”

What did he mean by communicating with it?

“Hey, Jimmy,” He heard Dr. Noritz’ voice. Jimmy quickly hid the folder. Dr. Noritz appeared in the doorway. “Hey, you seen my ball?” But Jimmy shook his head. “Goddamn useless…” Noritz walked away and Jimmy continued scanning through the pages.

“3303 returned. This would be his fifteenth…sixteenth? Who knows? I’m not keeping track. Anyway, he’s basically babbling at this point. Kinda feel bad for him. But I have to remain objective about this things. We’re doing great work. Great, great work. Once we realize Mindy’s potential we can unleash her, or something. I’m not really sure. So anyway, the only notable thing he mentioned was how he saw his childhood home and thought that that’s how Mindy communicated with him. What a bunch of bunk! I’m a scientist.”

 


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