Topic: Forum Games /
HOMESCHOOL [Writing Competition] ~ Round 1: Short Stories
It was in the early spring of 2263, when green was first returning to the dead fields, when the gritty salt-stained piles of clumpy snow gave way to the gentle embrace of the sun, that humanity successfully stopped noticing me. I had been dreading this day for a long time. My parents had never really been interested in me, nor had my classmates, nor had my teachers. I sat alone at lunch. I was made to stand in a closet while the class went on field trips (possibly because they thought I was an extra jacket); rather than family vacations to Disney World, my parents took off for Vegas and left me in the attic with the creepy possessed clown doll (which also failed to notice me). I think they might have hired a babysitter, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t really pay attention to me either. I mean, she kind of did when I stole her phone and started making prank calls, but other than that it was a lonely three months.
As I grew up, I found that people seemed to do their best to ignore me, even during that happy year when I hijacked a spaceship and—slobbering drunk most of the time—sped around Earth picking up hookers and defacing treasured world monuments. I should point out that I wasn’t really a vandal or psychopath or nihilist or whatever; I was just starved for attention, and replacing the Eiffel Tower with a giant statue of Pee Wee Herman actually got me on the local news. You’d think something like that would have warranted national or international news, but nope. Unnoticed!
I should also note in my defense that I wasn’t drunk during the Eiffel Tower incident. That was LSD. Lots and lots of LSD.
Anyway, about two years ago, I was called before the International Superior Court, Alpha and Omega, and asked to sign some forms. I was really excited at first, because the Court seemed momentarily interested in me, which was unusual. One of them was even a woman, and that had absolutely never happened before. However, upon reviewing the paperwork I realized that hidden amongst the incomprehensible boilerplate was a clause revoking my existence, and also granting the universe the legal right to ignore me until the stars gave way to the endless frozen blackness of heat death.
“Excuse me,” I whispered.
The Court collectively continued to chatter amongst themselves, unmoved by my quiet words.
Despite screaming as loud as I could—through a megaphone, in fact (I carried a megaphone with me at all times, and it was usually surprisingly effective)—the nineteen justices of the ISC, α and Ω continued their deliberately deliberate deliberations, even though my scrawking, amplified voice had shattered a 19th century stained glass window. At this point, there was really only one option, and I punched the Honorable Methuselah X. J. Carter squarely in the nose. There was a gratifying snap as his nose broke, deep red blood gushing forth in a gory, Tarantinoesque stream. I am not by nature a violent individual, but was very pleased to receive a shocked, outraged stare of hate from Carter. Please understand that, for one in my position, hatred is far preferable to indifference.
At least with hate, you have to care.
I was eventually restrained by an officer who had—until that moment—not actually realized I was there. (When questioned later about the incident, he conceded that he hadn’t noticed me until then and in fact wasn’t quite sure what had happened to Carter for about 45 baffled seconds.) I was soon thereafter sentenced to Anonymity, forced to walk around wearing a repulsive gray “A” badge. While this legally compelled passerby to look away, it wasn’t really anything different than I was used to. In fact, it was sort of an improvement. They may not have noticed me, but they noticed my charcoal letter.
Things were thusly looking up, relatively speaking, until the scientists at the Anti-Identity Institute at last successfully developed their years-in-the-making Awareness Antidote. Compelled by that heartless court, I was dragged into the Depersonality Building in Billings, Montana (the capital of North America Presented by Pepsi) and bound, screaming, to a cold metallic table. That whole process had been a complicated one, where the Being Police frequently lost sight of me in a park, walking right past me on several occasions before noticing the gray A. Alas, a trap!
Strapped down, kicking, hollering, begging, I saw a white coated old man, his face lined with ancient, evil wrinkles, lift a syringe seemingly filled with a silvery light. I felt the needle puncture my skin, penetrate obscenely into my veins. There was a stinging sensation—sharp, fruity, almost electrified. The assembled scientists gathered about the table, stared at me in desperate longing and wonder for a long, frozen moment; and then they went back to their myriad tasks, as though nothing had happened.
The belts around me gave way. I stood up, approached Dr. Fangelanvelis, my captor, my tormentor. “Hey, you old coot!”
I kicked him in the shin, hard.
I attempted a headlock, hoping to snap his scrawny, tottering neck. I could deal with solitary confinement—I had lived a life of it.
I stepped back, panting. Fangelanvelis went about his diabolical work, cleaning a test tube with hundred dollar test tube polish. He looked over to Dr. Mulcivex, asked him casually about his mother.
I kicked Mulcivex as hard as I could in the balls. Three times.
nothing nothing nothing
I stepped back, watching as they continued their dehumanizing research, peeling away at hearts, minds, souls.
“Please look at me,” I begged. “Please just say something.”
And with no acknowledgement, I turned sadly to the door.
The next several months were unpleasant. I lived day to day, unable to rent a room, ride a hoverbus, borrow a key for the electrobathroom. I would have been torn apart by the pack of wild dogs plaguing the city that year, but the dogs also didn’t notice me. One black day I even thought to end it all, laying down on the tracks before an oncoming hovertrain. This proved to be a fruitless endeavor, since the hovertrain passed directly over me. The hovertrain industry had been a disaster for many organizations, not the least of which was the once prosperous club of dastardly mustache twirlers. Said organization had delighted once upon a time in tying damsels in distress to train tracks, but they like so many noble old cultures had been rendered obsolete by technology.
More troubling was when I jumped in between a mugger and his quarry, his arm and knife passing through me as though I wasn’t even there. Suicide was proving difficult. Sighing, I stepped back to watch the encounter, but the little old lady successfully disarmed and pummeled the mugger. (It turned out she was a 23rd degree black belt in Andromedan Jiujitsu). The mugger fled, and the old lady marched off in a huff. I bent down to examine the discarded knife, and cut my finger.
Cut my finger.
I dropped the blade, startled. I stared at my index finger, a bright bead of blood forming over a small slit in my skin. It was impossible! I had taken that same knife directly through my chest, with not a scratch to show for it. I couldn’t interact with people in any way. Otherwise…
I thought hard for a long moment, then grinned.
My revenge was at hand.
Two days later, the news was afire with news of a historic fire. The Depersonality Building in Billings had gone down in a crackle of flames. Leading murderologists and murderonomists identified remnants of a rare, powerful accelerant amongst the debris, normally held only by governments for use in horrific, fire-based warfare as delineated in the Anti-Geneva Accords. A batch of Burningness had recently been stolen from a secure facility, and all evidence pointed to Fangelanvelis. He was locked up for life. My reign of terror did not stop there, though. From bank robberies to tables being overturned at fancy restaurants, my depredations were numerous, varied. No one knew where I would strike, nor even what I was. There may have been others like me—I’d certainly never see them if there were. Ghosts, supposedly eradicated over 100 years ago by the Ghostbusters, were suspected to have returned. The people, believing themselves haunted, quickly divested themselves of once popular real estate choices like old Victorian mansions and abandoned psychiatric wards. The masses looked over their shoulders, imagining a quiet voice on the wind, a scrawky whisper flitting awkwardly through the branches.
We looked up at Paul from the crackling campfire, launching smoldering flecks and motes of light upward, ever upward, into the pine-smelling darkness. The recent spate of crimes and petty robberies was still unsolved, and we still glanced over our shoulders. Paul spoke again.
“And so we sit around this campfire, huddled desperately about the light, fearing those ghosts we cannot see or hear or touch. These shades follow us, live unseen amongst us, desperate for the light, for life. They shamble like corpses, flee like long shadows into the night. These wisps float around us, crying unheard,
Notice me. Notice me.