Why Bother?

This is the part of the book where the author intends to tell you all about what is to come, about how this collection of short stories or whatever stems from an introspective review of mankind as well as a whole bunch of other hokum which really amounts to him attempting to come up with some sort of excuse to not have to write any long form narrative because he’s gotten too lazy.

Too bad, huh?  I mean, I’m sure you really wouldn’t have expected him ending it with a dedication to his family for all the support they have given him as he has worked and toiled long hours to perfect this majestic art.

Because, you know, it’s so incredibly original, right?

Not that there’s much original to be found anymore.

As an all-seeing and all-knowing being, I have quite literally seen everything.

Everything

The good.  The bad.  The utterly disturbing.

Everything.

What’s left to see when you’ve witnessed the precise definition of everything?

What is possibly left for the imagination?

My job may seem simple, to narrate a well-crafted story to entertain and amuse you, but when every story ever told boils down to a mere handful of different types of conflict, everything feels as though it has been done before.

Heck, even my name is unoriginal.  The Narrator:  One who narrates.

Really?

How is it that we, the beings who feed the imaginations of the universe, have such an unimaginative moniker as Narrator.

It wasn’t always this way.  At one time we were so much more.  The Greeks called us The Muses.  They knew how to respect our powers.

Not that I can blame you.  We do so little today.  At the heights of Greece’s power, we were unstoppable.  Ever heard of the Greek tragedy?  I didn’t come up with it, but it was one of us who did.

Today, the best we come up with is finding new ways to make monsters sexy.

Who wants monsters to be sexy?

The other narrators say I’m simply caught in a rut.

A deep rut, if you ask me.  I’ve even found myself attempting to tell stories about psychopathic pandas finding violent love with Bill Pullman in the wilds of New Zealand, but they weren’t nearly as surprising as you would expect.  Spoiler alert: They were actually homosexual sloths dreaming about what it would be like to own argyle socks.  The homosexuality, of course, wasn’t integral to the story, just something which happened to be true.  The argyle socks, on the other hand, ended up being far more important to the story than even I could have expected.  But even then, they still were entirely predictable.

This is my job.  My cosmic duty.  I am here to tell stories.  To entertain and inform.  An eternity of relating the same seven basic plots.

I have no other options.

As an eternal being, I can’t off myself.  The closest thing we have to death is to lose the ear of the people.  That may not seem so bad, but consider it as an never-ending moment being held in that feeling you get when you’re in the self-checkout line at Target when all the machines are in use.

You don’t look at the other patrons because you don’t wish to appear pushy, but can’t help noticing the lady in front of you has been attempting to scan that single banana for what feels like an hour already and the red shirt who is supposed to be helping her is busy trying to replace the receipt paper in another machine and you are struggling to fight the urge to push the old lady out of the way,  so you can pay the two dollars and ninety-nine cents plus tax for your niece’s birthday card and get back home so you can finally watch the latest episode of The Good Place before falling asleep with your phone in your hand.

An eternity of moderate impatient annoyance fueled by an impossibly hot rage.  It might not seem so bad for the first thousand years or so, but that stuff really builds up on a guy, or, you know, an eternal omniscient non-gendered being.

And so, I’m forever sentenced to this fate of hoping I can come up with something new to say.  Or at least a new way to say it.  Or, at the very least, something to do to while away the rest of eternity.

Read on.  Maybe I’ll have more to say about that Target thing.  I haven’t decided yet.

Oh, and the intro left off by telling you about the inspiration for the first story.  It wasn’t very inspiring…

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New Debbie

Sounds of absolute terror filled the air of the school’s courtyard. Teachers were torn between running for their lives and coming to the aid of the woman they now saw before them.

Mr. Harrison was the first to jump into action. He began by ushering the children back into the school building, assuring them everything was okay as the young ones struggled to come to grips with what they had just witnessed.

The rest of the teachers became aware of Mr. Harrison’s efforts and joined him, managing to herd the children inside within a matter of minutes. As they closed the doors behind them, Mr. Harrison, Mrs. Garrett, and Principal Schepke were the only ones still outside with the mysterious woman.

The woman was still on the ground in the same location she had initially appeared, staring at her hands and body in complete amazement.

Principal Schepke approached her.

“Excuse me, Miss,” she said tentatively. “Here.”

Principal Schepke offered the woman a jacket she had brought outside with her. The woman looked at the jacket, but appeared to not be aware of what she was supposed to do with it. Principal Schepke draped the jacket across the woman’s shoulders.

“Are you okay?” the principal asked. “Can you understand me?”

The woman looked at Principal Schepke and tears fell from the woman’s eyes.

“Can you hear me?” Principal Schepke asked.

“Can you hear me?” the woman said softly.

“Yes,” the principal answered, “I can. Are you okay?”

“You can hear me?” the woman repeated.

“Yes, I can hear you. Can you hear me?”

The woman made efforts to stand. She appeared to be struggling so Principal Schepke gestured to Mr. Harrison to join them, and the two of them helped the woman to her feet.

“I’m here. I’m really here.” The woman appeared confused. Mr. Harrison looked at his watch and wondered how long it might be before the paramedics they had called for Debbie might arrive.

“Ma’am,” Mr. Harrison said tentatively, “do you know what happened to Debbie?”

“Debbie?” the woman asked. “Debbie? I’m Debbie.”

“Okay,” Principal Schepke replied hesitantly. “but the little girl who was here. Where is she?”

“Why don’t we sit you down over here,” Mr. Harrison said, leading her to a nearby chair. “It might be best if you took things slow for a while. And then maybe you can tell us about the little girl who just disappeared.”

The woman sat down in the chair and looked at Mr. Harrison. “Mr. Harrison,” she smiled. “Can’t you see? It’s me!”

She then looked at the principal. “Principal Schepke? You can, right?”

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but we really need to know about–“

“Chet didn’t see me, did he?” the woman asked. “He didn’t see me all naked? He didn’t see me like this?”

The Room – Part IV

Debbie grinned and looked down at the floor. The voice inside her head kept screaming at her to ask him out, but Debbie just couldn’t do it. The voice always seemed to know the right thing to do, but all Debbie could think about is what would happen if Chet said no.

Debbie look up at Chet, but his friends called his name at the same time and his attention was turned. He muttered something which might have been goodbye before running off to join them.

Debbie frowned.

The voice was probably right, but the risks were simply too high. Besides, she was the girl, the girl couldn’t ask the boy out. Maybe if they were super old, like thirty or something, but in the fifth grade?

Blah blah blah.

Yeah, yeah, we get it already. The Jane woman was the conscience all along, right? Or is there some deeper meaning to the whole thing? Or maybe she really was trapped in some room where she didn’t need to eat or poop. Or maybe this was all some dream which really reflected on the feeling of being trapped within one’s own body? Oh, no, I know, Jane was seriously mentally ill and this was all just her perception of reality.

Or I guess they could have all been living in a snow globe…for some reason.

Lame.

Predictable.

Seriously, where does this crap come from? It’s like Adam has completely given up and is just writing whatever drivel comes to mind at the moment.

Do you even care about this story?

No, seriously, I’m asking you.

Fine, whatever, I know, reading is all quiet time and whatever else, so why would you possi–

What was that?

No? Nothing?

Hmph.

Okay, so, we got all that crap out of the way already, right? Let’s try and see if we can’t redirect this train somehow? Maybe if we just give a slight little nudge, we can make this story into something people will really care about.

It’s not like this Adam guy is paying attention anyway, right?

At just that moment, Debbie felt a pain like she had never felt before. A strong tearing feeling from deep down inside her. She cried out in agony, causing her friends and teachers to turn and stare at her as she fell to the ground.

One of the teachers, Mr. Harrison, rushed immediately to Debbie’s side and was caught off guard by the visible pulsing occurring on her forehead.

He yelled for help and three more teachers joined him as another ran off to call for the paramedics.

“What do we do?” Mr. Harrison asked Mrs. Garrett. “What would even–“

With another loud scream, Debbie burst open like a New Year’s party popper. And as the pieces of her splattered all around, it was immediately apparent that Debbie was gone.

And in her place was a woman. A thirty-something, completely naked, woman.

The Room – Part III

As time passed, Jane found herself less and less inclined to fight her situation. She had gone beyond hopelessness. The day was coming for the young child’s second birthday. The parents in the film were excited. And Jane, had to admit she was feeling a certain level of excitement herself.

This life on the screen in front of her had become everything. It was, after all, the only thing. Since she had been locked inside this room, there was no other stimuli available outside of what happened on the screen. No sounds outside the walls, nobody coming to check on her, or to feed her.

No, everything she had was in front of her in widescreen. And although none of this made any sense, Jane found herself accepting it more and more every day.

Part of the reason for that was due to her finding that she had a portion of control over the toddler’s activities. She was even able to get the child to talk.

It was difficult to get out full sentences and Jane had to focus incredibly hard in order to get out the harder sounds, but she could communicate well enough with those people she found she was beginning to consider family.

From time to time she would attempt to relay the details of her actual situation. But a two year old talking about the woman locked up inside a theater watching their lives wasn’t something anyone seemed to take seriously. It was just another one of those silly things little Deborah was prone to talk about.

As time went on, Jane found herself trying less and less to find help.

Instead, she found herself more interested in helping Deborah to develop as a human. That, Jane was finding out, wasn’t nearly as easy as she would have hoped.

For instance, right now Deborah is looking in at a dog in a car. Her parents are nearby, but they are focused on moving the groceries from the cart into their car, they aren’t noticing how Deborah’s hand is reaching closer and closer to the slightly open window where the dog awaits.

If they had been aware, they, no doubt, would have stopped her, but they simply didn’t notice.

Jane, on the other hand, definitely noticed. She screamed and screamed and pleaded with Deborah to not reach her hand into the window where the dog would doubtless snip at her and cause at least a small amount of damage.

Jane pounded on the screen as she cried out.

But all she could hear of her pleas was a little song sung quietly by little Deborah:

“Don’t reach in there. Don’t you do it. If you do, he’ll bite right through it.”

“NO!” Jane screamed.

The dog began barking wildly, causing Deborah’s mother to jerk her attention toward her young one and quickly pull the encroaching hand away from the window and back toward freedom.

“No!” Deborah’s mother scolded. “Never reach in a window at a dog. Especially one you don’t know.”

Jane sighed a deep sigh of relief, fell to the ground, and realized that she was going to have to find a better way to gain control of this girl.

The Room – Part II

Jane stares at the video in front of her in confusion. To her, it appears to be a real-time video feed from the point of view of a baby.  Unfortunately for her, this means that a majority of the film is either darkness, due to the child’s sleeping, or random blurry visuals combined with ear-piercing screams.

Jane finds that she doesn’t mind the screaming much.  It’s almost as though the child were joining her in her cries for help, even if the sound from the film is much more likely to be drowning out the sound of Jane’s screams.

Time has lost all meaning to Jane now. The baby seems to sleep nearly as often as Jane finds herself passed out from a long period of screaming. And as soon as Jane begins screaming again, the child itself starts up. Jane questions whether the child can somehow hear her.

Some days, when Jane has found herself incapable of screaming any longer, she takes to looking for a way out of the room. She walks along the walls, pounding and kicking at them and the floor, hoping for some sign of weakness which could allow her escape.

She finds nothing.

As time goes on, the pictures on the screen gain additional focus. Jane finds herself staring at the smiling face of the baby’s mother as she looks down at the camera. Something about the soft smile on her face comforts Jane.  When that mother coos at her and says everything is going to be okay, Jane finds herself believing it.

The parents of this child seem to be very concerned with how often it has been screaming. Each time Jane and the child start up again, the mother and the father check in on it with growing frustration. Jane watches on as they take the child in to a doctor to ensure there isn’t something physically wrong with it.

Jane begins to wonder how much control she may have over the child. And more importantly, whether or not this is actually happening. Perhaps, she thinks, she can use this odd connection to help her out of her current situation.

Something about this whole situation doesn’t quite add up. Even beyond the fact that the baby seems to respond to her emotions and actions. Even past how this room seemingly has no exit, or that Jane doesn’t remember anything prior to the moment she ended up in it.

For one thing, Jane hasn’t eaten or drank anything since she arrived here.

The Room

A woman is thrown roughly to the floor in a dark room.  The room is warm and filled with sounds, not only of the screams from the woman as she slowly becomes aware that she is alone.  The other sounds are muffled, as though coming from a separate room, but loud.

Once her eyes adjust to the darkness, she becomes aware of a faint red glow illuminating everything.  The light is just bright enough to allow her to inspect her surroundings. 

She is in a theater.  In the center of the room is one single red chair.  The rest of the room is empty, outside of the red curtain covering the wall in front of the chair.

There are no doors, no windows, nothing outside of walls, chair, and curtain.

Even the light appears to have no source, almost as though it is seeping through the walls somehow.

Within the muffled sounds, she can make out the sound of a woman screaming as if in intense pain.  She breathes heavily between the screams, exhaustion apparent in her labored breaths.  The woman sounds as though she has been suffering this same torture for hours already.

Our woman, we’ll call her Jane, fears this same torture is in store for her next. Yet, she can’t think of any reason why she should be tortured.  She can’t even remember anything prior to entering this room.  Her name is gone, her life is gone, and most disturbingly, how she wound up inside this room is gone.

The room around her appears to grow smaller.  Each scream from the woman causes Jane to feel more and more crowded by the dark red walls of the room around her.

She runs from corner to corner, inspecting every inch of the theater, praying she somehow missed the exit.  She becomes frantic as the woman’s screams increase in frequency.

She looks toward the curtains as they open.

The light emanating from the screen behind them is blinding, forcing Jane to squint.  A blurred image appears.  The screams of the woman have now stopped and loud sounds of joy fill the room.  Joy, and relief. 

A baby cries.

Jane walks up to the screen, noting how the blurred image slowly takes shape into colored blobs.  She watches in question, wondering whether she is viewing a birth from the baby’s perspective, or if this is some sort of Rorshach test showing her some innate want for a child of her own.

Jane pokes at the corners of the screen, hoping to find some way around it into some back corridor which might allow her escape, only to find that the screen is simply an image projected upon a white wall.

She falls to the floor.  Terror fills her mind as she becomes aware of her predicament.

And confusion regarding how she ever wound up here in the first place.