Now What? – Short Story #14

Suffocating grey encompassed his world. He sat silently, shivering alone in a cold hard bed. It was all there was. He lived in this void, this empty place where only regret kept him company. The four walls were more like a prison room than the sanctuary of peace they had promised him. It was damp and musty, the walls were poorly laid concrete, and so was the floor. The metal posts of the bed were attached to the floor, just as trapped as he felt.

His name is John, for now. He is a tall and slender man with a rough face and rustled blond hair. But he wouldn’t be able to tell you that. He hadn’t seen himself for three years. Mirrors are the portal of vanity. That’s what they told him.

My name is John, but I am not John. John is someone I barely know, a mask I tuck under this bed at night. No one knows who I am, barely even myself. I once did, surely. But I don’t remember those days before this place, before these people. I’m without the capacity of knowing much anymore, which is quite ironic. I used to love knowing. Now, nothing could be worse than the truth. But I can’t help myself. I love forgetting. I think I love it so much I took that place where the memory of me is stored away and I ransacked the whole thing. John is effectively gone, he has left the building, and I have no idea what remains.

Who the hell am I? It doesn’t matter. What matters now is what I have decided. I’m leaving. They will try to stop me. But it won’t matter.

It was his choice to join. He wanted to. Three years ago it made sense. They had good ideas. He was drawn to this life, with the promise of answers. They spoke about life with such clarify, as if they had it figured out. I should give it a try he thought at first. And after the first initiation whatever hesitation he had was seared away by the commitment they swore him to. Five years, then life. Five years seemed like forever, but if this was the answer it’d be worth it. So he signed without another thought.

Then he began asking questions.

Why couldn’t I just shut up and follow along like the rest of them? Why did I become a skeptic? I liked it at first. It was a radical new world. But it didn’t take long until the layers fell off, however promising, and an ugly face unmasked itself.

He stood up. He walked out.

Embracing the evening air of autumn this unnamed man faced freedom, an empty canvas. With each step he felt lighter, and he could even sense a bit of hope in the air. But then he stopped at an intersection and waited silently.

Now what?

Tell me what you think