Hi here is my short story compilation. There is a bit of a mix here. You have two stories set in an office (I guess this means they’re technically sci-fi) two about wounded people (I broke up with my girlfriend recently so I guess I’m feeling a bit fragile myself) and one more auobiographical. Hope you enjoy. If you like any of these stories would you mind giving them a share somewhere because it really helps to keep me going. Thank you and have a fantastic day. Speak to you soon.
Short Story Compilation
Boom boom boom
There is was again. It felt closer this time like something had shifted. Whether it was internal or external was not sure.
Thompson, reluctant to do so, looked up from his screen. He observed his staff at their desks. They had stopped working and looking around. It was okay; they were overreacting; they should focus on their work and pay the sound no mind.
Thompson was aware that there was an atmosphere. An atmosphere of panic was spreading among them.
Thompson looked back down at his screen and continued to work.
There it was again—another deep shudder resonating from somewhere within the city. The intervals between each one were shorter.
The lights flickered overhead. Thompson looked up again from the screen. Some of the staff looked on edge. Another shake and it would send one of them over the edge. One staff member looked at him through the glass expecting. Thompson was not going to come out and speak to them. They were here to work. There had been no word from anywhere else, this was fine. There was work to be done. Thompson looked back down.
Two this time, the building shook a little. It could be getting closer or more intense. Movement in the periphery of Thompson’s vision caught his eye. One of his workers got up from her desk. Only when the light caught her cheek did he register the tears. She packed up her belongings and made for the exit. Not looking, not asking permission then she was gone.
Thompson sighed and got back to work, his screen flickered. This was just more distraction. Maybe the city was falling apart, but there was nothing he could do about it, so there was no point. There was work to be done. Thompson put his focus back on the screen.
Thompson managed to get a couple of sentences written. Then there was a knock on the glass. He looked up to see McNamara standing at the door.
“What the hell is going on?” McNamara said. Thompson motioned to McNamara, came on in and closed the door.
“It’s probably construction work,” Thompson said.
“Construction work,” McNamara said. “Right,”
“Look,” Thompson said, “I know this is exciting and a nice distraction for most people. However, there’s work that needs to be done,”
McNamara smiled and walked past Thompson to look out the window. Thompson stopped working.
“C’mon, the whole world could be falling apart, and you want to check your figures,” McNamara said.
Thompson sighed got up from the desk and stood beside McNamara and looked down at the street.
Thompson went unsteady on his feet, and McNamara smiled at him. There was a traffic jam down below. People were out of their cars looking around themselves. A few cars had mounted the curb. Some argued, got in each other’s faces.
It was not the rumbling; it was something else. Hail rained down. Stones the size of soccer balls. Some impacted the office window. Thompson stepped back, McNamara too. McNamara was edging towards the door of the office.
“Maybe we should let people go,” McNamara said.
“It’s construction, and it’s the weather, you can’t stop because of that,” Thompson said. It went dark. The automatic lights in the office came on. “An eclipse, what is going on?” Thompson asked. He looked round to McNamara, but he was gone. The office had emptied.
Thompson had the place to himself. He returned to his desk and focused his attention on his screen. The screen had gone blank, Thompson fumbled with the power switch.
Boom, boom, boom.
Terms of Service
John was not sure if this was part of the terms of service. The taxi seemed to be taking some magical alternate route. Of course, the price of his fare was growing with each wrong turn. This had to be illegal. The driver, a Perapopsolian who went by the name of Mark, seemed to be guessing the route.
“Mark” was clearly, not the Perapopsolian’s actual name.
“Are you sure you’re going the right way?” John asked.
“Are you telling me I don’t,” Mark said, but the voice went quiet. It was replaced by a series of squeaks and clicks. The squeaks and clicks were how the Perapopsolians communicated actual. Hearing that could only mean one thing. John’s ear chip was being powered down too.
Whoever had breached his security was good. This appeared to be a coordinated attack. Sophisticated hacktackers, there may be more than one of them. The attacks began small. First, he could not articulate his artificial fingers on his right arm. Then his left arm seized up.
John thought about who it could be. He did not have many enemies. There were the protestors who stopped him from getting into the dinner. A dinner that was to be held in honour of those who served. He wore a face scrambler to the dinner. Did someone unscramble him?
The taxi finally pulled up outside a Mjolnir bionic clinic.
Exiting the taxi was an ordeal. The hacktacker had deactivated his legs. With his right hand, no help from the left, John had to move each leg individually. There was no help from “Mark”. Mark clicked something at him. The clicking became more frequent. Eventually, “Mark” grew impatient. He got out hoisted John from the car and left him balanced against a lamppost. Before leaving “Mark” took John’s phone from his pocket and gave himself a five-star rating. “Mark” tipped himself too. That had to be against terms of service, John thought. At least they can see me, John thought. At least I am at the building, he thought. Someone will come and help.
Nobody came to help John. The receptionists saw him, but they did not help, they watched him struggle.
John entered the foyer at Mjolnir Bionics.
“Thanks for the help,” John said to the receptionists. He was panting.
“We weren’t sure if you were coming in,” one of the receptionists said.
“Well doesn’t matter now. I have an appointment with Pamela, Engineer Tindel,” John said. He was still struggling for breath. They’re shutting down my lungs, John thought to himself.
“Down the hall,” another receptionist said. John looked down at himself and then up at the receptionists.
“Would you mind? It’s urgent”
John sat or rather was leant against a bed in the consultation room. It had taken all three of them to get him down there. John could feel his breath shorten further still.
As John waited, half sitting half standing, he could feel himself getting angry. Breathing was becoming increasingly difficult. He felt the invisible hand of the hacktacker closing round his neck.
John’s anger intensified. It was not that people were reluctant to help him that bothered him, no, he knew what people were like. What angered him was his own helplessness. Needing help in the first place made him angry.
John had been helpless before. He remembered lying on dirty sheets in the old hospital. Those around him dying slowly, in great pain, suffocating. Flies making a new home where once his limbs had lived. John had become accustomed to augmented independence.
John waited a while longer.
Pamela, the engineer, entered.
Pamela conducted a scan on his artificial limbs and ran a diagnostic check. John detailed his problems to her as Pamela swiped away on the screen, trying to locate the source of John’s trouble. The invisible grip tightened harder on John’s throat. He let out a gasp.
“Hmm,” Pamela said, turning from her screen to face John. “This is odd. It appears as if everything is being shut down gradually. The strange thing is there are no signs of a data breach. You either have some sophisticated hacktackers, or there might be something else going on here,”. Pamela looked at John. “Aside from all this, how are you getting on?” John did not answer. Pamela turned back to the screen. “Oh, here we go,” Pamela said. “Our system has flagged you, John”.
“What for?” John said between gasps.
“Have you ever used the phrase Die, you Perapopsol bastards?”
John could barely remember seconds ago, never mind years ago. He closed his eyes. The images flashed before his eyes. Standing on the blue sandhills of Yu-Veral, pointer blaster in hand. John remembered leading the charge. The brutality of the fighting. Laser scythes cutting through the dumb lizards, insects, whatever.
John remembered watching the Perapopsols crack the heads of his friends. Sucking out their innards. His own brother, screaming for their mother, then silence. His own flesh and blood rendered flesh and blood. The Perapopsols discarding the remains. Bodies spent. A pile of fleshy tubing. Fleshy tubing that once contained organs, bones and dreams.
“Well did you?” Pamela asked again, her voice shook him out of his reverie. He blinked several times in quick succession.
“Probably,” John said. He thought a moment longer, “Yeah, I guess I did”.
“Under the new terms of service. That falls under the definition of threatening language,” Pamela said.
“I was at war,” John said, “The whole planet was at war with the Perapopsols”. John pulled as much oxygen into his lungs as he could.
“Yes, thank you for your service, but that was five years ago, John. You can’t keep living in the past. Things have changed. You know they’re a protected species on this planet” Pamela said.
“There are billions of them,” John said, barely audible. He struggled for breath, choked on rage.
“Well, not on this planet. And historical injustices perpetrated on them means that they need to be treated with care. What you said is in breach of Terms of Service.”
“Is there any way I can talk to someone at Mjolnir in the legal department?” John said. Saying that sentence took every last bit of strength he had in him.
“It’s not Mjolnir. Its third parties, revoking access. No one at Mijolnir could help you even if they wanted to,” Pamela said.
“I’m supposed to do what?” John said, his voice now a rasp.
“Are you familiar with constructing your own bionics?”
I’m Working here
I’m working here, Evangeline thought to herself. There were, of course, noises and distractions coming from every angle. Evangeline ignored at all. There was always something attempting to distract her, but Evangeline ignored it all. She could feel her focus and by extension, her life rushing away from her. The speed at which it ran appeared to be increasing.
Evangeline walked along the street towards her job at the office. The office was in the middle of the city, and her job was tedious. Not even Evangeline knew the correct title of her job. The one advantage that the job offered was that it was open almost all the time.
If she headed in early enough, she could do her work and spend the afternoon on her own projects.
Evangeline got off the bus. The streets, even though it was early, was already mounting an assault on her senses. She wished it would all go away. She wished it would all just shut up. Evangeline knew in her heart that she was quite a negative person. The negativity would always threaten to bubble to the surface. She tried her best to keep a lid on the negativity.
Evangeline stepped into the min-mart on the corner right before the office. Evangeline picked up her usual sandwich crisps and coffee. Making lunch at home would save her money, but what was she saving for exactly, she didn’t know.
One of the main reasons Evangeline liked the corner store was because of the coffee machine. Pop the cup under the spout and press the button. The machine used fresh beans. It was refrigerated too so they could use actual milk. Evangeline thought that it was just as good as the real thing. The coffee would never be exceptional. Evangeline preferred something always average was preferable to something randomly wonderful or awful. Evangeline liked it, besides it was only coffee.
When the machine had finished pouring her cappuccino, she picked up the cup and took a sip.
As Evangeline roamed the aisles picking up other items she thought about Richards. Richards was one of her co-workers. He had gone on some kind of coffee tasters course. Richards told Evangeline she was enjoying coffee wrong. He came over for a taste test, she had the last laugh with him. Evangeline enjoyed her coffee just fine. At least she could still drink coffee. Evangeline felt that for some, the fancy coffees were an excuse to drink sugar and milk. Evangeline enjoyed the bitterness of coffee although she didn’t know why.
The lady at the counter scanned Evangeline’s items through. The lady at the counter gave Evangeline a look.
“Are you not?” the woman said, trailing off.
“No, whatever it is, I am not,” Evangeline said. Evangeline wished the woman a good day and left the store.
Evangeline entered her building, scanned her fob at the gate and walked on through. She could feel the security guard give her an odd look then immediately reach for the phone.
Evangeline rode the lift up to her floor. She was the first one there, peace for a while at least. She would get some work done before the distractions would arrive.
Evangeline looked through her papers from yesterday and sorted through them. Evangeline knew she could get most of her work finished by lunch. Despite distractions, she would spend the rest of the day working on her own project.
She liked to write things out long. She did it so as not to get into trouble with the higher-ups. Out of sight, out of mind, that was their philosophy, and it was also her philosophy. It was not Richards.
Evangeline’s project was a children’s book. It was about a girl who needed peace and quiet to get her work done. If the girl did not get the peace and quiet, she would unleash a monster out of the cellar.
Evangeline kept the project hidden from co-workers. Why, because she knew it would confuse them. Why would someone with no children want to write a children’s book, they would ask.
The door opened. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted, Evangeline thought to herself. Germaine entered the office and walked straight over to Evangeline.
“Hey Evangeline, what are you doing here?” Germaine asked.
“I’m trying to get some work done,” Evangeline said, not looking up at her.
“You heard about Richards?”
“What is there to hear?” said Evangeline.
“The police are down in the foyer as I came in,” Germain said. Evangeline did not respond. “They’ve been looking for you,”
“I have been away trying to minimise distractions and get on with work,”
“They’re on their way up here,” Germaine said.
Evangeline ignored her and continued to work. Germaine backed off then went to her own desk.
The door to the office opened again. Evangeline heard two sets of heavy footsteps coming her way. Then there was a deep but gentle voice.
“Miss DuPrais? We’d like to ask you a few questions.”
Evangeline looked up from her desk at two middle-aged men wearing big thick coats over old worn shirts. Evangeline addressed the two men.
“I’m working here.”
Today is tomorrow
Randall forgot where he was. Randall knew he had been somewhere, but not he needed a boost. He was right Beans Ahoy. A coffee was needed.
Randall rolled up the ramp into Beans Ahoy. There was Chloe, standing, expecting, waiting for him at the counter. Randle smiled at her, and she smiled back. Fake or real Randall appreciated the gesture.
Not many people were in the cafe. A few people scattered around tables, some familiar faces, some not so familiar.
“Hey Randall,” Chloe said as he wheeled over to do the counter, “I’ll make a start.”
“Thank you, no rush,” Randall said as he dipped his hand into a pocket to fetch his wallet. Chloe went over to the machine, ground the beans and poured milk into the metal jug.
“You can use your veteran’s discount card if you want,” Chloe said, looking over her shoulder.
“I thought that was tomorrow,” said Randall.
“That’s today, today is tomorrow,” Chloe said and smiled.
“I am baffled,” Randall said. “My days are all mixed up,”. Noise emanated from the storeroom off to the side of the counter.
“Doing anything nice today, Randall?” Chloe asked.
“Not really, few messages here and there,” Randall said.” You know, a squirrel came right up to me today. They’re getting closer and closer”
“Maybe he thought you were a big pile of nuts”, Chloe said.
“That squirrel is a good judge of character,” Randall said and laughed. Then the noise kicked in. A noise that Randall made himself endure. It was the frother. The whines that started low then built up. Randall focused on his breath. The frother’s pitch heightened, the sound transported Randall. Reminded Randall of lying in some ditch in the middle of the forest. Then the sound of the drop. Rained with dry dirt. Sometimes blood.
He remembers lying looking up. When the sound vanished, he was up and on his feet, lobbing what he could. Randall was great at throwing. They could never throwback anything at Randall. The frother hit a pitch and stayed there. The banging and movement coming from the storeroom did not help matters either. Chloe said something to him, but Randall was in the past. Remembering waiting for death to come for him. Remembering lying face down in the dirt. One day death came looking he was face down, and death in his haste tossed Randall high in the air. He did not remember landing.
When he regained consciousness, he was in the hospital. Randall was told that death had taken his squad, his captain and his legs. The day was fast approaching when death would come back for the rest of Randall.
The steamer went quiet.
Randall returned to the present.
It was only then Randall realised, his heart had been pounding in his chest. It was subtle, but it was there. Randall’s mind had recovered, but his heart would escape his chest if it could.
“Here you go,” Chloe said. Randall blinked rapidly to return himself to the room. He took out his wallet as a man emerged from the storeroom, Brent. Brent walked from the storeroom, stood behind Chloe and looked over her shoulder at her till.
“What are you doing Chloe?” Brent said. Chloe looked perplexed then spoke without turning to him.
“What do you mean?” Chloe said. “Randall, that will be,” she began, but Brent cut her off.
“No, as in what’s that?” Brent said, pointing at the screen.
“That’s the veterans discount button, Brent,” Chloe said. Two customers entered and stood in line.
“I see that,” Brent said,” What is the point of putting up notices if you’re not going to read them?” Chloe apologised, but Brent kept on talking. “Does anyone keep themselves informed with current events around here?” Brent said and looked from Chloe to Randall. Both looked back at him, blank expressions.
“Following government guidelines,” Brent continued, “Beans Ahoy have revoked acknowledgement of the war,” Brent looked directly at Randall. “It means there’s no more veterans discount.”. The customers behind Randall tapped their feet.
“You’re saying there was no war?” Randall said. He could hear his throat catching as his breathing accelerated. It took him a moment to soothe himself, but he remembered the lessons from the therapy. Randall calmed himself down.” So, what happened to my legs?” Brent looked down at Randall’s stumps.
“People will do anything for a discount.”
“I am sorry,” Chloe said. She handed Randall his coffee. Randall tapped his wallet on the screen.
“Is there any chance of some service?” one of the customers behind Randall said.
“Chloe serves please,” Brent said. “Sir come this way,”
“You know my name is Randall,” Randall said. Brent moved away from the coffee machine. Randall moved down to be closer to him. “Look it’s not about the discount,” Randall said. Behind him, the whine of the coffee machine kicked in. “I gave my all,”
“It would appear you gave nothing,”
“The war happened,” Randall said. Brent talked back to him. Explaining everything, rationally, logically. Randall could not hear him. All he could hear was the escalating volume of the coffee machine. Brent finished speaking and was smirking at Randall like he was victorious. Randall though how people like Brent would not know what victory was like. The coffee machine grew louder. Randall looked down and saw that he had squeezed the paper coffee cup so tight that the lid had fallen off. The hot coffee in his hand. Randall looked up at Brent. He forgot where he was.
Bed Bound and Beyond
He was bored, he was anxious. He was restless, he did not move. Malcolm was bedbound. Waiting for her to stir. He could not leave the bed for that would be abandonment. His phone and reading of any kind were off-limits because that was neglectful.
“Malcolm, you’re on your phone. Meanwhile, your hot girlfriend is laying beside you.” she would say. In his more rebellious days, before he had been broken, he would have replied with. “I didn’t know there was someone else in the bed.”
Now, it was not worth the argument.
There was to be no cuddling, no intimacy of any kind. If Malcolm held her, there would be no end. She may have instigated in the past, but that felt like forever ago, now she did not. If he instigated, it was because he was “only ever after one thing,”. Malcolm did the only thing he could do. He waited in the bed, stared at the ceiling and hope she would come to of her own accord. Malcolm lay there, mindful of his breathing. Must not disturb her sleep.
This was a bed entirely of his own making. And now he was lying in it, afraid to move.
He felt an itch. Building in intensity down, the outside of his left leg. It was on her side. If he was going to itch, he would have to do it carefully. She was a light sleeper. At least that was the impression she gave. Malcolm looked around at the back of her head. He wondered if she was genuinely asleep.
Was it a test? Everything felt like a test—a test where there was no chance to earn a passing grade. In the past month, Malcolm decided that if there was no chance to pass, what was the point of studying? Malcolm stopped applying himself. Stopped studying and did whatever he could to do the bare minimum.
That was a problem.
The whole relationship could be summed up thus; When Malcolm did something, it was a problem. When she did it, there was a perfectly good reason how dare he question her.
Staring at the ceiling, trying not to think about the need to itch, Malcolm looked back over the relationship. Asked himself how did it come to this, then reminded himself that it did not matter. Malcolm was here. Malcolm was stuck.
The itch burned under his skin, it burrowed a little deeper and spread a little wider. Malcolm resisted the urge. Focused on his breath, in and out. She moved beside him, she knew he had to move. She could not wake up on her own. Why do something when you can blame someone, was the logic of the day.
“You woke me up, you woke me up, you woke me up, now I’m going to be tired for the rest of the day.” if he woke her up. If he didn’t.
Malcolm was bedbound.
“You let me sleep in, you let me sleep in, you let me sleep in, now half the day is gone.”
Was she like that? Malcolm thought, was he over-exaggeration her behaviour. Does it matter if she is or she isn’t? The seed of paranoia had long since sprouted and had taken over the garden.
No matter what happened, he was going to get shouted at. That was why he talked and acted less. He was a grey rock in the relationship. There was a chance he could be completely wrong. She said he was bad, maybe he was. In that case, why did she stay with him? She said it was love. Malcolm was unsure.
All Malcolm knew he had an itch. At this moment, it was the only truth he knew. He may as well make the most of it, he thought to himself.
Malcolm reached out down and etched his thigh. His rubbed against her a little. The force of the itching shook the bed a little too. He knew it would be enough. He knew it would wake her. Malcolm was bedbound.
She turned to him. Brow furrowed, mouth turned upside down. Her face storm clouds ready to unleash the heavens. There was no “Good morning”. (She never said good morning. It wasn’t her job, she would tell Malcolm)
The nervousness and anticipation of the coming torrent formed an involuntary smile on Malcolm’s face. She hated when he did that, it was involuntary, wasn’t it?
“Did I wake you?”
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