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Dissolution of Perception - Just something I wrote

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Postby Mut » Thu Aug 29, 2002 3:57 am

I was just really bored, so I thought I'd write something.



Things have been very strange lately. It's not as if there have been any major changes, it's just the small things. But then, it's the small things that count.
Take for instance my boss, John Deckard. Johnny has a routine. Every day he wears a different tie. Not to say that he wears them at random, oh no. Quite the opposite, in fact. On Mondays it's the red pinstripes, on Tuesdays the purple hummingbirds, and on Wednesdays the sky-blue sunflowers. Today is Friday. He should be wearing his magenta treefrogs, but he isn't. He's wearing the hummingbirds.
It may not seem a big deal that Johnny's altered his routine, but it really is. You see, Johnny has what the shrinks call "obsessive-compulsive disorder". That means he's driven by habit. Every day I watch him enter his office and flick on the lights. Then off again. On and off, five times over. That's his routine.
Today, he only turned them on once. Very odd.
It's not just Johnny, though. The whole office seems to have been affected by the recent tragedy. As I pass by Rita Morris's desk, I hear her talking on the phone about the "death in accounting". When she notices me, though, her mouth shuts tight, as if she's embarrassed to be gabbing about such a grim subject.
All day long it's hushed conversations, employees gossiping so much you'd think that this was a schoolyard. It's hard to imagine any work getting done today, and so I just lean back in my chair and stare at my screensaver.


I know. Tacky. Kind of like those posters you used to see back in grade school. You know, the ones in the Guidance Office that were supposed to "inspire" you?
The time ticks by so slowly, you'd think it had stopped. Ten thirty-five and fifty-seven seconds. Fifty-eight. Fifty-nine. Ten thirty-six. Ten thirty-six and one second.
I hate my job. Sitting here, locked up in a cubicle all day long, staring at stock reports and memos. After a while, they all blend together into one big mess of printed text. Disgusting.
The only reason that I'm where I am today is that I'm a wimp. Yes, that's right. I am a spineless wimp who has absolutely no ability to make my own decisions. You think I wanted to end up a number monkey? No, that was my parents' idea. They suggest, I comply.
The only thing I've actually made up my own mind on was the decision to marry. They said it was too early. I said that I didn't care. Five years and one divorce later, all they ever say now is, "We told you so."
Ten forty-six and seventeen seconds. Time to go get some coffee.
Walking down the aisle, I happen to overhear a snippet of conversation from Tom Wallace's cubicle.
"So how'd it happen?" asks a man's voice. Sounds like Ralph Peterson. High-pitched tone, very nasal.
"Well," answers another man, this one easily identified as old Tom, "Word on the grapevine is that he was on his way to work when he was sideswiped by a big-rig. Car went off the side of the road into a ditch. Guy burned to death in his own car."
"What a way to go," Ralph says sadly, "Poor Jimmy Kline."
"Yep," Tom murmurs, "Poor Jimmy ..."
I'm tempted to stop right there and learn more about the accident, but I decide against it. Wouldn't be polite to butt into their little chat.
Two minutes later I'm back in my cubicle, coffee in hand. I take my time staring at the Styrofoam cup, admiring all the little imperfections on its surface. Just like a person, I suppose. They look fine on the outside, until you notice all the little "dents" in their personalities, and then of course they're so fragile. So very fragile ...
What am I doing? I ask myself, Sitting here comparing people to coffee cups? It's too early for this sh*t.
The next hour passes by like a slow-motion video. Johnny stops in a couple times, though I hardly even listen to him speak. Subconsciously, my mind is making a checklist to "Put cover-sheets on the DER reports" and to "make alterations to the PTY policies". In truth, though, my thoughts are somewhere else. Somewhere far away ...
Then it comes time for lunch, and the daily "break-room mingle". Only today the break-room's empty. Not a person in sight. The chairs are all positioned at the tables, the espresso machine sits humming in the corner, and the torturous elevator music plays softly in the background.
I turn to leave, and am startled to see a strange man standing in the doorway. He wears a long brown overcoat, worn at the edges and covered in grime. His face is hidden beneath layers of bandages, and on his head is a faded black fedora. The man starts to talk in a deep, raspy voice, and it's almost as if he's speaking in tongues.
"Ba cha neva tumra siv!"
With that, he turns and walks out the door. I hesitate for a moment, then start after him. Emerging from the break-room, though, I stop. The man has vanished.
I decide to have lunch in my cubicle today. Heating up a cup of noodles in a nearby microwave, I sit and ponder all that has transpired. Who was that strange man? What was he saying, or trying to say?
The name keeps dancing into my head: Jim Kline. Roughly, I push it away. Jimmy's dead. Everyone in the office is talking about it. There was a car accident. He went into a ditch. Broken neck. He's dead.
But what if he isn't? What if he survived the crash? What if he was trying to ask me for help, but couldn't form the words because of his facial disfigurement?
I've got to tell somebody, I decide. I can't keep this a secret.
Walking down the corridor, all is strangely quiet. Everybody must be out to lunch. The room's usually full of noise.
If there's one person I know won't be out of the office, though, it's Johnny Deckard. Mr. Obsessive-Complulsive. Sure enough, there's a light on behind the glass windows of his room, though I can't see in because the drapes are pulled. Another change in routine. This is getting weird real fast, Johnny.
I knock on the door, but there's no answer. Thinking it's probably okay to enter (and hoping he's not busy banging his secretary again), I twist the handle and step into his office.
At first glance, everything looks normal. His fishing pictures hang prominently on the back wall, his "I'M THE BOSS, BOW DOWN" coffee mug sits in the center of his desk, and as always there's the faint smell of marijuana that everyone notices, yet no-one ever mentions. The only thing I see that's out of the ordinary is his chair.
Johnny's chair is quite a goofy thing. Dark blue with a five-foot high back, it looks more like it would belong in the library of some country estate. Usually, old Johnny likes to lean back in it and give his visitors a smug little "I'm better than you" look. Today, though, the chair faces the wall.
"Hey, Johnny," I say, trying to get his attention. There's a pause, and then the chair slowly starts to turn.
I'm about to breathe a sigh of relief, but then my blood turns ice-cold. It's not Johnny in the chair. It's the bandaged man.
"W-who are you?" I manage to stutter, trying to regain my composure. The man's reply is the same.
"Ba cha neva tumra siv!"
Time to go out on a limb.
"J-Jim? Jimmy Kline?" I ask, hoping that my guess is right.
"Ka chak ra!" he shouts, and the sound is like nails across a chalkboard.
In one quick motion, the man reaches up and tears off the bandages. All I see is charred muscle and milky-white bone before I lose my lunch on Johnny's nice blue carpet.
When I look up again, the man is gone.
Tearing out of the door like a man possessed, I search desperately through the cubicles for any sign of life. I find none.
Just as I am about to give up hope, I spot a scrap of paper lying on the carpet by Tom Wallace's chair. It's an invitation. A funeral invitation. Jim Kline. Noon today. I look at the clock. Twelve fifteen.
Not even taking the time to gather my briefcase together, I rush down to the parking lot and climb into my car. Fumbling out the keys, my fingers slip and they fall to the pavement. As I reach down to pick them up, a business card drops out of my pocket. I watch as it drifts lazily down towards the ground and lands face-up, text to the sky.


I feel a knot growing in the pit of my stomach. Jim Kline. That's not me. Jimmy's dead. He died in the car crash. That's not me!
Pulling out my wallet, I flip through the various cards, looking for some proof that this is a mistake. Visa, MasterCard, driver's license. All Kline.
This is wrong. This can't be happening. This isn't happening! It must be some sort of trick.
Stepping out of my car, I decide to go back into Johnny's office and confront this mystery man. I don't get the chance, though, for suddenly I'm in a cemetery.
All around are my friends and family, though they pay me no heed. Instead, their gazes are focused on a large coffin, its lid open wide. My mother and father are there, as is my ex-wife. Johnny's there, and Tom, and Ralph, and ... and the man in the bandages. I have the worst feeling that my guess about the man was right.
Taking one step forward, and then another, a feeling of dread gnaws at me. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, I am standing before the open coffin. Gathering my courage, I look down. It's me.
The body is me. The bandaged man is me. I try to deny it, try to say that it isn't true, but it is. I, Jim Kline, am dead. I died in a car accident at nine thirty-five in the morning on Thursday the 18th of October. May I rest in peace.
R.I.P. Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005)
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Postby Mystery » Thu Aug 29, 2002 4:19 am

Applause! I am speechless! You are..hands down...the best writer!


(sorry I didn't meant to beg. But damn! That was great!)
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Postby Matt (Dark Baron) » Thu Aug 29, 2002 8:36 am

Yeah, that is really good.
Really, really good.
1. Do the words mean anything?
2. Defigured man, who? Death?
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Postby Echo » Thu Aug 29, 2002 9:39 am

Thursday 18th October. That date was last year´s 18th October. Not that much really, but background research all the same. :D
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Postby ds490 » Thu Aug 29, 2002 5:38 pm

Nice, Mut.
~ ds490
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Postby Mut » Thu Aug 29, 2002 9:19 pm

Thanks, all. As I said, I was just really bored last night, so I decided to write something.

1. Do the words mean anything?

Not really, no.

2. Defigured man, who? Death?

The body is me. The bandaged man is me.

Eh, at first I was just trying to be weird. Then I got the idea that perhaps he was seeing himself, or at least an imagined version of himself. Don't really know. It was late at night, and I was tired.

R.I.P. Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005)
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Postby The Mad Monk » Thu Aug 29, 2002 10:33 pm

I suppose it's possible the man would be hallucinating, he did go through a car crash after all. Mind you, he did die.

Don't mind me, I've no idea what I'm on about. Nice story.
In related news, Kenneth Ham reveals that he knows precisely squat about fossils. Film at eleven.

That's Poodle's lovely avatar up there...
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Postby TheDataHacker » Fri Aug 30, 2002 3:10 pm

I like those stories!
I like every incarnation of them, though your is easier to read than Orson Wells. It spooks me because it makes me wonder, if i die will i know it? Or am i even alive right now? Did i really survive that car accident the other day, and if so, then who is that masked guy following me around?
in any case, i enjoyed reading it!
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"Who you callin scruffy lookin?"
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Postby MileOut » Fri Aug 30, 2002 3:35 pm

It brings to mind a film which I think is called The Long Night of the Glass Dolls whereby a man is dead but still conscious of what is going on around him, and slowly he remembers how he ended up being where he is.

Very good, metaphoric satire stuff!
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Postby ds490 » Fri Aug 30, 2002 6:13 pm

Can anyone here say, "Sixth Sense"

...I hope you've all seen it, 'cause I think I just spoiled the ending...
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Postby Echo » Fri Aug 30, 2002 7:18 pm

Well, you could just edit your post.
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Postby En Kerklaar » Fri Aug 30, 2002 7:26 pm

Luckily, that ending was spoiled for me long before I ever saw the movie. And that's not much of a spoiler, in any case.

Great story, Mut. It felt sort of rushed at the end, but otherwise very good, engaging stuff. Yay, stubborn dead people!
Why can't you eat soup in the Matrix? Because there is no spoon!
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