Afterlife

This is something I wrote so long ago as a school assignment. I kinda like it so I decided to post it for posterity xD Guess what book by P.K.Dick I had just read before writing that XD


 

John was awoken by lines of light crossing the wide window of his room. It was lightening a little bit the dark wallpapers of the big bedroom. The only sound he could hear was the cars down in the street, which was still quite loud. He got up. He could feel the soft fitted carpet under his feet. Slowly, still a little asleep, he went through the room. As soon as he approached the door, it opened itself in a mechanical noise. Immediately, a very pleasant hot bread smell invaded the bedroom. Stefan was cooking breakfast.

“‘Morning Stefan”, he grumbled.

“Hey, pancakes coming up!” a voice from a small room yelled. John went past Stefan’s room and crossed the large living room to go in it. He didn’t even have a look around. He was too used to the bright wallpapers covered by his modern paintings, and his roommate’s big exotic houseplants whose smell was surrounded by the breakfast smell, the big flat TV, the very new computer encrusted in the wall, behind his desk…

He entered the small kitchen, whose floor was cold and tiled. A long-dark-haired man, in his thirties was cooking, using the high technological devices they owned.

“Do you need my help?” John asked

“No need, thanks, it’ll be ready in a minute.”

John left the kitchen and entered the next-door room, which was the bathroom. He went past the bath and looked at himself in the mirror for a while. He was rather tall and of average weight. He was not very strong, although he went sometime to a gym club. He was black-skinned. His face was emaciated, and rather elongated. His blue eyes seemed to be shiny. His nose was aquiline, his chin was thin, and his cheeks were hollow. He hadn’t any beard or moustache. He was bald, but he sometimes wore a cap. He was used to wearing fancy clothes, such as shirts, denim jackets and light trousers. He wore glasses too. He recently got his ears pierced, as Stefan had so many times advised him.

Suddenly, he entered the shower. The hot, perfumed water fell on his shoulders. A relaxing music automatically filled the room…

After a quick shower, he went back into the main room where Stefan was waiting for him. He took the seat next to Stefan’s around the table which was located in a corner of the room. Stefan said clearly “On!”  The flat television hung on the opposite wall of the room behind a dark leather couch turned itself on. They both had breakfast, listening to the news on TV. The television was linked to the hi-fi, therefore they could hear the sound from every side.

As soon as he was over with his breakfast, John went to his desk, in a corner of the room. He touched the soft computer screen encrusted in the wall, and it got brighter, unveiling a small text.

 

”Martin “Jack whispered, “I think I know who the murderer is…”

“Really?“  Martin answered, astonished.

“Yes! It is so obvious now, I don’t understand why we didn’t guess it earlier. Do you remember that man you sent to jail a few years ago?”

“Of course I remember him. As a judge, I see lots of suspects and criminal, but I have a very good memory.”

“I think he wants to take his revenge now that he’s out of jail…”

There was a loud noise and Jack fell on the floor. His sentence ended in a crackling as blood was coming out of his mouth. Somebody had shot at him. Panicked, Martin looked around.

 

John stayed thinking for a moment, reading what he had written the day before. He was looking for a good sequel, which would be a great action scene. Meanwhile, Stefan flopped into the couch and switched the channel to watch his favourite TV show.

“Please, Stefan… I cannot even hear myself thinking.” John whispered.

“ Wanna join me?” Stefan asked

“Actually, not at the moment. Sorry, but I am kind of busy here…”

“Okay! Well, no matter… Headset!” he shouted. He took the wireless headset on a little table next to the couch. The sound of the TV had been muted, and he could only listen to it in the headset. That way, John could keep writing quietly. He began to talk, and the words appeared on the screen as soon as he had said them…

 

…Panicked, Martin looked around. He knew the murderer was somewhere close, and yet he could not see him. He realized that if he didn’t move quickly, he would be shot as Jack had been. In fact, he could not understand why he had not already been killed. But it didn’t matter. He started to run.

 

He stopped talking, as he heard a footstep noise in the hallway of the building. The door of the apartment flew open. John didn’t even watch, and kept his eyes on the wide screen.

“Can’t I write in peace, for God’s sake?” He thought. Stefan was so captivated by his TV series that he didn’t even notice what had just happened.

“Guys!   Guys!  A girl yelled.”

He turned around. Monica, their next door neighbour and friend, had just entered the room, seeming rather excited. She had just come to town, and was still unemployed. She had recently moved in from California.

“ ‘s’up  Mon’ ?” Stefan asked, without even looking at her.

“I just got tickets for the Blue Clouds ‘concert next Saturday! Do you think you guys could make it?”

“I’ll come” Stefan answered. “How many tickets d’ya have? I’d like to bring a date.”

“Oh! Sure!” Monica shouted, winking. ”Did you meet someone?”

“Yep! I met that girl at the coffee house last week… She’s kinda nice. By the way, I’m seeing her at 8 tonight.”

“Reet ! What about you John, will you join us?”

“No idea, let me see…” John said. He took a moment to think, as if he was thinking intensively of his answer, and continued :  “I think I will come.”

“Only one ticked for you I suppose?”

“Indeed, yes.” He answered in a gloomy voice.

“Dude, your private life is so boring” Stefan pointed. “I’ll have to find you a girlfriend!”

“What for?”, John asked.

“Cindy has some friends, we could double date! We could set you up!”

“A blind date?  How lame…”

“C’mon!”

“No way!”

“Drop it, Stef” Monica interrupted. “You know Mr Boring is not gonna change his mind.”

“Unfortunately, I think you’re right…” Stefan said.

“And that is for the best.” John added.

“If you say so…” Monica replied, in a mocking voice which showed clearly that she disagreed. But John decided not to react to it. For a little while, nobody talked. Monica was watching the TV, even though she couldn’t hear anything. John wanted to keep writing, but he couldn’t find inspiration. Therefore he was staying, thinking, immobile in front of his screen.

The door of the apartment was still open, so they saw the door in front of it opening. A tall blond-haired girl crossed the hallway. They all recognized Sue, Monica’s roommate, who was a copywriter, in a famous advertisement company.

“Hey, you’re there!”

“Hi Sue”, answered the three friends in one voice.

“I’m going out for a walk in the park! Anyone wanna come?” Sue proposed.

“Sure!” Stefan replied.

“I’m in!” Monica shouted.

Once again, John didn’t answer until he was directly asked:

“What about you, John?” Sue asked.

“Hmm. I do not think I am going to join you.” He replied

“Please! We’re gonna have fun ! Come on!” Monica cheered.

“Okay” John gave up. “I am coming! Let’s go!”

“Great!” Sue said, giving him a charming smile. “Follow me!”

The four of them exited the room. The computer and television turned themselves down automatically as they closed the door with their electronic key. “I would not be able to write anyway, John thought. I am not very inspirited tonight… So let’s try to have fun!”.

 

The “Roosevelt’s” building, 125 Variel Avenue was one of the highest skyscrapers of Franklin, located next to the trade district of the town. Fortunately, it was rather close to the only park left in the town, the Pinkerton Park, as all the other ones had been replaced with building those late years. Nobody knew why this one was still opened, but everybody knew this was not going to last…

John and his friend enjoyed very much this park. It was a rather wide forest, with great, although not numerous, trees. They really liked walking slowly along the Harpeth River, which crossed the wood. They would often stop for a while on a bench, in the shadow of the trees, and talk for hours, listening to the soft sound of the water running, forgetting about the rest of the world, this urban civilization, for a moment.

And that’s what they did this morning, under the waking sun of summer. As usually, Stefan and Monica were leading, cheering.  They enjoyed running, or squabbling.

“Those two really fit together…” John thought. “They’re both as excited, as bubbly…”

He had a look on Sue. She was more calm and serious, even though she was generally fun and joyful.

“The perfect mixture…”

He surprised himself by thinking that. She looked back at him, as if she had felt that he was staring at her. John felt rather embarrassed and uncomfortable, but her smile and her calm gaze calmed him down quickly.

“So, John, what’s up with you?” she asked.

“Not much, to be honest… Just work, the same old routine…”

“Oh… well, just tell me about your work! For instance, what kind of trial are you working on at the moment?”

“Well I am defending this guy, who is accused of having stolen in a hardware store. It should not be very difficult, the accusation does not have any proof, and all the witnesses are on my side. There is a little problem, however. My secretary told me that she had received a threat letter, from one of my first clients, whom I could not prevent from being sent to jail. She says he has just been liberated, and that he is very angry, and reproaches me with not having defended him well enough last time… That should not be a problem though, she said the police was on the case, and I have more important thing to worry about. My next trial will involve a very rich businessman, and I could make a lot of money from it…”

“That’s great! I really hope you’ll get it!”

“I hope so too… Anyway what is up with you?”

“Well… Not much at work, it’s a pretty empty period. But I’ve some news! My sister is coming to town Wednesday, I’ll show her around. I hope you guys will be kind with her.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that…”

The conversation went on all the morning, while Monica and Stefan were singing aloud the last/latest songs of Monica’s favourite band, the Blue Clouds

As the middle of the day approached, they decided to have lunch in an Italian restaurant, in the park.  The sky was still clear and blue, therefore they chose a table outside.  Usually, John didn’t enjoy very much other people’s company, but he had to admit that on that day, he was having fun.

They spent the afternoon on their favourite bench, watching people come and go, chit-chatting for hours. The sky was turning crimson when they realized how late it was.

“Crap, time flies! Gotta go, my girlfriend must be waitin’ for me. Hope I won’t be late.” Stefan shouted.

“Okidoki, have fun sweetie!” Monica cheered.

“Have a nice evening.” John said.  “And by the way, I believe that when you are back, I will be sleeping. Please be careful and do not wake me up.”

“No need to worry, dude. See ya guys.”

He left. The others did not stay very much longer. Therefore, John came back home with the girls. They had dinner together in John’s flat, and then watched TV for a bit, even though he didn’t like that. It was so hot that they let the door open, in order to cool the room. They still didn’t have an air-conditioning system…

It was a comedy, and they laughed hard and had a lot of fun together… When the movie was finished, Stefan had not yet come back. The girls went back to their apartment, and John went to bed, even though it wasn’t very late. He fell asleep rocked by the regular sounds of the vehicles down in the street.

 

He woke up in the middle of the night. He had a big weird feeling, but he could not tell what the cause of it was. No noise was disturbing the silence. The atmosphere seemed odd to him, although he could not say why. Moreover, his sight was strange. The shapes were blurred, and their outlines seemed to be slowly moving. It was surely a hallucination due to tiredness…

He tried to go back to sleep, but he did not manage to. He felt as though he was much stressed, yet he was not. He was beginning to get a headache. Moreover, he felt nauseous. He got up, in order to open the window and breathe a little fresh air.  But weirdly, when he put his hand on the window handle, he didn’t manage to open it. Moreover, the handle felt weird, as if it was a little sticky.

“What is happening to me?” John thought. “What is the matter?”

He tried to take his hand off the handle, but he wasn’t able to. His hand was stuck. He pulled stronger and stronger and yet it didn’t work. His sight was getting warped, and everything was getting upside down in his mind. He felt as if he was going to faint.

“Stefan!” He yelled. “Stefan! Something is wrong! Come on and help me, please!”

But there were no answer. Suddenly, everything became normal again. His hand left the handle, and his sight, although a bit blurred, became regular.

“What the hell is happening?” he mumbled.

He ran through the room, and blew the door, which flew open. He wanted to hurry before he had another “crisis”. Yet it was too late. He felt as if the floor was shaking under him, and as if his legs weren’t going to support him much longer. Everything was shaken up in his head, and he couldn’t think clearly. He had forgotten who and where he was, what he was doing, and so on, while the world seemed to be turning around him. The pain in his head was getting more and more important.

Then, without any warning, everything went back to normal. He was John Chip again, he was in his flat, and he had to find Stefan to tell him he was sick. He ran into Stefan’s room. The wallpapers, usually light blue, seemed to be very dark, and more red than blue. Moreover, the window had disappeared. But the weirdest thing was that Stefan was in his bed, lying, silent. Even his chest didn’t move:  he wasn’t breathing anymore.  John tried to feel his pulse, but he did not manage to: his roommate was dead. He couldn’t help screaming.

“Help!” he yelled. “Please, someone help us! ”

“The phone” he thought then. “I have to get the phone!!!”

Once again, he hurried into the living room. Most of the pieces of furniture weren’t there anymore. The colours of room were fading. But John didn’t even notice it, in his obsession to find the phone. He found it on the floor, in the middle of the room. He tried to catch it, but his hand went through it, as if it was water. He tried again, and again, and again, but without any result. How many times had he tried this? How long had he been in this room doing this? He had no idea. But finally, he managed to grab it. He turned it on, dialled 911. He put it on his ear. It felt very sticky. But there wasn’t any dial tone. He tried again a couple of time, but it didn’t work either. He didn’t know what to do…

“Please…” he shouted, almost crying.

When he looked around, the room was empty. There was only a door left, the hallway door. The pain in his head was getting very intense, and he felt blood in his throat. He wanted to puck very badly.

“Sue…” he whispered. “Monica…”

The floor was shaking very badly. John felt very weak and hot. He ran into the girl’s apartment. It was also empty, and profoundly silent. For the first time, he noticed that all the colours had disappeared: everything around was grey. But contrary to his apartment, there were some doors. Indeed, there were about a dozen of them. He tried one randomly.

The room he entered was empty, except for a bed in which a girl lied. She did not have a face, and all the features of her visage were erased. He recognised Sue from her nightdress. He cried bloody murder. He went to check if Sue was alive, but obviously she was not. He looked around. The walls had disappeared, and instead there was a white smooth floor as far as he could see. When he wanted to see if Sue was still there, he noticed that the bed had disappeared too. He screamed, but no noise was coming out of his mouth. The pain in his head was unbearable. How long had he been trying to scream like that? A minute? An hour? A day? A month? A year? He didn’t know, and didn’t care.

 

All of a sudden, he was in his bed, sweating and breathless. He didn’t know why. Had he just woken up? Was all this just a very terrifying and realistic nightmare? He was almost sure that it wasn’t. Even though his headache was gone, he had still a weird indescribable feeling.

He looked around and saw that the room was as usual, plunged in a majestic silence. Still worried and panicked, he got up and went out of his room. The living room was also normal, except for a detail, which, however tiny it was, John noticed immediately. Stefan’s houseplants were not there anymore.

“Weird” he thought.

He tried to open Stefan’s room’s door, but it was closed. He tried a couple of times more, yet his trials were to no avail. It was really odd, since Stefan never locked his door.  John started to freak out. When he gave up the idea of opening the door and turned around, he was once again in a weird place, with the white smooth floor that went right to the horizon. There was only a door next to him. He began to run, as fast as he could, without having any idea of where he was going.  Yet the only thing he could see what that white floor. He had to escape. There was that weird need inside him to go anywhere but there. Then he ran, and ran, for hours.  Or maybe days… He ran as long as his body allowed him. But it wasn’t enough… There was nothing but white everywhere… Exhausted, he fell down on the floor…

… And was back in his bed.

“What the hell are those? Nightmares? No, this feels too true to be only dreams…”

Moreover, he was still exhausted, and worried. Furthermore, the weird feeling inside him was more intense than ever. His sight was blurred again. Frightened, he ran out of the room. Once again, the living room was as usual except for a little thing: Stefan’s room’s door had disappeared.

He decided to try to get out of the building. He entered the hallway. But it seemed weirdly long. He kept walking towards the stairs, but he wasn’t coming any closer. He hurried, and began to run. He was completely lost. He ran for a very long time, yet he was still very far away.

And all of a sudden, without any warning, he was near the stairs.

“Oh my god, what the hell is all this about?” he thought. “I need to go down two floors.”

And he began to climb down the stairs. His feet seemed to sink in the steps. But surprisingly, the stairs were as high as usual, and he was on the first floor before he realized.

The steps were now slippery, and John almost fell down a couple of times. He managed his way to the entrance door of the building, and went out. He couldn’t help screaming from despair when he saw what was outside…

Nothing but void. But a white void. White everywhere, all  around. He was starting to have a neural (nervous? Or do you mean “neural”)  breakdown. He fell on the floor and cried for hours, his head in his hands.  When he raised his head back, he was in his bed.  He had a look around, and saw the corpses of Stefan, Monica and Sue on the floor of his room. He screamed more than he had ever screamed, for what seemed to him more than an eternity.

 

Suddenly, he realized something he hadn’t noticed before. He wasn’t breathing, and hadn’t breathed since he woke up. And then he understood. The others were alive… but he was dead.

One thought on “Afterlife

  1. Pingback: Short stories index | AMadManWithABlog

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