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Sat 27/01/07 at 08:41
"Darkness, always"
Posts: 9,603
My eyes open almost involuntarily as consciousness slowly creeps in. The light coming in from outside is bright enough to overwhelm the thick, dark curtains, but my eyes seem already adjusted to it, as though they have been open the whole time. A thick beam of sunlight shines out of the right hand side of the curtains, highlighting an otherwise invisible shower of dust as it made its way to the floor.

Moving my head, the pillow below me feels damp. I lift away from it, and look down to see that it is soaked, with a wet indentation where my head had been laying. Again. I throw the cover aside, roughly, and get to my feet. A moment of rage washes over me as I stand up and I feel the urge to kick something, but resist. Dark patches on both the mattress and the covers bear witness to another night of cold sweats and discomfort. Discomfort accompanied by dreams so pathetically unrealistic and laden with self-indulgent fantasy that I can feel the stinging falsity even as I sleep through them. Then, when I wake up, the dreams fade, and the nightmare begins.

Standing naked in my bedroom, my skin feels clammy and worn, my hair is a bunched mess atop my head. My heart feels like itís taken a leave of absence and left a hole inside my chest, and I struggle to gather the energy to focus my eyes on anything. This is nothing extraordinary.
I navigate past the plethora of crumpled, dirty clothing and empty carrier bags littering the bedroom floor and make my way towards the door, which senses me stumbling towards it, and slides silently out of my way. I move out of the bedroom, across the hall and into the bathroom. As I shower away the sweaty remnants of another nights suffering, I donít feel strange, as I used to. I donít feel that what Iím living is an atrocity, an abomination. Iím too used to it all now - the sweating, the headaches, the dreams, the loneliness and self-loathing. Itís all just routine. Itís all that I ever experience, so how can it be abnormal?
Towelling myself dry, I glance into the mirror and see a face that I no longer recognise as my own. True, I must have almost two weekís beard growth hiding my features, but still, the eyes, the cheeks, look like those of a ghoul. I donít bother to shave or brush my teeth, and instead wander into the kitchen, dragging my feet along the way.

My body is beginning to awaken, and the actions are unconscious now as I take a glass from the cupboard and pour into it equal quantities of orange juice, lemonade and vodka. A vodka St. Clements as it was often known. I hate that. I donít know why it annoys me, but I canít stand it when people call orange and lemonade a St. Clements. Anyone worth their salt knows that a St. Clements is orange and bitter lemon. Irritated at the thought of the witless masses, the scowl that will accompany me for the remainder of the day etches itself across my visage. After a while, I notice that Iím staring, unblinking at my glass, my eyes swimming in and out of focus. They say that youíre always thinking of something, but right now, the only thing Iím thinking of is that Iím not thinking of anything. An empty mind for an empty soul. It takes all the willpower I can muster to stop gawking at the glass, lift my head and take the glass in my hand.

Taking a sip, I stare vacuously out of the kitchen window. As the cool liquid passes my lips, bobs on top of my tongue and the taste of vodka makes its presence felt, I notice that itís started raining again, the same dirty black rendition of precipitation that so regularly blights London in this day and age. Not surprisingly, I hate the rain. Some things I can get used to, others I can pretend are not there, but the rain is a powerful reminder that I donít belong here.

ďWhat day is it?Ē I say aloud.
ďThe date is Friday the 23rd of OctoberĒ comes the automated reply, in its typical Ďsoothingí female voice. At least the future is good for something. ďWould you like to hear the headlines from todayís news?Ē the voice continued.
ďNo.Ē Then again, perhaps not.

After standing in the kitchen sipping vodka for the next minute or so, I make myself a bowl of cereal without paying any attention to what Iím doing. Iím looking at nothing, focusing on nothing and thinking of nothing. I then sit down and vacantly chug down the milky cereal, interspersed with gulps of fruity, slightly fizzy alcohol.

Itís hard to gather motivation to do anything beyond this. The actions to this point are like breathing Ė autonomous and instinctive, although sometimes I feel that I need to make a conscious effort to take air into my lungs. Nothing is anything like what it was. I donít belong here. This whole world has become alien to me. Iím a relic from a forgotten age.
It was supposed to have been the best choice available. Diagnosed early with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis - Motor Neurone Disease Ė we took the option of placing me in cryogenic hibernation until a cure was found. Medical journals at the time claimed to be close to a cure, and it was believed I would only be in stasis for twelve to eighteen months. Thirty-four years later, here I am. Iíve been out for a little under three months, living in a world which bears almost no resemblance to the one I left behind.

For thirty-four years, Iíve been dreaming of my wife and family. Dreaming of life being back to normal and happy again. Iím told that itís impossible to have dreams while in cryo-freeze, but I know what I felt. And after all that time, I was awoken to the wondrous news that at last a cure had been found. The words had burned me as much as the absence of my family when they took me out. At last? They had expected me to be pleased, to be thankful. But they took me from the freezer into an alien world where my wife was long dead. A victim of a war which was years in the future, and yet even now a distant memory. My daughter was also a victim, though in a different sense. Gang raped during the brief occupation, battered and bruised, bereft of her sanity, she sits alone in a white room, drugged to the point where she barely recognises her existence, for her own protection. Itís difficult to imagine my little girl as I remember her going through such pain. She was only seven years old when I left. Such horror.

Only my son had persevered unharmed. He had been too young to fight when war had broken out, but had been a part of rebuilding the country, and had done very well for himself. Indeed it was he who had funded the pioneering research into the human brain which had led to a number of breakthroughs, including my cure. It had been extremely unnerving meeting him again. Itís obviously not natural for a parent to have a child nine years your senior.

I want to be grateful to him for never giving up and for striving with a childís enthusiasm for the secrets which would give back to him his father, but it is still difficult to adjust to my new life. My wife gone, my daughter broken and the world I knew ripped to shreds by the sands of time. I wish I could go back. To suffer, but at least to be with the family I remember, in a world that I recognise.

How can I be expected to live like this? The politics of today are so different, the technology a mystery and nothing feels familiar. I am a stranger wherever I go - the hospital, my sonís office or his apartment, in my own home. I donít belong anywhere, and I donít think I ever will again.

I empty my glass and go back through into the kitchen to refill it. It is then I notice the knife. Still on the floor where I had left it the day before. I put the glass down on the side and pick up the long, sharp kitchen knife. The emptiness in my chest swells to cover my entire body, only my hands feel life within them. I turn my hand to face the blade at my heart. This time. This time Iíll put an end to it, this time Iíll wake up, and the nightmare will end. The tip of the blade touches the skin of my bare chest. All I have to do is push.

Push!

My hand starts to shake as every muscle in my arm tenses. Some obeying my need, others refusing to accept the fate I have chosen for myself. The latter wins, as always, and in frustration, I throw the knife to the floor. Rage at my own pathetic incompetence takes over, and this time, the urge to wreak havoc wins, and in the background of my mind, I hear my empty glass shatter into a thousand pieces against the wall.

Standing naked in my kitchen, breathing heavily from exertion and my feet surrounded by shards of glass, I carefully step around the kitchen, take another glass and fill it with the same concoction as before. Without cleaning up the mess, I walk out of the kitchen, and into the lounge to sit and drown my sorrows.

What else can I do?
Wed 07/02/07 at 08:05
Moderator
"possibly impossible"
Posts: 24,985
Fantastic story. Very Twilight Zone/Outer Limits(in a good sense).
Wed 07/02/07 at 06:48
Regular
Posts: 938
Bravo :)

Your story successfully captures the essence of that numbness in post survival. The cryogenic freezing was such an excellent ecclectic twist.
Sat 27/01/07 at 08:41
"Darkness, always"
Posts: 9,603
My eyes open almost involuntarily as consciousness slowly creeps in. The light coming in from outside is bright enough to overwhelm the thick, dark curtains, but my eyes seem already adjusted to it, as though they have been open the whole time. A thick beam of sunlight shines out of the right hand side of the curtains, highlighting an otherwise invisible shower of dust as it made its way to the floor.

Moving my head, the pillow below me feels damp. I lift away from it, and look down to see that it is soaked, with a wet indentation where my head had been laying. Again. I throw the cover aside, roughly, and get to my feet. A moment of rage washes over me as I stand up and I feel the urge to kick something, but resist. Dark patches on both the mattress and the covers bear witness to another night of cold sweats and discomfort. Discomfort accompanied by dreams so pathetically unrealistic and laden with self-indulgent fantasy that I can feel the stinging falsity even as I sleep through them. Then, when I wake up, the dreams fade, and the nightmare begins.

Standing naked in my bedroom, my skin feels clammy and worn, my hair is a bunched mess atop my head. My heart feels like itís taken a leave of absence and left a hole inside my chest, and I struggle to gather the energy to focus my eyes on anything. This is nothing extraordinary.
I navigate past the plethora of crumpled, dirty clothing and empty carrier bags littering the bedroom floor and make my way towards the door, which senses me stumbling towards it, and slides silently out of my way. I move out of the bedroom, across the hall and into the bathroom. As I shower away the sweaty remnants of another nights suffering, I donít feel strange, as I used to. I donít feel that what Iím living is an atrocity, an abomination. Iím too used to it all now - the sweating, the headaches, the dreams, the loneliness and self-loathing. Itís all just routine. Itís all that I ever experience, so how can it be abnormal?
Towelling myself dry, I glance into the mirror and see a face that I no longer recognise as my own. True, I must have almost two weekís beard growth hiding my features, but still, the eyes, the cheeks, look like those of a ghoul. I donít bother to shave or brush my teeth, and instead wander into the kitchen, dragging my feet along the way.

My body is beginning to awaken, and the actions are unconscious now as I take a glass from the cupboard and pour into it equal quantities of orange juice, lemonade and vodka. A vodka St. Clements as it was often known. I hate that. I donít know why it annoys me, but I canít stand it when people call orange and lemonade a St. Clements. Anyone worth their salt knows that a St. Clements is orange and bitter lemon. Irritated at the thought of the witless masses, the scowl that will accompany me for the remainder of the day etches itself across my visage. After a while, I notice that Iím staring, unblinking at my glass, my eyes swimming in and out of focus. They say that youíre always thinking of something, but right now, the only thing Iím thinking of is that Iím not thinking of anything. An empty mind for an empty soul. It takes all the willpower I can muster to stop gawking at the glass, lift my head and take the glass in my hand.

Taking a sip, I stare vacuously out of the kitchen window. As the cool liquid passes my lips, bobs on top of my tongue and the taste of vodka makes its presence felt, I notice that itís started raining again, the same dirty black rendition of precipitation that so regularly blights London in this day and age. Not surprisingly, I hate the rain. Some things I can get used to, others I can pretend are not there, but the rain is a powerful reminder that I donít belong here.

ďWhat day is it?Ē I say aloud.
ďThe date is Friday the 23rd of OctoberĒ comes the automated reply, in its typical Ďsoothingí female voice. At least the future is good for something. ďWould you like to hear the headlines from todayís news?Ē the voice continued.
ďNo.Ē Then again, perhaps not.

After standing in the kitchen sipping vodka for the next minute or so, I make myself a bowl of cereal without paying any attention to what Iím doing. Iím looking at nothing, focusing on nothing and thinking of nothing. I then sit down and vacantly chug down the milky cereal, interspersed with gulps of fruity, slightly fizzy alcohol.

Itís hard to gather motivation to do anything beyond this. The actions to this point are like breathing Ė autonomous and instinctive, although sometimes I feel that I need to make a conscious effort to take air into my lungs. Nothing is anything like what it was. I donít belong here. This whole world has become alien to me. Iím a relic from a forgotten age.
It was supposed to have been the best choice available. Diagnosed early with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis - Motor Neurone Disease Ė we took the option of placing me in cryogenic hibernation until a cure was found. Medical journals at the time claimed to be close to a cure, and it was believed I would only be in stasis for twelve to eighteen months. Thirty-four years later, here I am. Iíve been out for a little under three months, living in a world which bears almost no resemblance to the one I left behind.

For thirty-four years, Iíve been dreaming of my wife and family. Dreaming of life being back to normal and happy again. Iím told that itís impossible to have dreams while in cryo-freeze, but I know what I felt. And after all that time, I was awoken to the wondrous news that at last a cure had been found. The words had burned me as much as the absence of my family when they took me out. At last? They had expected me to be pleased, to be thankful. But they took me from the freezer into an alien world where my wife was long dead. A victim of a war which was years in the future, and yet even now a distant memory. My daughter was also a victim, though in a different sense. Gang raped during the brief occupation, battered and bruised, bereft of her sanity, she sits alone in a white room, drugged to the point where she barely recognises her existence, for her own protection. Itís difficult to imagine my little girl as I remember her going through such pain. She was only seven years old when I left. Such horror.

Only my son had persevered unharmed. He had been too young to fight when war had broken out, but had been a part of rebuilding the country, and had done very well for himself. Indeed it was he who had funded the pioneering research into the human brain which had led to a number of breakthroughs, including my cure. It had been extremely unnerving meeting him again. Itís obviously not natural for a parent to have a child nine years your senior.

I want to be grateful to him for never giving up and for striving with a childís enthusiasm for the secrets which would give back to him his father, but it is still difficult to adjust to my new life. My wife gone, my daughter broken and the world I knew ripped to shreds by the sands of time. I wish I could go back. To suffer, but at least to be with the family I remember, in a world that I recognise.

How can I be expected to live like this? The politics of today are so different, the technology a mystery and nothing feels familiar. I am a stranger wherever I go - the hospital, my sonís office or his apartment, in my own home. I donít belong anywhere, and I donít think I ever will again.

I empty my glass and go back through into the kitchen to refill it. It is then I notice the knife. Still on the floor where I had left it the day before. I put the glass down on the side and pick up the long, sharp kitchen knife. The emptiness in my chest swells to cover my entire body, only my hands feel life within them. I turn my hand to face the blade at my heart. This time. This time Iíll put an end to it, this time Iíll wake up, and the nightmare will end. The tip of the blade touches the skin of my bare chest. All I have to do is push.

Push!

My hand starts to shake as every muscle in my arm tenses. Some obeying my need, others refusing to accept the fate I have chosen for myself. The latter wins, as always, and in frustration, I throw the knife to the floor. Rage at my own pathetic incompetence takes over, and this time, the urge to wreak havoc wins, and in the background of my mind, I hear my empty glass shatter into a thousand pieces against the wall.

Standing naked in my kitchen, breathing heavily from exertion and my feet surrounded by shards of glass, I carefully step around the kitchen, take another glass and fill it with the same concoction as before. Without cleaning up the mess, I walk out of the kitchen, and into the lounge to sit and drown my sorrows.

What else can I do?

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