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Reboot - Part III posted


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Part I

 

 

 

Isla reluctantly pulled herself from the hazy twilight between sleeping and waking, forcing her body upright. Yawning, she glanced beside her. Isaac was awake, staring at the ceiling with his mouth slightly open. He looked puzzled.

 

 

 

Whats up? she asked him.

 

 

 

Isaacs eyes flicked toward her, then back at the ceiling. Nothing, he said. I had a funny dream. He grimaced.

 

 

 

Well, you look funny, Isla said. Dont lay there too long, youll be late. She rolled out of bed, slipped into a dressing gown, and headed for the bathroom.

 

 

 

Five minutes later, she entered the airy kitchen to find Isaac staring into the cupboard. Cereals gone, hun, she said. Isaac jumped and looked round. You sure youre okay? Isla eyed him. He was still wearing only a pair of boxer shorts, and his hair was a fetching mess. In other words, he looked like he had just rolled out of bed.

 

 

 

Yeah, fine, he mumbled, closing the cupboard.

 

 

 

Go get a shower and Ill throw some toast in, she said. He obediently shuffled off.

 

 

 

A mere few minutes had passed, during which Isla had put on some coffee and sat down to review her days schedule, when a loud clunk! issued from the vicinity of the bathroom.

 

 

 

Isaac? Isla stood abruptly. Isaac!

 

 

 

When she arrived at the scene, Isaac was sitting on the floor of the tub, rubbing his head, while water from the showerhead cascaded around him. What the hell happened? said Isla, reaching to turn off the water.

 

 

 

Isaac looked up. His eyes were out of focus. I slipped on the soap, he said, sounding surprised. He shook his head a few times, as though trying to rid his ears of water.

 

 

 

Isla kneeled beside the tub. I really dont think you should go to work today, she said, reaching out to fiddle with his waterlogged hair. Youre coming down with something.

 

 

 

No, Im fine, said Isaac. Ive just had a bit of déjà vu. He stood.

 

 

 

Isla stood with him and planted her hands on her hips. Those crazies and their projects can do without you for one day. Really, Id have thought they have all the funds they need by now, but they keep sending you off -- hey! Are you listening? Isaac had been occupied with covering himself with a towel and was now attempting to push past her.

 

 

 

I have to go to work today, he said. Theres something I need to do. He stopped. Isla backed up to the door, but there was no need to block it. Isaac was standing rigid. His eyes slowly widened.

 

 

 

Isaac?

 

 

 

He looked at her then with such horror that she took a step back. Like I said, you really -- dont go in today -- she stammered.

 

 

 

Isaac rushed forward. With a squeak Isla dove to the side. Isaac flew past her, dropping his towel, and began flitting about their bedroom, opening drawers and pulling on clothes with frightening speed. Miraculously they all matched reasonably well. Isla had barely recovered her voice when he rushed from the room. Isaac!

 

 

 

Isla dashed after him. Wait! She skidded into the foyer to find Isaac standing before the open front door, gazing out into the chilly, misty morning. Isaac!

 

 

 

He turned slightly, gazing at her with that same horrified look. He was breathing hard. Please, said Isla. Whats going on?

 

 

 

Isaacs jaw worked, as though trying to chew glue. He swallowed. Im sorry, he said, and ran from the house.

 

 

 

---

 

 

 

Will be a complete short story, I just thought it would be too long to post in one go so I'm breaking it up and posting as I write. Now it looks too short, but whatever. It will end, unlike some other things I've done . . .

 

 

 

So, uh, yeah. Not much right now, more will come. In the meantime you can tell me if it piques your interest or just bores you.

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Veeery interesting. I'm certainly puzzled ::' I like the mystery of what the heck's happening to Isaac and its contrast with the pretty everyday life of rolling out of bed, getting dressed, having cereal, going to work etc. Deepens the mystery you might say :P

 

 

 

The first thing that struck me is that what you're trying to convey in the very first sentence is crammed into a space much too small. I know it's supposed to be a short story, but to get that real hazy, sleepy, semi-conscious feeling of just waking up I think more than a sentence will be needed - especially between sleep and getting out of bed. And I think that'll make it more ... dramatic? when Isaac starts acting really oddly. Anyway, I like it : ) Looking forward to Part 2!

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Part II

 

 

 

Isla looked at the truculent youth sitting across from her and sighed. Reviewing her tables that morning, she had been mildly pleased to see Jeremy was the first patient of the day. The fourteen-year-old was a challenge, and she liked challenges. And really, he was a charming boy.

 

 

 

That was before Isaac had taken leave of his senses. Left with no other alternative after he had left the house, Isla had gone to work. Now she was a bit preoccupied, and that was no state to be in when dealing with troubled kids.

 

 

 

Jeremy, she said, trying her best to sound patient, Ive told you many times youre just being stubborn.

 

 

 

And Ive told you I dont care, he said with narrowed eyes. Leave me alone. I dont want to come here.

 

 

 

His dress was evidence enough of that; he looked as though he had just been rescued from the street that morning. Isla, in contrast, was as snappily dressed as usual, with a clean white blouse and dark slacks. She matched well with the crisp space in which they were talking. She always thought the room was too sterile, too austere, and she would request a more casual setting for their next session. It might help somewhere down the road, though not today.

 

 

 

Isla changed tack. I have reports that youre a bully to the other kids, she said. Why is that?

 

 

 

He looked puzzled. Why? he repeated. Because I can.

 

 

 

So youre a sadist?

 

 

 

Jeremy scowled. No, he said. That was the bosses. The other people. They hurt me just because they could.

 

 

 

And so thats what youre doing?

 

 

 

No! Jeremy leaned forward. I dont -- I have a right! I suffered too much, and I want people to know what it was like.

 

 

 

Jeremy, just because you were wronged doesnt mean you can take it out on others. I dont.

 

 

 

No one else has -- wait . . . You? Some of the anger left Jeremys face, replaced by curiosity. What happened to you?

 

 

 

Isla gave him a small smile. I was like you, not too long ago. I lived on the streets, trying to get by however I could. I sometimes had to cling to gangs, and the stuff they made me do -- selling drugs, breaking into houses -- was bad enough. Sometimes, when I was completely on my own, I had to sell my body. It was a terrible way to live.

 

 

 

How did you end up here?

 

 

 

I was rescued, just like you. Isla reached across the table to pat his hand. I was very lucky that a nice young man named Isaac found me. He helped me get a normal life.

 

 

 

Jeremy was gazing at his own hand, on which Islas rested. What happened to him?

 

 

 

Isaac? Were engaged.

 

 

 

Jeremy looked up sharply. Isla had to hold back a laugh. She was finally making some progress. But Isaacs behavior preyed on her mind, all the more for reliving the circumstances in which they had met. Her smile for Jeremy was genuine, but she was terribly afraid.

 

 

 

Tell me more about what you did, Jeremy said. What exactly did they make you do? What about selling --

 

 

 

Why dont you tell me exactly what they made you do?

 

 

 

Jeremy looked at her silently for a moment, then averted his eyes. They mostly used me as a lookout, he mumbled. I had to stand at corners and make sure there was nobody around when they did things, like breaking in to houses. Sometimes they met with people I didnt know. I heard gunshots, once. He shifted in his chair.

 

 

 

Did you ever participate in these things?

 

 

 

I had to, he said. Or they beat me. I tried to get out of it, he said, looking at Isla with something like pleading. But they didnt hold back. Eventually I stopped resisting.

 

 

 

Jeremy, listen, Isla said, gripping his hand gently. That doesnt make you a bad person. And being a bully -- that doesnt make you a bad person either. Youre here, arent you?

 

 

 

They were interrupted by a knock at the door. Miss Hayes? said the voice outside. Theres a call for you.

 

 

 

Ill be back, she said with a smile and another squeeze. She left Jeremy with the beginnings of tears at the corners of his eyes.

 

 

 

The orderly directed her to the phone at the front desk. Hello?

 

 

 

Miss Hayes? This is Dr. Cuomo, from M.E.S. Your fiancé, Isaac, he hasnt reported in today, and no one answered at your residence. Do you have any idea where he is? He is needed today.

 

 

 

I -- what? Islas heartbeat quickened. He left the house this morning saying he was going to work.

 

 

 

Well, I assure you, he is not here--

 

 

 

Im coming down.

 

 

 

Sorry?

 

 

 

Im coming down there, and youre going to explain to me what you have him doing and why he woke up this morning in a complete daze.

 

 

 

He did what? Im sorry, Miss Hayes--

 

 

 

Isla hung up.

 

 

 

---

 

 

 

Thanks for the thoughts, I'll do final edits once the whole thing has been written.

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I love how the reader finds out a lot more about Isla through that conversation. It's so much more interesting to have the reader discover things like that without simply telling them point-blank.

 

Can't wait for part 3 : )

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Part III

 

 

 

Isaac shut the car off. His head thumped against the seat as he closed his eyes. The chilly fog of the morning had burned away, leaving where he was in no doubt. He had driven aimlessly for an hour, but he knew he would eventually end up here. He had known since he woke that morning. The image was too clear in his mind for him to mistake.

 

 

 

Reluctantly he opened his eyes and turned his head. The old apartment building across the street looked as it always had, ever since he began coming here. It was purportedly deserted, but Isaac knew that if he were to open the dented old garbage can that sat near the corner of the building he would find a layer of fresh refuse at the bottom: beer cans, fast food wrappings, and other, more questionable things.

 

 

 

And the sidewalk; it was festooned with its normal complement of age-old graffiti, some of which climbed the walls of the building as well. Isaac had always admired the artistry it contained, and thought graffiti deserved a better reputation than it got. His eyes were drawn to one particular place: a twisting mosaic that depicted the Ascension, beginning on the sidewalk with a crowd of upturned faces and crawling up the wall, where Christ floated up to Heaven.

 

 

 

The scene was as it always was, yet it was not complete. Isaacs gaze lingered on the Ascension. His fists clenched in his lap. He forced himself to look away and get out of the car.

 

 

 

He stood for a long time simply looking. He knew he had already been spotted. Sooner or later he would have to act, and leaving now wasnt an option. Suddenly it seemed foolish to have come. He should have stayed away. But he needed out, he knew that now. This would be his last visit. In any case, he was expected.

 

 

 

Isaac started across the street.

 

 

 

Upon reaching the door, he hesitated again. Was this the wrong course of action? Didnt he know that the door would open -

 

 

 

Sup, Ike?

 

 

 

Isaac jumped. The door had swung open to reveal a young man, half-dressed a puffing on a cigarette. He grinned. Hey, Kev, said Isaac.

 

 

 

Come for the order? Youre earlier than we thought you would be. And what was with all the waitin around? Kevs eyes narrowed. You havent ratted us out, have you? Eh?

 

 

 

No, no, Isaac said quickly. I just came straight here.

 

 

 

Didnt want to deal with them crazies, huh? Dont blame you. Well, come on in and well seal this deal.

 

 

 

Uh, about that . . . Isaac began, but Kev had already turned away, beckoning casually for him to follow. Warily Isaac did. He was beginning to sweat. This might not be as easy as he had thought.

 

 

 

Kev led him up a few flights of stairs and a hallway, a familiar route. They entered a room where another man reclined on a couch, also smoking and watching ESPN. He looked up briefly when Isaac and Kev entered, then proceeded to pay them no mind.

 

 

 

Kev gestured to a corner, where a small plastic grocery bag sat innocuously next to an empty plant pot. The drugs are there. Theres quite a lot of it, and thats a lot of money, as I told you before. Them crazies better cough up. Say, he said, as though it had just occurred to him, you do have the money, right? Not going to them first and everything?

 

 

 

Isaac hesitated. Im not exactly here for that, he said.

 

 

 

Kevs eyebrows rose. Really? Why else would you be here? You been comin for a fix for years --

 

 

 

I dont use!

 

 

 

Well, then its all for the crazies. Which is why youre here, no? There was a gleam in Kevs eye as he spoke, but Isaac did not heed it.

 

 

 

No! Im done with this! Keep your drugs. Im out.

 

 

 

Kev looked flabbergasted. Out?

 

 

 

You heard me. My fiancé, I got her off the streets and now she works helping people -- kids -- in the same boat she was, and all this time Ive still been peddling out here, doing the dirty work for a team of white-coated hypocritical animals. Im done. I cant keep doing this anymore.

 

 

 

If youre done, said Kev quietly, then what do we do with these drugs here?

 

 

 

Sell them to someone else, I dont care. Theres plenty of market. Im not taking them. Isaac turned to leave.

 

 

 

He was grabbed violently from behind and slammed against the wall. He struggled, but was stopped short by the feel of cold metal pressed against his neck. Dont move. Evidently Kevs associate had decided to stir himself.

 

 

 

See, Ike, we cant have you leaving here, said Kev. With or without the drugs, now we cant really be sure you wont go to the cops. So youll have to stay while we decide what to do with you.

 

 

 

No! Isaacs face was pressed harder against the wall. He wasnt afraid for himself; he knew they wouldnt kill him. He knew, and as sure as he knew he would survive this, he knew it wouldnt matter.

 

 

 

---

 

 

 

Halfway done.

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