I hope you enjoy reading the first chapter of my new short story! After you've finished reading, please remember to comment with your ideas for the story's title and it would be greatly appreciated if you could share this with friends. I'll announce the winner on Tuesday, who'll receive a free copy of the completed short story in E-Book format once it's published on Smashwords! Also, if you feel so inclined, feel free to leave your honest opinions about what you've read and tell everyone what you liked or didn't like about it!
He woke up alone, grumbling. Something about going to work. He slowly stretched himself out and rose to a seated position. He fingers at the gritty hardness encrusted in the acute corners of each eye, grinding it away with his fingertips. Bending over, he picks up his clothes from the evening before, and stands up, getting dressed. He runs a coarse brush through tangles in an attempt to flatten out his remaining hair. He was balding in the front, or what you could say was a receding hairline. More like full retreat, he thought.
Driving now, he heads to work. He takes his badge and his headset with him to work everyday. He takes them with him when he leaves at night. His badge, a little piece of plastic depicting a similarly plastic-smiling picture of him. This dangled from a keychain on his belt loop. His headset, picture a cheap pair of headphones with little cushion between the resilient material and his cartilaginous ear, with a microphone jutting from a pliant rod reaching from the right earpiece. A long tail off of the left earpiece ended in a small rectangular end-piece that connected to a similar cable to attach his headset to the phone on his desk.
At work he talks. Very rarely about anything he's even remotely interested in. Sometimes about kids. Sometimes about cars. Sometimes about recent events. Alot of talk revolves around the weather in other parts of the country. Sometimes the world even. But he always has to repeat the same thing.
If it's summer, It's hot; if it's winter, it's cold. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Seems familiar, he thinks.
He gets to his desk and before he can sit down, his supervisor approaches him from the side. This guy was a high school hero, at least in his mind. But now he is a man with a proclivity towards positions of authority. He likes to feel the rush of being in charge of others. He loved the feeling, even fleetingly, of being in charge of someone else.
“Glad to see you're on time as usual. I could probably set my watch by you, you know?”
He stared at his supervisor with a countenance lacking interest as he waited for him to let him continue with his day.
“But enough chit-chat. Get logged in and get on the phone. We have customers waiting, always.”
He logs in using the various passwords for various programs. Pushing the limits of memory and evolution itself. A total of seventeen different passwords, some of which have inane rules for creation. Rules such as, “No dictionary words forwards or backwards, no proper names forwards or backwards, and no 2 characters may repeat; I.e be next to each other.” He thinks he should research whether this level of memory exertion led to higher suicide rates. Ultimately he decides this is probably too much effort and releases the thought into the mist-chemicals that scrub his brain, working to remove inconsequential information.
He waits for fifteen minutes before getting his first call. An angry, yet sleepy woman from Alaska. He tries to befriend her with a usual tactic of asking about the weather. She tells him to figure it out, and repeats that she is in Alaska. He reminds her he was already aware of this. She angrily hangs up the phone.
Feigning ingorance, he calls her back. In a voice very similar to that of someone who is actually concerned, he tells her he thinks they may have gotten disconnected somehow and apologizes. He asks how he can assist her.
She tells him she hung up the phone herself, that they weren't disconnected. She then instructed him to engage in coitus with with himself. She wasn't very polite.
She hangs up again and he laughs to himself quietly. He spends another fifteen, maybe twenty minutes waiting for his next call. He tends not to keep track too often.
This time, a woman sounding very distressed cuts him off before he can introduce himself. “I am Vizil, from Venzinnia. I'm calling from another world, very similar to yours. The more things change, however, the more they stay the same. I've come to warn you of impen-”
He interrupts her now, asking if she has any business with his company to talk about. She responds with confused and distressed-sounding affectation.
“This is the only communicator in your world I can speak upon! I must warn you, for you are in-”
He again interrupts her and tells her with bittersweet politeness that the phone line they are speaking on is only for official business with the company and gives her their number (if she should want to call back he says) before promptly hanging up on her. He goes on about his day, relating the story of the Other Universe Lady to his co-workers on his breaks and during lunch. Each of them share a similar story, though none of theirs depict a quite as cohesive person on the phone as with his version of events, let alone even half of them having spoke to a woman in their recountings.
After logging out and breathing a sigh of relief, he exits the building in mild anticipation of the relief awaiting him at home. He drives home just as listlessly as before, not particularly interested in getting there fast, but not wanting to take too much time either. Not really caring about much at all. Just driving on auto-pilot, letting his subconscious mind take the wheel. When he gets up the stairs and has his keys in hand, that's when he realizes he's gotten home. The whole time he was thinking about how much he hated the people he talked to everyday. Most of them anyways. He mostly hated ingratiating himself to idiots and having to force concern for the people calling him. He had wondered, when he was younger, why the tech support people had to ask if your computer tower and monitor were plugged in first before anything else. After he started working at this most recent job, he understood why. The sheer ignorance of people. He would never again be surprised by the sheer stupidity of any person ever again. He had been shocked too many times, and it had become quite common.
Then he realized he was about to unlock his apartment door. He chuckled a little to himself about the thought of possible death by his absent-minded negligence. Dying while deep in thought, while his vehicle screeched and crumpled around a telephone pole, he thought.
He unlocked his door and walked inside. Slamming the door and locking the handle, deadbolt and chain locks, he then switftly moved to hang up his jacket and then reach for the cold beer in his fridge. He pops the top and relishes the taste of his reprieve from soul-crushing work. After a twelve pack of 3.2% beer and four hours of binge watching WebPics, he passed out on his bed with nothing but his shoes and t-shirt on. But not before angrily thinking about having to do it all over again the next day.