Batool

Submitted for Contest #60 in response to: Write a post-apocalyptic thriller.... view prompt

Sep 26, 2020

Drama Thriller Science Fiction

This story is dedicated to Batool Hussain on Reedsy Prompts.


She laughed wildly, crazily, manically.

There was no surprise there; she had been laughing like that her whole life. Ever since birth.

Because she, Batool, was a Laugher.

She felt more like a broken record, a puppet, a hyena. Her throat was sore day and night, and she wasn't sure how long it'd be until she couldn't speak. But she couldn't control it at all. She had to laugh. Batool didn't know what would happen if she didn't. Her body was simply designed to laugh, although her throat wasn't.

After the apocalypse, the government had created this system to introduce humor and happiness into their dry, traumatized world. They brainwashed all survivors, and everyone was given a role from the moment of birth. There were the Jokers, which had to make jokes about everything. There were the Laughers, which had to laugh at anything funny.

Then, there were the Sarcastics.

Batool wasn't exactly sure how to describe them. They were both, but at the same time, neither of the other two types. They didn't laugh or joke around. They smiled and made lightly sarcastic remarks. She'd never met one, so she couldn't exactly say.

Sarcastics were rare and were considered divine. They were allowed to play both roles but neither at the same time. They had a real choice.

Which, unfortunately, neither the Jokers nor the Laughers could say about themselves. Every Joker had to joke. Every Laugher had to laugh. Having a choice was simply unreal to everyone else.

Batool had decided to move to the very outskirts of their town, in a small cabin with abandoned neighboring houses. No Jokers lived there; they always lived in the center. They had always been the center of attention, so their jokes would be heard.

This way, she didn't have to laugh at all.

Batool didn't want to be a Laugher. She really didn't. As a child, looking out at the world through two innocent, unknowing eyes, everything was happy. Everything was funny. It was nice to laugh!

Now, she looked out at the world with hate. It wasn't fun to laugh anymore. She recalled all the times she had been sad, and a Joker had made a joke.

Through the tears blurring the lines of the world into shapeless smears, she had laughed.

These new roles had ruined laughing for her. She sipped her ginger tea, a feeble attempt at healing her scratched-up throat.

She was seriously considering Alteration.

It was completely and utterly illegal, of course. The government had carefully counted every Joker, every Laugher, to make sure there was one Laugher for every Joker. Changing one's role would tip the perfect balance that was the (only) pride of their post-apocalyptic world.

It was extremely costly, too. A scientist had found the essence for Alteration one day and had secretly spread the word, unbeknownst to the government. She had called it the Alteration Elixir, or the Arugula Express to prevent suspicion. Unfortunately, she had never gotten to try it on herself, as she passed away from mysterious causes soon after.

Batool had heard of both success and failure stories from the Alteration Elixir, but decided to try it anyways. Finally, being able to escape the role she had been stuffed into her whole life was worth a huge risk, wasn't it?

Batool decided to register for Alteration. She got an appointment soon after and had gotten no sleep the night before the day of.

She had to go into town, and that meant the possibility of encountering a Joker. That meant laughing, and she was nowhere close to the mood for that. It was time to be serious.

Batool stuffed her earbuds in, slipped on her coat and gloves, grabbed her wallet, and walked out.

She walked to the store as fast as she could, trying to avoid Jokers at all costs. She really didn't feel like laughing today.

Thankfully, she had reached the store with no interactions with Jokers. Batool looked up at the dusty, worn building, cringing as the blindingly neon green Arugula Express sign flickered. She wondered why the government hadn't taken a closer look, but then realized no one in their town would have enough interest in arugula to enter unless they knew its meaning.

She reached towards the door, fingers trembling from the cold. She couldn't wait to get inside and finally have some warmth. A strange feeling rang over her brain, and for a moment her fingers retreated from the door handle. She remembered what she was here for, and how important it was, and decided to go in anyway.

Batool was terrified, excited.

She entered the Arugula Express with high hopes.

It wasn't warm. It was freezing cold, perhaps even colder than it had been outside. Scratch that, it was definitely about 30 degrees colder in the building.

It was also completely pitch black.

Batool felt like someone else was watching her. She was familiar with the feeling, as she'd always been an outcast, stared at, talked about. She felt the eyes gazing onto her fumbling in the dark.

It was fine. It was probably a camera.

She didn't know where to go. She didn't know what to do. Batool pulled out her phone, thinking the light would help. Her numb fingers attempted to tightly secure it, but failed.

She dropped her phone with a splash.

Splash? Wasn't she indoors?

She kneeled down to grab it and felt a strange liquid around her hands and knees. The mysterious liquid smelled coppery, almost like... blood.

A chill fell over Batool's body, the possibility a burdening weight in her mind. She shook it off. It was probably the Elixir!

This wasn't scary... at all. The lights had been turned off for secrecy, and some Alternation Elixir had fallen onto the floor.

...Right?

Batool thought this to herself until she felt a cold hand on her back, long nails digging into her flesh.


(Note: Thank you for reading my story!! For the next few weeks, I am dedicating one story to each of my followers! I'm so sorry I've been so busy, this story was supposed to come out months ago~I apologize to Batool for making her wait so long for her story, and I apologize to my followers for making you all wait so long for any stories :) This story is fully dedicated to Batool Hussain; make sure you check out her account and stories! Thanks for all the support :D We're almost at 100 followers!!! Check out the rest of my stories, too! Thanks!!)

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218 comments

Avani G
15:08 Sep 26, 2020

Yes! I'm so glad you posted again! I love that you're dedicating followers! The ending was slightly confusing, but the descriptions were great! Nice job! :)

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Laiba M
15:36 Sep 26, 2020

Thanks! I'm actually going to edit the ending because both you and Zilla gave advice. What would you like me to edit to make it less confusing? Thanks again Avani!!

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Avani G
20:40 Sep 26, 2020

Hmm. Maybe you can add more details as to why she may be in trouble, but I think Zilla already mentioned it. Also, the ending was kind of rushed, so maybe try elaborating that part? Have a nice day! :-)

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Laiba M
00:22 Sep 27, 2020

Okay! There is a second part, so it was meant to kind of be rushed, but thanks!!

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Avani G
12:28 Sep 27, 2020

Np ;)

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Daryl Gravesande
02:16 Sep 30, 2020

DAMN THIS STORY IS GOOD, I love itttttt

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Laiba M
13:55 Sep 30, 2020

Thank you so much, Daryl!! It means a lot, haha~ What part did you like the most? Also, I came up with this idea on my own, what do you think about the concept? Thanks again :)

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Daryl Gravesande
14:11 Oct 09, 2020

The part where she went out on the town, and what she did. It was really entertaining to read! :)

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Laiba M
16:19 Oct 09, 2020

Thank youuu~~ :) Are you doing online school? How's that going?

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Daryl Gravesande
13:42 Oct 13, 2020

I am, and it's going well, thanks for asking :)

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Laiba M
14:01 Oct 13, 2020

That's good! I'm doing it too, but for me, it's so stressful TT_TT

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21:08 Sep 26, 2020

This is so cool that you are doing stories for your followers! I'm going to upvote ya, cuz you deserve it!! (Are you going to keep doing this? It's so awesome!)

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Laiba M
00:22 Sep 27, 2020

Thank you, Kylie!! I'm over 900 points now!!!

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19:16 Sep 26, 2020

Awesome story! You did a great job with the description!

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Laiba M
00:21 Sep 27, 2020

Thanks, Blair!!

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15:15 Sep 27, 2020

Of course!

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B. W.
16:23 Sep 26, 2020

This is honestly still really cute in a way that your making stories for your followers/friends on her. It is also still a really great story like your other ones and i'm excited to see more. I hope i'm not bothering you with this or anything but this weeks prompts/blast to the past would be my story right? i know you probably haven't even started or anything but ya kinda mentioned something a while ago about it and i'm kind of excited. I'm still not sure if your entirely wanting advice for the story but i'm not good at giving advice so i'll...

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Laiba M
17:07 Sep 26, 2020

Thank you so much, Hope! You're right, this week's story is yours~~ is there any special ending/role you'd like? You'll obviously be the main character, but would you like to be a protagonist? Antagonist? Advisor? Would you like a happy, scary, sad ending? You can choose :) Also, do you want me to call you B.W. in the story or Hope? I will be adding the same author's note at the end btw :D

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B. W.
17:11 Sep 26, 2020

oh gosh that's a lot but i can really choose that stuff?? i'm starting to think of what i want but still just wondering. The first thing that i've thought of is that you can call me B.W. in it and thats what the title would probably be, ya wanna hear the rest of the stuff?

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Laiba M
17:37 Sep 26, 2020

Yep! That sounds good! I'd like to hear the rest haha :)

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B. W.
17:45 Sep 26, 2020

alright here: I'd be the protagonist, i think i either want a sad or a scary ending maybe ya could do a mix of those two or something? That would really be interesting to see. My name would still be B.W. and so would the title but maybe sometimes people in the story would call her/me hope but would correct them to the other one?

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Laiba M
18:01 Sep 26, 2020

Okay, thank you!!

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Zilla Babbitt
13:45 Sep 26, 2020

You asked me to read, so here I am. This is good! You descriptions are enjoyable and your worldbuilding good. It’s an interesting thought, building a society on entertainment alone. The ending was nicely shivery, too :) If I were you I’d try to develop your idea about the Laugher/Joker world a little more. Why is the world built around that? How come the cynical people are divine? Do you think that in the future our society will be run by entertainment alone? As for the Elixir thing— if it’s illegal, why do they have a pool of it downtown...

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Laiba M
15:35 Sep 26, 2020

Thank you!!! I thought I'd elaborate more in the next part, since this is a story with multiple chapters :) This was just an introduction. Do you have any suggestions to make the foreshadowing scarier? Again, thanks a lot~~ it means so much, Zilla!!

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Zilla Babbitt
15:37 Sep 26, 2020

No problem! I’m interested to see how this goes. For the foreshadowing, you could have her look over her shoulder a lot, or think someone’s watching or following her, or hesitate before she enters the Elixir pool. Or all of these :)

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Laiba M
15:37 Sep 26, 2020

Okay, thank you!! I'll go ahead and edit it now~

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B. W.
22:31 Nov 02, 2020

Hey, i think that i could use some help with your character, because I'm going to go and add you into some of my novels :) I ain't sure if I've already told you this or not but eh, ill tell ya again just in case ^^

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Laiba M
23:11 Nov 02, 2020

Sounds amazing!!! Thank you so much, you really don't have to!

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B. W.
23:32 Nov 02, 2020

come on, your a good friend and I should do something for you ^^

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Laiba M
23:54 Nov 02, 2020

Thanks, Ri~~ :)

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B. W.
00:08 Nov 03, 2020

No problem ^^ so out of all my novels, which do ya wanna be added into?

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Laiba M
00:11 Nov 03, 2020

Huh. Probably the demi-god one!!

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Batool Hussain
18:01 Sep 26, 2020

This is purely sweet of you. I'm so, so, glad and of course honored, to have a story dedicated and titled after me. To say I'm over the moon, would be an understatement. Really. Okay now the feedback : this story was good, a clear proof of how you're getting better. Apart from what Zilla mentioned, I guess I have no more advices to give. If you don't really know of how to introduce a creepy character/make the story creepier which could go well with the ending, maybe try some crunched footsteps or someone talking in hushed voices. Star...

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Laiba M
18:04 Sep 26, 2020

That's really good advice, thanks!! One question, why specifically yellow? I'm fine with doing so, just a fun question :D Thank you and I'm glad you liked it!

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Batool Hussain
18:05 Sep 26, 2020

I have recently been watching a show in which they show the mystery man in yellow gloves. You could do the same with black gloves. No worries:) Edit: check out my bio, I mentioned you in it

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Laiba M
00:20 Sep 27, 2020

Thank you Batool!!

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B. W.
19:55 Dec 10, 2020

how would ya describe me?

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Laiba M
21:38 Dec 10, 2020

I would describe you as very sweet and considerate, funny, interesting, a shy extrovert, and just one of the best friends I could ask for on here :)~

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B. W.
21:59 Dec 10, 2020

Aw :)

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Laiba M
22:36 Dec 10, 2020

:) What was your first impression of me? Like the first time that I replied to your first comment to me. Also, how would you say your impression of me has changed ever since we've been talking for a few months?

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B. W.
22:37 Dec 10, 2020

First impression? I don't really know, but I guess one of the things was that I for some reason thought you were trying to flirt with me for some reason :/ though now, I think of you as a great friend and that your really helpful and fun to do stuff with ^^

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Laiba M
22:40 Dec 10, 2020

Aww, thank you :) Your words really mean so much!! I'm so glad we became friends :)) Random question time again~~ Who was the very first friend you made on Reedsy? For me, it's Avani Gupta.

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Sam T.
14:06 Oct 05, 2020

I'm so happy to read another story from you! As always, you were brilliant, i am totally surprised by this unique idea! I love this theme and this story was so intriguing!

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Laiba M
16:22 Oct 05, 2020

Thank you Sam~! You're always the sweetest, haha~~ Long time no 'see'! How are you?

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Sam T.
08:02 Oct 08, 2020

Welcome :) i'm fine! just busy... how are you? hope you're doing well <3

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Laiba M
12:02 Oct 08, 2020

Just like you, busy~ I'm stressed out! Online classes really give thrice the work :) Are you doing online classes?

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Sam T.
13:32 Oct 09, 2020

yes i am! and you're so right, online classes are stressful.

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Laiba M
16:16 Oct 09, 2020

They really are :) are you going to do anything for the upcoming Halloween?

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Cal Carson
01:28 Oct 03, 2020

Wow, chilling story! Worldbuilding is great. I agree with just about all the other comments when I say that making stories for your followers is a really fun idea. I loved the beginning, too. "She felt more like a broken record, a puppet, a hyena." Love that line especially. I'm totally looking forward to more because of that killer cliffhanger! Just a couple critiques: "Every Joker had to joke. Every Laugher had to laugh. Having a choice was simply unreal to everyone else." This sentence sounds to me that everyone OTHER than the J...

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Laiba M
01:36 Oct 03, 2020

Thank you so so much, Cal! I've just posted Part 2 of this story, dedicated to a different follower. I'd love if you read that, and I'll check out 'Red Ribbon'!

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Cal Carson
01:59 Oct 03, 2020

Great, I'll check it out!

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Laiba M
02:03 Oct 03, 2020

Thanks!!

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11:22 Sep 30, 2020

Wow! I really love this! So short yet so captivating!

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Laiba M
13:55 Sep 30, 2020

Thank you, Aldilla! Beautiful name, by the way :) Is it Arabic?

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14:18 Oct 02, 2020

Aw, thank you. My first name is actually derived from the name of a late Indonesian singer from the 90s--Nike Ardilla. But it does sound like Arabic!

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Laiba M
14:49 Oct 02, 2020

That's cool! My name is Arabic :)

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B. W.
17:15 Sep 29, 2020

Up-vote spree again? we can do as much as we can

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Laiba M
17:25 Sep 29, 2020

Sure!!

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B. W.
17:38 Sep 29, 2020

Yay and thanks ^^ i've already up-voted you a lot so im trying to find some stuff i havent done yet

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Laiba M
17:51 Sep 29, 2020

I upvoted all of the comments on my story Avani, there's a lot on there~

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B. W.
17:55 Sep 29, 2020

alrighty

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Laiba M
17:26 Sep 29, 2020

I'm just upvoting all of your comments I see on each story :)

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B. W.
17:59 Sep 29, 2020

no- i already up-voted a lot of what you said on the Avani thing

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B. W.
19:57 Sep 26, 2020

I just finished up with another story ^^ could ya go check out and leave some feedback on "My older sister?" ? it's kind of something with my demi-god series

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Laiba M
00:22 Sep 27, 2020

I am soon!!

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B. W.
00:28 Sep 27, 2020

Alright thanks ^^ i'm excited to see what ya think

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B. W.
22:25 Nov 17, 2020

I just thought of some more puns/jokes now ^^ ya wanna hear them or something?

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Laiba M
23:37 Nov 17, 2020

Sure! I also thought up a joke and thought of you the second I made it up, but I forgot because I made it up at 2 AM TT-TT

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B. W.
23:57 Nov 17, 2020

wait you did?

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Laiba M
00:18 Nov 18, 2020

Yeah :) I woke up in the middle of the night and I was like, Ri will love this! But then I fell asleep and forgot when I woke up :((

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B. W.
00:19 Nov 18, 2020

well, if ya did remember it, im sure I would have liked it like ya said ^^ it would be great

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Laiba M
00:55 Nov 18, 2020

Aww :) What were your jokes?

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B. W.
05:17 Nov 15, 2020

I think i need some help

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Laiba M
17:38 Nov 15, 2020

With what?

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B. W.
18:46 Nov 15, 2020

with making a new story and all that, ya know the adventure with friends thing?

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Laiba M
21:50 Nov 15, 2020

Oh, yesss! How could I forget such a great story? ;)

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B. W.
22:31 Nov 15, 2020

I think im gonna try to make a part 3 with one of the prompts :)

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Laiba M
01:02 Nov 16, 2020

Fun!! Sounds great :)

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B. W.
23:17 Nov 06, 2020

I think im still gonna try and upvote ya more if i can ^^

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Laiba M
00:05 Nov 07, 2020

Thanks!! I'm upvoting all your comments, btw~~

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B. W.
00:09 Nov 07, 2020

No problem ^^ Me and Abigail seem to keep switching between 3rd and 4th place a lot :/ I've been in 3rd place twice but it was only for like a few minutes :/

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Laiba M
00:12 Nov 07, 2020

Hmm, maybe it'll be permanent sometime ;)

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B. W.
00:50 Nov 07, 2020

I think that would be nice ^^

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B. W.
00:24 Nov 02, 2020

I feel terrible, i need someone to talk to

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Laiba M
00:28 Nov 02, 2020

What's up?

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B. W.
00:29 Nov 02, 2020

I just started feeling again that im probably annoying and rude to people on here

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Laiba M
00:49 Nov 02, 2020

Well, you're not! No one thinks of you as annoying. I do agree with Polly on a few things, and those are that how else would you have so many friends and followers, and people would have to like you to do upvote sprees with you~

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B. W.
01:01 Nov 02, 2020

man- i didnt read this fully because I was responding to some other people and when I saw you say "I do agree with Polly" i started to freak out thinking you did think that I was annoying and all that-

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Laiba M
02:00 Nov 02, 2020

Oh, no way!! I still can't believe she said all that...

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B. W.
05:59 Oct 31, 2020

It was kinda short lived for me with being in 3rd place, since now I'm back in 4th. though thanks for even deciding to help me and getting me there for a while anyway :)

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Laiba M
16:00 Oct 31, 2020

Oh, aww :( No problem! At least you're not in 5th like before :D

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B. W.
16:54 Oct 31, 2020

are you maybe still in the place you were at yesterday when I stopped up-voting you or did you end up getting down-voted or something?

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Laiba M
17:25 Oct 31, 2020

Let me check :)

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B. W.
17:29 Oct 31, 2020

alright ^^ i hope your in the same place

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Avery G.
23:38 Oct 06, 2020

Aww, this was so sweet! I love how you're doing different Reedsy friends every story! It was so good! Great job!

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Laiba M
01:18 Oct 07, 2020

Thank you, Avery!! Long time no 'see', haha~! How are you?

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Avery G.
01:20 Oct 07, 2020

You're welcome! Yeah, haha. I'm good, although I'm super busy with school. How are you?

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Laiba M
01:57 Oct 07, 2020

Very stressed~~ I swear online classes give thrice the amount of work in-person classes would give! With balancing a proper Reedsy story uploading schedule, all of my schoolwork, a social life, all my extracurriculars, and a healthy lifestyle, I am exhausted :)

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Avery G.
02:05 Oct 07, 2020

Yes, same with me. I can't upload Reedsy stories anymore because of school. I homeschool, but that doesn't mean I get less work. I still have some online classes that give a TON of work.

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Laiba M
02:40 Oct 07, 2020

Ahh, that sounds so stressful! I finally posted for the first time in months, and I've already promised two stories for this week! To give you an idea of my classes' workload, each class gives about 15 assignments per week, which is about 150 assignments per week total! It really is hard with online school, and I really do wish we could go back to in-person, but safety first :)~

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