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Speculative Fiction

I'll tell you how my routine goes about, I wake up every week day, just like the rest of them. I brush my teeth, and I get ready. I have my breakfast and go to office.

Then I slave throughout the rest of the day in my office. I come back, I have my dinner and sleep. This goes on for the five week days. And then come Saturday and Sunday. The entire week's sleep deprivation is compensated and before no time it's Monday.

What a boring story? Tell us something new, isn't that what I might get asked?

Yes, I probably would ask the same if someone told me that same old routine. 

If I'm gone now, my company will write a cheesy obituary email, and they would find a replacement within a few days. That's probably the right thing for them to do, they can't dwell on a commodity like me.

Yes, that's what I am. I am a commodity because they buy my time. And the time when I'm not at office, I'm either asleep or confused.

As my work is pretty tiring, I don't get any interesting dreams, and I'm certain that you aren't interested in reading about my sleeping posture and drooling habits.

The time when I'm awake, and outside my office, I spend thinking. I sit down with a cup of tea, and I think.

What's the point of my existence? I'm coming here to work every day but I'm a replicable commodity. As an individual, I don't really make a difference to the rest of the world. Then why was I born in the first place? Of course, I can't go back and ask my parents why they gave in to their urges, but I can't ask anyone about the purpose of my existence either.

As an individual, if I'm gone now, the world will go on. So why I go on now? As the cup of tea simmers away, these thoughts used to simmer in my head.

 But these were just stray thoughts that I got during the tea breaks. Otherwise, I was always occupied with my work.

But everything changed after the pandemic began. During the initial few weeks, I felt so relieved. That boring routine had been broken. 

But as luck would have it, another routine began. The dreaded work from home routine. A rat race began within my home. If I got a call while I was in the bathroom relieving myself, I had to keep a stopper on the gun and get back in front of my computer.

The routine of waking up, opening the computer, working throughout the day and falling back asleep at the same place, got me into an utter existential dread.

As I saw the flickering blue lights on my laptop, a thought crossed mind.

"If death is certain, then why live?"

I saw a rope on the side, and a ceiling fan on top. I peered out of my window, and saw the ten stories above the ground. I saw the floor cleaner that I had just used to clean up my house. I saw the huge bottle of sleeping pills which I had been taking to help me battle my insomnia.

Despite seeing all of them, I did nothing. I just continued working. This went on for months, but the pandemic didn't end just yet. A few months later, I couldn't see anything in my house except my laptop, the rope, the ceiling fan, the drop outside my window and the floor cleaner which I hadn't used for months.

I'm pretty sure that I had spent a huge chunk of my savings to buy a huge television screen and a satin sofa. But they were invisible. All I saw were the aforementioned objects.

It was November of 2020, when I first touched the rope. I tied it to the ceiling fan, and pulled it taut to make sure that it was secured firmly. But the ceiling fan fell when I pulled the rope. The fan was always switched on, and I guess it had worked too much.

I could feel the rope in my hand until then, I had sight of the fan which had fallen, but for some reason, they too became invisible.

I then turned to the floor cleaner. I opened it's cap and put the bottle to my mouth, but the bottle had become empty. Everything in it had evaporated. The bottle too became invisible. I remembered the hundred foot drop outside my window, but when I went there, there was no window. Just a firm brick wall. Slowly everything in my house began to disappear.

There was no door to enter or exit my house. Just a huge space surrounded by four white walls. And my office laptop was the only thing I could see.

It was 3:30 AM in the morning, somebody had messaged me to come online for an urgent client meeting. The house had become pitch dark, as all the windows had become sealed, and the lights ceased to work. I was sweating profusely, as I sat down for the important client meeting. But then I did something for the first time in three years since I had joined the company. 

The power button of the laptop, I pressed it down. Since my laptop hadn't been switched off for three years, I guess the power button forgot its duties. I shouted at the power button to do it's job. But just like it too was an inefficient worker, that needed to the told the same thing again and again, until the task is forcefully completed.

My laptop screen went blank. 

I waited for sometime before I could see a small stream of light coming out of the place where the front door used to be. As I went closer, the light grew brighter. The light grew brighter and then blinded me.

When I opened my eyes, I was on the main road of the city. No laptop strapped to my back, no phone in my hand, no headphones clamping down on my neck, and no thoughts in my mind.

I could hear the loudspeakers blaring down some pretentious political speech, I could see people scuffling amongst the traffic, I could taste the dust in the air, and I could smell all the pollution that come off the vehicle’s exhaust.

But none of that mattered, what mattered was that I could see, I could feel, I could hear, and I could taste.

What purpose do I serve with my existence? What’s the point of living when death is certain? Trying to find the answers to these questions had put me on an endless maze. But as I stood there, the desire to the find the answers to those questions, had died away.

August 27, 2021 22:29

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1 comment

Shea West
03:50 Sep 02, 2021

Hi Pasupu, You showed up in my reader's circle, so this is my first introduction to your stories. You have a very clear style of writing! I felt like I was reading one of those riddles your math teacher used to give in high school at first. As a reader I was trying to figure out if I were meant to guess who you were, but that faded away after some time. You'd described well the monotony of the work from home grind and the suffocation of what it feels like for many. If I were to offer any suggestions it would give a CW/TW for suicide. It d...


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