Awake

Submitted into Contest #43 in response to: Write a story about transformation.... view prompt

3 comments

General

This story starts the way it always ends; our hero, in his bed, watching a movie.


A gameshow is showing on the wall mounted big screen TV, but the sound of revving engines and punches being thrown is coming from the iPad resting on his chest.

Come to think of it - hero might be a stretch. 


The pale blue light washing over his face gives it a sickly feel, with red and puffy eyes, like a twelve round fight between sleep depravation and too much TV. There are no winners here.

Whatever action movie he is watching he doesn’t seem interested one bit. Why this man has two screens on at once we’ll never know. 

He slowly turns and looks at his iPhone charging on the bedside table. The clock turns 02.31 AM. The same time as the digital alarm clock behind it. A half empty can of coke stand there too - waiting.

The man sighs - or yawns. Who even knows anymore?

He returns to the small screen. The action still rages on. Probably a Vin Diesel movie.


As if somehow connected or puppeteered by the other - both the mans iPad and eyelids slowly start to turn downwards before finally coming to a stop.


Our hero is asleep.


* * * *



It’s unclear how many hours have passed. The sunlight is pushing against the blinds, brightening the room with some effort. Our sort-of hero, let´ s call him Tim, is still in bed, stirring, eyes moving below the lids. He senses something is amiss and opens his eyes. 

The room looks normal. As always not overly clean with two sets of clothes casually strewn across the floor, shirts and pants dropped like petals from a dying flower. Tim looks towards the window. The glass is bright, very bright. Must be cold out today.


Looking at his phone he sees the time is 10.45 AM. Usually he sleeps til noon. This is strange but not the reason he feels off. Lying there, feeling the air, he cannot figure it out.

Tim sits up and slips his feet out of bed, the floor is cold and at first he jerks them back in surprise before examining it with his toes. Yes, very cold. Odd.

 The alarm clock has gone dark but he doesn’t notice.


In the kitchen he opens the fridge and takes out a carton of milk and then some oats that he pours into a bowl of water. He places the bowl into the microwave and pushes the button. Nothing happens. Frustrated he leaves the room and checks the fusebox. Everything seems to be in order. 

When he goes to put the milk back he now realises that the light doesn’t go on when he opens the door. 

Back in the living room Tim turns the blinds to let in some natural light as none of the lamps in his apartment seem to work. It’s snowing heavily and must have during the night. The yard is completely covered and the sky is all white. He feels the radiator but finds it cool as well.


As he pulls his phone from the charger he sees the battery is down to 58%. It takes awhile to charge which is why he always has it plugged in during the night. This battery life won’t last long either. He tries to make a phone call but then sees - no service. This day is gonna suck.


Normally he wouldn’t venture outside on a day off - especially on a day like this with endless snowfall , but without TV or internet there is nothing to do at home. He has tried taking a shower but obviously the only water available was ice-cold. 

Tim dressed in a long winter jacket and a wool cap with last years Christmas scarf wrapped in layers around his neck. The colourful and itchy scarf was knitted by his aunt who had been "coping" with her divorce by terrorising the family with all-things do-it-yourself. The downstairs storage was filled various kinds of home-made scented candles, sweaters with arms in different lengths and a big red dog with a zipper across its belly.

”You can use it to store letters”, she had once told him with white-wine breath and eyes red from straining.

”Yeah”, he thought. ”Because people write letters these days.”

At first he had left the apartment without the scarf but quickly returned for it when he felt how cold it was. He took his gloves as well.


It is a really bright day. Tim tries to look at the windows of the houses he passes to see if anyone has their lights on but can’t make it out. Most likely this blackout affects the whole area. He decides to walk to the centre to see if he can find any information. Usually there’s a note posted outside the library if there is anything the community should know about. Last summer a young girl had gone missing. Tim read about it online, apparently they would form a search party and gather by the library. He hadn’t signed up and the girl had turned up on her own. 

He sees a man shovelling snow. The man looks about sixty and his breath rises like steam. They nod politely at each other. Both aware of how insane it is to be out right now. 

Tim continues towards the centre - houses to his left and forest to his right and he is now forced to pulse through the snow. This path is usually stomped neatly by a thousand feet but apparently he is the first one here today. It feels like he’s pulling part of the world with him with each step.

Suddenly he stops. Before him, no farther than nine feet, smelling the air, thick with winter coat - a hare. Both species just stands there, aware of each other but unaware of what it means. Tim looks at the tiny animal. The hare, eyes like black marble, peer back. 

Then without warning - the hare hops off, in between buildings, spraying snow in its wake. Tim smiles, he hasn’t seen anything like that since he was a kid, and then continues along his self-made path.



* * * *


The convenience store has not opened even though it usually opens at 8. There is a small group of people outside and Tim can hear them murmuring and venting their frustration as he passes. A large man in an even larger jacket is knocking hard on the mechanical doors and tries to pull them open. A lady in a black furry hat tries to stop him. Too early for vandalism apparently. None of the stores seem open and even the seven eleven sign is dull and lifeless against the bright white snow. The library has the security shutters down. No information here.


Around the corner from the cinema a bridge leading over the train tracks now hangs like a gigant frozen arm. Tims stops in the middle and looks down at the station. There are people down there and one dark train that just stands there, unmoving like an artinstallation. Some of the would-be passengers have given up and started making their way up the still-standing escalators while some people still cling to a fading hope.

Tim just stands there. Watching. Thinking. In a cloud of his own breath. 


It is snowing hard now. And it's freezing. The fingers of his gloves have become cold and stiff and he has balled his hand up inside to keep them warm. It doesn’t do much good. What should he do? Wait in his apartment for the power to come back? But there’s nothing to do there, he thinks. That would be boring. He could go for a drive of course. The roads must be somewhat cleared by now as people are still going to work right? Also, in this kind of weather, the snowplows start early so it shouldn’t be a problem. He checks his phone. The battery reads 40%.

NO SERVICE. 

Apple is the worst.


There is a pile of snow where his car should be. Had he known about the weather he might have put it in the garage, but getting it in there is a hassle and he can rarely be bothered. He should really take better care of his car, a neighbour has even commented on it, saying it looked like it was fished out of the water. That neighbour is also the one who drops his cigarettes down on Tims balcony. He has thought of collecting them and glueing them to his neighbours front door. But yeah, maybe not.

After pushing the wet snow off the windshield with some effort Tim tries the door. Its almost frozen shut but he manages to pry it open, the metal wailing like a ghost has been trapped inside and is finally set free. He tries to start the car but the engine is cold and only sputters and complains. The cable is connected to the heater outside but clearly there is no power there either. Tim turns the ignition again, and again, twisting the key more violently with every infuriating try. Then with a groan, the car starts. 


Turning out of the parking lot and into the storm almost feel like passing into another world. The wind has picked up and the snow is beating against the car on all sides making it hard to see. If another car was coming towards him Tim wouldn’t notice until it was too late. After a while on a deserted road, tires sliding and chewing their way through the ice, he sees a car that is left on the side of the road. Doesn’t seem to be any driver around, most likely he jumped ship. But who in their right mind would leave a car in the middle of a blizzard? He has probably been picked up, Tim thinks glancing over at his phone on the passenger seat. Surely he was able to reach someone. 

Battery life: 24% . 

NO SERVICE.

 Shit. 

The empty car looks like a dead animal, already starting to disappear under banks of snow as Tim drives by.


A sudden burst of light makes Tim look back on the road. The strong headlights from a meeting car rush towards him and they are coming way too fast. Realising that the other driver most likely could not see him either until it was too late, Tim steps on the brakes, tensing up like piano wire. 

The tires does not scream as the brakes force them into submission, there is no rubber burned against asphalt or springs stretched by suspension, they just glide like a bar of soap against the icy road. As the second car plows by in a cloud of snow, the turbulent air sends Tims car into a spin, and in a moment of terror he lets go of the steering wheel and presses his hands hard against the roof of the car, bracing for impact. The car slams into a snowbank and slides into a ditch - pulling an avalanche down with it. Tucking it in. 

There is a moment where the snow sets around the car, when everything goes still, almost peaceful. If not for the howling wind.


* * * *


When the moment passes so does the breath that got stuck in Tims chest as his life passed before his eyes. He just sits there, panting and sweating, his hands trembling and heart pounding. The storm still rages on outside and the car shakes with every gust of wind. 

The engine has stopped and everything’s gone dark. After making sure he is not hurt or worse Tim turns the ignition and the dashboard lights up. He tries to open the door but the car is trapped. He could roll down the window, he thinks, but stops himself, Where would I go? What if I cannot get them up again. I would be snowed in in minutes. He decides to ride it out. 

His phone is still on the passenger seat. He picks it up and checks. NO SERVICE.

He slams it down again. God dammit!

Outside the snow crashes down, whipping the car with a million beads of ice


Later.


Tim is lit only by the lights from the dashboard - greens, yellows and red. The windows are completely covered now - icy blue. The windshield wipers are forever frozen in motion.

He fiddles with the radio but only gets static - not even a hint of the outside world. He can’t recall the last time he listened to music. It would be welcome now. 

Suddenly - the light flickers and the engine dies. Leaving Tim in darkness.

He grabs his phone. The display lights up. NO SERVICE.

Battery life: 8 %.


Tim EXPLODES. Sending the iPhone flying, hitting the steering wheel, pummelling it, shoving violent elbows against the windows, throwing his whole boy against the door. Screaming and cursing.


Later.


It's getting colder inside now. Tim is holding himself, trying to keep warm, shuddering as his breath escapes from his mouth like smoke. He looks over. The phone is on the floor where it fell during his tantrum. With trembling cold fingers he reaches down to get it. The display lights up.


NO SERVICE

Battery life: 2%


Tim looks at it - desperate.


He puts it on his knee. Slowly, as if it would help to conserve power somehow. The display still glows.


Tim looks.


Battery life: 2 - No - 1%


Tim looks.


The display goes dark.


Outside the blizzard still rages on. The cold winds still scream: 

- and now -


So does Tim.



* * * *


This story ends the way it always starts; Tims eyes snap open. He is lying in his bed with an iPad face down on his chest. On the wall the TV is still on. Muted host are interviewing a muted celebrity.

He can still sense the cold air around him, like he pulled it with him through the dream. But his room is warm, just perfect. He looks toward the window. The sunlight is pushing against the blinds, brightening the room with some effort. The glass is bright - must be cold out.


He sits up in bed. The alarm clock shows 10.45 AM. He usually sleeps til noon. Tim looks at the green glowing numbers for a while before getting out of bed. Something feels - strange.

As he is leaving his bedroom he shuts the TV off. The ghostly images on the screen slowly fade away.


Later.


The bed is made and two sets of clothes are neatly folded over a chair. The TV is still off and music is playing from the iPad on the living room table. Easy listening. 

The snow has stopped falling outside but the windows are still cold and frosted, yet inside, a warm light bounces off the walls. Our hero is resting on the couch, reading a book. A lit candle flickers close to him on the table, filling the room with dancing glowing sprites.

 Tim looks content. At ease. Happy. 


The iPhone next to the candle is no longer charging

- and is no longer turned on.


Our hero is awake.




May 29, 2020 17:45

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

3 comments

Daryl Gravesande
17:19 Jun 01, 2020

It's different from the usual hero story that's told over and over again. Also, my favorite part was when he had no service. You captured anger in that moment very well.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Daryl Gravesande
13:56 Jun 01, 2020

Yet another masterpiece! Your style is unmatched. You sir, are getting your old groove back! Also, I hate to self-promote, but I have a new story. Tell me what you think!

Reply

Jesper Jee
17:14 Jun 01, 2020

Thank you sir, although I have a feeling you are a master of hyperbole. Working in a new story now, same prompt as the one you picked. What did you like about my story?

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.