Hey, everybody! This is my third entry on Reedsy! Have fun!
Warning: If you don't enjoy stories with unhappy endings and descents into "madness," then exit stage right, and have a good day! If the kind of stuff mentioned above is your jam, then go ahead and enjoy it!
It was the first day. They said it would be paradise, but all he saw was paper. And more paper. There was a tube attached to his arm, but otherwise, he was free to roam around. Not that there was much space anyway. The room had no doors. No furniture. All there was was a carpeted floor and a window with white curtains. They made it so that the room looked like Wallace’s own at home. It did mostly. There just wasn’t that feeling of warmth and love.
Eh. It’ll have to do.
The Coordinators had told him that it was his duty to bring peace to the universe by cutting out all of the bad parts of things. If he, a human who wasn’t even a teenager yet, was chosen to represent Earth, this was a decent place to do so. He didn’t need love. Not after what happened to his parents.
Wallace sat down on the ground, ready to get started. He wriggled his fingers and stretched. The tube was mildly annoying, but it didn’t hurt. He picked up a cartoon elephant and looked at the blank white paper surrounding it.
The first cut of the paper sent a burst of energy through his body. It felt strange, as if he needed to go on. The rush quickly went away, so he snipped again. Wallace gasped in amazement. He cut more and more, feeling rushes of excitement each time. It was as if he was being fueled with some sort of sugar.
Before he could completely get his bearings, a day had passed. He knew because the light had changed. But he still couldn’t believe how fast it had gone. Like a millisecond. Would every day be this way? Wallace was still riled up with energy. He wouldn’t need to stop. . . maybe ever.
It all went so quickly. He looked up at the only piece of decoration in the room to try to resist the urge to snip more.
The light from the window was yellow on the first day and caused everything inside the room to glow. There was always light coming from the window (how else would he see?) but it was always different, following the pattern of the colors of the rainbow. It was as if instead of having the sun just blast all of the light in the room together, they only let a seventh of the sun’s actual power come through. They told Wallace to ignore it, and that he was privileged to be one of the millions to power the universe. All he had to do was keep cutting. Ignore everything else.
Wallace picked up his scissors once again. He could do that, but. . .
It was hard when the command just wouldn’t stop.
It was the order to keep going. Their only motto, spoken in random intervals by a voice that sounded very much like a baby’s. Wallace tried to ignore the sound. The cutting was far more interesting. Then a thought came to his mind. What was a baby? He remembered hearing the word somewhere, but it seemed distant now. How could I forget what a baby is? He thought. But he did.
A voice inside his head told him that it didn’t matter. It told him to just keep going, and that the ecstasy he would feel from that would be worth everything. There was another voice too though, one that told him that this kind of stuff wasn’t natural. He needed to resist.
He didn’t know which one to listen to, but his thoughts were drowned out with the sound of cutting his paper, and the flowing energy. He ignored the nuisance that was his mind and kept snipping.
Another and another. This was fun!
Eventually, it became second nature to move the scissors in a rotating motion to get the perfect circle. Wallace was so used to the exact symmetrical method, he cut the paper with his eyes closed. He was oblivious to the pain when the scissors poked his fingers, and his only goal was to keep cutting.
Honestly, that was all he had to do. The rest was already done for him. Just a snip. Wasn’t much. At first, he had feared it would be boring, but it was far from that.
He tried to think of the paper as if it wasn’t a lifeless object. It was a fun way to pass the time. Wallace looked at the way the paper twisted when he. . . what was that word?. .
Yes, when he snipped the paper. The soft crackle of the material reminded him of the woods he would go to when he was younger. The chirping crickets were so beautiful to listen to.
Then he shuddered. No. Those crickets, when you saw one up close, they were terrifying.
But Wallace was safe now. Paper wasn’t the way the crickets were. It was what it was. No fear. Just the soft crackle and the dust that shone in the light of the window.
Soon the memory of the horrifying woods disappeared from his mind.
Wallace liked the way there was no structure to anything. Just snipping. He started to ignore the noises of the command to snip and the changing of the lights, but he could tell that time was passing. Too much to imagine.
Wallace knew because fingers became paler. He couldn’t see his face, but he could tell his vision was disappearing. Not that he needed it anyway. But still, was he growing older?
Haha, it was odd considering that fact. When he’d first started cutting, he was twelve. He still looked twelve. The only difference was that he felt different; he felt fragile and papery in some way. It was strange, but useless to think about. He kept on cutting, because all he wanted to do was
Yes, the baby had pulled the words right out of his mouth.
No, but the nagging was still there. His body crackled every time he moved. Like it was turning into. . . paper.
“That shouldn’t be possible.” Wallace thought out loud. It was the first sound he’d made in forever. But yet it was raspy and barely audible. He tried to cough, but it seemed that there were no lungs to cough with.
What’s happening?! Wallace touched his face but couldn’t feel anything. No!
No. Wallace wouldn’t snip. He was shocked. Too shocked to do anything. He shuddered, even though he felt no cold. When did this first happen? Why had he not realized that he wasn’t able to feel the coolness of the scissors in his fingers anymore? How?
He backed away from the scissors. It was hard. It felt like he was sitting there for millennia. But. . .
He stood and he did what he could. He couldn’t scream. He couldn’t run out. So he sat there. He wouldn’t cut anymore. Never again.
Wallace’s tube fell off. Were the Coordinators realizing that he was playing out of line? Probably. He stretched his arm. He was finally free. Then it struck. A horrible blast of pain, causing him to fall back in terror. It was the first time he truly opened his eyes.
I need the tube to survive.
And not only that, but without the constant rush of the energy that was given to him with every snip, Wallace felt drained. He had relied on them too much. He should have been dead by now. How old was he? A hundred? A thousand? More?
Every day had passed as quick as a second, but now, when he saw the truth, every second passed as slowly as a day.
They chose me because I was weak and easy to manipulate.
He would prove them wrong. Wallace would go on a strike. They must have needed him alive if they had drawn him out so long. Every person was important to them.
It was as if he was thinking for the first time as he sat there. His ribs were skinny and he could barely breathe, but he was wiser than he had ever been. Wallace was not paper. He was human.
He was on the brink of death, gasping for air when the Coordinators showed up. There were five of them, and the space in the room increased in their presence. Wallace couldn’t see anymore, or feel. He didn’t know that they had taken him to their main healing rooms, or that even they were made of paper. They attached the tube to him once more, let him heal, and placed a pair of scissors in his hand.
Wallace woke with a start, throwing the scissors to the other side of the room. He tried to say, “No!” but he didn’t need to. The Coordinators knew what was going on inside his head.
The first thing he realized was that his senses were back. A huge rush of information hurled towards him. The lights were a low green and the room was dark. He felt that he was on a soft bed and he could feel the tube connected to his arm. He could see every one of his breaths, and realize that it was the first time he felt cold in a long, long time. Wallace could even smell the strong odor in the air. What is was he didn’t know.
Then he felt his weakness. Hurling the scissors had taken a lot of his energy, as did the huge shock for regaining his senses. It felt like so much, even though he knew it was normal.
Someone grabbed him by the shoulders so he wouldn’t fall off the bed and onto the floor. It was a Coordinator. He looked like a paper doll, and everything about him looked flat and lifeless. His gestures, though, had all the life that they possibly could in them. The way he moved his arms to express shock, or the weight in his footsteps.
One of them, who looked quite a bit like a woman, even with her paper skin and blank white features, caressed his hand. They shared no words, but Wallace understood what she told him. “It’s okay.”
He wanted to hug her. These were the first people he had seen in forever. But he knew better, even with his dazed mind and weak body. These were the people who had put him here in the first place. They had stripped Wallace of his friends and family and brought him to this prison to do their bidding.
Then he looked at their faces. Behind the neutral masks they wore, Wallace could almost see faces of actual people, stricken with fear. They didn’t know what was coming for them, and now they were trapped forever, just like he was.
It isn’t fair. He thought to them.
If they had heard him, they ignored his words. Instead, another man stepped up.
The second he touched Wallace, he went into a deep, dark nightmare. As the last of his consciousness faded away, he heard a shaky voice in his head that wasn’t his.
“I’m so sorry.”
Wallace never knew if he had awoken from that slumber, since everything that happened after seemed too unreal to be true. Wallace himself was gone. His name was replaced with the name of every other creature in this place. Paper.
Paper was one, and Paper knew everything. They taught Wallace that Paper wasn’t just paper. Paper was what paper looked like to Wallace. Paper was an all caring being, and they tried to make themselves familiar to everyone who saw them.
Paper told Wallace that he could join them and become Paper as well. In the dream, he seemed to have no choice. He wanted to join Paper, though he feared that was not his decision to worry about. Paper was manipulative, and Wallace would be taken either way.
His thoughts vanished when he looked into Paper’s eyes. They were much wiser than he would ever be. They were better than he would ever be. He wouldn’t be anymore, though.
They would be Paper.
It wasn’t a nightmare, it wasn’t even a dream. It was a Utopia.
Paper snipped. They snipped and they snipped and they snipped, bringing harmony to the universe.