“Civilization was created by few, built by many, and given to most,” my father told me from his deathbed. “It was given to my generation, and we destroyed it, now it’s time for you to create a new one.”
“I’ll do it” I had said half-assed before he closed his eyes and passed away. It took me months to revisit that moment in time when I sat next to my dad in his deathbed at the hospital. I had tried to block it out; just like almost everything that comes my way in this shitty city during my walk to work. Like that overfilled trash can, or the hobos who ask for food, money, drugs, or alcohol, or attention, or just anything that you can give them. Scums of the earth. I’m a scum of the earth too, as I kick that trash can on my way to the office. The leg of my pants get stained. It was a start to just another god damn miserable day.
I go to the men’s room and try to wipe it out with a soaked paper towel. Now there’s a seemingly obvious wet spot on my gray pants. I get even angrier as I walk out.
Because I’ve been in a bad mood, work was especially dreadful. My interactions with people were quick and dry, my motivation was low, and my morale was tainted. I hated everything about work; I hated everything about this city. I hated my life and I hated myself. Back in my apartment, I look at the mirror before I head to bed. I brush my teeth just to feel a bit more human. What disgrace I see in the mirror before me. I had ungroomed beard stubble and there were bags underneath my bloodshot eyes. I couldn’t comprehend how on earth women found me attractive, but they did. And because I hate myself, I hate them for not despising me. It’s like the analogy of a puppy in a pet store; you’re standing there thinking it’s so cute, but it’s miserable and it wants out or it wants to bite your face off.
In the limbo of the next day; I stand outside my apartment balcony in the morning and look at the sunrise as it slowly creeps up and starts to blind me. The concrete jungle sprawls before my eyes, and it just sickens me even more. Everything sickens me about this place. My dad, in his delusional Alzheimer filled last days, wanted me to create a new civilization. I promised him I would. I spat the mouthwash on the flower pot and headed inside. I had gotten up, dressed up, and now planned to show up to work. I looked at the hoards of sheep-like people before me, who looked just like me, dressed just like me, and behaved just like me. Anger and frustration in their faces; just like in mine. We were all zombies who lived and thrived in this concrete city.
“Start a new civilization” said my dad. I spat my gum on the gray sidewalk and disappeared in the force and momentum of the moving crowd.
If there was one thing I had, it was time. Had? Already discussed. Needed? Not necessarily. I knew what he said, I knew what had to be done, but in the tangled rubber band ball of a “plan” in my mind, nothing discernible could be found. When one doesn’t have a plan, what else is left but time?
I step on the metro.
See this peon’s face in front of me. See his slack jaw and hear his loose tongue, in your mind. See him hitting on women at bars and then getting belligerent at them for not sleeping with him. See the role model in front of you.
I turn on my phone.
Look out the window. Watch a few skyscrapers claw their way past the train (relativity?) before the deadly blackness of the tunnel consumes its prey. Look out. Always look out.
I look at the time.
The commute was little over 45 minutes long. I’m lucky, by relative standards. I’m a lucky bastard. I’m lucky I hate women. Attention begets violence, begets loneliness, begets death and nothing but death. Possibly debt on the way. Am I in debt? The groggy morning mindset finally hits me full in the face after another restless night of sleep and I realize once again who I’m working for. Beside my useless education, Talk Corp–a combination social media/phone/talk buddy corporation. Who knew it took so many peons to run a company that helps people… well, talk? What kind of world do we live in where people can’t just talk anymore? I hate it. I hated it then and I hate it now. The flashbacks start to show up and I block them out once more…
Talk Corp Incorporated, the megacity of the social media scene. The unofficial monopoly of smartphones and smartphone bills. (Because of course the government won’t lay a finger on what keeps its citizens in check.) And of course, the inventor of the talk buddy. What Amazon started and failed to fulfill, Talk Corp raised the ante on and won. Government statistics state that approximately 47% of all citizens owned a talk buddy. They popped up in Japan, but were a bit one-dimensional and only a niche market for the lonely 20-30’s business-nothing wanker. Then came the soccer moms: How do I deal with my passive aggressive husband who doesn’t pay attention to me except when I’m cooking and stealing his children’s attention? Honest questions. Honest answers. At least, that’s what the company strived to provide. I stretch my mind and remember a Kurt Vonnegut book about it but block that out, too. Too much history before a day of psycho-suicide isn’t good for the lungs. I haven’t decided whether I’ve started smoking, quit, or started again yet.
I… do not own a talk buddy. And it shows. If there’s one thing I haven’t lost, it’s my attitude.
And the one resource I do have, I notice, is slowly slipping away as well. The train arrives at my company’s stop. A city in and of itself. But this time, a faux-eutopia rather than a dystopia. The kind where the murders happen hidden in the minds of the victims behind closed office doors and livelihoods are ruined over typos in thousand-page reports on labor law influences in the married couple’s talk buddy relationship. Let’s talk together! I almost say, “I wish I could talk to my father one last time…” but block that out before it enters my prefrontal cortex, too.
I step off the train.
Time. Time for another miserable day. And another. And another. Time time time. Time to drain, decay, and segue. Do I have time on my hands?
Time to think of a fucking plan, you idiot. Argh. I fall irritated with myself. Perfect mood as I step into my cubicle and start the daily routine.
From an outside perspective, I’d appear lazy, but that’s far from the truth. When I’m not having my soul drained at work, I spend my time being semi human: I walk aimlessly, exploring new places, intentionally getting lost, using nothing but my senses to get home, while others go place to place in a car they take an annoying amount of pride in, using map apps that get them to destinations they’re taught to need to be at “on time”, defying one of Saint Oscar Wilde’s many absolute truths: “Punctuality is the thief of time”; I cook the proper amount of food I need to fuel my antisocial activities, avoiding overcrowded and overpriced restaurants, and fast track to obesity food, burning the calories I consume through natural activities, not eating tiny portioned meals with pretentious French names that never satisfy your hunger, resulting in midnight binging on half a box of Famous Amos cookies, or triple bypass burgers with fried diabetes that likely have some unknown nicotine like alkaloid the CIA has fast food restaurants add to keep drive throughs backed-up with lazy people lining up to consume cheap foods that kill, just to prepare them to line up later in life to buy expensive medications their insurance barely covers, if they have insurance at all; I go to the gym, but mine is free and natural and welcome to anybody who wants to go outside and walk or run or climb, and it’s not filled with narcissistic meatheads or vainglorious airheads. The only natural human activity I don’t partake in is socializing, unless you count the conversations I have with my husky, Hendrix, or the small talk I unwillingly engage in through grinding teeth while trying to get the coffee I desperately need after a sleepless night, or telling homeless addicts to fuck off.
“I really need to get out of the city,” I whispered to myself as I logged into my computer and clocked in.
Two amazing writers have thus far worked on this chain story, with them putting in most of the words, and I’m having a fucking blast. To me, it’s hard to tell who wrote what, it flows really well so far.
This is the 4th post.
To partake in the chain story please comment on the original post so two people aren’t working on it at once. Though, feel free to write out some ideas, share notes, character names, whatever you think.
Here are some notes I came up with while writing this post. Feel free to use them, go off them, whatever. I wrote this portion from my phone because I unfortunately have some mandatory events today, and I didn’t want to horde the fourth installment. And writing on your phone is a real bitch.
Name of the city, maybe? Silicon City stretched from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Gilroy garlic fields, the Santa Cruz Mountains to Manteca, lovingly called Mantweaka, the meth version of San Francisco, but with fresh air. It was America’s first attempt at a gigacity, only created to keep up with China, who had two gigacities before Silicon City even got congressional approval. The Republicans fought to prevent the city from being built; they had an insane, and probably racist and fascist, position that San Francisco, and the rest of the cities, needed to be cleaned up before combining them together. They held out for months, but slowly but surely, they started to vote yes. Interesting enough, those Republicans now own mansions overlooking the city.
Possible character names? Elijah LaRue (Elijah was a prophet and a miracle worker who lived in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of King Ahab) This might be a good name since this story might(?) take place in the bay area?
The boss is an African American Jewish woman with one leg.
Some lines I didn’t include, but could be added somewhere, maybe:
Build civilization? Why? That’s what I should’ve asked my dad. Maybe he was fucking with me. One last troll for his second favorite son.
Who knew civilization would eventually decivilize man.
The progressive stack was on the verge of tumbling down. It wobbled a little after taking Asians out for being too successful. It barely stood erect after the removal of gay white men. Now, every minority who isn’t a democrat, or left leaning, is slowly being plucked out. Any day now the final bloc will be removed, and I’ll be there to laugh hysterically and scream Jenga.
I don’t understand why people fear the singularity, we’re already automatons—all we need is one last program…and my company will probably be the one to develop it.
The small minority with the loudest whines and cries will be the ones to raze civilization, then sow our sad paradise with salty tears.
Petulant children standing on the shoulders of giants, throwing rocks at their feet, too stupid and ignorant of history to understand…
They scream we have nothing to lose but our chains while rocking Apple watches. You are not a revolutionary, you are annoying.
Oscar Wild was right: punctuality is the thief of time, from a label’s there’s no escape, and people know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.
I sold my car once I was able to register my husky, Hendrix, as a service dog. Driving in a big city is hopeless and inefficient, so I take public transportation everyday. I only needed a car to drive to the beach to take Hendrix for walks in a place that had less H needles than the open air squat house the inner city turned into after legalization.
Geez, I think I have more notes than the actual portion of the story I added haha. Sorry about that, guys—like I said, phone + writing = no bueno. But I like the notes. They add to the story, they just have to be added somewhere. Feel free to if you feel fitting while writing your portion—what’s mine is yours.
Let’s continue this! Please please please, you’ll have fun.