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Short Story Inspired by a Photograph: The Voice

Found this old photo of my Dad when he was in college. He went to Art College so he and his friends made all sorts of creative experiments. This is one of them. It’s a photo taken with his Smena 8. Found it very inspiring and began to write a short story. Here’s what came out after a few hours. Hope you enjoy it !

The alarm clock rings, waking up the entire family with its disturbing sound. It was 5:15 and John had just flushed the toilet. He was now ready to have breakfast. Anna set the table: a large bowl of milk and a box of “Coco Puffs”. John loved “Coco Puffs” ever since he was a small child: he ate “Coco Puffs” in kindergarden, he ate “Coco Puffs” in Primary School, High School, in the morning before his graduation prom, he ate “Coco Puffs” before his exams (but only then did he throw up as his stomach was already full of butterflies); not even his wedding stopped him from having “Coco Puffs” for breakfast.

He is now in the elevator, trapped into a descending box by some old sliding-aside doors. He descended. The doors opened and John got out of the box… the heavy iron door closing behind him with a loud, deep sound. It was still dark outside although it was morning. “It must have snowed during the night”, he thought while descending the small set of stairs of the block of flats, leaving behind the markings of his size 45 boots. Still the snow was white and by the time he got to his car some fresh snow flakes had already covered the hollows made by his boots… as if he didn’t exist.

As he walked he continued to gaze at the disappearing surroundings, slipped on a hidden ice surface: feet up in the air, hands reaching desperately for the safety of the ground, head following them at a threatening speed… John was now unconscious. He had just broken his right leg and was incapable of realising neither this nor, the fact that he won’t be arriving at the Rock Town School on time.
“Pssst…! Pssssst…! Hey, sleepy head time to get up… YOU’RE LATE!”. John panicked, wanted to get up and saw he couldn’t… got even more scared!

“Ha! Ha! Fooled you! You don’t have to go anywhere… you couldn’t even if you wanted to. So… do you want to go teach some kids literature or what crap you normally do?”

“Well… yes sort of… I don’t want to lose my job… I need the money now more than everything as…” He couldn’t finish as the little voice inside his head interrupted him.

“Up and down, back and forth… Aren’t you tired of it all? Just curious… go ahead answer!”
“Yes! Yees! Yeeeeeees…!” echo like voices spread his tired mind. John couldn’t ignore them as they were not only loud but also disturbing in an “alarm clock sound” kind of way.

“A simple three letter word is all it takes and they’re whispering it to you right now…” said the Voice.
“Who exactly?” John asked raising his left eyebrow, when an enormous TV screen appeared before his eyes. At first the image was foggy as the ancient TV needed to warm up… John could only distinguish the shadows of four persons but after a few minutes the image was clear: on the white snow background there was Anna, his wife, their next door neighbor and two strangers. There was no sound, but John could lip-read and indeed they said: “Yes”

“OK! YES! There I said it now make it stop!” and indeed the rusty sounds faded until they could be heard no more…

“That’s a good boy! Now because you just admitted you desperately want all that “up and down, back and forth” to stop I’m going to tell you exactly what to do in order to make the mambo jumbo stop. So listen carefully…” And the Voice approached John and whispered in his ear the Plan. At each and every word he heard John twisted his face: first the mouth, then as amazement penetrated even more his body his eyes and nostrils got larger… “When you hear the alarm clock ring you will get up and walk YOUR way!”
The annoying alarm clock rang and when the sound reached John’s brain his eyes opened instantaneously. He was in a white room with an awkward feeling in his right leg and feeling some pressure on his skull.

“I can do this! I am powerful enough to face the life I have been given, to give my life new meaning!” He once more listened to the little Voice inside his head…

written by lucretia

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch.