“Any Other Man” by Thomas Newman

Blank-fuzzy-TV-screen

The short story below was inspired by the piano piece above. You can find it on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDOXxa1U7Oc

It was quick. She couldn’t really remember how it happened —she could remember everything up to those five minutes prior to the crash, but then it was black. She woke up in an empty white hallway. The brightness of the color blinded her just enough to where she couldn’t see what was at the end. Coming to her senses and finding her strength, she stood up and began to walk down the hall. The corridor felt endless, until she eventually reached a closed door. She hesitated for a second, trying to decide whether she should knock, but decided against it and proceeded to turn the knob. In the room she found a chair, an old TV set, a small side-chair table, and a remote resting on the table. Slowly, as if she knew what she was supposed to do, she sat down in the chair and turned on the television. With a click the screen flashed on and began playing a familiar video. It began with a baby being brought home from the hospital. It was only when the camera turned its view on the two proud parents, that she recognized as her own parents, did she realize that this baby was her. Entranced, she continued to watch the video and the progression of her life. She sat for hours, days, maybe weeks, she couldn’t tell, as she re-lived every birthday, every first, every joy, and every despair. As the video began to catch up to her final moments, she watched in horror how she died; every aching second until the other car came crashing towards her side window and, mimicking her memory, the screen went black.

Realizing it was over, she began to stand up when suddenly the screen began flashing colors again. She watched herself waking up in a hospital, her parents tired faces expressing a similar joy as the kind they had bringing her home the day of her birth. Her body lowered back into the chair as the television began showing the life she would have had. She saw herself graduating college, falling in love, having children; she saw every person she’d ever meet, every soul she’d ever touch; she saw her biggest fears realized, she saw herself reach the lowest of lows, but she also saw greater joys then she could ever have imagined. As the video drew to a close, she saw herself returned to the hospital again; she watched herself die again. This time the screen didn’t go to black, but instead flashed a picture of the gathering at her funeral. This time she did not get up from her chair, but just sat and stared at the picture on the screen.

A voice from behind her broke her concentration and made her jump. It said, “You have the choice… is it worth it?”

“Yes,” she whispered. “Please,” she said.

She woke up later in a hospital, with no recollection of the crash (or anything after that), but with two relieved parents staring down at her. The future looked promising.

The Runaway

Racing-the-Sunset

That was the day she left.

She dropped her keys, dropped her phone, grabbed her bike, went out the door, and left. She didn’t know where she was going, how long she would be gone, or if she would ever come back, but it didn’t matter. She had to get away. She couldn’t live this life that was expected of her; she was helpless, useless, hopeless. She pedaled furiously with her gaze focused on the horizon. Sweat leaked into her eyes and her thighs screamed in pain, but she couldn’t stop. She kept her eyes locked on the setting sun and she thought to herself, maybe if I could make it there, I would be okay. Maybe if I could just make it to beyond the horizon, beyond the setting sun, beyond the edge of the world, then things would be better. Maybe time, status, and money didn’t matter there. Maybe they don’t ask kids to grow up there. And maybe stress is nonexistent there. Heavy tears rolled down her face as her pedaling began to slow, because she knew that “maybe” was just a kinder way of saying that it can’t be. “Maybe” was for dreamers, and she was out of dreams. Eventually, her bike came to a stop and she gently lowered it, and herself, to the ground. Unable to go forward, unwilling to go back, she remained there and cried until she ran out of tears.

Possible Movie or Novel Story-line…?

post-apoc

Imagine this: Either from some unpredictable apocalyptic catastrophe or due to our species’ utter disregard for environmental preservation, the entire human race is wiped from existence. Then, 100 years later (maybe more, maybe less), the human species is randomly reintroduced onto the earth; not from some extraterrestrial alien interference, but either as an act of God or a form of rapid evolution (or maybe both, who knows?). We will call them Homo sapiens two (Hs2). Since the Hs2 are a product of rapid reproduction, their genetic makeup has surpassed the Homo neanderthalensis and their capacity for mental processing and intelligence is only somewhat less than that of the previous Homo sapiens. Now imagine being an Hs2 and living in a world that still shows evidence of a civilization prior to your time, but no evidence of the civilians; architectural structures still standing, overgrown but visible roads, and possible preservation of art and literature, but no traces of what species came before you. What would you think? How would you find out what happened to the human race? Would you build on the knowledge they have left behind for you, or would you start from scratch in hopes not to make the same mistakes they made?