• Shades of Grey [in progress]


    Everyday I rise from my slumber, and go about the menial tasks that all of humanity must tirelessly sit through, for a reason that none can fully explain. I finish my extensive, yet miniscule share of the labor, then go back to my home. From there I simply do what must be done to keep myself alive, the necessary motions required by our physical bodies to keep us running efficiently and smoothly. Once that happens, it's back to bed for another dreamless night of pitch-black darkness. Before now, I had never considered the meaning of these things, why it is that I must do this; I only knew that they were there, and that I had to do them. But lately, as I work my way through the charts and leaflets that pass over my desk; as I sit in my undecorated cubicle, watched over by the attentive eye of my shepherds; I begin to have one true and single thought that to me seems to be the only real one: Why?
    Why do I sit here, doing my job like a mindless animal plowing the fields? So that others may reap the benefits? But they must work too, for someone else's benefit. And it goes from there, on and on in an endlessly repeating pattern. So why? I sometimes manage to pretend that I've fooled myself into believing that I can stop at anytime, that if I wanted to quit, I could. But then reality slaps me in the face- no, stabs me in the gut, and I realize that I can't just end it. That I'm destined to go on and on endlessly in my stark, colorless life, set in this stark and colorless world.
    But tonight, I can feel a change. Something stirs me in the middle of the night, something dares to break my constantly repeating routine. And then I realize- it is the sound of a cricket. Something so insignificant, so tiny in it's worldly role, has managed to completely undo years worth of repetitious events. And that's when it happens. I realize that this world isn't destined to continue on this way forever; something will change. An event looms on the horizon, like the shadow of the devil stalking his human prey. It draws ever closer, it's icy grip closing around all of our throats. Yet I am the only one who sees it; I am it's only herald. And I begin to wonder yet again, the simple and evasive question: Why? But this I know the answer to as well. I know it, but refuse to acknowledge it, for fear of the safety of my own sanity.

    John woke up smothered by a mass of pillows and blankets, his body covered in sweat and his heartbeat racing. He could feel it happening again, he felt the terrible presence of the events to come. He had had a dream; a nightmare. His first since he was a child, back when he had suffered from terrible dreams about dark, twisted shapes who hunted him in the night. John sighed exhaustedly as he rolled back over to look at the harsh red glare of his digital clock. It's glaring display told him that it was still only four-fifteen.
    Slumping back onto the bed, John didn't even try to sleep for the two and half hours still remaining; he knew it would be pointless. John sat for almost an hour, lost in the treacherous silence that permeated the air of the room. Unable to take it any longer, he got out of bed and walked out of his bedroom and down the hallway to the kitchen. As he did so, he stared blankly at the bare grey walls before him. They were totally devoid of any decoration whatsoever; they had been ever since he had moved here, and probably long before that as well.
    Upon reaching the kitchen, John went to his fridge and looked inside. It was just as well stocked as always, every shelf filled with neat and orderly rows and stacks of cooled foods. Grabbing the milk carton, John then took a box of wheat cereal out of the pantry next to the fridge. He sat down at the table and began to fix his breakfast when something managed to catch his eye.
    On the milk carton, a face was displayed with bold lettering underneath that read “Have You Seen Me?” Nothing knew really. After all, the milk must have always had missing persons lists on it. What had managed to grab John's tiniest flicker of interest was the fact that he could swear he had seen this man before. The guy looked extremely familiar, equatable to the face of an old friend, but he couldn't manage to place it.
    Shrugging off the strange sense of foreboding the picture had brought over him, John finished his breakfast without any further incident. The rest of his day dragged on with it's usual excrutiating slowness. John worked a simple desk job for some company he didn't actually even know the name of. Big business working at it's finest.
    The customers, the daily complaints, the constant clack-clack-clack of the keyboards; all of it was so daily, so routine. Before now, John didn't care what happened here. It was a necessary motion in the dance of life; a stepping stone. But now John had the constant reminder of that feeling of something un-foretold coming soon, that nagging sensation that at any minute it was all going to implode in on itself. However, the day went off with nothing amazing happening, no dark forcing storming through the building.
    Just after the day ended at nine p.m. though, one of John's associates came up to him. John couldn't remember the man's name, he probably never knew it in the first place. However, the man certainly knew John's, as he came up and asked John if he'd like to go to the bar with a few others. John was about to refuse, say that he had too many things going on and that it was too late at night. But just then, a cricket chirped from somewhere in the cubicle-filled room. All of John's fears, dreams, and new ideas came sweeping back to him. Opening his mouth slowly, John replied to the man's offer with just a simple “sure”, and they all headed off to the bar down the street.

    As soon as John steps into the bar his nostrils are assailed with the smell of booze and cigarettes. Tears begin to well up in his eyes at the harshness of it; it's been forever since he's actually gone anywhere besides his house, the market, or work. His nose doesn't take kindly to the stench and rebels with every inch of it's fiber, but John swallows his discomfort. He knows that he must be here, though he doesn't yet know why.
    Trying to peer through the dense atmosphere of smoke, John finally finds the actual bar. He sits down and orders just a pint, plain and simple. This his body is still used to; even at home he gets enough of this. Turning the swivel stool completely around, John manages to get his bearings and see all that's going on within the place. He spies men and women, blue-collar workers and ladies of the night. They all mix and intermingle with eachother, so that if John loses focus they all seem to become one solid mass, writhing among the corners and tables of the bar. John downs the beer he already had, and orders a second one. What's the harm? Maybe he'll fall into such a deep sleep that he won't have the nightmare again.
    Hours pass, or maybe only half of one. Who knows? Days could pass in there and John wouldn't care. Deciding he's had enough, he gets up to leave, setting the money for his two beers on the counter. Worming his way through the oppressive mush of people obstructing the way to the exit, John could swear he hears a voice saying his name. Turning to all sides, he looks, but sees no one with any kind of interest in him. He shakes it off, dismissing it as someone just calling out for another John.
    Finally managing to reach the door back to the street, John forces it open and walks outside into the chilled night air. Here the air is filled with clouds of smoke too, but these are caused by the heat of his breath on the below-freezing atmosphere. Looking around him, John sees nothing but empty buildings and streets and the occasional glow of a street lamp. Turning to go towards his house, he walks silently by himself through the forlorn and quiet streets.