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Good Night (Short Story)

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A short story evolved from a rant I had in my imagination.

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Chapter 1

Sigh… yet another uneventful day today. The usual path, the usual schedule, the usual routines… how boring. It’s always the same. Always was, always is, always will. If only there was some escape from this mundane life.

Taking the usual path home, I walk past the unmoving, emotionless trees, their leaves stripped from the branches in preparation for winter, although that was a while ago already. Usually, at this time of the year, the cold, chilly breeze will keep me huddling inside my jacket, yet today, the air is strangely warm, even as the gloomy clouds hang under the sky. I am more than warm inside my clothing. In fact, I am sweating, perspiring from the heat of my own body. Yet, I don’t want to take off any layers, at least not in public… don’t want to put them back on again if the air turns cold, as it should’ve been.

I gently knock on the thin doors of the residential building that I call “home”. It’s not a particularly tall or grand building, being a mere thirteen stories while being surrounded by giants with stories numbering in the twenties, maybe even thirties. “Sorry,” I mumble nervously, “I forgot my card again.” Sigh… I can feel the embarrassment already, swarming, groping my insecure self-consciousness.

The door slowly swings open, and holding it, an elderly gentleman, his smile welcoming as he beckons me to enter. I breathe out in relief. “Thanks,” I say in gratitude, walking past him with my usual awkward smile.

“Remember to bring your card next time!” he chuckles, “Or else I won’t be holding the door for you again!” That same phrase again. Sometimes I wonder how he could be so friendly to all, especially to me, a quiet, unresponsive youngster, who most likely wouldn’t even care less about his daily acts.

Slightly ashamed of myself, I make my way to the elevator lobby, where I enjoy the cooling wind of the air conditioner until the elevator sluggishly makes its way down. I wonder, when are they going to replace this obsolete, slow machine? Heck, I could probably outrun it if I went for the stairs. Sadly, I live on the tenth story, and I would probably die of exhaustion on the eighth story if I even dared to try going up the stairs.

“Have a good day!” the man calls out one last time as I enter the elevator, the sliding doors shutting as I press the button “10”. I should be glad I don’t have claustrophobia. The tiny box that is the elevator can probably fit six people at the most. Its width and length is roughly equivalent to the length of my outstretched arms, and I don’t even have long limbs, objectively speaking. As it struggles back up, inching up the stories, I can’t help but feel sorry for this machine. I’m a relatively light person, yet it’s already trembling as it goes up. I wonder what would happen if it was carrying a hopelessly obese person… I chuckle at the thought. Sometimes, my own humor is what saves me from boring days like these.

After what seems to be several hours of being in the elevator (although it was closer to a minute), I’ve arrived at my story. Following my usual footsteps, I walk to the door, get my keys, and with several clicks, shoves it open, leaning my entire body against the wooden entrance.

The apartment is silent, save for the whirring of an exhaust fan and the spinning of the washing machine. The lights, as expected, are all turned off, with the exception of the bathroom. I guess someone forgot to shut the lights before they left. Well, in any case, I’m the first to return home. Again. Always.

Quickly taking off my dusty shoes, I rush to the kitchen, my stomach grumbling in approval. Pulling open the refrigerator doors, I find, to my disappointment, there is only a carton of milk left, and even more saddening is the fact it can only fill up half a cup. I guess someone was too lazy to finish the little bit of milk left. Well, not my problem. I quickly gulp down the milk, a burp escaping in satisfaction.

Well, the only moment of satisfaction is over. It’s time for the usual, boring, monotonous routine: homework. Ah, yes, homework, the mother of all frustrations, the bane of all schoolgoers, the kidnapper of all things interesting. I groan at the thought. If only there's a time machine for me to use… to travel back in time and kill whoever the idiot that invented such an abhorrent creature was.

Sigh… what control do I have over it, anyway? I drag my heavy, brick-like bag to my room, where I collapse onto my white chair, the legs squeaking in protest as I sit. I bring out a pencil and a worksheet. Yes. How boring indeed.

Time passes, the sun roasting the windows, and indirectly, me, as it sets beyond the horizon. Although the windows are wide open, no wind dared to come in, leaving me to suffer in this oven. I don’t wish to be rich, but if I could, at least I could try buying a home that has good ventilation, with an interesting view, instead of this box of a building facing other boxes like itself. Sigh… how very boring indeed. So much for a self-proclaimed metropolis. Other than the varied back alleys and the beautiful, well-maintained parks, it’s just a wide expanse of grey, black, and white, a seemingly endless environment of boredom.

The door creaks open, and the loud sounds, one whining, another shouting, and two complaining, enter the home. Yes. My slightly more interesting family (except dad) has returned. I don’t associate myself much with them, always pushing some sort of unnecessary burden on my back. I wouldn’t say I’m irresponsible, but I don’t like “challenges”... such irony, as that just makes my life even more boring.

I didn’t greet them, nor they to me, as they simply went to do their respective daily routines, with only my brother entering the room, only to say “Hey” and dumping his dirtied backpack on the floor. Sigh… times like these make me wish I could just lock my door and ignore the monotony and ruckus (how contradictory) of the outside world, living instead in my own little world, or worlds.

I stare at my drawings of the past, whether they be doodles on torn notebooks or complicated sketches scratched on large, A3 size papers. As relics of the past, they are a reminder of a time when the world was more interesting, at least for me, compared to nowadays, where not only the world has become a wasteland that spells out “boredom”, but I am also a model, a true example, of boredom. How boring indeed. Sighing, I bury my head inside my homework, silently begging that today might be one of those rare days, the days when there is time to do something at least remotely interesting.

“Dinner!” mom shouts. How long has it been? Two hours? Three hours? I stare at my half-completed essay, a mere 500 words written, barely even legible on the crumpled papers. On its margins lay several faces, which likely took me even more time than the essay itself. Sigh… I ended up not doing much, did I? Such is the cost of the daily search for something interesting. I end up failing to do both the “necessary” things and things I enjoy.

“Coming,” I groan as I lift myself out of my seat. Like an old man, I trudge across the corridor, leaning against the wall as I walk, and lazily sits at the dining table, my posture slumped, as if a huge boulder is upon my shoulders.

“Thank you for the food,” I mumble as I begin to gorge myself upon the dinner. It’s not extravagant, nor is it even tasty. In fact, it’s just an assortment of tasteless, blank food, barely enough to satisfy my tongue. Still, I say nothing, focusing on the grub, ignoring the usual clamor and chatter between my parents and siblings. How boring indeed. My mind slowly drifts away from reality, immersing itself in the fantasizing worlds, where every individual is many times more interesting than me, their lives filled with adventures and fascinating discoveries. So absorbed in it, that I seem to have removed my own consciousness from this world, aimlessly darting around different imaginary towns like a visiting ghost, taking glimpses of imaginary people, their lives far more wholesome, far more fulfilling, far more interesting.

My head receives a light knock from my brother, pulling me away from my sanctuary and forcefully arresting me, returning me to reality. “What?” I groan in annoyance. Surely whatever it is, it evokes boredom that the world always offers to me on a platter, forcing me to swallow it.

“Look,” he points to the television. Although I had always held a sort of disdain for the television, the lies that it blatantly spouts out, this certain report catches my attention. “An unknown serial killer is on the loose,” the reporter says, “Although the killer is repeatedly caught on camera, the figure and build of the killer often changes, sometimes tall and muscular, sometimes lean and frail, sometimes round and fat, which has baffled authorities. Entire families have been heartlessly murdered in each of the killing sprees, with always one member’s corpse missing. The only clue authorities have is the knife the murderer always uses to conduct his, or her, killings and a black cloak that conceals his or her identity.” Two blurry photos, likely acquired through security cameras, appear on the screen. The left is the knife, curved and stained with crimson blood. The right is the cloak, loose and slightly torn, just like the popular depictions of the Grim Reaper. Heck, the reporter might as well be “reporting” on a fantastical case of Jack the Ripper revived. Still, this is quite interesting, and I begin to immerse myself in another world again, this time a Victorian town, where a detective dressed oddly like Sherlock Holmes (or Hercule Poirot?) is investigating a crime scene.

“How’s your academics going?” my dad asks, interrupting my train (or perhaps plane) of thought. I silently grumble, displeased that my imagination has been interrupted again, and for something so superficial and boring. Perhaps this is the epitome of the term “boredom” itself.

“Fine, I guess,” I reply dismissively. If only my parents would just leave me alone, alone where my creative thoughts will truly bloom.

“I don’t think so,” he says, a solemn expression on his face. Why bother asking, then? “I’ve just checked your grades, and surprisingly, your favorite subjects, art and history, are struggling the most right now.” Sigh… here we go again. The usual boring and pressuring talk of my school “success”, how I should choose a career, blah blah blah.

“What does that gotta do with my interests?” I retort.

“Even though you may enjoy it now, when you struggle with the subject, you may eventually lose interest, and regret the decisions you made today.”

I’m tired of these repetitive arguments. “I’ve always been struggling, haven’t I?” In fact, this is the truth. Art and history, as my favorite subjects, have always been where I apparently performed the worst on. The restricting curriculum, the inflexible teachers, the sheer stupidity and obedience of the class… I could state many reasons for my apparent failure. However, in subjects where I submitted myself to the unbending will of the system, such as math, I perform “well”, getting consistent top marks. Well, that’s just because I managed to “please” them without fail.

“Which is another reason why you shouldn’t choose art or history as a future career path. Who is going to support the family if you waste so much money for your education, only to end up unemployed? By choosing a more practical career, you can have disposable income for you to use as you wish. What’s wrong with such a choice”

So it was all for your selfish reasons, then. I see now. “Who is to say I won’t be successful? Are you looking down on me, your own child, inheriting your own genes? Even if I do end up in the dumps, at least I can be glad I pursued something I enjoyed, even if I failed in the end.” I stand up, frustrated at the callousness of my family, unable to understand my position. “I’m full,” I mutter, leaving the table and slowly walking to my room. At least there I can have some solace.

Locking the door behind me, I sit at my desk, pondering again at my dad’s words. So many people have chosen a “practical” career and have become “successful” in the world’s eyes, yet they are unhappy, unsatisfied, their appetites never to be filled. Such greed, such repetition. Such boredom. By going the path less taken, at least I can forge my own fate, like an explorer discovering new lands. Their conservative, closed thinking will only lead to their demise. It is only pioneers who will make a mark on the world, instead of being a passing shadow like many of the “practical” people like my dad. But they’ll never understand. They won’t understand my goals. They won’t understand any of my logic, for their brains are voluntarily shut, their ears refusing to hear the urging gospel.

I rummage through my bag, hoping to find my drawing pencil and notepad, but instead, I find a piece of dark fabric, wrapping around an unknown object. Strange, I don’t recall ever being in possession of such a thing. I unravel it, and I find a knife, its blade clean and polished, the tip reflecting my room’s lighting from above. There is something comforting about its curve, almost like the crescent of the moon. The dark fabric, meanwhile, is rough, yet when I run my fingers across it, a relaxing feeling evokes from it, as if I’m touching the soft covers of a monarch’s bed.

I suddenly realize... It’s that blade and cloak, isn’t it? My mind rapidly puts pieces together, and eureka! I see now. Well, they’ve chosen the right person. Just for one night, I’ll take on the mantle of “the killer”. Just for one night, I’ll set myself loose. Just for one night, I’ll experience the thrill that this weapon can bring me, and finally, truly, experience something that is interesting, detaching myself at last from the boredom that is this world. Well, good night.

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