A story set in an alternate world, parodying Internet Relay Chat (In second workshop)
“What if I summon him right now?” The girl’s face was a black shadow under the bright sun and empty blue sky.
“Your voice is quite raspy for a teenager.” The young man took a step backwards, kicking up some dust along the white pavement. He squinted to find the girl’s hidden face.
“One call and he’ll know everything that’s happened here.” Pulling a piece of black chalk out of her back pocket, it appeared to radiate with darkness. It was as if the chalk was eating everything that surrounded it.
“I have no issues deleting what I’ve said. It’ll take just as long for him to respond, so why even bother with a threat?”
A smile could be seen glistening out from beyond the dark shadow. The sun centered itself between the two skyscrapers of the city in the distance, the plain white landscape full of bright light and dark shadows. The sun was slowly falling towards the earth.
“You can delete it,” the girl shook her head as they crouched, her smile widened, “but that space will stay there forever.” The girl began to draw a large circle.
“Th-then I’ll just edi–”
“You ain’t doin’ nothin. You can’t do, nuh-thing. Do you understand? You’re a dead man walking. You don’t say what you want without consequences.” The symbol was becoming clear as the chalk scraped along the ground:
The girl continued, “Shall I call his name, or would you like to take the honors, Sethy-boy?”
For once in his life Seth could feel time slow down around him. It wasn’t the same feeling as seeing his life pass before your eyes, it was more of a feeling of emptiness as if a trap door was spun from under him. The symbol that laid before them was a type of summoning circle, one that would call for the name that was spoken there. These were the rules of this city, where speech could be revised or deleted, people summoned or removed. This plain white city under the everlasting clear skies, where the blue sky merged into the white landscape in a perfect harmony of simple gradients.
“Well? I ain’t got all day. Maybe he’ll give you a little less hell if you do the callin’.”
“Hey-hey-hey, we ain’t here for no funeral procession. Say the damn name.”
Seth looked up and stood straight, “Geoff.”
Seconds passed as they were still, no wind or sound broke their silence. The magic circle appeared to sink into the ground where the black chalk was drawn, blowing up the dust that laid around them. A small whirlwind flung the white dust into the air, producing a moving wall of concrete and plaster that would sever anyone that passed through.
The person in front of Geoff began to rise and laugh hysterically as they slapped their knee and covered their eyes. A small stream of red seemed to tear from the individual’s right eye as they laughed. A pillar of light shot from the pit-less engravings in the ground, as a silhouette slowly began to appear.
“Hallelujah, the color red has blessed this landscape once more!”
This person is going insane, thought Seth.
“Just get it over with already…” he said.
The whirlwind stopped as the light flashed to darkness, and the flying shrapnel fell to the ground all at once. The man who had appeared faced Seth and wore a black bandanna that covered his eyes, his clothes just as plain. He gave a half-smile to Seth. Geoff and Seth stood facing each other for what felt like an eternity. He could feel his heart racing before finally collapsing to the ground.
Slowly opening his eyes, Seth could feel the humidity in the air and noticed how the walls appeared gray.
“This… this doesn’t look like any of the other rooms I’ve been in.”
Seth slowly rose and began to run his hands over the 4 walls, the room was neither cramped nor extravagant. He looked for the room name, a constant within every room of this city.
“Where is it? Where am I?” Seth’s tone slowly bloomed into a panic as he searched for the defining symbol of every room in the city:
Living in this city came with a price, but on the equal side of that price was an equally sought prize. By looking at the room’s name anyone could tell where they were in the city, an instinctual feeling that made the maze of the buildings less of a hassle. Seth frantically searched the ceiling and floor, searching for any rivets or creases along the slabs of gray. When someone found a room that was unlabeled, it took on the property as being a room void of air to breath. It was a sense of distraught and panic that killed many of the curious that once lived.
“Hello!” Seth began to slam his fists onto the walls, “Hello! Anyone, is any…”
Seth’s arms fell to his sides and his vision went dark, a mysterious voice spoke in the distance.
Do you answer the call?
“Yes.” said Seth.
Someone outside was summoning Seth, and it mattered not who awaited him on the other side. It meant his freedom from this room of despair.
“…that so? Ah, he arrives now.”
The sun’s blinding rays struck Seth’s face. It was now rising as it shone in front of him. The wind did not cease as the summon came to an end and Seth felt a small sway as he stood straight.
“The view atop this building is the finest in the city. No way up, one way down. Truly a gem in this city of ours.”
Seth searched for the familiar voice, the silhouette that hid in the blinding rays of the sun.
“Oh, come now, Seth. Don’t give me that look. It’s a rather degrading feeling when everyone gives you that disgusted look.”
“The same can be said of you, Geoff. That smile you wear is enough to make anyone fall into despair.”
“That’s quite the statement to say to someone who controls your fate.” Geoff moved out of the sun’s blinding rays, “Enough of the small talk, I will give you two actions to take and you may take one. Be quick, and I’ll be on my way tonight to the city meeting.”
“No questions while I’m moderating.”
“I just want to–”
“Silence, filth!” Geoff was beginning to lose his smile and his composure, “You have two actions. You may explain to me the words that you said before editing them, or you may take a dive off of this tower. Now, choose!”
Seth stood still, feeling the wind brush against his back. He recalled the words he had said earlier the previous day.
At tomorrow’s meeting, we’ll pull a coup d’État and take over this city that Geoff calls his own. I won’t sit around any longer and wait for each and every one of us to be picked off like ants.
Seth had then revised his words as he realized the plan had been spoken aloud to one of Geoff’s handlers.
At tomorrow’s meeting, we’ll pull a prank on Geoff for his upcoming birthday. I won’t sit around any longer and wait for everyone else to do the same. I’ll gift him a cake full of ants.
Anytime someone edited their past phrases they lost another person dear to them. The bigger the change, the more important the person would be. The only person capable of recalling these social connections was the moderator of the city.
“Oh Seth, I really don’t have all day. I already had a talk with your ol pal, and she didn’t seem to care about you or herself in any way.”
I didn’t tell any of my friends about this, is he talking about his handler?
“Ol pal? Who in this city would you think had a connection to yesterday?” said Seth.
Geoff’s faked smile finally turned upside down.
“This is why I absolutely hate dealing with you scum! If you won’t tell me what it is you originally said, off the tower you must go!”
Seth could feel his adrenaline rushing, as if he had anticipated this scene ahead of time. The wind still blew against his back, growing in strength as the sun rose across the empty sky.
“Pick. One.” said Geoff, fuming with anger.
Seth finally broke into a smile, causing Geoff to slightly drop his jaw.
“I pick the latter.” Seth said as he began to dart towards Geoff, tackling and grabbing hold as they fell off the tower. Seth had no more than a minute before they hit the white pavement at the floor of the city.
Lil pal, what’d ya wanna talk about?
He could feel Geoff attempting to push himself free.
I’m finally ready to talk.
Seth loosened his grip to bring his fist back, and then thrust it into the black bandanna.
About that coup d’État?
Feeling the force from Geoff’s arms weaken, Seth frantically searched for a cable on Geoff’s back.
Yeah, at tomorrow’s meeting…
Seth ripped the first string he found, nothing occurred.
So we agree to delete these statements together?
The ground was approaching faster, Seth pulled a second, thicker cord.
Yeah, see you on the other side.
A cloud of powder burst past his face, clouding his view as he felt their bodies tumble around.
I won’t ever forget you, ol pal.
Seth opened his eyes to see the black and red parachute slowly falling above him. Geoff laid still on top of him with no pulse to be found. A faint color of red trailed from Geoff’s face, the bandanna soaking up the excess. Tossing the body aside Seth sat up straight, the breeze weakening as the sun passed overhead.
“I’m sorry, ol pal. I guess I did forget about you.” Seth glanced towards the base of the tower he had just fallen from to see shades of black and red splattered over the ground. A warmth slowly fell from Seth’s right eye as he recalled the last moments he was with his old friend.
“Was that a cut from the shrapnel, or…” Seth paused and looked into the pale blue sky, “…I don’t even remember your name, I don’t even remember your face that well.”
Seth felt the warmth flood from his eyes down his cheeks, a feeling he had never felt before.
“What were you… to me?”
Seth stood up slowly and limped over to the decaying splatter on the ground. A small pouch lay next to a hand with an odd piece of metal wrapped around one finger. Seth picked up the pouch and pulled out a rectangular piece of paper. On one side were the words ol pal & lil pal. On the other, a photo of Seth and a young woman.
Why don’t we come up with some code names?
A familiar voice echoed in Seth’s head, one he had heard as he and Geoff fell from the sky.
Code names? Come on Opal, is this grade school all over again? said Seth.
No, silly. We need to keep our names secret for the you-know-what.
Seth looked over at Geoff’s lifeless body as his memories flooded back.
Come on, it’ll be fun!
Alright, alright… why don’t I call you ol pal? said Seth.
Seth chuckled as he walked over to the lifeless body and pulled out a plain white piece of chalk from Geoff’s pocket.
That’s hardly a code name! Ugh, fine! You’ll be lil pal then, no complaints.
Holding the piece of chalk, Seth could see the faint scribbles that lay across the buildings of the city.
“I was older than you, though…” whispered Seth.
Walking over to the wall of another building, Seth began to scrape the chalk against the wall. Swinging his arms wide to write out his last words, the white buildings began to crumble. As he finished the last arcs of his writing, one last tear fell from Seth’s eye in remembrance of the girl he once forgot.
“Now no one will ever have to feel this pain again.”