Not Alone ( part one )
Published Jul 20, 2012

Written By



Page 1 / 45

Old George Orwell got it backward. Big Brother isn't watching.

He's singing and dancing. He's pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother's holding your attention every moment you're awake.

He's making sure you're always distracted. He's making sure you're fully absorbed... and this being fed, it's worse than being watched.

With the world always filling you, no one has to worry about what's in your mind.

With everyone's imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world.”

Chuck Palahniuk

Old George Orwell got it backward. Big Brother isn't watching.

He's singing and dancing. He's pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother's holding your attention every moment you're awake.

He's making sure you're always distracted. He's making sure you're fully absorbed... and this being fed, it's worse than being watched.

With the world always filling you, no one has to worry about what's in your mind.

With everyone's imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world.”

Chuck Palahniuk
One Week Later

I fought valiantly to make my regular grilled cheese sandwich, managing to burn myself in the same places as always.

Even chaos has a routine.
Humming under my breath, I slid two blackened slices onto a plate to take up to my mother. Somewhere along the way, our roles had switched. Her room was dark, as always, the only light coming from the dimmed bedside lamp.

Thick curtains acted as barriers against the daylight and outside life. “Mama?” I murmured.
No answer, just her shallow breathing to let me know she wasn’t asleep. She was simply ignoring me. “Here’s your sandwich,” I sighed, clunking the plate down on her bedside table. She flinched at the sound. “Enjoy your day. I’m just off out to buy a wildly irresponsible form of two-wheeled vehicle and have a long afternoon of promiscuity and debauchery. I probably won’t even be in time for tea.” I stalked out of the room, without waiting for a reply. There wouldn’t have been one anyway. I don’t know why I kept hoping for...normality? I had had almost five years of this. They sent me away for the first year. For my own good, they said. I was the only bloody sane one left. *** I cycled to Jess’s house on my beloved but basically inept bike, that I affectionately called Joel.

I had lain awake most nights of the past week trying to make sense of what Nick had told me, and I had stumbled upon a theory.
When I unwittingly downloaded a virus trying to close a pop-up window offering to increase the size of a certain body part I did not own, it got me thinking. People got viruses, illnesses all the time.

I wondered if it was possible that-

I reached their front door and had to interrupt my train of thought.
“Kate! How nice to see you! How are you?!”

I smiled, it was hard not to. Jess’s dad was half-deaf, but made up for it in enthusiasm for everything.

You may not be able to pick your parents, but Jess and Nick had sure been lucky in the lottery.

“Sure thing Kate! But Jess isn’t in! One of her save-the-world protest things!”

“Nick?! Really?! I didn’t think you were one of his girls, Kate!”

“I would honestly rather seduce a pot plant, Mr Davies”


I finally dodged past Mr Davies, trying to remember which room would be Nick’s. I took a gamble and pushed it open. “I’m waaaaalkin’ on sunshiiiine...wooooaaa-HOLY CRAP”

“Um,” I blinked rapidly. “I’ll...I’ll give you a second.”
I slammed the door shut again and waiting for the redness in my cheeks to subside.

I guess we were even in the walking-in-at-inopportune-moments stakes. It was highly disturbing.
Several long moments later, he called out. “Coast’s clear, Kate!”

I stepped back in his room warily. “I did not care for that.”

“Aw, shame. I was just about to ask if you had seen anything you liked.”

“That is very creepy. Please stop now.”
He shrugged. “Whatever you want, baby.”

“Shut up! I have a theory!”

He snapped back to seriousness.

“Really? Go on...”
I launched into it. People can get diseases, or catch things like fevers, or whatever – and it can make them hallucinate, see things that aren’t there.

What if all of us have some sort of virus that make us think things are different?

“Like a ladder not being there,” I said meaningfully.

“...Or a wall appearing out of nowhere,” Nick finished.

“And it only appears when there’s certain stress or heat or chlorine or something. I haven’t completely gotten it figured out yet”
“Like how only your brother and you appeared to see the ladder not being there?”

“Yes. Like that. Which led me to think it might be gene-related, only that doesn’t make sense with your college friend and her roommate, unless they were secret siblings, maybe.”

“No. Her dad was an accountant. I’m surprised he even got the one woman.”

I laughed, once, but I was distracted.

“The more I talk about it, the more I’m talking myself out of it. It seemed solid at three am this morning.”
“It’s more than I have," he shrugged.

"Although I did find the address of a woman in the area in one of those reports. Her son died because he was locked in his apartment with no food. He kept ringing her over a few days, getting more desperate, but obviously no one could do anything about it.”

“Christ. She’s in the area?”

“Yep. A Ms Jocelyn Tanner. This was a good twenty years ago now, but she still lives at the edge of town.”
*** Ms Tanner lived in a neat blue bungalow a mile or so away.

Looking at the flowerbeds and quaint ornaments, you would never guess there had ever been a tragedy in the family. I wondered if other people thought the same about our house.
I took a deep breath and rapped on the door, stained-glass flowers winding their way around the wood. It took a few moments for a figure to materialise, and then Ms Tanner was facing us. She smiled warmly at us, the lines on her face rearranging themselves.

She had the sort of expression that made you want to be kind to her, to trust her.

“Can I help you two?”
I glanced at Nick. “Hello, Ms Tanner. Er. This is kind of...delicate, but it’s very important to us. We need to talk about your son.”

Her smile never faltered as she took that in. “Right,” she said, after a skipped beat. “You better come in.”
*** “I’m afraid I deleted the messages,” Ms Tanner told us as we sat, talking.

“I didn’t want to remember him like that.”

“He was locked in?” Nick checked.
She hissed in a breath between her teeth.

“Yes. The door was still there, the handle, the lock, everything. But he couldn’t get through. No one could. It had simply locked itself. I can’t be sure whether this happened at the same time as the fridge disappearing, but Robbie said that it must have happened while he was in the house.

One minute he went to fetch a snack, the next it had simply...gone. Poof.”
“That’s awful,” I murmured. “I’m very sorry. My brother...he died kind of like that. In a pool, only the ladder disappeared.”

Jocelyn listened to me with a steady gaze, then flicked to Nick.
“My ex-girlfriend,” he said quietly.

“In a fire. The door disappeared"

I looked at him. He hadn’t said she was his ex before. I wondered if his determination to solve this mess was more than just curiosity.
Ms Tanner nodded slowly. “You want to know why.”

I nodded. “Yes. Can you know anything?”

She was quiet for a long moment. “Yes. But-“ she held up a hand to stop us interrupting.

“I will not tell you. I cannot.”
“Ms Tanner-“ Nick began.

“No,” she hissed, her entire countenance changing.

“And if you have any sense, you will stop this silly quest. There is nothing to be gained by knowing the truth. Do you hear me?! Nothing! Now leave!”
We stumbled to our feet, shocked by the sudden change.

“I mean it, you two,” she said darkly.

“This is a warning. You cannot live the rest of your lives knowing that your actions are not your own. It will destroy you. It destroyed me!”
“What do you mean, our actions are not our own?”

She stopped, realising she had said more than she meant to. “Leave. Now.”
We left. I looked back as we walked down the path, to see her shut the door and move back inside the house, dematerialising once more. We went as far as the intersection between our ways home in silence, at which point Nick turned to me, rummaging in his bag for something. “I almost forgot,” he said, handing me something.

“This is a fish.”

“How very astute of you. See ya.”
“Wait! Why are you giving me a fish?”

“Because that empty tank in your room is disturbing”
I turned to start walking home.

“Oh, Kate?” he called after me.


“That pop-up add for...body part enlargement. Do you happen to know the name of the site...?”
End of part one

Thanks again if you've made it to here!

Credits are as in the intro, the next part should be out pretty soon.

Comments, feedback and food are all appreciated!

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12 Comment(s) so far

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#3jarletJul 21, 2012

This awesome story hooked me! It's very intriguing...5 stars,too!\:D

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#5Bby-LJul 22, 2012

want read more.. \:wub\:

#6thunderdateJul 22, 2012

uh, thats really good!

#7oldmember_lucianna88Jul 22, 2012

This is brilliant, it reminds me of the X-files lol. There's a good balance in your story; it's quite scary but not to the extent of being absurd and far fetched. Good writing and as someone else said it's intriguing. I will definitely read the next part.

#8HumorMehJul 23, 2012

I feel like these sims are on the cusp of something...something...INTERESTING. (And worth reading) Your part one did not disappoint. Great shots. Great writing. KEEP IT UP! Oh, and P.S.: I like the interwoven humor, (it's humorous).

#9rasmusjeVIPJul 23, 2012

Interesting story, also very funny \:\)
And a GREAT front page picture! \:D

#10fofoguitJul 24, 2012

Amazing story writing.I love that this gets you hooked.5 stars definitely \:D

#11framadsJul 25, 2012

waiting for the part two! \;\)

#12keishafellerJul 26, 2012

That was great! I wonder why Mrs tanner suddenly braced up and refused to tell them the truth. And what is the truth anyways? Nick definitely has a thing for her!\:D

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