NOTE: This story was written in high school and dug up from the archives after this article. It’s posted as-is, except for a few typos I couldn’t help but correct. Enjoy!
Uh… Welcome ladies and gentlemen… Whoa! Way too formal.
I cleared my throat.
Have I got a story for you! Mmm, not too bad. Wait, I got it, I’ll just… what in the blazes! It’s been recording the whole, no. I didn’t want that, not yet. I was just… I slapped my hand on the table in anger, somehow managing to jam my finger.
I looked up, as if to see someone. Oh, ya. Well, hi there. I kinda got started on the wrong foot. As you can probably tell, I’m this story’s FPN, first person narrator. Not a very good one I suppose. At least not yet. Well, don’t blame me, this is my first time actually narrating. I’m new at this. Learning to do it in class, it seems easy, but actually doing it is really more difficult than you might expect.
You know, no one ever realizes how tough it is to be a FPN. Think about it. Do you realize that we have to talk to ourselves, in an empty room, as if you were right there hanging on our every word. I could be rotting in my grave by the time you read this. Strange isn’t it. You’re not even there right now. Hello! Hello! Well, I know you’re there, just not right now. Well, that is unless this story is so bad no one reads it. Which it might be. I’ve read the little plot I was given to work with, and I must say it’s a sleeper and dreadfully predictable at that.
Holy Cauldfield!!!! The story! I haven’t started it yet. Whoa, look at that triple exclamation. I didn’t know I could do that. Just a second, I want to try something.
Cool! My scream’s in capitals. It just goes to show this contraption is worth something after all. You should see this thing. I have to wear this huge punchbowl-shaped helmet which required me to shave my head so that the circuits would all hook up right. I really don’t see why I need it when I could just record everything I’m thinking, but I suppose it’s not as natural then. Plus, my screams wouldn’t do that capital thing. AAARRRGGGHH!!!! Oh, I love that.
The punchbowl really is worth the pain though. The wages are generous and I get free health and dental care along with paid vacations. It really is a good life when you think about it. All I have to do is wear this monstrosity. Well, that and I have to go through some rather rigorous mind-training courses. But I’d rather not talk about that. I’m not doing all that well in those classes.
But this first “training” assignment sure is a doozy. I picked this Hayden guy’s story because it had “Sword” in the title. Never pick a story by its title. I mean, how was I supposed to know the sword was some sort of underlying symbolism-metaphor thingy? I sighed and laid my head in my hands. I guess that’s what the synopses were attached for.
Listen, here’s a brief summary. I’m supposed to be some innocent bystander who goes on and on and on about this awful and heartbreaking thing this one guy did. I won’t say anymore because it really is awful depressing. Anyway, how am I supposed to go on and on and on when Hayden barely gave me the bare outlines of a plot, and then expect me to give it personality. Obviously he doesn’t have any himself. He’s just some two-cent writer anyways. How far downhill we have come since good old Huck.
You know, Mark Twain and Huck Finn, well Huck’s FPN, they’re kinda like patron saints around here. Just those two got the whole industry started over here in the States. And Twain knew what he was doing. Sir “Huckleberry” Gregorheimer, as we fondly call him, collaborated hours with Twain to get the story done. They have their share of legends. I should know. I took a Gregorheimer: The Myth and the Man as an elective. Mrs. Middleberry sure did know how to beat all the fun out of a class.
Sir Gregorheimer really was a genius FPN, though. I mean, the description, the powerful statements, the dialects! You’d never know Huck was the German Sir Gregorheimer. Aye ‘ope aye ca’ been haf wha’ he wa’. That was awful!! Please stop laughing. I know you are. I don’t even know what dialect I was trying to do. I’ll have to practice; maybe even take one of those electives. I shuddered at the thought.
You know the description of my actions doesn’t really flow. My mind isn’t very controlled it seems, as teachers seem to love to point out. Well, let’s see if I can manage to invent some actions. Okay, here’s a short, little trial story.
Darkness surrounded me. Owls hooted eerily in the trees as I tried to run without tripping over stray roots. My breath came in quick pants and my nerves were on edge. My stomach growled because it was past lunch. That screeching scream that had so haunted me in my dreams seemed to be closer now. I tried to run faster but my legs felt like weights. I came to an opening suddenly and the clouds moved to reveal the moon. A moon as full as…as…as a big tall glass of hot cocoa with those little marshmallows and – but the scream came once more. There was no cover. I was stiff with fear. I tried to move my head but there was a punchbowl, no, an invisible hand holding it in place. Then out of nowhere the monster appeared.
I considered. Well, I slipped a couple of times. The scream was a rather nice touch, though, if I do say so myself. I guess I’m about ready to get on with Hayden’s dumb story. If only I remembered how to reset this thing…
Whoa! What’s that blinking red light. Now the bowl’s gone whaco. I hope they don’t expect me to pay for the damages because if…
I heard a noise behind me.
“Fred Milish, your time is up. Others are waiting,” a voice said.
Oh, this is just great. It’s the Slave-Driver, come with tidings of unpleasant things, no doubt.
“But I’m not done! I still have plenty to do.”
“Trainees have to share this machine, Mr. Milish, and your time is up.”
“But I haven’t even…”
“Would you like to spend another day cleaning toilets, Mr. Milish?”
“Okay, okay. Just give me time to wrap this up.”
“You have one minute.”
I tried to glare at him, but he ignored it. Cursed man! Oh well, at least I don’t have to do Hayden’s story yet. Maybe I can switch assignments with George, he’d like this depressing stuff, think it’s all very moving and intellectually stimulating. I hope he takes it. Goodbye! I hope someone is reading this.
Now if I could only shut this thing off. Wait this blinking button says