The Transcriber Part 1

Jan 29, 2010, 3:13 AM |

This is a short story I wrote from October 09 and I finished just yesterday. It's not very good as I haven't had much experience writing stories but I figured that I'd post it here to get some feedback with which I can improve my later stories. This was initially posted in 13 parts on my blog but I'll alter this depending on the response I get here from Part 1. So here is Part 1 of the Transcriber.

The Transcriber Part 1

The earliest memory Josef Karringer had was that of being born. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience, what with the seismic contractions, orgasmic scream-groaning, and the ugly doctor with the white coat and the wart on his nose; it wasn’t a delightful image that he’d plan on revisiting later on in his life when he was in a meditative and reflective mood, or even perhaps when he was lovestruck and needed a few moments to appear dramatically contemplative. But then again, Josef Karringer hadn’t planned on being abducted from his nursery just two days after his birth, taken to a strange facility in the middle of somewhere unknown, brought up in somewhat luxurious solitary confinement until he was exactly the age of two, and then transferred into a blue-walled room where he spent another three years in relative silent comfort. Then, one day, he woke to see that a desk had been placed inside his room. On the desk was a large pad of paper and a book. In front of it was a chair. But he found himself mysteriously drawn toward the object on the chair – a red cushion. Josef stared at the red cushion every single day, ignoring all the other objects but completely fascinated – no, mesmerized – by this cushion. This unexplained phenomena made childhood in the room with the blue walls bearable, but by no means logically enjoyable. The red cushion just made time fly past, and this was a comfort.

Josef’s daily routine of wake, birth, red cushion, sleep continued. He never consciously ate or drank, because unknowingly during his slumber, he would be injected with vital chemicals that could sustain him for the next 24 hours. And so it continued. Seconds folded into fusing minutes that structured days for innumerable months. Then one day, he no longer found himself transfixed by the red cushion. Whatever seemed magical to him about the cushion no longer captured his attention, and he become suddenly more aware of his surroundings. Blue walls, a desk, a book, a pad of paper and a chair. Material objects he’d never seen before in his life. But for whatever reason, he knew what they were. He could associate words with the objects in his room without ever being told once – in fact he’d never spoken a single word to anybody. He didn’t even cry when he was born – but we promised to leave that unfortunate memory in his past, didn’t we?

Abstract curiosity manifested in Josef’s psyche, and he got off the bed on which he had been confined for countless days and slowly – with obvious reluctance, mind you, - walked toward the desk. The first step he took saw his feet give way under the new burden of downward pressure, and he had to crawl toward the chair with the red cushion before awkwardly and painfully lifting himself up and placing himself on the cushion. He felt tired, and whatever energy and enthusiasm he had to examine the contents of the desk was replaced with a sudden urge to rest. An arduous exodus back to his bed took the remaining ounces of strength from his corporeal reserves, and he slumped on the cold unforgiving floor and drifted into nothingness.

Josef awoke in his bed. He had no idea how long he had been unconscious. Then again, he had no concept of time anyway – what did he have to judge it by except periods of time where he would be aware and suddenly not, but then conscious again? And what did it matter, nothing ever happened. It was always just him, the desk, the red cushion and the blue walls. His life could be so easily broken down into fundamental plots but there was no need. Routine dictated the essence of his existence, and whenever Josef doubted, his memories would return to haunt him – memories he had no memory of remembering. In fact, he didn’t – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, or Josef.

Awake, and somewhat rejuvenated, he attempted the journey once more – the trek toward the desk, the book and its forbidden contents. This time he managed to stumble like some semi-delusional alcoholic toward the desk and immerse himself in the soft and welcoming plushy cushion. Determined to give his period of consciousness some self-fulfilled meaning, he took the book that had sat on the desk for as long as he remembered – or was it even longer than that? – and he blew the dust of its cover. On it were lines and squiggles and a picture that he had not yet attributed a word to in his vocabulary.

For Josef Karringer couldn’t read. And the words on the cover, and indeed the internal pages, would be indecipherable to him. And so he yielded no fruits for his labour, and was left slightly more discontented than before. He refused to leave the chair until he fell again into a slumber. When he woke, he was lying again in his bed. He did not know how long he thought about the book, but every living moment was dominated by thoughts of uncovering its secrets, and every sleeping moment – he dreamt. But his dreams were nothing something any learned mortal could understand.

They were an Elysium for his spirit. He envisaged an alternate reality where he could approach the book, pick it up and understand. He did not read it, he did not even open it, but as soon as his hands touched the spine, he would know. He would give anything to know. It would be everything to him to know. But then his eyes would open once again and he’d be greeted by the blue walls. The blue walls. How he hated the blue walls. How he wish he could just be free of the blue walls. With the book. And understand the book; he had to understand the book! For what would there be without understanding? In fact it was the only thing that kept him here. And that stopped him for a moment. He was thinking – rationally – was he motivated by something? A desire – any desire – a longing for some sort of finality and definitive truth?

Since when…?

He glanced at the desk and something caught his attention. Something wasn’t quite right. He closed his eyes for ten seconds. And opened them…

…and saw green walls.