Disclaimer: This is a story written in cooperation with an A.I machine that is free for all -- A.I Dungeon. This story is set in an alternative universe where many things have changed about me. Regardless, I played my part while I tried to be honest with myself. Because of the site's A.I policy, this is a rare occasion where I collaborate with A.I in order to write something.
In this universe, I am Tomasio E. Rubinshtein, a person whose mental state is more disturbed than my own (and I'm glad that it is). I took inspiration from the Silent Hill franchise, but without the horror being involved. A sudden character, created by the A.I, appears and begins to haunt T. E. Rubinshtein's thoughts...
I am Tomasio E. Rubinshtein, a fatigued writer. I live in a cheap hotel that is situated near the station in the East End of London. My chronic fatigue prevented many opportunities from me.
I was educated in the university and had a position, but I was forced to resign owing to a nervous breakdown. That was ten years ago.
I only exist to write, and for some reason, even writing has recently made me exhausted. I used to be a human being, but now I am only a machine that converts words into letters, then letters into sounds, and then sounds into words again.
I drink coffee to ease the pain caused by my syndrome. I always wear headphones since I am extremely sensitive to sound. I can't stand conversations with other people, nor can I bear to be in a crowd. Noise drives me out of my mind. I have no friends. I go out only to buy bread and newspapers. I have a philosophy blog where I write my thoughts.
I only have one desire: to sleep. I have no desires. I have no desire, other than writing until I eventually die. My life has become a hell. I can't stop thinking about it. I can't stop thinking about writing. I can't stop thinking about sleep. I can't stop thinking about anything. I sometimes wonder how my life would've been if it weren't for this cursed fatigue.
"I'm not used to this, either. What should I do?" "Nothing. There's nothing you can do." "But I don't know what to do."
All I can do, is to learn alongside it. I have faith that I will become accustomed to it. In time, I will become a better writer, and maybe, I'll find a cure… Who am I kidding? I'm no scientist, let alone a researcher.
"What did you say your name was?"
It is something no one says to me due to the isolation I put myself in. Most people avoid me like the plague.
"How old are you?"
"Thirty-four. Birthday's in December."
"Christmas is coming up."
"I'll be working tomorrow. Are you going to be working as well?"
"I am too disabled to work. I tried working before, but it was too difficult."
"How old were you when you got sick?"
"I was eighteen."
"You don't have to say anything. I'm going to go now. I'll see you tomorrow."
I go to my hotel room and drink coffee with my headphones. I wait for a few hours until I can't keep my eyes open anymore.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Tomasio Rubinshtein. I'll see you tomorrow." I think about it. I wonder who is she? I hope it's not a ghost. I hope it's not a ghost.
And then I fall asleep. And then I fall asleep. The next day arrives. It is the same day as yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. I don't get up until noon. I make another coffee as I wait for that mysterious lady to visit me once more.
She comes at one. I only manage to say "Hello" and "Goodbye" before she says, "I'm back."
She says she has something to tell me. I hope that's not another ghost.
"What do you have to tell me?"
"I bought iced coffee for you."
"Is this your first time coming to this side of London today?"
The woman finally introduces herself.
"Who are you?" I ask in a fluster. Is this a dream? No, this can't be a dream.
"The name's Veronica. I am a friend."
"How... how do you know me?"
"We went to the same high school. I used to be friends with your sister, Maria (Edit: not her real name, but I do have a sister. The A.I. somehow was right about that). She told me about you. I was worried that something happened to you."
This is all very strange.
"What did you think happened to me?"
"I thought maybe your relatives took you to a mental hospital or something. Your sister also told me you were in a coma for a while."
"I never was in a coma, and I was only hospitalized to be properly diagnosed. I am simply too exhausted to do anything extensively. I haven't read a book since 2018."
"I see. She also told me that you can't talk like a so-called "normal" person. Is that right?"
"What's getting in the way?"
"Speaking and breathing at the same time... it's oh-so difficult. Veronica… I don't understand your intentions."
"I came here today, because I wanted to bring you a gift."
"A gift? What kind of gift?" I ask in a hopeful tone. A gift would be incredibly nice right now.
"What kind of gift is it?"
"It's a cookie. Maria brought it from home."
"Is it delicious?" I ask.
"Cookies are delicious." She nods obviously. "I love Maria. She's the best. You must be proud of her."
"I'm glad." Veronica and I stare at each other for another moment before she leaves. I never understood why some people do that.
I wonder why she gave me this gift. What does she want from me? I need to find out. I get up and make another coffee. I stare at the blank white walls in front of me and wonder what to write. What will I write tomorrow? I hope I'll find out soon. It is fortunate that I live from welfare. Otherwise, I would be forced to write every day, and I doubt I could've afforded a laptop, let alone a contract with a publisher.
I am still thinking when I fall asleep. In my dreams... I see myself as a young boy. I see myself in this house. I see myself as a grown man. I see myself as an old man. I keep seeing myself as myself. Is the dream a metaphor? What could this mean, I wonder? I close my eyes to focus on the dream.
"I will see you tomorrow."
Another morning rises. Another coffee is made. Another day of waiting is upon me. A day destroyed by fatigue. I am glad tomorrow is Tuesday. I can see the looming spectre of work on Friday. I am certain I will have no more Mondays. I see you on Tuesday. I see you on Wednesday. I call Veronica, only to be informed that she isn't in.
I approach my computer and think of what to write. I write "She is here on a Tuesday and there on a Wednesday. She is always around on a Thursday, however. I think I shall write something about Thursday."
When I wrote that spontaneous nonsense, a memory of the far past evoked within me. A former friend.
It was Thursday, I was at a library. She was with me. She was running in front of me. She was skipping in front of me. I don't want to think of that Thursday ever again.
I change my mind and decide to write "She is always around on a Thursday. I will never think of that Thursday again." I hit save on the file. I wonder if this counts as writing. I gather my energies in order to make something worthier than this. I write "I must save this file."
"Good job, I thought so. We'll never think of that Thursday again."
After saving the file, I write "Did you come up here on a Thursday?"
What is going on? Am I... hearing voices? I lean forward and take a good look at my computer screen. Nothing is happening, but I am terrified.
"I don't understand. I don't see anyone. Who are you? Why are you here?"
"That's because I came as a spirit."
"A spirit? What do you mean?" A spirit of whom? I can't breathe, but nobody came. I can't breathe, but I know I can. I know I can. I know I can.
"I came to bring you an answer."
"An answer to what?" I scream. But nobody hears me. What is the answer you're trying to give me, ghost?
"I can't tell you. I can't tell you. I can't tell you. I can't tell you. I'm losing my mind. I'm losing my life. I can't tell you."
"I am more rational than you might think I am! What is your answer, ghost?"
"I c-can't tell you. I c-can't tell you. I c-can't tell you. I c-can't tell you."
I'll never know.
"If you're a cowardly messenger, why are you here? Why can't you tell me?"
"I'm s-sorry. I'm s-so sorry. I'm s-so sorry. I'm s-so sorry." And then, nothing.
A knock on the door is heard. A loud, commanding, demanding, authoritative knock. I don't want to see whoever it is, but I have no choice.
I open the door. It's Veronica. She's angry.
"Are you okay, Veronica?" I ask, as I approach her.
She looks at me, not saying a word. She says something. I don't understand. I can't understand her. I know she's angry, though.
"Would you like some coffee? I ask, as I motion to the kitchen.
"No," she says, her voice low and venomous. What's going on? Why is she mad at me?
"Are you okay, Veronica? You don't look okay," I reply.
"You listen to me, Bennett," she says. Who is Bennett? I wonder. The silence disturbs me.
She resumes. "You don't go around opening my doors without asking me. Understood?"
"Yes, ma'am," I say, my hands in my pockets. What did I do?
"I didn't open any of your doors, though. Are you confusing me with someone else?"
"You also don't get too familiar with my sister. Understood?"
"Yes, ma'am," I reply, intimidated. "What did I do? I didn't ask your sister anything. What did I do? I didn't even know you had a sister, Veronica.
"You listen to me, Bennett," she shrieks. I cover my ears in anxiety, trying to protect myself.
She resumes once more. "I'll bust your skinny little neck if you don't listen to me!"
Now I'm scared. What did I do? I don't want to go to jail. I'll never see my family again.
I gather my fortitude and ask her to leave. "Veronica, leave me alone. Please, I need some time to myself. Can't we talk about this later? Please, I need some space," I say.
Silence. What did I say wrong?
She looks at me, and then she walks away.
I'm alone again. I lean against the counter and cry. I don't know what I've done. I'm lost. I am unable to understand her intentions on my own. I'm autistic. I don't know why she was so mad that I opened the door for her. I only know that I did not.
It is now the morning of the next Friday.
"Well, this is interesting. How did you come in, Veronica? I locked the door! Don't open the door for anybody but you."
"I came in through the chimney." How weird.
"What is it that you want from me, Veronica? Do you really see me as a friend? Why do you act like you do? What do you want from me?"
Veronica reveals her true intentions. "I want to be your friend."
"No, you're not my friend. That's why I purposefully seclude myself from the world," I explain. "Emotional attachment leads to misery!"
I continue, contradicting myself due to temptation. "You can be my friend if you want, Veronica, but why were you angry at me yesterday? Why did you try to shut down my site?"
Veronica explains: "Because I thought you were after my job."
"What? I was only thinking about getting to know you better! I have a good job. Veronica... Actually, I have no job. I'd be probably unemployed for the rest of my life, and my only "job" is a blog I run online. I'm a blogger. I post things on the Internet."
"I don't understand. Why would you say that?"
"I have no intention of taking over your own business or whatever, Ms. Veronica. Your anxiety is baseless."
"I wasn't talking about your so-called career."
"Then what is the problem? What is it you're trying to say, Veronica?"
"I... don't know. I just don't like you."
"Can't we just be friends? Friends don't usually judge each other," I say.
Awkward, frustrating silence.
"Fine. Friends don't judge each other. I'm your friend, Bennett. Friends don't judge each other. Got it," Veronica says in resentful defeat.
"Great. My name is not Bennett, by the way..."
"You're a weirdo, Bennett. You know that?"
"Yes, I do. I'm a weirdo," I say, smiling in confusion.
Sometime later, we sit at a park.
"Hey. I made you a mix." She tells me, offering me another gift.
"A mix of what?"
"Just listen to it when you get home. I think you'll like it. I wrote a little something on the bar. It's by the blender," she said, hurrying away from the park we were in.
I arrived at the bar and ordered another sugarless coffee. I gathered my courage and discovered a note on the blender, which I read in my mind:
"I hope you like it. It's a mix of a few of my favorite songs. Love, Veronica"
I walked down the hallway, wondering how long it had been since I had done anything like this. It had been almost a decade or two, maybe.
Some people might think highly of me, but I generally consider myself a nobody.
I went to my hotel room and put the disc into my computer. I put on my headphones and listened.
I listened and listened, until my eyes were blurry with tears. I hummed along and danced a little in my chair. The music was unfamiliar to me, but it was beautiful. It made me wonder what Veronica wanted from me. This all seemed absurd and pointless. I was a nobody. But maybe that's what made it special.
Then, I started to write. I wrote about how I felt, and what I had learned. The music Veronica had mixed for me inspired me to write a full article. I was quite pleased with myself.
However, I still couldn't understand what she wanted from me, or why she seemed to hold me in such high regard.
At the end of the day, all I could do was wait and pray. I prayed not to a god, but for better knowledge, so that I could feel more relaxed and understanding of reality. I was done writing for the day. I was really quite tired.
The next morning, her mix CD was sitting on my desk. I grabbed it and put it in my bag. How did she know my music taste without me even telling her?
I think about writing again, but what is there to say? I'm nobody. I'm just a nobody, and that's okay. I pack my bag and leave the hotel. I spend my money on a cheap coffee and a tuna sandwich at the local café, knowing well that every day for me is like the weekend. I walk around the city, enjoying the sights and sounds. I get on the subway to go to my rented office.
I spend my hours there writing, thinking about the next article, thinking about nothing, thinking about everything. I've decided to stop going to this devoid, windowless office due to the thoughts that haunt me, and due to my chronic fatigue...
The extra money's not worth it for someone who works poorly due to disabilities.
The name of the CD is... "A Mix of You." What... what does she mean? What does she want from me? I enter the hotel room and make more coffee to sooth my nerves. I sit down on the bed and listen to the CD once more, now that I got to actually look at the cover.
I'm just a nobody, but God made me for a reason. I need to take this as a sign, to turn a new chapter in my life.
...But I don't even believe in gods! What are these thoughts? What new chapter is there for me, when there is no more hope left for me? I will always be susceptible to anxiety, to stress and to panic attacks! Other people only empower it, especially when they get too close to me! I don't need friends! They only increase my stress; the idea that I'd be abandoned once more and be treated by dirt due to dysfunctional me!
I'm done. I'll end it all right now. I've had enough. I'm done. I get my half-full coffee cup and put the disk in the cup with anger. The CD becomes dysfunctional beyond repair. I am not a mixture!
A knock on the door is heard. Whoever it is, it's not my sister.
"Come in!" I speak. The door opens, and Veronica appears. What does she want? Why won't she leave? Veronica comes in, smiling. Why won't she leave me alone? I'm a good person. I'm a nice person. Why won't she leave me alone?
"I wanted to listen to your music." She speaks. "My music? What music? I don't have any music. I don't know who you are."
Why is she here? Why is she still here?
"Relax" she says compassionately, "Everything is fine."
"I'm... done with it."
"Done with what, Tomasio?" She asks.
"Everything. I don't want to be a writer anymore. I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to be a part of this!"
"But Tomasio, how could you say that? You're a great writer!"
"No, I'm not."
"Yes, you are! And I know you'll get globally relevant soon. Your articles make people think! You make people... care! Yes! You make them care, even if it makes them mad at you!"
"If I make people care, then I'll let you know something. I destroyed the CD you gave me. Why can't you just leave me alone, like you all done before, again and again? What is it about me that makes you want to be a part of my life? I just like to write and philosophize. It's simple"
Veronica sighs in despair. "I just like you, Tomasio. It's really not that hard to understand, as well. When people like other people, they want to-"
"I don't want to be a part of this anymore." I stopped her speech with an exhausted sigh. "Please, just go."
"Okay, I'm leaving." She says, walking out of the door, never to be seen again, like bits of sand in the desert wind.
As she left, I realized my inner desire once more. The desire to be left alone and to write to the shadows of the world. I can't do anything else that's worthwhile enough, so there's no point in trying other things... I'm done with this story.
And should another Veronica come in, if that'd even be a possibility, then my frustration with this absurdity is here to stay.