The Void and The Machine

Author's note: this is my autobiography, abstracted to the basics.

The visible world was a thin, uniform fog above a featureless surface. In the middle lay a single blemish, a human head. Barely perceptible was the body attached to it, clothed in white against the white backdrop. The man lay sleeping... not the peaceful sleep of choice, but the dreamless, fitful sleep of necessity.

The man awoke to the discomfort of the hard surface beneath him. He rolled over, opened one eye, saw only blinding white light, and closed it again. Listening intently, he could hear nothing -- a deep, pervasive silence. He opened both eyes together and was hit again by the light, but soon adjusted to it. He could see the smooth floor extending in all directions, blending in the distance with the heavy air. There were no walls, and the man himself was the only object.

A vision came into his mind of another world. It was a world full of complexity, of colors and sounds and activity. It was a world of purpose. He longed for that more stimulating world. He could not say if the images in his mind were memory, dream or delusion... he knew only that it gave him motivation to explore.

Slowly, carefully, he stood. "Hello?" he called. The fog seemed to eat the sound. There was no echo. Reaching out into the air he searched for resistance. Cautiously he took a step forward, then another. He began to walk. Nothing held him back.

Every step brought the man to a place which seemed identical to every other place. He wondered if he might not be moving at all, if the floor might adjust itself with each step to keep him in place. He wondered if he might be heading away from the exit instead of toward it. He wondered if direction held meaning at all.

A black dot in the distance caught his attention. It moved. He moved toward it and it grew into a person, clothed in black. "Hello," she introduced herself. "Do you know the way out?"

The man in white shook his head. "I was hoping you would."

The woman in black frowned, hesitated a moment, then turned her back to him and walked onward. The man in white followed silently. She was his only landmark, so he would follow as long as necessary.

After a while another black dot coalesced out of the fog into the figure of a man. The man in black introduced himself to the woman. "Hello. Do you know the way out?"

"I think it's this way," she replied, "Care to join me?"

The man in white couldn't help noticing that his companions walked side by side while he lagged behind invisibly. Neither would have noticed if he'd turned and gone another way.

A few minutes later another black-clad figure joined, and the frequency of encounters accelerated until the group grew large. With each addition the man in white's discomfort intensified. The larger the mass of people, the more alone he felt. Each arrival melted seamlessly into the pack, leaving him ever more conspicuously on the outside.

"Look!" a woman shouted. She was pointing at a door which had just come into view. The collective sprinted toward it in unison, while the man in white walked slowly behind.

The door was nothing ordinary. There were no buttons, no handles, no indication of how it should open. The people gathered themselves and flung their bodies against it, but came away with only bruises. At last they withdrew to rest and plan, leaving room for the man in white to approach it.

He approached not with the desperation of the others, but with curiosity. The door was smooth, as was the wall around it. The frame blended with it, almost imperceptibly except for the color difference. The man ran his finger slowly along the edge. He came to a spot which felt warm, and paused there. He pushed it lightly, and a section of wall slid away to reveal a button. He pushed the button and the door slid aside, revealing a busy and colorful world beyond.

It was as if the place beyond were a vacuum sucking the people into it. Streams of men and women rushed eagerly through the small opening into the outside world. The man in white stood aside watching them exit. When all others were gone he stepped into the doorway to take a closer look at what they had sought.

A wave of anxiety rolled over him, washing out his calm curiosity and leaving a primitive terror. He stepped back from the edge and steadied himself. The world beyond the door was a giant machine of unfathomable complexity, billions of parts moving in perfect synchronization at incredible speeds. A single misstep could plunge him into the bottomless void below.

He recognized the figures of his former companions, darting about adeptly, leaping from platform to platform, smiling, laughing, without a care in the world. At last he understood the totality of the chasm separating him from them. A move they could perform in a second he could do in a year. What they understood innately, he could never hope to comprehend. This was their world, the white emptiness behind was his.

He watched for an opening in the chaos, a safe platform from which he might begin to work his way into the monstrous mechanism. There was none. Jagged platforms whizzed by his feet, rose high above, lurched and dropped out of sight into the endless unknown. He stood for an hour looking out at it, imagining himself there. There was no hope.

The man in white stood back and closed the door. He turned away and wandered aimlessly into the white expanse. Soon, with nothing else to do, he laid himself out on the hard surface to sleep.


Well-known member
This is awesome! I read some of your other stories as well. You really are a great writer. Have you thought about writing a book? If you haven't, you should :)


Well-known member
Hoth said:
I'd love to, but I just don't have the attention span or epic idea to pull off a novel
So? Write short stories and have them published in magazines! Easier to sell than novels, anyway. We need SP writers. I won't write anything good any time soon, especially if I stay focused on novels and fanfiction. You're a lot better than I am, and you write short stuff.
Riiya - I don't see the typo. Maybe you're saying the comma before the second quote should be a period? Not sure if that's a rule or not, the comma somehow represents the flow better to me. Agreed on removing "excitedly."

Helyna said:
So? Write short stories and have them published in magazines! Easier to sell than novels, anyway.
Maybe someday, but since I don't read magazines I'm not sure where to submit to. There's virtually no money in short stories from what I hear, and fame isn't very attractive, so the one reason to be published would be to beat my sister who's always been considered the writer in the family. That's a pretty good reason but hasn't overcome laziness so far.

I submitted a radio script once, but dialog is by far my weakest point so it wasn't good enough.

We need SP writers. I won't write anything good any time soon, especially if I stay focused on novels and fanfiction.

You'll get a lot more practice that way.
I guess when I capitalize "Care" I'm ruling out my justification of it as a continuation of the same sentence. But I'm a rebel, freed from the bonds of the grammatical establishment, so my choice was a political call to action. Repeal anti-comma laws now!