Entry 231 : Writing Prompt #1 - A Good Beginning


It was a rotten smell, almost like something had died and dried up in his pants. What was worse was that that was his best pair. The tiny room he had rented for the past uncountable months was in shambles. The only light that came through was from a small partition in the curtains, where it would be pitch black in the night time, not counting the light from his phone screen. The bed was filled with food containers and wrappers, unread papers, and adult-sized diapers. The floor was littered with dirty clothes and random glass beds while the walls were crying tears of alcohol from all the abuse. There was only one place to sit in the whole room and only one path that was safe to walk on. The bathroom was the room's only saving grace, only because it was shared and never once was used by him.

Anything he needed, he would procure off the internet - it was how most people lived their lives anyway. There was never a need for him to go outside. Everything was there. Right there in his hands. The advent of interactionless communication made it all the more easier for him to stay in a state of recluse. What was supposed to help the masses attain their wants and needs in a more convenient way had become the sole reason he remains alive in his prison. Sure, he had friends who loved him, but they gave up after the first few weeks. Relatives? Well, when have they ever helped in dire situations anyway? His last hope was his parents, but they had aged twice the normal rate trying to piece him back together. He was a complete mess. Everything was simply amiss.

The money he had saved up over the years of working as a professional game consultant assured his survival for the remainder of what little life he still had. He had been on numerous projects, collaborating with big-name companies and high-grade developers. His input was highly valued by the industry and whatever game he touched became a gold mine. Much of his success led to the life he once lived, a full life. A life envied by many. Some nights he would stare at the sky through the skylight of his three-storey bungalow, just thinking about how blessed he was to land such a wonderful job. It was a job he had always enjoyed because it meant that he got to spend his days doing what he loved, which was working with others.

Every moment spent discussing levels, characters, artwork, style, and gameplay was a moment he cherished. Every meeting was an opportunity to learn something new - about the industry, the developer or even the direction games were going. Every time he traveled to a new country, he would take photographs to share with his friends and followers - all 1.35 million of them. Every second of gaming was the highlight of his career.

But the best thing about his job was that it enable him to find the meaning in his life.

There was this one time when he travelled overseas to meet with the developers of a newly-formed indie studio. It was his first time in the country, but it was a country he had heard many things about. He was excited to see new sights and meet new people. It was a Friday when he arrived. He remembers because there was a congregation happening around the meeting venue and was told that it was a weekly thing.

The proceedings of the meeting went by as usual. The reason he agreed to help on this project despite it being the maiden voyage of the studio was the unique storyline-gameplay combo the studio had proposed. However, the meeting was abruptly interrupted when the sound of an alarm went off. Everyone was rushed out of the office into the streets, where most of the members of the earlier congregation were also assembled. A black smoke was visible above a shop nearby and people were seen scrambling away from that general direction.

Amidst all the chaos, a woman shrieking in the middle of the street caught his attention. By this time, the fire had already spread throughout the whole building and the vicinity was under a veil of a huge dark cloud. He hurriedly approached the woman to ask her what was wrong. The woman saw him and immediately grabbed his arms and started screaming incoherent words. The woman kept on screaming and it got louder the more he tried to calm her down. She then started to point at the shop and as he glanced to where she was pointing to, he saw a small head peep from the window of the second storey. There was a child stuck in the upper floor and there was not anyone who wanted to attempt a rescue.

A rush of adrenaline pumped through his veins as he gathered the courage of the earth's gaia force and ran head first into the burning building. Through falling debris and thick smoke, he made his way to the interior of the building only to find the stairs engulfed in flames. It was a tough break as his act of heroism would be put to a shocking halt as the wooden stairs and upper storey made it easier for the fire to spread. Despite his best efforts of looking for another way up, there just was not anything left he could do.

The deafening shrieks of the woman accompanied the sound of debris and furniture falling through the ceiling from the upper floor, creating a horrifying score to the unwinding tragedy of a failed rescue. Mere moments passed by but his lungs began to fill with smoke, forcing him to vacate the building and rejoin the massive crowd that was now witnessing the destruction of the shop.

He tried to find a way out to get back to the rendezvous area but he began to feel nauseous and light-headed. Everything around him started to blur and tilt, with the fiery inferno only a few inches away from licking him alive. The last thing he remembered was hearing the faint sound of a siren before everything turned completely dark.

He awoke to the sounds of whimpering and stern instructions, and the screeching of wheels against linoleum. There was an odd load on his right arm, to which he turned to see what it was. It was the woman from the street from earlier. She was sobbing with her head leaned against his arm. He tried to talk but his voice would not come out. He slowly forced a few words from his mouth,

"Where is she?"

She looked at him, with her eyes as red as rubies, drenched in tears. She could not stop crying for just one moment to respond to his question. Every time she tried to speak, all she could manage was a loud moan followed by even more tears. The more she cried, the more he realized.

It was a Friday when he lost his daughter. Then his wife a few days later. One was overwhelmed by flames, the other by guilt and sorrow. Shortly after, he started to lose his job, his house, and lastly himself.

So now, he has imprisoned himself in the tiny room that bears no light, sitting in the darkness amongst the pile of decaying rubbish. As he stares at his phone screen, he struggles to find the positivity left in his whole being. As he writes this story, he struggles to find at least a good beginning to the end of everything.

*      *      *      *     *

Thanks to everyone who sent in their suggestions!
Writing prompt: TITLE
Submitted by: Ibrahim Gambo via Facebook