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Endings and Applause

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Author Topic: Endings and Applause  (Read 129 times)
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« on: November 05, 2007, 07:37:49 am »

Please note that the following takes place in the same world as 'Do You Remember the Stars' (A mist/cloud covers the sky so stars cannot be seen). It might make more sense if you read 'Do You Remember the Stars'  first.

Endings and Applause

In front of him what previously was a human was lying peacefully. All he could think about was the calm peaceful smile, the eyes partially covered with blood, and how it called out to him. Around him people gathered to look at the shell that was left behind. Five minutes later someone called the police.

The sky glowed radiant white, showering the city with an angelic light, as if showing the door to heaven itself. The wind was warm and comforting. As he walked away from the crowd, Kaze thought to himself, 'It is a beautiful day to die.' Soon enough the police came and took over the scene; the crowd returned to its daily routine.

The door to Kaze's apartment swung open soundlessly, which was quite rare. What little light that came into the room highlighted the clock on the table. He was gone for a mere hour. Somehow it seemed a lot longer, yet shorter. It didn't matter.

He opened the fridge door and grabbed a slice of bread which he unceremoniously stuffed into the toaster. As the rod inside the toaster turned bright red, he fried the sausage that he just bought. The lively sound of oil popping flowed around the room, filling it with life, complimented by the aroma of a quarter of an onion which he chopped into little squares and slide them into the pan.

Dumping the result onto a plate, he walked to the pile of pillows next to the low table, set his plate down, and sat on the pillows. He started eating his dinner for the day.

The laptop on the low table revived itself from standby mode. He could hear the hum of a cooling fan, the gentle familiar sound, along with the regular sound of the clock, lulled him into relaxation. Music filled the air as the media program ran. Alongside it, a notepad window popped up.

You are in that mood again.

Kaze smiled and typed; I don't remember turning your web-cam on.

I figured out how to do it without human interface. What happened?

He looked at the blinking cursor thinking about the answer. The program inside his computer was rather different from the rest of the programs in the world. One might even call it unique. A program, no, more accurately a being, which had evolved from flowing data somewhere in the networks of millions of computers into something that could be called sentient. Kaze did not know the details of its creation. He doubted he could understand it with his current knowledge of computers, and did not question its motive for existing in this particular laptop.

The rough sound of plastic against plastic was heard as he typed the event that occurred. The being took in his words quietly, almost as if it were a child listening to a story. For awhile there was no reaction.

I still do not know the experience of 'death' though I have come across it in lots of data. I believe you have tried to explain it as shutting down permanently, but then I still exist in the network.

Kaze opened a few other programs before looking at what it wrote. He laughed; neither I, nor any other human is able to explain to you what the experience of death is. That aside, you are not human, so I doubt you can understand us fully, as I can't understand you fully. That's why I explain it as shutting down forever. We are afraid of dying because we do not know if a network exists for us to exist in it.

He looked at the screen blankly for a minute, before starting his research. Not many people jump off buildings, with or without the intent of killing themselves, though the former outnumber the latter greatly. Reading through suicide notes in various blogs, he confirmed his assumption. Most people were simply running away from the world.

There were many posts about “it's not worth it anymore.” It always made him wonder. What's not worth it? Life? Being Human?

He closed the laptop and turned off the light before changing into something more comfortable. The fan was still humming in the background. The web cam moved.

The abandoned building where the girl jumped off of stood alone amongst houses. The gray walls that encompassed the rooms felt cold to the touch. The darkness in the hallways promised of surprises at each corner, yet none was found.

There was silence, only to be broken by careful steps and the shutter sound, which could probably be heard all the way on the other side of the building. He felt guilty, as if he were intruding on sacred grounds. Nevertheless it did not stop him from raising his camera and taking pictures of empty rooms where shadows played.


He climbed to the roof, finding a beautiful sun shining down on him. It was early in the morning, when the streets were empty and the residence of the city just starting to wake up. The moon could still be seen, though the opaque cloud dims its brilliance. He could nearly see all the way to the edges of the city. For a few seconds Kaze just stood there absorbing the view. He went to the edge of the building and raised the camera, freezing the moment into place.

A sense of gravity suddenly seized him, causing him to look down at the ground, where the body have laid the day before. It was now just another piece of cold concrete surrounded by yellow tape.

The sound of footsteps from the stairwell attracted his attention. A girl carrying a colorful bundle in her arms came into view. From her uniform he could see that she was a highschool student. Her eyes settled on him before continuing on to the edge of the roof.

The girl walked slowly past him and threw a handful of orchids and jasmine petals off the roof. Kaze watched the petals journey as they glide amongst the wind as if they were beautiful butterflies sent there to collect the soul that lay where its body used to be, on the cool concrete floor.

Absentmindedly he raised his camera to photograph the strange scene. In that instant the clouds thinned and the sun’s rays rained down upon them, catching the petals in a glorious dance of the material and immaterial. Kaze lowered his camera. No camera in the world deserved to trap such a beautiful moment.

A small smile formed on the girl’s face, her face alit with silent approval. She turned towards him and asked him, “Are you here to pay respect to the dead as well?” her voice light like the petals she just threw.

Kaze looked at her curious eyes and suddenly felt guilty. “No,” he said, “I guess I’m here as a bystander.”

Her eyes narrowed. “You saw her when she hit the ground didn’t you,” she asked.

The wind picked up, changing the path of the petals gentle decent. The few pedestrians below that noticed them slowed down to watch them. An old man stopped his journey to the cemetery and smiled as the petals dance with the wind.

“Yes I did,” he said, shifting the weight of his body slightly to the left.

The girl looked at him, as if searching for some minute detail. “What did you think of it, her fall?” she said, tilting her head.

Kaze thought back to that moment when the body had lay in front of him, empty. “It was peaceful,” he said, “I think she enjoyed it.” He chuckled quietly. “But why would anyone enjoy that?”

“No, you’re probably right,” she said, thinking. She sat on the edge of the roof and leaned back to look at the street below. “She was a nice person. People generally liked her, even if she were always talking about the stars. You should’ve seen some of her paintings, they were quite nice. She would not have jumped off to escape or anything.”

“So, then?”

“Do you remember the phenomenon that happened a couple of week back?” she asked him.

“When the clouds surrounding the north thinned?” he said, sitting down next to her.

“We were on a school trip during that time,” she said, “Up north. All of us saw the stars.”

“Must’ve been nice,” he said, “Though I’m too much of a city person to care much. She must’ve been ecstatic.”

The girl stayed silent for a minute walking away from him before turning around, smiling. “She just stood there, looking at the sky, like a tree embracing the sun after a long night. She didn’t move until the clouds covered the sky once again.”

A pigeon landed on the other side of the roof, catching the attention of the girl, who walked towards it, but kept talking. “Afterwards, she was quiet. Thinking a lot I guess. It was her dream to see the stars once more, her goal in life. She was planning to become a pilot, so that she could travel past the clouds, yet suddenly her dream was realized. She felt like her life was complete.” She stopped for a moment and looked back at him, with the soft light of the morning sun behind her.

“So she ended it,” she said.

Kaze stayed quiet. Once again silence washed over the rooftop, only broken by people on the ground, rushing between destinations and the gentle sound of bird wings flapping against the air, flying to nowhere. “Who are you?” he said.

“I am her best friend,” the girl said. There was no real emotion behind the statement, because it was merely that, a statement of a fact.

That alone made Kaze hesitate. “You’re ok with her ending her life at such a young age?”

The girl squatted to get a better look at the pigeon. It ignored her and started to walk clumsily. “She died happy. Do you know how many people do that? Do you know how many people can applaud at their own ending?” she asked, her voice not losing its lightness, “Would you be able to, Mr. Photographer?”

Kaze stared at the young girl, a wave of despair rolling over him. He felt cold, afraid. He did not answer the question. He could not. He was afraid of the answer, of how certain he was of the answer. “Would you?”

She stood up and turned around, giving him a wide smile. “Live to see tomorrow, live to die tomorrow, everyday,” she said, “as long as I can do that, then I will be able to.”

Their eyes met and held. Kaze did not know why he did what he did next, but he lifted the camera and took the picture of the girl; smiling happily, celebrating her friend’s decision, her hair being caressed by the wind, and the morning light covering her like a veil.

The shutter closed and opened. The girl turned around. “Don’t worry, there is still time to live Mr. Photographer,” she said, “Don’t give up just yet. You have your entire life to spend.” With that she bowed and went down the stairs.

All of the petals now rested on the pavement, marking the resting spot of a soul. The people walking over it did not notice them, save a few. No one heard the gentle laughter that came from the rooftop of the abandoned building.

The gentle hum of the cooling fan welcomed Kaze back home. The sun was setting, throwing golden light into the room, making everything seem warmer, yet sadder. Another day passed as time mercilessly went by.

He sat on the floor and reached for the keyboard. Listen, he started to write, and the being listened. When he finished typing, it had no response. Kaze smiled, stood up, and went to the kitchen to cook dinner. On the screen was a notepad program running with these words written;

Listen; you asked me what death was and I didn’t know how to answer you. Now I think I understand slightly more about it. Death is completion of the living. It is the ending of a story. It is a goal that everyone will pass, a reminder, and it is what makes life perfect.

The being burned the words into its memory. It did not know how he felt, nor would it ever know how he felt, because he was human and it was not. No. That was not it. It will never know because he was him and it was it. They were two different beings after all. Yet…

Yes, I think I understand.
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So we look up at the sky and dream of  it, as the days pass us by mercilessly

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Tau Worlock
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« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2007, 02:02:00 pm »

Looks good. the scene on the roof top seemed odd to me, the converstation felt unnatural, staged. Not something that might actually happen.

At the beginning it says that after five minuets someone called the police. This seems like a very very long time. I could understand if it was arrive but to nobody to phone for five minutes seems odd.

A program, no, more accurately a being, which had evolved from flowing data somewhere in the networks of millions of computers into something that could be called sentient.

Reads a fine but is a bit rough, try something like

A program, no, more accurately, it was a being. That had evolved from flowing data somewhere in the networks of millions of computers into something that deserved to be called sentient.

Kaze provides the thing with information, but what does he get in return? As right now their relationship is very one sided.

For a moment I though that the dead girl might be the same as in the last story, but that seems unlikely now.

Any way nice to see another story from you.
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