Friday 4 July 2014

Dark Fiction - Skip


By Casey Douglass

As part of #fridayflash

I was nineteen when I learned how to skip forward through time. That probably makes me sound like a time traveler but it’s not quite that clever. It’s a mental thing. Somehow my body and mind still function but I’m not there. I never did work out where I went to but I always came back at the right time so didn’t worry about it too much.

I was waiting to go to the cinema one night, had about an hour and a half to kill but couldn’t decide what to do. I felt tired but had a racing mind so didn’t fancy resting as I usually ended up anxious. I didn’t want to watch anything or do much that used a screen as I would be spending a few hours in front of the local IMAX anyway, which usually made my eyes ache after a while. I thought about drawing or writing but no ideas came.

I felt myself getting wound up, that nervous energy feeling that was like a highly charged boredom. Agitation maybe. I sat back in my computer chair and stared off vacantly at nothing in particular. A thought crossed my mind about how cool it would be if I could just jump forward the hour or so and then be ready to go out. I nodded to myself, a whole body kind of agreement. I heard a car horn outside which sounded like my friend’s. I carried on gazing at nothing until the horn sounded again. Thinking he might have come round early I smiled. At least that would solve the boredom. I looked at the clock and felt my mouth hang. It was time to go!

I don’t remember much about the film. It was some action flick with swearing and a sex scene every fifteen minutes. I’m sure it was good but my mind was lost in pondering what had happened earlier.

When I got home, I tried to write down everything I remembered, my mental state, my thoughts and what I was feeling. I tried to skip forward again but it wouldn’t work. Shelving my notes I tried to sleep but couldn’t.

Sometime in the early hours, I began to fantasize about skipping to the time my alarm would be going off. I nodded to myself and flinched as the dim room turned to day and my alarm buzzed to my right!

I jumped to my notebook and jotted down my thoughts. The nod, the need. I turned to my clock and tried to skip ten minutes. The digits instantly changed to ten minutes later.

I yelled and whooped as the enormity dawned on me. I would never have to wait for anything again!

To date I haven’t! When the enthusiasm wore off, caution did play a part in my thought processes. I decided to record myself with my smartphone to see what happened to me when I was ‘out’. To my relief, I saw that I still functioned normally, even getting dressed, tidying my room and doing some of my art stuff. Everything I witnessed of my own behaviour seemed to point to me carrying on, doing the things I would have done anyway. Just without the boring stuff in between.

Reassured, I began to skip my way through life. You are probably thinking that having such an ability began to dent my levels of patience. If anything, I found that they were vastly improved. You save so much energy when you can cut out the agitated waiting for things: for appointments, for stuff to arrive in the post, for that party to happen. When I did want to knuckle down and do something that took a lot of concentration, like my drawing, I was there!

One thing I did find was that my drawing when I was ‘skipping’ was even better than when I was there. Maybe it was a case of getting out of my own way. Who knows.

There was a downside though, as you can probably imagine. It became a bit like an intolerance spreading. Say you are someone who doesn’t like adverts on TV. You might initially just dislike a handful of the most annoying ones, but as time progresses, you find more and more that you despise, until you avoid any advert at all costs. I became a bit like this with my time skips. I soon found myself skipping things that previously I would have looked forward to. It took a awhile to dawn on me but once it did, I knew I had to stop.

The turning point was the birth of my first little boy. I was twenty seven, married to Susan and we were both looking forward to our first child. It was a long and hard labour, something like thirty hours. To my shame I skipped it.

When I was back, Susan was asleep, the baby was in the small plastic crib thing that hospitals use and I was covered over with a blanket in a large chair. I walked to the baby, Mark I mean. We had already decided on Mark. His little chest was moving in and out as he slept peacefully, the odd twitch of his fingers putting me in mind of Socks our cat when she dreams.

I had a burning weight in my chest that seemed to flare out with every heartbeat. My jaw tensed and my eyes began to tear up. I had missed it! All for the sake of an easy ride! We hadn’t even filmed it like so many people do.

I remember leaving the hospital room and balling my eyes out in the nearest toilet. I swore to myself there and then that I would never skip again. And I never have.