The Burdened Man

Jack hadn’t woken up.

In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d actually properly woken up. If he had the energy, he would have sat down and worked it out, and if he had the energy, the conclusion would have shocked him.

Jack hadn’t woken up properly for fifty three years.

As it was though, he was just sat at his desk, chugging coffee, and staring blankly at the blinking cursor. His head felt like it was being clamped on all sides by the heavy hooves of a particularly large elephant. His eyes were dry, and he could feel (and hear) a scratching noise every time he blinked. His nose was at once, both blocked and runny, and he kept alternating from sniffing to blowing.

Jack never quite realised how out of it he really was.

Every now and then, he’d have a flash of coherence, and look around him to see that the house was a mess, or the post had been delivered. But for the most part, he just sat, staring, blank, unthinking. It was all he could do sometimes to get up and go for a piss.

A small voice nagged at him, gently poking him in the conscience, annoying him just enough to be unable to ignore it anymore. That voice had been with him for years now, and he’d still not been able to phase it out. And today, it was being particularly insistent.

“Look out the window.”

It was high-pitched, grating, and had a Geordie accent for some reason.

“Look out the window.”

Jack’s shoulders sagged with the weight of the task being presented to him. He took a deep breath, and hauled himself to his feet. His legs felt heavy, his muscles reluctant to move him more than a few steps, and by the time he reached the curtains, he just wanted to lie down and close his eyes.

“Look out the window.”

After a moment of rest, he sighed, and curled his fingers into the dust coated and moth-eaten drapes. It took so much effort, and so much energy, he was surprised he didn’t pass out.

As soon as he saw the world outside, he regretted listening to that stupid voice in his stupid head.

Quite a lot of out there was on fire. It had been on fire for ages now, he knew that. The smell of smoke and burning had permeated everything, and the acrid odour was impossible to escape. Huge clouds of soot billowed into the sky, and it was starting to block out the sun.

Not that it mattered.

There was still a huge blob of orange looming over everything. It felt like the massive, heinous creature had been there forever. But it hadn’t. In the scheme of things, it had hardly been there at all. And yet, it dominated everything.Ginormous, pulsating, gelatinous, with a weird crop of straw sprouting from its uppermost pole. It must have been three miles tall, and just as fat.

And it was still waddling about slowly, defecating continuously over everything and everyone without prejudice. Piles of the orange creature’s shit towered up above the roof lines, casting dark shadows across everything.

Even over the deep rumbling of the peristaltic evacuations, Jack could hear the voices. They were faint, but they were growing in number.

With his last ounce of energy, Jack opened the window, and started to bellow his Fuck Offs at the gross orange ball of puss, adding volume to each new rendition. Maybe, just maybe, if enough people lent their voice to the chorus, it really would just fuck off.

 

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