A shorter story written much later than Parallel. May be confusing.
Exit. He tugged on the cold metal doorknob again. The door didn't open. It never had, for some reason. The boy pulled on the door. It didn't budge. He went away, wondering what lay behind the strange doorway with the fluorescent 'exit' sign above it. N-01 looked at the same gray stubbly ceiling he had been staring into for the last eight years. His back ached but he did not move to make his position more comfortable. N-01 was sprawled across a hospital bed, his silver hair scattered under his head like a lustrous halo. Not much had changed since eight years ago. When he had almost drowned at home and brushed by death. And he had resurfaced in this dismal place. N-01's life was just slowly ebbing away...there was no point to his living anymore. No world in the universe had a purpose for his empty shell; no person would love him. And he did not care. He had never cared.
Something was strangely wrong with that operation long ago. That something was leaking out his life. It had nearly killed him again while at the same time restored a trickle of life. Eight more painful years to live. Each feeble heartbeat merely brought him closer and closer to death; each breath was as plausible as the next to be his last. There was nothing N-01 could do about it. Nothing.
Outside his domed room, N-01 heard footsteps. That was unusual, as it was neither a meal time or a check-up day. When it was not necessary to come into the No-ones' wing in the Htrae Hospital, the beings here left it alone. Quiet and undisturbed. So now, ignoring the heaving pain in his chest, N-01 slowly walked to the door. Before, he had had to stop and get permission before leaving the room. Now, as he was clearly close to death, they didn't bother with the four silver keys that kept each patient's door locked. N-01 pushed open the heavy door and went into the corridors. Following a dusty trail that was quickly disappearing, he reached another domed room, not unlike his own. From inside, he heard grinding noises and the unmistakable constant hum of machinery. And raspy breathing. Somebody was being operated on. He marked in his mind the way to that room and went back to his own.
Hours later, he was still bored out of his mind and every few moments, shaking with chills. N-01. That was not really his name. He stood up and paced the small room, feeling the same sensation as when one was beaten with sticks. Once again, more footsteps passed by his room. N-01 walked to his door once again and pushed it open. Travelling through the empty corridors, he went to the same room as before, now quieter with no machine sounds in the background. Slowly pulling out the four keys from the patient's door, he stepped into the dark room. A girl lay on a hospital bed. It was like his, with a metal frame and thin white sheets and blankets. The girl's pillow lay on the floor, and she looked ready to fall off the bed herself. As fast as he was able, N-01 hurried over and gently shoved the half her body back onto the bed. His muscles strained and he gasped for air. The girl turned over and whispered in her sleep. N-01 leaned over in an effort to hear her better.
"Mom....dad....where are you? Please...come...." she hooked her arms around N-01's neck in a half-asleep hug. N-01 stepped back in shock, the girl's arms falling limp back to her sides. This girl had parents? Then why was she here? Didn't she belong wherever she came from? He clenched his fists. She had parents that obviously loved her. He had none that he could remember. It was unfair. For the first time, he wondered about the parents. For the first time, he missed the people he had never met. If they loved him, he wouldn't be here, he reasoned. Maybe. Looking once more at the sleeping girl, N-01 turned away and left the room, carefully placing the keys back inside the door. Exit. He saw it once again. No matter where he went, if he wished to see the door, it was always around the next corner. Exit- the word on the bright sign, hanging over the door. He went to it hesitantly, then tried once again to open the door. This time, the door opened, almost knocking N-01 over. He hadn't expected it to open. And suddenly, he was falling and falling, the sweet stars circling and blazing about him. Stars? But he had never seen stars before. Never heard of them...with a dizzying affect, light swarmed about him bluntly outlined in the black of shadows, the black of night, the black of death. When had he felt this way before? And then he was on his feet, feeling as light as a cloud in the air. And N-01 saw a woman. A photo of a young boy was propped up near a flat stone in the ground. He was in a cemetery. She was in the cemetery too. Suddenly, the words from a different world came back to him.
"I never wanted this child." It was clear. It was clear why N-01 had stepped into the circling pool of water. Those words.
"I never wanted this child!" The hurtful words pained him more than his dying body ever did. His heart ached. Take those words back...please...he thought urgently. Then maybe...but those words. That was the past....it was a hope...maybe. The woman in front of him, looking wasted and starting to age with years that she did not live through, did not see him. She gazed instead at the little boy's picture, regret, guilt, and pain clearly showing in her eyes.
"I love you. I'll always remember you. Even if your memory brings me pain." She placed a teddy bear and a bouquet of small, blue flowers next to the picture. Then, choking back a sob, she went away. N-01 was back. He was back in the doorway. The woman loved him. He might love her back. And he could go to his own world now.
"You can't go back, you know."
N-01 jumped at the voice behind him. He felt the impact of landing in his weak ankles. N-01 winced and turned to the speaker behind him.
"Why can't I go?"
"You waited too long, and now you are too close to dying. When your lungs were replaced, they were set to only last until tomorrow. If you go back now, you will change everything. You will be changing eight years of your life. Your body can't handle that change."
"If I had gone before, would I have made it?" "Yes. But you never realized that there was somebody to welcome you back. That was your problem. You thought yourself unloved and unaccepted. Without loving, you could not go back. Now you care, but it's too late now. Death here will be less painful; that is the one thing I can promise. You will simply fade away."
"But I want to be with the one who loves me! Just once!"
"Seeing her was not enough?" the voice asked scornfully.
"Who are you?" he demanded.
"Our worlds are on lines running parallel to each other. So. In a sense, I am you. " Out from the shadows came a tall boy. He dwarfed N-01. The boy was dressed in a doctor's coat, his hair in a horse-tail. Staring at the other child in horror, N-01 edged away. The boy walked over to the exit door and put his hand on it.
"I am a version of you. I am who you would've been had you not tried to kill yourself. And I alone can change the life you left in that other world. You are too weak to do the job."
"Don't go. Please. Don't go. I want to see her again," whispered N-01. The boy looked at him coldly, and opened the door.
"This is your world now."
"No!" N-01 lunged forward. Too late. The boy was gone. Into the future he could've had. With the family he missed. But. His life was almost over, wasn't it? Tomorrow. He would die. Even if he had attempted to go back, it would've taken all of his life out, right? There was no point. He stood up and went to the other girl's room. The keys were gone. He heard a voice inside, a voice like everybody else's in this hospital. It was a doctor, reciting something that sounded suspiciously familiar to N-01.
"Welcome to the Htrae Hospital..."
N-01 opened the door a crack to listen better. Where had he heard this before?
"...you have no one now. You are no one. From now on, you will only be referred to as ‘you.' This is called the Dead Wing. It is made for the No Ones. No Ones no longer have names...”
No One. A brain-washing. With no name, you were no one. He shut the door and became lost in thought. He had heard that same exact speech as soon as he had somehow been able to comprehend words. And that was where he had gotten his name. From the unwelcoming speech given to patients in the No Ones' wing. N-01. He had thought of his name one day when he had become bored. Sleep had not overcome him as it usually did to rid him of the constant throbbing pain coursing through his body. So he had thought of his name. N-01 had wondered if he was the first No One. Probably not. And after he had thought of that name, N-01 had fallen into a nightmarish slumber, sweat dampening his bed. A loud yelling of an obviously female voice roused him from his thoughts. The girl. Her. N-01 stepped back to his room. It was just around the corner. That was how things turned out here.
N-01 was sprawled on his bed, once again staring at the curved ceiling. The girl was staying here then. Why did she deserve to go to a life he couldn't have? Perhaps she would die too in this dismal place. The thought satisfied him for a moment, but that content feeling evaporated. N-01 sobbed into his flat, starched pillow, tears leaking out that had not been shed in eight years. Eight years. Tomorrow was coming.
He was in the silent corridors, his hand once again resting on the girl's door. There was somebody who loved her. She loved back. She could exit from this hateful world. N-01 took out the silver keys. That was the only right thing he could do. For the girl.
"Good luck." His death was coming. He was leaving this place. Forever. And hopefully, so would the girl. And around the corner, he arrived back at the door. The metal door with an illuminated gray exit sign above it. Now was the time. N-01 pushed on the door, sure it would open for him. And so it did. He knew he was still standing outside the doorway. But N-01 could still see a happy woman embracing a tall boy. She gave him a present and voiced words N-01 could not hear. Around the boy, people shouted and laughed, showering him with happiness and care. N-01 stared, then stepped into the door. Instantly, even more glorious stars erupted around him, dancing and flashing, streaking by in a swirling array of lights.
He was in the room with the happy people. The woman hugging the boy could see him now; N-01 was sure of it. And she did see him. The woman gaped at him in surprise and confusion. Who was this boy? He looked like her son...but she was hugging her son right this moment...
"Goodbye, Mama. I love you." His words reached her ears and then faded away like the gentle green foam lost in a sea storm's roaring waves. Stars blinded N-01 and they stabbed themselves into his body. But that was what he felt. The shooting pain. And then there was that empty nothingness. N-01's mother would forget. Forget the last words N-01 spoke. But maybe. Maybe she would remember. He clung on to that last hope as the final shooting star cut through.
End of this story! And deaths are never as pretty as this one.
N-01. get it? XD
veronica: some deaths we write are very fantastic. lots of lights and beautiful things that actually don't occur in life, but sound awesome in stories. we hope you enjoy them. that sounds really morbid.