Archive for January, 2018

Short story.

Posted: January 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

In a parallel universe everyone is expected to pair up by the age of twenty-five. Anyone who is not part of a pairing is Single. Forced to live on the outskirt of society and is considered a pariah.

Josh was worried that he would be able to make curfew. He had gone to visit his parents earlier in the day and had trouble getting home afterwards. His parents had taken the risk to make sure that he had got to his bus stop. There had been several times where he had to hide during the journey because neighbors had almost caught them. It would have brought tremendous shame to the whole family if someone had recognized them. Being a parent of a Single was almost as shameful as being a Single yourself. Josh’s parents so far had been spared the shame, because, they had two other children who had found mates. Nevertheless, neither Josh nor his parents wanted to be spotted together, as it was one thing to be aware of something in a vague sort of way, and a completely different matter altogether to flaunt it. His mother was in several reading clubs and her life was highly tied in with the life of her community. It was the best survival method after all, if you weren’t people might start questioning your character and the authorities might have been brought in.

Other than the delays that came while walking to the bus stop, the bus never came. It was a highly precarious old thing, because, there was one rusty old bus that the city had spared for the Singles. This old machine was on its last legs. That’s why the city council had allowed it to be used for travel around the city for the Singles. The city council in their infinite wisdom acknowledged that Singles were not born into families of Singles. That they were the unfortunate product of a pairing, therefore, they decided that there had to be at least one mode of transportation for Singles to get around the city. Yet, if Singles were caught out after curfew, they were free game for anyone to act out their violent urges on. There would be absolutely no consequences for torturing a Single caught out after dark.

Josh had a few hours to go, before, it would be past curfew and with the bus out of commission it looked like he would have absolutely no choice but to walk it.

The Singles Zone was on the other side of the city so he would have to pass right through the downtown area. Anything but the most direct route would take him too long before he reached safety. There were even dangers during the day. Some people, despite it being against the law, would not hesitate to bully a Single even during daylight. The laws were pretty lax when it came to prosecuting in these cases. It was enough to deter most people except for the most depraved individuals. Josh observed that there were many reasons why people got pleasure out of torturing Singles. While, for the most part people were well mannered there were still homes where domestic abuse occurred. This created a terrible cycle. There were also people who felt like they were looked down upon by others who had more wealth, education, intelligence, more in terms of physical appearance. There was a lot of stigma in being poor and poorly educated. These people were looked down upon by most of society and as societal hierarchy goes were the very bottom other than the Singles, however. Josh had grown up in this area and many of his old classmates still lived in the community. That was a scary thought, as it was seen as almost stigmatic to have any kind of connection even if it was a past relationship with a Single as a result, these people could often be extra aggressive and the first to strike out, in order to prove themselves, when coming across an old classmate or teammate.

Josh still remembered the old doctrination taught in schools warning children that if they come across a Single that they were dangerous and that the child should immediately go get an adult. What people often found most disgusting about Singles and what made them extra hostile towards them, is that in many ways Singles were just like them. They expressed the same interests, rooted for the same teams and in almost every single way were indistinguishable from everyone else. Josh remembered when he had first started thinking he might be a Single because everyone all around him were in or getting into relationships. His parents had convinced him that there was nothing wrong with him and that it was just a matter of time till he found the right person. He wondered if they at the time had started to worry that he might be a Single unlike his older siblings and if they ever started to lose sleep over it. In addition, not all Singles were treated the same.

If you had been in a horrible accident and were a burn victim society still expected you to be in the Single Zone, but, people generally treated you with sympathy. Ditto if you were born without limbs or were just extremely ugly. Not to say that all of these people were Single. There was just an understanding if you were. Only the most depraved individuals in society would torture these Singles. It was slightly different with Josh as there were no outward signs for why he should be single. He was even considered quite attractive. He had received many compliments from women about his looks when he was younger, which if those women who had thought back on these incidents would probably vomit now. He had been relatively well liked and was a pretty good athlete. People had invited him to their parties. Therefore, people were extremely scared and hostile towards him when they saw him now. It would have been much more acceptable if he had been gay as there was no stigma around being homosexual. Heck most people probably wished that he had been. That would have been understood. Then he would still be part of society. Some of his classmates if they were being generous might have even thought that society would have been better off if he had. After all, he was a generally pretty smart resourceful guy and could have been a valuable contributing member of society. Unfortunately, he wasn’t. He was a Single.

Some of his former classmates had even been extremely generous to him. He remembered one time he had got caught visiting his parents to late and had not been able to make it back to the zone. When he was scurrying down the street scared out of his wits that a mob might set on him at any moment. His old junior high biology partner saw him from outside of her hairdressing salon. She had covered him with blankets so that he wouldn’t be caught. Another time an old hockey coach had scared away some hoodlums who were about to give him a terrible beating. These individuals hadn’t wanted anything bad to happen to him. They just didn’t want him to be part of society and around their children. Not all of his old associates had been so generous, however. He still bore the scar on his hip where he had been attacked by a former best friend. Josh and this best friend went back a long way and had played sports together, watched movies together, even cut class together. It was when he was younger and newly Single and had thought that he thought that other people than just his parents would be happy to see him. After all, he was still the same person that he had been before he was 25 and a Single. The only difference in his mind was that he was no longer single but was now a Single and had to live in a different area. His first place in the Singles zone really hadn’t been all that different than his first place that he moved out into when he was 22.

Granted he was no longer wanted at his old job, but, he thought that was fine because it meant that he had more time to work on his stand-up comedy which was a hobby that he had just got into the year he had turned 25. He hadn’t put two-and-two together that he would no longer be allowed to perform or even allowed into bars. Yes, there was bars in the Singles Zone and a really thriving arts scene, but, it was hard getting enough people together to constitute an audience.

Occasionally there were new Singles, but, these people rarely left their dwellings. Most people who had been in a relationship and it ended were given a rather generous amount of time to find a new partner, sometimes up to two years, before they were Single. Therefore, most people were able to find someone else. Only the truly most heartbroken were unable to move on. Lo and behold the odd couple started among the Singles who were desperate for some kind of connection, but, irony of ironies once you were Single you were permanently Single regardless of whether or not you were actually in a relationship.

Josh knew he had a dangerous road ahead and he didn’t know if he was going to make it, but, at this point he wasn’t even sure it mattered.