From the Editor's Desk
Hello all! We did not mean to have such a long hiatus but we are back and getting it together. We changed our name to dissuade any one from thinking about suing us. We are also starting an advertisement campaign locally. Also this month is the seventh month anniversary of our publication!
To celebrate our seventh month of operation we are presenting a short story by co-editor Quentin Pongratz! Enjoy!
It Keeps Going
By Quentin Pongratz
Updated April 13th, 2011
They walked through a doorway that had an L above the top. “Here we go!” he declared.
“Yup,” she said with a sort of annoyance that only occurs when a person in a relationship had been right about the directions all along, but the other person never listened.
“Hey, look. I’m sorry.” He went over to her and tried to touch her shoulder, but she moved it out of his reach just in time.
“Let’s just do this.”
He reached down for two pairs of headphones and the small devices that accompany them. He handed one to her. She snatched the devices a bit more angrily than she meant to. The earth began to quake. They both instinctively grabbed the yellow rail situated on the walls of the room—on the walls of every room. A few seconds of shaking passed before the room became right again. A few of the headphones that weren’t secured properly fell out onto the floor. He bent over to pick them up. She remembered why she was here with him. She touched his shoulder with her hand. The tension evaporated and they each put their headphones in and walk out of the doorway that did not have an L above it and instead had the words “Shower Showroom” above it.
She was more amazed with the display before her than the glorious lobby they had first walked into. Artifacts of the past littered the walls. Pictures of old buildings covered the wall. Paintings of landscapes that once were hanging beside the pictures. She had learned of what it used to be like in school, but seeing the proof, well that was the pudding. At least, that’s what she thought the phrase was. It made no sense to her right or wrong.
He reached over and gently pushed her jaw to a slightly less open position. He chuckled to himself slightly. He had seen all of this before on different school trips, and nerdy kids’ birthday parties. The effects of wonder had more or less worn off for him. He was slightly excited about the audio experience, this was new to him.
They spent what seemed like him to be a half hour and what seemed like her to be a few minutes, but in reality it was about fifteen minutes looking at the different bolted down artifacts. Street signs of streets that no longer exist, parts of buildings that used to tower over everything and make up the various skylines of the world, chunks of the rocks; all of this stuff preserved here for all to see.
When he thought she had spent a sufficient time absorbing all of the wonder of the main room he interrupted her browsing. “Ready to start the audio stuff? We can come back and look at this stuff some more after if you want.”
“Oh. Yeah.” Her voice gave off a slight hint that his question startled her as she was previously deep in meditation about all around her. “Let’s do it!”
They walked towards the doorway that had an “Audio Experience Starts Here” above it.
They entered the first room and are greeted on the left by a large mural sized picture of New York City in a pristine condition. The city stood tall, undisrupted, peaceful. Around the room, several close-ups of New York City are bolted to the walls. They wander around the room looking at each picture—almost touching, but never quite daring to—when a voice startles both of them as he had startled her earlier.
Hello. I guess that’s how you would start out a journal. I’m not really sure. I’ve never done this before. Do I talk to a future me, or do I talk to the journal like a different entity. I’m going to put this down for a moment while I decide.
Okay. I’ve decided. Hello Journal. Can I call you Jo? I will even if you object, which you can’t. Hello Jo. It is I, Jacques. Everyone calls me Jac though, and you can too if you ever decide to stop being something that I write in, and actual be a person. But then again, if you were a person I wouldn’t be able to tell you about all my life and such. So, don’t ever change, Jo.
Let’s see. I guess, I could just start writing stuff that’s happening. Right now. At this very moment, I am on a plane to New York City. I’m going to see her. The one I love. I’m going to see Adellyne. She is so perfect. She laughs at all my jokes. She’s super smart. She’s… well She’s the best ever. I don’t think I could ever find another person I love as much as her. I’m going to propose soon. She doesn’t even know I’m coming. Total surprise for her. She started going to college up in New York, so for the past few months we’ve been doing long distance. It has been a bit rough, but I managed to find a job up there, and I think I’m going to make it work.
Let’s see, what else? I’ve never been to New York before, so this will be an adventure I’m sure. When my parents were sending me off all my mom could say was “Don’t get mugged.” Ha! I mean, I don’t want to get mugged, but I think she’s overreacting a bit. I could’ve gotten mugged in Oklahoma, but I never did. Well, Jo. I think that’s all for now. I’m going to read some and then take a nap. Talk to you later.
“Well that was…” she started and then trailed off.
“Different,” he concluded her thought and sentence after a moment.
“I thought it would be… I don’t know.”
“I know what you mean.” He paused for a moment, absorbing all of the pictures. “Maybe it will be different as we go.”
“Maybe.” She walked towards the doorway of the next section of the audio experience.
The next room contained more meteor and building fragments. On the walls, pictures of New York City were bolted to the wall once again, but these pictures differed in a very important aspect. These pictures showed a slightly ruined skyline. Some buildings were still half standing, some buildings gone completely.
Hey Jo. How’s it going there in Journal land? Huh? Because if really really really sucks out here. Like… Beyond super sucking. Do you know what she did? Do you even know? How could she? Really. What is wrong with her? Am I a crappy boyfriend? Did I not do all the stuff how I was supposed to?
I can’t even
Sorry about that, Jo. I didn’t mean to tear your page with my angry writing. I’ll tear her page though. Next time I see her… That’s what I’ll do. I’ll just yell at her. No. Not even that. I don’t even want to ever see her again. She’s dead to me. New York City is big enough to live in without seeing her ever again. I mean I lived in Oklahoma City and never saw some of those people more than once. I guess that—What was that? Felt like an earthquake. Does New York have earthquakes? To Google!
Well, New York isn’t on a fault line. Maybe it was one of those rare ones that you just randomly feel in places that don’t really have earthquakes. I felt one once in—Another one? That’s weird. I don’t think I should really be on the fifth floor of this building. I am not really sure what earthquake protocol is, but I figure closer to the ground equals less falling.
Woah Jo! Here’s the update. It turns out that meteors or meteorites, I’m not sure which is which, but some of those are hitting earth. More specifically, the New York area at the moment. Now, I’m huddled up in the lobby with a bunch of other people. Every once in awhile we’ll feel a quake or hear a crash. The louder the crash, the more people freak out. I’m used to weird nature things, so this isn’t so bad. You know… Oklahoma… Tornadoes. This isn’t so bad. I mean.. the crashes are startling, but it’s not too bad at all. As long as we don’t get hit.
Well, Jo… They have stopped for now. Something on the news said something about the earth’s rotation, and not being a constant barrage. I’m kind of surprised that the television is still able to run. Like with cable and all. Maybe they have satellite though. I’m not really sure how all of that works now that I think about it. We went outside after. Like always. Every event like this. You just got to see what’s going on. This street was actually pretty lucky. There wasn’t much destruction. A few little ones hit cars and stuff, but from what they showed on the news, we didn’t get the worst of it at all.
Then there’s the looting. Oh man. Why do people do that sort of stuff? I can understand if you’re already a criminal, that isn’t much of a jump, but for normal sort of people to just switch into thieves. Come on people. They’re probably the sort of people that say they would steal if they knew for sure they would never get caught. That’s a bit disturbing. Don’t you people have any sense of right or wrong? People piss me off. Most specifically, Adellyne. Thanks Jo, for reminding me. I’m glad I ripped your page earlier. Jac out.
“Now we’re getting somewhere,” he said after the voice in their ears stopped.
“I feel bad for him. What do you think happened?” Her eyes were slightly sad. Not the kind of sadness one has when something actually happens to that person, but the kind of sadness that appears in romantic movies without a happy ending.
“She cheated on him, I bet.” He punctuated his sentence with a shrug.
“Maybe. Maybe.” She repeated her maybe to solidify her uncertainness.
“Some people are trying to listen to the audio experience,” A third party interjected into their conversation. They both turned around to see a woman with the dress and mannerism of a Madelyn. She must have come in when they were still listening.
“We’re sorry,” they apologized and left the room. They were able to hear Madelyn huff a huff of indignant anger as they walked through the next doorway.
“Well, she certainly was something else, wasn’t she?” He asked her when they were out of Madelyn’s earshot.
“A very specific something else, yes.”
Another small quake rocked through the floor and shook the couple off of their feet. They were too far from the walls to grab onto the familiar yellow railing. They didn’t try getting up until the shaking subsided. Nothing in the room, besides, them was disturbed in the least. All the objects were securely bolted down, thus no movement.
There were no paintings or pictures on the wall in this room. There were only four objects in the middle of this room. The first was a laptop with a hole through the middle. The second was an eloquent looking piece of paper. The third was a digital camera. The fourth was a pair of very dirty and worn shoes.
Hey Jo. Let’s look on the positive side of things today. Otherwise, I may just fall apart. Let’s see. First positive thing. I decided to do a paper and pen journal. That’s a great thing, because my laptop is toast. I guess there’s also the whole being still alive thing. Let me tell you how it happened. I was going to walk around and find a nice place to sit and do some stuff on my computer. I figured that while this stuff had been going on for awhile, there had to be some place that was still a good place to sit down and gather thoughts. I was walking down the street. I had no reason to be scared or anything. The people on the news—the scientists and such—said that there were windows in which the meteors would fall. I thought I was safe. I was walking in one of the safe windows. Wrong. I heard a large crash behind me. I felt a quake. It caught me off guard and I tripped and fell. The laptop goes flying forward and skidding down the pavement. It might still be okay at this point. Then Boom. Right before me. A small meteor crashes right through the laptop. Giant gaping hole. I picked it up and kept walking. I was shaken. Maybe there’s something still on the parts left that I can get off at some point. That hole in the laptop could’ve been my head, Jo. My head.
Next, we got the fact that my place isn’t really charging rent at the moment. Everybody is trying to help everyone else out in this situation. Well, not everybody. But for the people that are, that is really nice. I’m so far away from people I know, and I it’s bad that stuff like this happens, but when events like this bring out the better in people I can’t help but be a little bit happy. I have to share my room with some other people who have lost their homes to meteors, but I feel like that is part of me doing my part. I do what I can. Which is not much now, since I’m broke and the job I had lined up for me no longer exists. I had money saved up, but since I’m stupid, I threw it all away. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I saw this man in the lobby the other day, and he was selling meteor and earthquake insurance. Don’t trust people that accept less than what they wanted for goods like insurance. Hear me Jo? Don’t. I gave him most of my money for this stupid piece of paper. I called the number on it after my laptop got meteorized. The number does not work. It is not a real number. I feel so stupid.
Okay. Focus on the positives, Jac. Oh! I did a really good deed earlier today. So, one of my new roommates had some pretty horrible luck before he came here. Well, obviously since he’s living here now. But more than just the meteor destroying his home. So, this guy had to get to his job, because his wasn’t destroyed, and people need money still. But there was a meteor hole blocking his path. It wasn’t too deep so he decided to just walk through it. Turns out that was a big mistake. He stepped down and burned the soles of his shoes pretty badly. They’re all disfigured and such. I guess the meteor had only recently fallen and was still pretty hot. I’m not sure, but his shoes were definitely messed up. Since he had to walk to work still I offered to trade. We were the same size luckily. So. I feel pretty good about that.
I think that’s all I need to update you on, Jo.
No, wait a second. I forgot something. I totally found my kick-awesome digital camera. I thought I had left it back home, but I found it in my room. I guess when I first arrived I dug through my stuff too hastily and it flew under the bed. I didn’t find it until we had to move stuff around for the new people living here with me. I’ll be taking some sweet pictures to show my family when I get back. Later, Jo.
“Hmmm,” he not quite said.
“At least he can be optimistic in that situation. I couldn’t see myself being able to be positive in that kind of event.” She shuddered.
“Nice ‘laptop’ he had.” He chuckled.
“Yeah. Seems too bulky for me.”
He put his arm around her shoulder and they walked through the next doorway into the next room.
All along the walls are pictures of different things. One is of a meteor hole. One is of the laptop from the previous room. A few feature a woman in different settings. One is a self taken picture with two guys. One is a self taken picture with one of those guys and a woman, the same woman of the different pictures. Other pictures are of buildings half torn down by meteors. One is of a sunset amidst the destruction of New York City. Among the mass of pictures on the wall there are some framed pieces of paper with writing on them all lined up in a row.
Guess who I saw today, Jo? Guess. It’s okay. I’ll give you time to think.
Time’s up, Jo. If you said anything other than Adellyne than you were wrong Jo. Wrong. So, last night during one of those time windows where the meteors come, the worst happened. One hit our building. It was the worst. It wasn’t that big, so we were lucky. But it was big enough for the experience to be super scary. It hit a few floors up. My roommates and I were up in a flash. We had gotten used to the crashing noises of the meteors, as they were becoming more seldom now, but this one was definitely different. We could automatically tell that it crashed close and we were in danger. We ran down stairs as fast as we could. All five flights. Didn’t even phase me, because I had so much adrenaline pumping through me.
Luckily my roommates and I made it out before part of the building started collapsing in on itself. I was able to grab my bag before dashing out, so I made out with all my stuff. Some people weren’t so lucky. On the bad side, our room was now caved in. We had to find a new place. But, with all of this destruction it wasn’t too hard to find a new shelter. We’ve had to sacrifice some comfort, but we found a place that set out many cots on a gymnasium floor. The only payment they require is volunteer work during the day to help out other people and such. I can easily afford that.
So, earlier today during some of the work I see Adellyne. I tried to avoid her, but then thought “No! She should be avoiding me!” Then she saw me. And I wish I could’ve gone back in time to smack myself for thinking she should avoid me. I don’t like confrontation. She should just leave me alone after what she did to me. But no, she walked up and did the whole “How are you doing?” bit. How do you think I’m doing? We’re in the middle of a disaster and you’re a horrible person.
I’m going to be trying to get back to Oklahoma as soon as I can. I want to be home.
“That was intense.”
“Yeah.” He walked over to the wall with the framed pages.
At the top of the first page he saw in a somewhat sloppy handwriting: We’re in the middle of a disaster and you’re a horrible person.
I’m going to be trying to get back to Oklahoma as soon as I can. I want to be home.
Then underneath the somewhat sloppy script continued.
What do you want?
Underneath that was a different handwriting. This one had a more refined smoothness to it.
I just want to talk…
Well, we can write. I don’t want to wake up people.
Fine. I want to write.
About what happened.
There’s nothing to talk about. You betrayed me.
I was just… I don’t… I’m… I’m sorry. Do you really think I’m a horrible person?
Can you be sorry away from me? I don’t really want to see you right now.
I guess that kinda answers my question.
I guess so…
Can we please just forget about that for a moment? I miss you. I’m scared.
Lots of people are scared. What makes it so special that you are too?
Because I love you.
Write something, Please.
You really hurt me. I don’t know if I could ever see you without thinking of that moment. I was going to propose.
You knew? You knew and that’s how you reacted?
Yeah. I don’t know. It’s just. Your sister called and told me and I freaked out. I just. I couldn’t take the pressure of you being it. But I love you. I have realized that it was a mistake. The biggest mistake of my life. I want you more than ever. I always did. I just didn’t always know it.
Parts of the page appeared to have been warped by tiny water spots.
How would I ever be able to trust you?
You have my word.
That’s not really good enough anymore.
I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. I want to make this up to you.
Come back to Oklahoma with me.
In the morning.
How are we going to get there?
I don’t know. We’ll start walking, and figure something out. There should be enough shelters and such along the way where we could make it back eventually.
But it’s super dangerous out there right now. People are saying that the meteor stuff is dying down but some new stuff is cropping up. I heard there are earthquakes happening across the world.
I just… Aren’t we safer here?
Yeah. But I’m tired of not being where I know people and stuff. I’m leaving tomorrow. You leave with me, and we figure out stuff along the way, or I never see you again.
Can I think on it?
You have until the morning.
Can you scoot over? Can we cuddle?
He looked over and saw that her eyes were slightly sad. Not the kind of sadness that appears in romantic movies without a happy ending, but the kind one has when something actually happens to that person.
“Yeah. It’s just. It’s just really sad.”
“I think it’s kind of happy.”
“What?” she asked.
“I think it’s kind of happy. I think they ended up together. She was sorry; I’m sure they worked through it. That’s love—working through the dumb stuff and mistakes.” He looked at her. “What did you see differently in this?”
“She’s a horrible woman. She cheated on him and then from the fear from all of the meteor stuff happening she tries to get back with him. Instead of him being strong and staying away from the woman that caused him so much pain, he goes back to her. Even if she didn’t go with him the next day, the fact that he offered her to come along is a sad indication of how he can’t do his own thing.”
“He can forgive her, but he shouldn’t forget what she did. I hope she fell into a lava river on their way back here.”
“That’s harsh.” He heard the woman that looked like a Madelyn behind them cough. He shrugged. “Ready for the next room?”
“Sure,” she said somewhat hurriedly as she was still a little bit upset about his reaction to the text before them.
They walked through the next doorway.
They enter the last room and are greeted on the left by a large mural sized picture of the current New York City. The city stands shorter than it did before, disturbed, but it still has a peaceful quality to it. Around the room, several close-ups of the newer New York City are bolted to the walls. They walk through the room studying each picture as they wait for the voice to start again, but it doesn’t.
“Is that it?”she asked.
“I guess so. The door over there says ‘Audio Experience Ends Here.’” He pointed above the next doorway.
“I wanted to know how it ends.” She pouted out her lips.
“I think they sell the full journal in the gift shop. Want me to buy it for you?”
“I should have enough money.”
They walked through the doorway that had an “Audio Experience Ends Here” above it.
About this Author
Quentin Pongratz is an aspiring writer. He currently is living and attending school in Chickasha, Oklahoma. He is double-majoring in both mathematics and English. He likes to write quirky stories and just hopes that one day someone will take his writing serious and like him as a writer.
That wraps up Issue Seven of Larks Fiction Media. We hope you enjoyed this installment, and happy Valentines Day to all of you!