Humans of Late Misery
Updated: Oct 1, 2019
1. It started out as a transformation.
The transformation didn’t take place overnight. It must have started a month ago, when he was fired. He preferred darkness to bright sunlight, so he stayed in his room, keeping the curtains closed. Little by little, his human features faded, but he didn’t mind. He then started crawling, instead of walking, which didn’t bother him either.
He only noticed something was wrong when it took him several hours to climb onto his bed. Either he was getting smaller, or everything had grown bigger. That’s when he checked the mirror, only to see a mealworm.
A large, fierce gecko is now standing next to him.
“Let me live, please. If you’re not hungry,” he begs.
“I’m always hungry,” answers the gecko. You can’t expect a gecko to spare your life, however politely you may ask.
He stands still, considering his options. Direct confrontation is out of the question. You can’t fight a gecko if you’re a mealworm, like you can’t break a wall only with your fist, as a human. In hindsight, he has always felt like a mealworm, even before the transformation. They’ve raised him to throw him over, a generous meal to the powerful geckos of the world.
You can’t break a wall only with your fist. Yet using the right tools, you may create a crack. And that crack might be enough damage for the day.
He slowly turns back into his human self. He doesn’t bother crushing the gecko. He’s too busy thinking of ways to create cracks on the wall. Many cracks later, the wall will be unstable enough to fall apart. Hopefully, the universe will be kind enough to let him watch.
He ponders for a while. He must choose a role now, only the options are few. He could choose drugs or suicide. He could surrender to whichever job pays the rent, however exhausting. He could turn into a rebel with a cause. Only now he’ll turn into a robber.
2. Thus, a Kafkian tale of ‘metamorphosis’ transformed into a robbery.
The robber grabs the doctor by the neck, threatening to blow his brains out if he makes the slightest move. He’d much prefer to catch the banker instead, only he’s a difficult target.
“Is there a doctor in here?” a random voice in the crowd asks. The robber turns his head towards the direction of the voice. He’s flexible most of the time, but not during working hours. He doesn’t like it when things don’t go as planned.
“What’s wrong?” he asks. Another voice says she doesn’t feel well. She only mumbles about an unbearable chest pain, yet her words sound loud in silence, since everyone has been as silent as possible, wishing to be invisible, almost playing dead, not to draw attention. The young lady stops mumbling and perhaps she’s the only one who doesn’t play dead, but is dead indeed.
“I’m a doctor,” says the doctor, almost out of breath, not out of anguish, but because the robber’s hands around his neck make it difficult for him to breathe.
The robber doesn’t want much trouble. He only wants to do what he considers to be his job. So, he drags the doctor to the dying lady.
She’s fine, the doctor says, probably a panic attack, yet don’t we all walk in agony through life?
I’m bored with philosophy, the robber yells, although he finds the conversation interesting enough. He should stick to the plan though for now, considering the context of the situation.
3. It went on as a joke.
The banker has been lying on the floor, as instructed. When the robber asks who’s in charge, the banker speaks.
Once this thing is over, you can be informed about our health insurance packages which are on discount today, he says. Someone chuckles but immediately stops when the robber stands up, obviously irritated.
You’re a pair of dirty socks, he yells at the robber. He’s been thinking about it for long and his latest product is still under trial. That thing detects guns at once. Except when the carrier wears dirty socks. That awful odor messes with the hardware so bad, that potential robbers get away with it. He’s been trying to fix the problem to no avail.
He has decided that clients should take off their shoes, before entering the bank. He still doesn’t know how to tell them though. What if money was considered a god? Wouldn’t banks be temples? Religion would easily convince people to walk barefoot if necessary.
4. It ended up as a suicide note.
The banker stands there tall, like he’s a large, fierce gecko, only he isn’t. For what made him a large gecko in the past, doesn’t work anymore. He’s only an old man, pretending to be a large gecko. He treats people like they were mealworms. Only the robber isn’t. Not anymore.
The doctor feels squeezed between them. I’m sure we can work it out, he mumbles. Stop talking, urges him the robber. You’re sold out, he tells him.
The doctor bows his head. I am, he mumbles, only he means he’s souled out. He’s sick. He can’t afford being sick now. This isn’t a fair world, he says and the robber nods, because he too sees the injustice. He’d love to make the world a better place. But not now. He’s now busy robbing the bank. The gecko appears ahead of the doctor in the form of an inevitable fate. The gecko takes the form of disease, or money, he can’t be certain, for his eyesight is already compromised. He’s contemplating his own death. Another death of despair.
“I’ll save you the trouble,” says the doctor who grabs the gun from the robber’s hand and keeps it at the same position, pointing his head, only for a second, to make sure everyone knows who’ll pull the trigger.
Mileva Anastasiadou is a neurologist, from Athens, Greece. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in many journals, such as The Molotov Cocktail, Jellyfish Review, The Sunlight Press (Best Small Fictions 2019 nominee), Ghost Parachute, Gone Lawn, Ellipsis Zine, Queen Mob's Tea House, Bending Genres, MoonPark Review, Litro and others.