A short science fiction story about a man stuck in his daily routine
| Ted woke up from his bed yawning peacefully. He lowered the red-colored sheets off his feet and began putting on his daily work clothes. He had taken a shower the night before after going to the gym, so he felt no need to shower again. The warm, desirable bed tried to lure Ted back into its grips, but he knew he had work to do.
Ted sat down at the table with a bowl of cereal and the local newspaper. “Man attacked by pigeons” the top headline read. He didn’t know why he even bothered trying to read the newspaper. Nothing ever happens in Collinsville.
Ted originally moved to his town in order to escape everything, the place had been advertised as the perfect setting. Friendly people, good work, and there hadn’t ever been a murder. The houses were cheap too. Ted has been living in his home for over three years now happily with his dog, Tiger.
The doorbell rung and Tiger barked happily and wagged his tail playfully while sniffing the unopened door. The doorbell rang a few more times in a harmonious sequence as someone attempted to create a little jingle. Ted opened the door to find a burly man standing there in a postage uniform.
“How do ya do? I got today’s paper for ya. The stories in this one are hilarious! There is this whole story about how Mr. Ferguson was feeding the pigeons when one of the pigeons decided Mr. Ferguson would be a little more tasty than some stale bread crumbs. Now that is good headlines,” the postage man said with a joyful smile.
The postage man went on his merry way to Miss. Luna’s house next door and exchanged his typical Tuesday chat with her as well about old Mr. Ferguson and those pigeons. Ted went back inside to finish his bowl of cereal and feed Tiger. He cleaned up the dishes and began heading off to work.
Ted working at a little old accounting firm called “You Can Count On Us.” The Job was boring, but the money was good and the people were friendly. Movies always seem to portray accounting firms as the meanest places on the planet, but here people really seemed to genuinely love to be alive. Ted worked his usual routine of filing papers and working with little old ladies who never seemed to have a complaint in the world. They would tell stories about their younger days of love and war and about why they never got married. The stories bored Ted as they almost always seemed like the same thing, but he always put on a grin and made it seem like he was genuinely interested.
Ted gathered up his stuff as he was called for lunch break and exited the building. The area was a little old shopping street that sat in the center of town. Ted walked down the sidewalk hoping to eat at the restaurant down the block called “The heated Riddle.” They called it that because there were no menus, simply undistinguishable food. The food was always a delight to eat though.
As Ted approached the restaurant a man came running out of an alley next door.
“This whole place is a lie! Don’t believe what they say, they want to use you for what you have and throw you away! You mean nothing to them!” The man screamed.
The man ran into another alley where a blinding white light shot up before fading away into darkness again. Ted looked over, but the alley was empty. There was nothing there. Ted brushed it off and walked inside the restaurant too hungry to question what he had just seen.
The waiter inside had a smile on his face and seated Ted without asking how many were in his party. Ted sat at a small circular table with a few other people surrounding him sitting alone as well. They would occasionally make small chat with the waiters as they passed by and there was light jazz music playing in the background, but other than that the place was dead quiet.
“Excuse me, waiter. Do you know what that man was talking about?” Ted asked.
“What man?” The waiter replied.
“The man that came running out of the alley next to your restaurant. He was hard to miss.”
“I’m sorry sir, I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“You know, the man who"oh never mind.”
The waiter walked away after taking Ted’s order leaving him to simply stare outside the window. Suddenly, the man he had previously seen before seemingly came out of nowhere. He ran up against the glass and began banging profusely on the transparent sheet. “Help!” he mouthed over and over. Ted got up, but was unable to move. Suddenly the man was surrounded by civilians. The postage man, Mr. Ferguson, Miss Luna, even the little old ladies he had previously done paperwork had completely trapped the man against the window.
Ted didn’t see exactly what happened next, simply the man sinking below the brim of the window and the crowd dispersing and returning to their daily routines as they do every day. Suddenly everything clicked. The same boring routines, same boring newspapers, same boring people. This “Collinsville” was not a land of peace and prosperity as the television had advertised, it was a land of routine.
Ted left the restaurant without finishing his food as he usually would. He began walking back to his house pretending nothing had just been seen. He chose not to go back to work like his usual routine would require. He felt like everyone was glaring at him as he was walking down the street. He was an alien in a civilized community. Ted opened the door to his house and slammed it shut, bolting every lock he had on the door, against his usual routine of just using one lock.
“Okay I’m going to get out of here, everything will be okay,” Ted muttered to himself while grabbing his coat. He went into the other room to get Tiger carrying the dog’s leash in his hand. As Ted placed his hand on Tiger, the dog viciously growled at him and snapped at his hand. Tiger had always been a friendly talk. The man down the street that sold him promised he would be the most loyal dog to be seen.
Ted was unable to convince Tiger to come so he simply left the house without him. He had only enough money for a train ticket, but it was enough to get him away from the place, to somewhere safe. He had to find people who didn’t act like robots.
Ted ran down the street to the train station. He received the same glares he had gotten before from the civilians walking down the street. As he walked into the train station he noticed a few people getting off the train, but none attempting to get on. No one was trying to break the cycle. Ted jumped onto the train and handed the conductor all of his money.
“Take me away, I don’t care where. I just need to get out of this town!” Ted said frantically.
“I’m sorry to tell you this, but this train does not take passengers out of town, simply in,” the conductor replied.
“When will there be a train that CAN take me out of town?”
“I’m afraid none of the trains can take you out of town. Now why would you want to leave? Isn’t everything you could ask for here in Collinsville. Your nice house, your dog, your high-paying job, and the friendly people, Why would you ever want to leave?”
Ted ran off the train and began sprinting down the streets in a panic. He began screaming as he weaved in and out of the alleys. People glared at him in hostility.
“This place is a lie! Don’t believe what they say!” Ted yelled as he appeared out of the alley near The Heated Griddle. He looked behind him to realize the train conductor as well as a few others were following him. He ran into an alley and threw a flash grenade at the ground that he had got while serving in the army in his younger days. The whole place lit up in light. Ted kept his eyes shut and simply kept running.
Ted opened his eyes and looked at his surroundings. He was in front of The Heated Riddle. He looked inside through the large piece of glass and saw a man standing up, simply staring at him in horror.
“Get out!” Ted mouthed.
Suddenly the mob of civilians had him surrounded. They leaned in close, pushing Ted to the ground.
“Your breaking routine Ted,” the mob said in unison.
Suddenly everything went black for Ted. Everyone Ted had known, simply walked away as if nothing had ever happened. They simply returned to their normal routines.