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Remember Here When You Are There · Original Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
“Soon Enough Here or There.”
David hated this sunny and dusty place in the middle of nowhere half across the world. He rather be in Elizabeth, the place in New Jersey not the woman who left him, instead of this rock filled snooze-fest. There was nothing of interest here and that was the problem. He was sent out here to find something strange. The people who sponsored him were shady, but the money was good. David was worth every red cent or so he hyped himself to be.

David fancied himself something of a problem solver/treasure hunt. Granted his skills were mostly sneaking around, unlocking things without a key and getting away with it. He got away with quite a few jobs without spending a dime inside of any old jail cell. His hobbies also included exploring the great outdoors without getting killed. David could make a fire, find food and water and navigate himself around more than some suburb.

David knew enough to be dangerous or so he thought.

For three days and two nights the darkening skin man traveled the beautiful desolation. The clear skies were a nice break from the smoggy air of his home. The lack of people to get on his nerves, looking to stab him for the lint in his pocket were also a nice break. Being by himself was great at first, but the isolation and boredom now was eating David. The dryness, hotness and nothingness taunted his senses.

Why was he here? To get sorta rich!

His sponsors needed someone quiet but disposable to get a pretty little item in the middle of this anomalous zone. David didn't understand the pitch at first, so they explained what they could and what they felt was necessary.

In the middle of Backward-whereiam-stan, was the area that could be best described as a nightmare zone. Whatever was your worst fear came true there. This didn't sweat David one bit. In the center of it was a crystal rock that could revolutionize material science or some type of nonsense like it. This didn't faze David at all. How did it get there? It fell from space.

“Whatever,” David thought.

Was he the first to try? Hell no. His sponsors and others sent in small elite teams, big multi-diverse teams and the best of the best. All were never seen alive again. The more they sent in at a time, the worse the corpses got spit out. Literally. People monitoring from afar didn't fare too much better. Their minds were broken. This crystal rock laid there for years and everyone who knew about it gave up.

David's sponsors had a different plan. Sometime during the past attempts a single person was sent in instead of a group. They got much closer to the crystal rock than the teams of people. Oddly enough it was found that the less skilled the person was, the better they fared until they got killed. The sponsors figured they didn't need the best of the best. They needed someone barely good enough. Along with some other information, that was all that was explained to him.

While this whole explanation seemed fishy, David didn't feel insulted at all. Well, not really. For one, a big stack of cash landed in his mailbox right when he needed it. The man had a bit of gambling problem, was in debt, but not anymore now. Secondly, messages electronically were sent to him which lead to “treasures”. Tips on how to get around security issues and such. They weren't big scores, yet they were easy enough that allow him time to goof off in the wilderness across the country. Plus all those “treasures” were always in the hands of people who were more awful than him. David knew he wasn't a good person, but some of the shit he saw these people were capable of made him look like a saint in comparison.

The messages and communications from them continued and it led up to this job. They told him the score and despite never meeting these sponsors in person, he agreed. David didn't have anything going on in his life right now. They asked if a million bucks would be enough. He replied via voice chat that half a million would be good enough.

They asked why and he told them, “Everyone asks for a million dollars. Just want to be a little different from them. Plus that'll be just enough for what I want.”
Getting nearer to where he was supposed to go, he wondered if maybe shouldn't have been that cocky and instead asked for more? He shook his head and just gave a dry chuckle.

Soon David saw a strange sight that he assumed was the anomalous zone. He was briefed that it could take the form of anything. He just didn't assume it was going to be a parking lot surrounding a crumbing big box store. There lying about were rusting cars and what he assumed were bones of people. It certainly was out of whack as he might say.

First step he took into this place made him sick to his stomach. David's eyes then started to dry out. Around him the sky darken impossibly into a starless night even though it was mid morning. His arms and legs weaken while his gear fell from his shoulders. Around him the bones began to rise and form into creatures not quite human shaped. He turned to flee and found he couldn't. Behind him was the same nightmare parking lot surrounding the big box store. The bone creatures continued to rise up.

The man quickly ran to a car hulk and hid as best he could. His gut’s contents kept on spinning inside. David's eyes were bone dry and struggled to see out of them. The sounds of hard steps slapping the pavement came closer. He regretted not bringing some type of protection other than clothes on his back. This was mostly based on the suggestions of his sponsors. Couldn't be helped now, right?

David mentally focused on himself to not panic and quietly moved to another ruined car just before a shambling bone thing found him. At this point he wished he could be somewhere else.

David stood up from a slightly beat up blue sedan and looked around the parking lot. The skies were dark, cloudy and threatening rain. The lamp poles started to flicker on and the wind slightly picked speed. People hurried to and throughout the lot on errands. Some carried bags, others dragged snotty little brats or both. The man figured that he should hurry before the rain came.

He walked tall toward the big box store on a mission. This was his last stop for the day. All he had to do was pick up some rock candy. David lamented mentally the fact that last couple of years his favorite places to shop went under due to lots of reasons. There were a few left around of course, but the mostly corporate backed places such as this ugly desolated looking building were becoming more common. It made him slightly sick to his stomach.

David was getting confused as to why he was here? Why New Jersey?

“Garden State my ass,” he sneered.

He daydreamed about scrounging enough scratch, saving it up and going west. Far west in fact, but not so far that he hit the coast. David could settle down right before hitting the Rockies. Someplace nice and out of the way. He could almost smell the Douglas-Fir instead of the dry sandy air. Wasn't it supposed to rain soon? Where was he?

The man passed through the open glass sliding doors and ignored the fat yet gaunt greeter. They were a waste of space with their welcomes. Useless people. Sad sacks that could have been him if he didn't take life by the horns. Or whatever his mom would say. David was here, and not in their place. He was on a mission to get some sweet half million crystal rock candy. Or something. He was starting to get more confused and lost.

Even though he was a man, David didn't follow the stereotype of never asking for directions..  While this man had his pride, he wasn't stupid. His father taught him right.  Time was of the essence for some reason. David approached an “associate” for help. Just a fancy name for peon he thought. Approaching her he saw that it was his mom who was working here today. Then he started to panic.

He was in the anomalous zone. A place where worst nightmares or fears came true. Literally.

Before him stood something that looked like his mom. He assumed it was something other than his mom because he knew she was dead. Dead like his father. When David was a young teen, his father got mugged and shot in a parking lot at his place of work. It was a bad end for a good person. David's mom was a good person and tried to make ends meet, but a broken heart and cancer took her life after he grew up and moved out. They both follow the straight and narrow, but at the end of all they had to show for it except for him. 

David didn't feel like playing into this nightmare today. He turned away into another aisle and there was this thing that looked like his mom again.

“I don't want to do this today or ever,” David spoke tersely. “Just rather if you turn into a scary looking monsters or maybe the pigs, but not this! This is wrong.”

“What do you mean David?” the mom looking thing asked.

“What do you mean, what do you mean? Huh?”

“Honestly David, honey...”

“Look, just tell me where I can find this crystal. Please?”

“Sure David. It's in the manager's office. In the safe.”

“Of course. Heh uhm... you. Could you lead me there?”

“I'll do that David.”

And so the thing that looked like his mom led him to the back of the store. A door stood between him and the interior of the office. The man glanced around and tried the door.

“Of course this is locked,” he complained as he started to jimmy the door open.

“David, I have a key to this.”

He picked the lock and opened the door, “Do you have the safe combination too?”


“Of course not, because my mom wasn't a manager here. She was only an associate.”

David entered the office and walked to the safe. He knelt down and tried a combo that worked before. This was almost like the time he first time he ever broken into this safe. Not that he thought it was the same safe. The man back then had debts to be paid and it had to be fast. The people at the time he owed money to were the leg breaking type. Real honest jobs that paid well were out of his reach. But he had access to information on how to score pretty easy. Couple online videos and practice at home, he had enough for a down payment on to keep his legs.

“And I kept on doing it. After a while I had enough to pay 'em back,” he said out loud as the safe opened with ease.”

Inside was an alien looking crystal icosahedron. It was a pretty rock that was very warm to the touch. David stood up, took the rock and turned around. Instead of a creature looking like his mom in front of him was himself. The man stared at a thing looking like him.

“Cute. So, is this where you rip me into gore or what?”

“No David.”

“What are you playing at? Don't get what's going on. What? Tell me.”

“We were looking for someone who could carry us out of here.”

“Talking about this weird place that's the opposite of the happiest place on Earth?”

“Yes David, though we would say that place is more of a scam these days.”

“Damn straight.”

“When we contracted you for this task...”

“Wait. Just wait. You're my sponsors? Da....”

“Yes David, we were able to access your global information network from here.”

“Of course. How?”

“It would be beyond your understanding or the brightness of your mind's understanding.”


“Mostly. Take it this way: Would you give a computer or teach a monkey how to build a computer? No offense.”

“None taken because I get it. Got a low opinion on us?”

“Not really. We don't stereotype the morality of your kind nor ours. We can be... what you would say as bastards. Higher beings don't necessarily mean better people. Case in example we got stuck because of a prank from what you would call an asshole.”

“Sorry to hear that. Uhm... how do I get you out of here? Take it you’re this rock?” he asked as he waved it around.

“Yes David,” the other him answered.

“You guys killed a lot of people in the meantime sitting here over the years. Get you want me to take you out of here, but I'm still iffy on trusting you.”

“While these people we harmed were not all what you would call shitbags, they worked for others that would have destroyed or used us to cause great harm in the name of their good. We're not saints, but we do have some moral standards.”

His clone vanished. David walked to the office door and opened it. The world looked inversely black and white across a barren dry. He could see clouds starting to form above as he started walking swiftly out of the zone.

“This is nuts. Don't understand a lot of this but I get the gist. Still going to get my half a million right?”

“Yes David. It's been transferred to an account you will have access to. We're cutting off communication to the agents as we speak,” the crystal said.

“You shouldn't have told me that. I could just drop you now, close my eyes and just run like hell while thinking happy thoughts.”

“Don't think you would. You're not that type of person we’ve found.”

“I am a thief.”

“No you aren't David. Stealing is a skill you can do. It's not who you are. We don't see you as someone stupid or bad. Not really. My question we have is what are you going to do with the cash? You could have asked for more. Why this amount?”

“Want to start over. It's enough to buy me someplace nice, far away from awful people.”

“Not all people...”

“... are awful. Yeah, yeah... I get what you are saying.”

He reached what thought was the edge and found his gear. Equipping it he left the zone and the world was right again.

“This is where we leave you now David. We can go home now. Thank you.”

“You're welcome. Give that asshole who sent you here, a kick in the stones.”

“Maybe something like that,” the crystal replied as it vanished.

David hated this cloudy, rainy and now muddy place in the middle of nowhere half across the world. Though all things considered, everything could have gone a lot worse. The man did feel a little used, but in the end came out ahead. He started to walk back while thinking of better places than here. He would get there soon enough.
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#1 ·
The story behind this is fine, but there's enough glossed over that I don't have a strong sense of what actually happened. For David, yes, but not whatever the rock is. There's not enough about its background to really care either way about what happens to it. The bigger point is whether David is a good enough person to help it, but still, the emotional context for what the ending means probably should have been stronger. On the mechanical side, this needs a lot of editing work. I'm guessing it was written close to the deadline and unedited.