Gone Away ~ The journal of Clive Allen in America

Accelerate - Part 7

To read the first part of this series, click here.

Lucky took no more tablets after the day of the bank robbery. He reasoned that the effects must begin to wear off sooner or later and he might be able to find a happy medium in which he could retain the advantages of speed without having to suffer complete separation from a world frozen in time. But his days followed each other in quick succession and he could detect no slowing down.

He spent the time in wandering the city, entering places he had never been before and handling things that had once been the stuff of dreams to him. In a luxury car dealership, he sat in every model they had on display and could see the irony in the fact that they could only ever be finely-crafted but immobile shapes of metal now. It occurred to him that he should travel and see the world, but a visit to the airport persuaded him otherwise. The sight of a Boeing hovering inches above the tarmac, frozen in the moment of take off, brought home to him just how long any flight would be. He ate in the best restaurants but drinking became a matter of dipping a straw into a sluggish liquid and then sipping the contents bit by bit.

It was in the libraries and bookstores that he found some respite from his lonely existence. Books remained a link with the world of movement and interchange that he had left behind. At first, he took them home to read but soon the dreary surroundings of his room began to oppress him. Instead he spent his waking moments wherever he found books, picking up whatever caught his eye, settling into a comfortable spot and then reading until he could read no more. Around him the still figures remained in attitudes that became familiar to him and he became almost blind to their existence, as though they merged into the scene as mere furniture.

Time became meaningless and he no longer checked his old alarm clock. Once, he fell asleep in a bookstore, lying upon the counter with a book pillowing his head. When he awoke, he knew from the barely-changed positions of those around him that he had slept for no more than a few seconds, although a night had passed in his reality. From that moment he did not return to his digs but slept wherever he happened to be, not caring that the brief appearance of a sleeping hobo in unexpected places might give people the fright of their lives.

For he remained a down-and-out; although he could have had the finest clothes in the city, there seemed no point anymore. He stopped shaving and grew a luxuriant beard, did not care that his hair became a tousled and tangled mess that spread over his shoulders and began to creep down his back. There was no-one to put on a show for and, since he never looked in a mirror, he was only dimly aware of how his appearance was changing.

Lucky was adjusting to his circumstances and finding a way to live that suited him. His pleasures were simple: a day spent immersed in books, a light meal of gourmet delights and perhaps a walk in the rain, for he always found amusement in the way the raindrops hovered in the air so that he made a tunnel through them as he walked, his front drenched in a moment while his back remained perfectly dry.

In time his loneliness faded and he was able to recognize the perfect freedom that now was his; freedom from care and worry, freedom from obligation or duty. The days became weeks and the weeks months as Lucky established a routine, losing himself in an ordered and regular approach to his new life. On the day he realized that he had read everything in his favorite bookstore, he understood the irony that he was now perhaps the best read person in the state, but he knew in the same instant that it did not matter anymore. He moved into the main library in the center of the city and continued his reading adventure.

Months became years and still Lucky existed as the only inhabitant of a city frozen in time, a single instance of movement in a land of statues and immobility. And then, one day as he walked the silent streets, he felt a sharp pain in his chest that brought him to his knees. Gasping for breath, he pulled himself to the side of the street and lay down, hoping that the pain would fade. Around him, the traffic was as frozen as ever, uncaring about his pain as it cared not about his life.

When the pain eased at last, Lucky hauled himself to his feet and caught sight of his reflection in a shop window. A hoary, ancient and wrinkled face stared back at him, a face that he barely recognized as his own. Matted grey hair framed his face and cascaded to his shoulders, milky blue eyes squinted from cavernous sockets, deep lines scarred the leathery skin. He had grown old and time had caught up with him.

Surprised as he was at the change in his appearance, Lucky was not disappointed that death stood now at his shoulder, ready to deliver that second blow to the heart that must surely kill him. He had lived a full life and experienced things that none had before. His companions, the authors of the books he had read, had shown him things that he never would have known in his old life. And now he knew, perhaps more than any other, that the years creep on, be they fast or slow, to the inevitable end.

He wondered how long it had been since he had stolen the tablets. Three months, perhaps four? And they would find his body in the gutter, the tablets still in his pocket, and they would shake their heads over his demise, stop all tests on the drug that could kill so quickly, and never know that a life lived in another time was still a life lived to its allotted extent.

A thought of one last dramatic gesture crossed Lucky's mind and he withdrew the bottle from his pocket, intending to throw it as far as he could in a heart-exploding expression of his final triumph. But, when he saw the label with his name scrawled across it, he remembered how apt was the word. Lucky he was by name and lucky indeed; lucky to have had the chance to live a life so different, lucky to have been free, lucky to have been Lucky.

As the pain renewed itself in a great stab at his chest, Lucky lay down again to wait for death. His hand gripped the bottle tightly, the label facing outwards, the better to ease identification.


Have you finished?

Thanks for that little jaunt Gone. Thoroughly enjoyed.......of course, it could be about the tablets and not Lucky then we can have some more.....
Date Added: 27/07/2005

Gone Away
I have finished, Keef. It's about Lucky, not the tablets. But glad you enjoyed it. :)
Date Added: 27/07/2005

Neatly managed ending. I wondered how you'd achieve it. There's plenty to think about now the story's complete.
Date Added: 28/07/2005

Gone Away
I think so, Ken. There is probably enough in the concept of speeding up life to justify a whole book but this is a blog, after all. And a major reason for writing it was to suggest that those lives that may appear to us as squandered and cut short, may in fact be experienced as full by their owners. Not that I'm saying it is so - just a thought, that's all...
Date Added: 28/07/2005

Thats really sad! This is now my fave story my Dad has put on this blog. It so sad though!
Date Added: 28/07/2005

Gone Away
Well, I'm glad it's your favourite, Boogie - I kinda like it too... ;)
Date Added: 29/07/2005

A nice hanging fall at the end there, like a Japanese Zen flute tune. Very poignant. If he'd just got better it would have been very difficult to end it satisfactorily without a bloomin' great essay on philosophy. It's a pity nobody publishes short stories in the print media these days. There used to be whole magazines, like The Strand, devoted to them. Good job we've got blogs then, isn't it ;-) Good stuff!
Date Added: 29/07/2005

Gone Away
Thanks, John; it's good to know that at least some can appreciate the hard work I put into that one! And blogs are ideal for the short story format. I've seen writers attempting to publish whole books, chapter by chapter, through blogs but doubt that many have the stamina to stay with anything that long.
Date Added: 29/07/2005

Neatly done Clive and very enjoyable.
Date Added: 31/07/2005

Gone Away
Thank you, Molly. :)
Date Added: 08/08/2005

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