Shared Passion. Short Story.

I’ve started reading the Wasp Factory, still reading Coldheart Canyon, almost at the end now, don’t really know how to feel. In one sense it is good that the author is wrapping it up but another part of me feels like it could have been slightly shorter, but then so far there is nothing that could have been taken out. Don’t really know what to expect at the end of it though. Will probably be finished soon.

As a side note, started new meds yesterday and there seem to be no side effects yet, yay! so that should help take care of the crohns and help prevent a flare up. Currently it hurts to eat. not badly or anything, it’s just like a mild pain every time I swallow, though it gets worse if I drink something other than water or very liquidy foods like soups or stews (those are a killer). It’s quite annoying but I’m hoping it will be gone soon enough.
Beyond that I’m tapering down the steroids so should be off them soon, can’t wait to be off them, kinda paranoid that any second I’ll start getting some of the side effects I’ve avoided so far.

Another strange thing, though I have been quite tired, I haven’t really had the vague tiredness I usually have, it’s strange because I’d gotten quite used to it and it was just normal, like how I was always supposed to feel and it is weird waking up feeling refreshed or even waking up kinda tired but then as the day goes on just feeling not tired. It doesn’t last very long or anything, but it is still nice while it’s there.

Anyway, on with the show!


Shared Passion.

The music was sweet, but crackling, with a slight hiss behind it. She knew that a CD player would give her better quality, so would MP3’s but still, she preferred the sound of the gramophone, it added character to it, that slight crackle as the needle spun through the grooves, no two records were alike. It made her feel nostalgic when she listened to her records, though most of them were older than her, but they had been given to her by her grandparents when she was younger and she had loved them ever since. When she listened to them she sometimes tried to imagine her grandparents doing the very same thing, sitting around, reading books, dancing together, a thousand scenarios playing through her head.

The record player was old, but it was sturdy and was still in almost perfect condition, she took good care of it, cleaning it down once a day and making sure all the parts were still working, she rarely needed to replace something but when she did, she searched endlessly until she found just the right part. Her life seemed emptier without its music which had become her own soundtrack when she was in her house. Of course, outside she had the radio, her Ipod, but it wasn’t the same, not really. There wasn’t the expectant hush as the needle hit the surface, the ritual of finding a record, sliding it from its sleeve and ever so carefully placing it in the player, it made the experience better, the music sweeter. She liked having to put effort in rather than just clicking a few buttons.

But the record player had broken, for the first time in years Sally had to forgo her nightly ritual and it made her antsy, she felt a deep loss as silence filled the house. She tried putting other music on but it just wasn’t the same. She supposed that in time, she would get used to it and grow to love music from a stereo as much as her records, but now she was alone in the silence. She didn’t feel like doing her usual tasks without the music in the background, everything just seemed too depressing and there was so much to do. The music helped her pass the time, it cheered her up when she was sad, speeded her up when she was slow, but the silence was almost unbearable.

Sally sat in front of her computer, bathed in its light, searching the internet for the parts she needed and so far she had found nothing. She might have to buy another gramophone and cannibalise it’s parts, the thought of doing it before had crossed her mind but the thought always filled her with revulsion, she couldn’t destroy something like that. It would be wrong, it didn’t matter if it was already broken beyond repair, she just couldn’t bring herself to defile one but this time she might have to make an exception.

Then, finally, miraculously, she found just what she was looking for on a messaging site, the person was selling excess parts and though the parts came from a destroyed gramophone it was all right after all, she didn’t destroy it herself, she could have a surplus of parts ready to go just in case. Really, it was only logical and it should have been done ages ago, but Sally had always put it off, something she was regretting now. If she got the excess parts and spent the next few days building up a bit of a collection, well then this situation could never occur again.

She emailed the seller and almost immediately got a reply, she was pleased, the ad had not been posted for too long, but sometimes there could be fierce competition for some of the parts. There was an old woman once who paid 500 dollars extra just so the man would keep it for her rather than sell it to the first person who came along, the part itself was only worth 70 dollars, maximum and really, Sally didn’t mind waiting for shipping. Normally she could wait a few days, but the week so far had been distressing and she had been so stressed all she wanted to do was sit back and listen to her records. The email itself was polite and short letting her know that yes, the parts were still available, left over from a project he was doing and that she could pick them up tonight if she wanted. She scribbled down the address, pleased that in a few hours, less perhaps, she would be finally listening to her music.

She grabbed her wallet and slipped on her jacket and gloves, the seller didn’t mention the price of the separate parts, but the ad said she could have them all for a hundred dollars. He might not have what she needed but she had convinced herself he did, she could feel it.

Outside the wind tugged at her coat and hair, she had meant to grab a hat but in her rush she’d forgotten, the trip wouldn’t be too long however and she would be able to manage without it, it was only a short walk to the metro anyway.

She passed through the maze of turnstiles and corridors with ease, knowing exactly where to go, as she waited on the platform, she felt the warm rush of air signalling there was a train coming, it screeched to a halt and she stepped on, looking for an empty seat, eventually settling down between an old woman and a sullen teenager. Normally she would stand but it was a longish train ride, about half an hour. As the doors closed she wished she had thought to bring a book or something, but it was too late now, the doors slid closed and the train lurched off again.

The time passed surprisingly quickly, considering how excited she was, and soon it was her stop, she stepped off the train onto the platform and glanced around, no one else on the train was getting off and the station seemed deserted. It was cold here and she wrapped her coat tightly around herself before setting off towards the stairs. She wasn’t really surprised the station was so empty, it was straddling the business district which would be empty enough now. It was eerie, walking through the empty station, her footsteps echoing off the tiled surfaces, it felt as though she was the last person alive.
She sped up as she approached the exit, outside she could hear the dull murmur of traffic and she was eager to see people again.

The guy was an artist, at least, according to his ad and his email had said his studio was near the business district, she knew roughly where it was and though she wasn’t looking forward to walking through the empty streets, she placed the thought of her music at the front of her mind and marched resolutely forward. It was a short enough walk, but one that brought her further away from the comparatively bustling streets, the further she moved away the more nervous she became, after all, she was meeting a stranger by herself. Sally shook her head slightly, trying to dispel the thoughts. It was stupid, she wasn’t in a horror movie, things like that rarely happened in real life. Still, it might have been prudent to leave a note or something, not that it would do much good if the guy was an axe murderer, or a rapist or- stop it, she admonished herself. She’d go in, get the parts and be home within the hour.

The building was unremarkable in anyway, really it looked just like the others and she had almost passed it before she realised she was at her destination. She had expected to see something more arty. She pressed the buzzer. “Hello?” “Hi, I was onto you earlier about spare gramophone parts?” “Sally?” “Yes, that’s the one” “Cool, I’ll buzz you up, it’s the third floor.” She stepped through the door and looked at the bank of elevators, she hoped that there were more signs upstairs, after all, it was unlikely that he had the entire third floor to himself, unless he was a really famous artist or something, she hadn’t recognised the name but maybe it was a pseudonym, even if it wasn’t it was unlikely she would have realised anyway.

The elevators were large, spacious and silent, she was never a fan of them, she was always nervous that they would stop or breakdown or something, as she passed the second floor she realised that the building was almost completely empty, apart from Brian, the seller, and who’s to say he was near the elevators, he might not hear her if she was trapped, she’d be there all night. No, not all night. All weekend, it was Friday. She felt panic building as the doors opened and, before they had finished, she was outside. It was stupid. Brian knew she was on the way up, if she didn’t appear he’d look for her, he wouldn’t just let her roam around an empty building. She took a deep breath to calm herself. It would be fine. The lift didn’t break and wouldn’t on her way back down.

Outside the row of elevators there was a wall with a singular door. It was slightly odd, but it was probably to give him more privacy while he was working, she knocked on the door, then tentatively opened it. It led to a large room, that covered the whole building. It looked industrial, the floor made of concrete. There were a few lights around the place, but not many and deep shadows were draped around the room creating strange shapes.

A man stepped forward and stuck out his hand “Hi, I’m Brian, nice to meet you” “Hi, Sally.” “Was there anything specifically you were looking for or do you just want to take them all?” “I might as well take them all while I’m here, assuming that they’ll be the right kind.” “Cool, well, they’re over here so you can root around through them if you want.” he led he to a large box, inside the parts were obviously just dumped in with no real care for their order. “You can have a look there, I’ll be back in a second.” “Ok, thanks.” she bent over the box and started to root through it, they all looked as though they would fit, they were all in good condition, and there were even multiples. It looked as though he had taken apart five or six machines, really, all this could be sold for more than a hundred even in flea markets, if he broke it up and took a little time. She could take two of everything and sell the rest herself and make a bit of profit. Behind her there was a deep grinding noise and something metal banged against metal, clanging discordantly. Sally jumped and looked around. While she was distracted, Brian had turned on a few more lights, lighting a large mechanical contraption. He looked over at her sheepishly “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” “That’s ok.” the machine hummed as cogs and wheels spun. “What is it?” “It’s a record player.” “But it’s giant” he shrugged, “It plays big records. I make them myself.” “Really? What kind of music do you put on them?” “It’s not really music, it’s something far more special.” “The sound out of it must be amazing.” “It is, but I don’t have anything to play at the moment.” “That’s a pity, I’m sure it would have been great. When will you have music for it? Are you going to do a show or something?” “something like that. If you like I could make a record now, though it might take a while.” “Really?” “It has to be done anyway and now is as good a time as any” “If you don’t mind, I mean I don’t want to disturb you or anything.” “Oh, you wouldn’t be a disturbance at all, I need two people to make one, so you can even help.” “Ok, what do I need to do?”

On Monday morning they all heard it, that horrible screaming coming from the third floor, but no one wanted to go up there, at least, not alone. Finally, a group of four consented to go up, the police had been already called but they felt guilty, they could do something, help the poor woman. They returned a few moments later, ashen faced. One of the men had a bib of vomit running down his suit. They refused to answer questions, staring mutely at those asking them. Someone asked if there was anything they could do to help and one of them shook their heads.

The police moved cautiously, unsure what to expect. They were told by the office workers that there was nothing to be done, they had managed to get the word “recording” out of one of the people that went up, but that still didn’t help them. They stepped out of the lift slowly, wary of attack and moved towards the open door. Just inside they could see a pool of vomit. They burst into the room, guns waving wildly for a target. They froze as their minds tried to register exactly what they were seeing.

The dead body of a woman spun slowly on a large skewer, her hair twirling around and around. A needled followed thin red grooves on her naked body, there were thousands of them, close to one another. Beneath the screams the speakers gently hissed, one of the policemen stepped forward and flicked what seemed to be the switch. The rotations slowed and the screams began to fade. The machine seemed to take a while to wind down, the noise was getting less but still they could hear it from the speakers. A large pool of blood had spread out beneath the body. She had still been alive when it was done to her. They jumped as they heard a man speaking softly, his voice distorted from the slowing of the needle. “Remember I told you it doesn’t play music?” there was a gurgled groan. “It records your last moments and plays them, forever.” There was the noise of tearing flesh, then the screaming began again before her body and the screams, finally, mercifully, ground to a halt, silencing the machine.

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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