After. Short Story.

“You know what the saddest part of it all is?”
“No, what?”
“No one will remember them. Not really. People will talk about the jumper, about how it effected their day, maybe even their life, but no one will actually know who he was. How he sounded, what he liked. Nothing. Not even his family knew.”
“What do you mean?”
“They hadn’t spoken to him in maybe ten years or so? Awful people. Entire house reeked of cat piss.”
“You can’t smell anything.”
“Fine. It looked like it reeked of cat piss. They had like twenty of them. Place was a mess.”
“So what did you do?”
“What do you mean? I did what we always do. Found the poor bastard wandering amongst the crowd of onlookers and sent him on his way.”
“Ugh. Did he know what was happening?”
“Of course not. They never do.”
“No, sometimes the jumpers do.”
“Yeah, but that’s rare enough. Must be the shock, wipes it clean.”
“Where did he go? Up or Down?”
“Down.”
“Eh. I’m not surprised.”
“Yeah. I was hoping it’d be up, guy looked like he needed a break. I snuck a look at the records after, poor sod was assigned to power generation.”
Jack winced, “Oof. That’s rough.” He took another drink.
“Yeah, but what can you do?” Tom took a gulp of beer.
“Well its better than those who stay.”
“Ugh. Not this again.”
“What? Its depressing seeing the tattered remnants just wandering about the place, trying to interact with the world and failing. Besides, they can be so distracting, following you around like a lost puppy once they realise you can interact with them.”
“I always ignore them, they go away soon enough.”
“Now that’s cruel.”
“Not my fault they’re idiots. They had their choice and now they have to live with it. Pardon the pun.”
“I think that was less of a pun and more of a bad joke.”
“Eh. Either way.” Tom finished his beer and signalled for another, “Any plans for the weekend?”
“Not really, thinking of going up there for a visit, but I dunno. The effort of getting the visa is putting me off. Plus you know how my parents get. I’ll have to do it sooner or later.”
“When was the last time you saw them?”
Jack took a slow drink of his beer, “thirty years. No, wait. Forty.”
“That’s bad. They’re gonna be pissed either way. The longer you leave it the worse it’ll be.”
“I know, but we write letters at least.”
“You don’t even phone them?”
“Well, I get busy and forget.”

“If you do go I wish you all the luck. Your dad still scares me.”
“He scares me too.”
“How are things with Rebecca?”
“Eh. Ok I guess. I think she’s looking for something serious.”
“Aren’t they all?”
“Yeah. Think maybe we might get another five or six months before she starts looking for a ring.”
“And you’ve never considered settling down?”
“No. Definitely not. All that aging? Ugh. No thank you…Have you?”
“Yeah. Sometimes. I mean would it really be that bad?”
“Have you seen some of the old folks homes about the place? Besides, I appreciate the eternal youth thing, I don’t need any reminders of how great it is.”
“But even growing old with someone, maybe having a kid?”
“God no. I couldn’t do it. Watching them grow old, finding them when they die, sending them wherever they’re going. Member what it did to Sarah? And Tony.”
“Yeah. They were never the same after it.”
“No ones the same after that. Especially these days when they’re going to go down more often than not.”
“I heard you can put in an appeal, get them some preferential treatment.”
“That’s just a rumour. They want divine blood in the world. Something about prophesies or some shit like that. If we all stopped mixing eventually the divine blood would be too weak to be of any use.”
“I guess. Not worth the risk to find out either way.”
“Someone will take it. Someone always does.”

They sat in silence, listening to the general noise of the bar. Jack liked it, it was quiet enough, a bit of a dive, but not a total one. People knew to leave everyone else alone and the lighting was dim enough so it looked reasonably clean.

Tom stood from the bar, swaying slightly, “Same time tomorrow?”
“See you then.” Tom stumbled towards the door and out into the cold night air. As he walked from between the crowds his gait changed, no longer was he swaying and stumbling, by the time he reached the end of the street he was walking normally. He had drank more than enough to get any normal person drunk and it was best to keep up appearances. It had been a long day and he was looking forward to sleep. He’d be back on night shift in another month, he never slept well during the day. It was awful. He missed the days when all things were equal, they only took the good and the other lot only took the bad. But then of course the humans had to start breeding, now it was all they could do to keep up with everything. Sure souls got lost in the cracks, but for the most part everyone was taken care of. He stepped into his building, at least the accommodations had gotten much better with time. As the elevator doors closed he yawned, it had been a long day, as it had been the day before and as it would be for every day to come. He sighed as he stepped out into the hallway. It could be a difficult job, but it had to be done.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 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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