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The lights were dim, she was laid out on a couch with a book, adjusting her slippery glasses every once in awhile as a speeding car from below made a skidding sound every once in awhile. It was a normal evening for Rebecca.

Rebecca turned the pages with her fingers as she finished the last sentence on the seventeenth page. The doorbell rang. She placed a pen in the pages and dropped the book on the couch to go answer the door. She felt the cold laminate against her socks. Probably time to turn up the heat too.

She opened the door to see a man in a leather jacket, zipped up. He wore a pair of dark blue jeans. The most interesting thing about the man, however, was his head, or seemingly lack of one. Instead of a head, a old computer monitor sat between his shoulders. A flash of errored colors displayed on his screen.

She shut the door right away. She wasn’t sure what was going on but she really hoped it wasn’t some horror movie thing. She took a moment to breathe in and out before hearing the doorbell ring again. She opened it carefully to see the computer head man again. He was still standing perfectly still. She squinted her eyes. What?

She opened the door and stared straight at him. No response. She perked her head from side to side but received no response. She decided to be more daring and push him and this time he actually showed signs of life. He resisted and then… stood right there.

She tried walking back a bit to see if he would come in or some other response. She walked back into her window and yet the computer head man did nothing. Her expectations were seemingly more and more tempered.

“Well…” she began. “What do you want?” she might as well be asking the air. There was still not a motion stirring in this man and she thought she might be going crazy. She kept the door open in the case that the man might want to come in (she knew full well that nothing would happen) and poured herself a glass of sparkling water.

After she had finished off her glass, she saw that he was still standing, still doing nothing. She grabbed his hand and pulled him inside. Well, if he wasn’t going to make anything happen, she supposed she could. She sat him down on the couch and continued reading her book.

She had made it to the part where the alien confessed everything to the human, all of his feelings laid out in words. Much to her surprise, the human didn’t want to take their friendly relationship to anything else and the two buried it peacefully. She closed the book and looked at the time. Well, good time to head to sleep, she supposed.

She dozed off to sleep on the couch, resting against the computer head man. The soft glow of his monitor didn’t seem to affect her much. She dozed off… resting until the morning after.

She woke up the next morning feeling fairly well rested. She noticed that the computer head man was still sitting where he had been the whole night before. She outstretched her hands and made some eggs and rice, a meal for one. New clothes for the long day ahead of her. She locked the apartment door and headed to the bus stop.

A fairly bald red haired man in a black coat nodded as she sat down on the bench. He had tired eyes. She had seen him a few times before never really noticed him before. How tired he was, how tired of life he must be… “Did you get a good night’s rest?” she asked, oxygen escaping her lungs in the form of white smoke. He turned to her.

“Not really, no,” he said, placing his hand on the cold pole. “It’s cold out, you feel that?” he said, looking at her less heavy attire.

“It’s pretty cold, yeah.” she said, in kind of a laughing tone. “What’s your deal?” she asked as he stared out into the frostbitten city corners and buildings.

“My girlfriend, Sydney, left to go to Paris for some modeling gig,” he said. He stared straight out again into the cold. “I was up all night because I don’t know how I’m going to do anything without her.” Rebecca didn’t expect it to get so personal all of the sudden but she couldn’t help but place her lips to the side of her mouth, not sure what to say.

“You guys still like each other, right?” she asked. She wasn’t sure what she wanted out of the conversation at all and she hoped she wasn’t coming off like she was interested in him because that wasn’t her intent.

“Yeah, we do,” he said briskly. “You slept well, didn’t you?” he asked her.

“Yeah, I slept alright.” Rebecca said. “Some man with a computer head stood at my door for an hour and then I sat him down in there. I don’t know what’s going on with that, to be frank.” she said, again in kind of a laughing tone. The man loosened his facial features.

“Yeah, I don’t know anything about that,” he said. He looked up the depressing white sky, not sure what to do. The bus came into view and he unclasped the pole and got ready. Rebecca stood up. “Name’s Louie.” he said, suddenly.

“Rebecca.” she simply stated. Louie nodded as he got on the bus, nearly slipping off as he got in. Rebecca followed closely behind. Louie took a seat towards the back while Rebecca took a seat more up front. She stared out the window as the bus doors closed, the smell of years-old gum and elderly scents musking in the air.

Who was this Computer Head Punk?

She wasn’t sure why she let him in. Maybe it was a long con robber of sorts. A blind, deaf, lame man. A fever dream. She wasn’t sure but he seemed to be some kind of omen, and she was not sure whether it was a good or bad thing.

She didn’t know. And she wasn’t sure what to make of it.


She made her way home with bags full of groceries, dropping the plastic bags on a marble counter. The Computer Head Punk didn’t move. She wasn’t sure why she expected him to. She put stuff away in the fridge and pantries and then investigated the Computer Head Punk. She zipped down his leather jacket. She was expecting maybe an answer but all she got was more questions.

She pulled out a keyboard and mouse. Suddenly, the computer monitor flashed back, and then blue, and then finally white, where it stayed. A single, blinking line was the only other thing. She picked up the keyboard and starting mashing keys. Was this some kind of command prompt thing? No, it didn’t seem to be that. It seemed to be a word processor.

“17rhujgikfkjgjkjoiti5”.

She hit backspace. She didn’t like what she wrote. She thought of stuff to write and ideas flooded her badly. She could write a story. She could write a story based off the one she just read herself, because she did not like how things were looking so far. She… felt those two characters should be together in a sense.

She digressed. Surely she could write something original! She began typing up sentence start ups.

“Do you ever fall so far that you don’t know where you are? So hard that you lose yourself?”

Backspace.

“If computers were alive, would they act like us? Ask like us? I’m not talking about machines, I’m talking about if computers were-”

Backspace.

“Maybe some day, we’ll know what to make of our lives. For now... “

Backspace.

She sat back in defeat. She didn’t like anything she liked. It was too philosophical, she felt, too introspective. She wanted to write a story, not a thesis paper. She needed ideas that she actually liked, but most of them she felt were based off something she had watched or read.

Maybe she was just a fraud. Creatively bankrupt from the start. Where does creativity stem from? She paced her fingers at the keys and then dropped it. Perhaps some sleep would free her mind, her consciousness… her drive to create.


She woke up the next morning and… as she expected nothing. She tried to type out a few sentences that could act as the beginning of her next story but she had nothing. Perhaps… starting with a story based off the first sentence wasn’t working for her? Maybe she needed something to drive her past those first couple of words and the first period.

She tilted her head to the right only to wince as she had apparently tilted on a sore spot. Her eyes felt bugged and diseased, her lips like a dry field in a sun baked canvas of land. Her head felt like it was wobbling. She was having a headache? She couldn’t tell.

She got herself some water and got ready for work, heading down the iron mesh steps and adjusting the collar of her coat. She felt around for ticket stubs for a movie that turned out to be nothing but a cheap ploy. Disappointment on a big screen.

Perhaps she could mine something out of that. Something about disappointment made her want to do better if it only happened once, but disappointment twice or three times just made her want to give up whatever was going on in her life, really. She would come back a few days later more energetic.

She had never used that energy for anything creative though. She wanted to be creative so bad but she never had the time for it, never the ideas for it, the world was against her when it came down to it. She wore whatever she could find in her drawers that seemed to work and didn’t spend time trying to make appearance pop out to anyone,

She saw Louie over by the bus station. He stared at the pigeons, their green and purple ringed necks bobbing, looking for crumbs of forgotten street food to eat. Rebecca sat down on the plastic mesh bench, tracing her finger around the holes.

“Any luck with that computer head punk?” Louie asked, noticing she was there.

“Nah… I found a keyboard and mouse in his jacket and tried to write a story but I suppose I’m just garbage at it.” She said, embarrassed that this was somehow her idea on how to deal with it. Write a story? She sounded silly. She still didn’t know the deal with this thing and she was trying to write a story on it?

“Ah yes… stories,” said Louie, putting his hands in his pocket as he breathed out white mist. “Those are the things that make the world go round, I suppose. You get the news about a war over in China, some of our men are over there, getting killed… but nobody cares, it’s not happening to them, it’s not happening to anyone that they know… they were still people though…”

Rebecca pondered on his words. “Are you… sad?” she asked. She didn’t want to come across as mocking and was worried that she might be. Louie tilted his head to the right and breathed slowly before rolling his head upright.

“Love’s… a fire I suppose. The farther you are from it… the colder you get. If you get too close, you get burned. But it keeps you warm, doesn’t it?” he said. His face was expressionless, yet something in his throat moved down. “Gotta get close, get your hands out…”

Rebecca hadn’t really been in love before. She had the fleeting crush here and there but she seemed to miss the signs everyone else saw. Still, she nodded. The bus parked into the station and Louie made his way, his hands in his pockets before having to take them out to catch his fall.

Rebecca followed closely in, making her usual way to the front rows and staring out the windows.


She wanted to do something today. She had just come home from work and while everything felt groggy, stuffed up, dry, and hurt in simple, subtle waves, she still wanted the first sentence of her story done. She figured if she could do that, she could finish the story.

What should her story be about? A zombified zoo? A valentine-themed killer? A shapeshifter? She was getting stuck again. She just wanted to move forward with something, anything…

In a fury’s snap she wrote a first sentence.

“Time is the only relative to everything we know.”

She hated it. She didn’t know how to follow up on it, she didn’t know what story it belonged to. She couldn’t write a story with it. Backspace.

She focused hard and then decided to create something based off events in her life, because at least she knew where that would go.

“The day was dim, the words were inked in black, and the sky was a dark navy, with its clouds as little white ships dotting across the sea sky.”

She was okay with it. Maybe a bit descriptive but she could work with it. She imagined a vivid painting, not the start of this whole fiasco, however. Hmm. Maybe…

“He looked curiously at the skyline painting, it’s mixture of colors done in an abstract manner that still came off as recognizable. He sat on the red velvet bench, trimmed with gold as the light hanging from the ceiling bounced off his head.”

She had something now. But it felt too empty.

Backspace. Back to square one.


She was increasingly more frustrated with herself and it was starting to affect her sleep. She wanted to write a story with SOMETHING behind it, an emotion that wouldn’t bum her out to read but not overly cheery and fake. She rubbed her dimming eyes and looked angry at the computer head punk. She was tired of him being around, forcing her to do something she had always wanted to do but was total garbage at.

He had done nothing of course, but in her mind she felt as if she was being controlled to do something with the mysterious stranger. He had a keyboard and mouse to be used, and she was trying. Nothing clicked through into the brain behind the windows of her soul. She got ready for the day and headed over to the bus.

Louie greeted her. “Hey Rebecca.” It was routine at this point. She put her hood over her head and pulled the strings, feeling the hood tighten across the top of her head. She had to explain that she was a failure again.

“I can’t get anything out.” she said. “I got to a first sentence, I got to a second and third. They were okay but…” she tightened the strings again. “How do people do it? How is there so many authors? How is there so many creators in the world and yet I struggle with being one? What do they know that I don’t?”

Louie looked over to her. He dropped his head a bit as he leaned on the top of the bus shelter. “Well, I don’t know how they do it either, to be frank. You know more than I do,” he nodded his head downwards. “You remember what you wrote?”

“Something about a guy in a museum. I don’t know… it’s dumb. I had a bunch of ideas but they didn’t really fit the narrative of a guy looking at a painting in a museum.” she explained. She put back her hood.

“Well… a story doesn’t always have to start where the plot does,” he explained. “You can start in a museum if you want. Get some introspection from whoever the main character is, I guess…”

“You mean I don’t have to start where… the story begins?” she wondered out loud. She got up and started running towards her apartment.

“Where are you going?” asked Louie. Rebecca stopped.

“I’m going to write a story because I’m very sick.” she replied. She jogged up the wire mesh steps and unlocked her door to her apartment. She grabbed the keyboard and mouse and began typing and she didn’t stop to think about it.


Rebecca looked at the words “The End.”

She was done.

She scrolled up in the word processor and started reading it back through. She was actually… enjoying this? It was not the best story she had ever read, but it was probably the best one she had ever wrote, blowing the ones she wrote in class as a kid out of the water.

She had put herself in a lot of the story. She realized this now as she saw the sun set. She hadn’t eaten since she prepared to go to work this morning, which she ignored to write this. This was a story she wrote.

She got up and made herself some pasta to celebrate. She looked at the Computer Head Punk. She still didn’t understand it but… maybe it was a good thing after all. She left the water to boil and saw herself in the reflection of the monitor. She kissed it and headed back to the water.

THE END

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