Free short stories about Generation End

Archive for the ‘Vail’ Category

THE PURPOSE OF VAIL

the purpose of Vail

The scene started off like this: Vail and I were on Jude’s balcony, and the sun had been down for a while and Vail, wearing something black, was humming something I didn’t recognise.

“It’s so, so easy to do what’s easy,” she said.

“That’s why it’s called easy.”

Vail said nothing to that. She looked out, at the traffic. I hadn’t seen her in months.

She lit a cigarette and exhaled in silence. She checked her phone, typed something, then glanced up at me. “What’s the difference between love, and fog?”

“There are a lot of differences between love and fog.”

She giggled, shrugged. “Someone sent me text asking me that.”

“And what did they say? What is the difference?”

“The difference is in the spelling,” she said. She looked me up and down and scowled a little. “You seem different,” she said. “You don’t look as angry.”

“I blame Christie for that.”

“All that dreaded contentment. It won’t hurt your writing, will it?”

“I don’t know if I should aim for being a better writer, or being a happier person.”

Vail poured herself another glass of wine. But instead of taking a sip she stole another puff from her cigarette. “Definitely a better writer.”

“You’re a great friend.”

“You know,” she smiled slightly, starting to say something but then stopping – her mind drifted somewhere, to some man or drama maybe. I suddenly remembered a road trip we did once, to the north somewhere.

“Do I know what?”

“The afterlife, eternity… like, even when people talk about afterlife and eternity. It scares me.”

“It scares me too. And Christie tells me a lot about heaven. I mean, what would it be like to live forever?”

Vail exhaled smoke from her nostrils as she killed her cigarette for good. She texted someone something and then put down her phone, leaning it against the bowl of coins in the middle of Jude’s table. “You know it’s not good when the only two people in a room are scared.”

“Good, because we’re on a balcony.”

“You know what I mean.”

“I never know what you mean.”

She slapped my shoulder. “One person always has to be the brave one. Shouldn’t you be the brave one? You’re like, the only man on this balcony. You need to protect us.”

“That’s sexist.”

I watched her phone glow, then vibrate, then topple off the edge of the bowl. She picked it up, glanced at it, muttered “Instagram,” then put it back down. “You see my post about Mick? It got three hundred likes for some reason. It wasn’t even that funny. My other posts were funnier.”

“I’m brave, but not all the time.”

“You need to be brave all the time.”

“No one is brave all the time.”

I loved and despised Vail. She’s the type who would ditch her friends for her man. She’s the type who wouldn’t speak to you for months, but would drive fifteen hours for you if it was truly urgent. I watched the view from Jude’s balcony for a moment before picking up an iPad from the chair between us and playing some folk song on Spotify that sounded like it had a point about something.

Vail poured some more wine into my glass. “Somewhere along the line I’ve forgotten who I was supposed to be. Did I ever know who I was supposed to be? I’m sure I did know who I was supposed to be, at some point in time. Maybe I was six years old. Maybe I was twenty years old. But I’m sure it was there, somewhere. I mean, there are so many things wrong in the world, and here I am, like, looking out of a balcony.”

I watched the skyline, imagining God speaking to a six-year-old Vail, telling her who she was supposed to be.

 

_

Book I’m reading: Saga

HAPPINESS AND ARMPIT PLUCKING

happiness and armpits“You know what I’ve realised?” Vail asked me.

“What?”

“I like the idea of doing charity work more so than actually doing it.” Vail had just finished an afternoon of volunteer work with troubled kids. “It’s a lot of work.” She sighed, sipping on her latte or whatever the hell it was. “It’s so much work.”

“You know what I’ve realised?”

“What?”

“That I have no idea what I want or what’s going on. I mean, I have goals, but…” I began mumbling, trying to figure out what I was trying to say.

She giggled. “I have no idea what you’re saying.”

“I mean, all it takes is one emotional speech to persuade a group of people to completely change what they stand for… I don’t think people really know what they want. It’s like we’re driving cars in vast open spaces, looking for anyone to tell us where to go.”

“I guess that’s the cost of freedom.”

“What do you long for?” I asked Vail.

“I don’t know.” Her phone vibrated and she quickly picked it up. She texted someone, then put it aside. “What do I long for? A cold shower. What do you long for, Dean?”

“Constant sex. Constant reassurance that I’m doing the right thing. Constant wealth. Constant happiness. Like some escape somewhere but I don’t know where. I mean, we can escape to somewhere better, but for how long will it be better for, right? Happiness is always something temporary? I don’t know, I think I need help.”

“Yeah I suppose…” Vail’s mind was back on her phone. She texted someone again, a selfie this time. Eventually: “My mum makes me pluck her armpits.”

“How often?”

“Not too often.”

“Does she pluck your armpits?” I asked her.

“Sometimes.”

“How often?”

“Not too often.”

Vail finished her drink and I did too. We drove to the shopping mall, looked at a few things; I helped her choose a few Christmas presents for her relatives and friends. Afterwards, we smiled and hugged and said bye to each other and walked towards our cars, which were parked in two completely different car parks.

When I arrived home I saw it. It was a tiny creature, about the size of a ruler. It stood on two legs and had the face of a good luck troll. It horrified me, but it only moved once: it turned its head and it smiled at me. I watched it for a while until I went to bed and fell asleep. It was gone the next day.

__

Book I’m currently reading: Here I Am.

INSTAGRAM

Instagram - short story

The sun wasn’t rising and it wasn’t setting, either – it was about three in the afternoon and time was what it was. Jude was smoking and Vail was typing something on her phone. “We’ve changed, but we really haven’t, if you think about it,” Jude said. “Want to go to Alfred & Constance?” Vail asked without looking up from her phone. I wondered what the both of them would be like thirty years from now. Uglier, obviously, but I wondered what kind of things they’d say. Would they both still be single? We drove, and we drove, and we drove, and we didn’t end up going to Alfred & Constance but instead went to this hipster-looking café in Newstead or New Farm or something, and I ordered something with salmon and Vail ordered something with a lot of prosciutto and Jude ordered something I don’t remember. Vail took a photo of everything we ordered and put it on Instagram and made us like the photo. Vail then took a selfie on Snapchat and sent it to her friends. Afterwards, she took a series of photos and uploaded them all to her Facebook. Jude picked up a piece of prosciutto and pegged it at Vail’s face. She swore at him and began to cry. Jude didn’t apologise, so she ran to the toilet. I walked after her and spent the next half hour listening to her complain about Jude and about her work and about the world in general. We walked back, and Jude looked bored and drunk. We drove, and we drove, and we drove, and we ended up in West End, at this dance hall, dancing slowly to strange music. When the novelty of it all evaporated we drove, and we drove, and we drove, and we ended up at Jude’s apartment. He played a track by Drake (Buried Alive Interlude) on his expensive looking sound system, and he brought out drinks and just like before, Vail Instragrammed, Facebooked and Snapchatted various photos and videos of the drinks. We drank, and at some point I walked out to the balcony. This whole scene, this whole experience, this moment: the drinking and the laughing and the gossip and the voicing of opinions and the photos – they were good things, but they were things that had happened before, and they would probably be things that would happen again, and again, and again. I was lucky, and I wouldn’t trade my life in to be in a war-torn country or anything like that, but I was still bored of it all. I looked out at the view. My eyes were taking it all in but my mind was elsewhere. Vail joined me, and I said something witty to her and she giggled. I missed looking at her naked. She mumbled something before checking her phone, and Jude yelled for us to see something inside, and she yelled, “Okay,” and she walked back inside. I stayed outside for a while longer.

 

AMBITIOUS KIDS

Girl in bed with mobile phoneI was in a bad mood about something and I found myself sitting at the RE with two guys and two girls. One guy was working, the other guy was unemployed. The two girls were studying at uni or design college or something. None of them were smokers.

“So?” One of the guys, the fat one, asked everyone.

“So what?” One of the girls giggled.

“Who wants to be rich?”

“I think we all want to be rich.” I shrugged. “The hell’s your point?”

“You know, like, I’m sick of how corporations operate,” the unemployed guy said. “I’m sick of how we have to work for people, you know? And in the end we get nothing while they get to sleep in beds of money. Plus, no matter how much work we do for a company, they won’t even remember us when we leave. And that’s not if they make us redundant beforehand.”

“You’re absolutely right,” one of the girls said after putting down her phone. “I don’t even know why I’m studying. It’s not like we’ll be using what we learn in real life anyway.”

The other girl nodded. “Do you know how many of my sister’s ex-classmates are still unemployed? They graduated a year ago.”

“You know what?” The fat guy asked everyone. “Why don’t we fucking start a business?”

The other guy nodded. “We should,” he said, looking around at all of us. “Us five. We’ve all got our talents. We totally should. It’s time that we make a difference.”

“Steve Jobs started in the garage.”

“I don’t want to start in a garage,” one of the girls complained. “There’s five of us, we can all chip in for some place a bit nicer than that.”

“Yup,” one of the guys agreed.

“What kind of business shall we do?” One of the girls asked. “My aunt, she–”

“We need to do something that’s important,” the fat guy said. His beard was moist from his beer. “Something that’ll change the world, but will make us lots of money at the same time. Something that will make us passive income, so after we build it, we don’t have to put much work into it after it’s all set up. It has to be online. We need to revolutionise the internet.”

“How about something to do with memes?”

“I know a guy who’s really good at making memes. He has this meme Facebook page that has like, five hundred thousand followers on it because he just keeps spamming it with funny memes about banking. Some company offered him thirty thousand dollars for it but he wants to build his followers up even more so he can sell it for like, a hundred thousand dollars.”

“This friend of a friend of mine,” one of the girls, the one who was sober, said, “he started this website full of just these terms that everyone searches for on Google, and he just filled it with these memes and put Google ads in there and now he makes like ten thousand a day from Google ads. Then he like gets people’s email addresses, puts them in a database, and sells those email addresses for thousands of dollars each. It’s fuckin’ easy money. Then all you have to do is put that money into real estate and bitcoin and you’re set for life.”

“That’s awesome,” one of the guys said, leaning forward. “I’m actually really interested in selling databases to bigger marketing companies.”

“This is exciting,” squealed one of the girls.

“It sure is.”

“When shall we have a meeting?”

“How about tomorrow?”

“I’m busy tomorrow,” the drunk girl said.

“Yeah, me too.”

“Day after?”

“I’ll have to ask what my boyfriend says first.”

“Yeah, and actually, maybe I should get some real world experience by working for someone for a few years, you know? Then, like, once I’ve been hands on in a corporation, I’ll be able to know more about what works and what doesn’t. Plus, I need to pay my rent.”

“This is scary,” the fat guy said. “And I’m tired.”

“Shall we just organise the first meeting over Facebook?”

“Okay,” the girl said. “But I promised Zoe I won’t use Facebook until uni starts again.”

“How about someone just text us and we go from there?”

“Hey did any of you guys happen to watch Catching Fire?”

“Jennifer Lawrence is hot.”

“Really? I don’t think she is. She cried throughout the whole movie, too.”

Vail picked me up, drunk, at about midnight. She parked outside her home and we walked inside and went upstairs to her bedroom. I looked around. Her room always surprised me, no matter how many times I’d been there before: it was huge.

She pulled out something that was wrapped in fancy looking wrapping paper. “I know this is late, but Merry Christmas, Dean.”

I opened it. It was a book: Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad. The same book that Ariel kept trying to get me to read.

“Thanks?” I flicked through it.

She hugged me quickly before pulling away. “Maybe this year, you’ll be able to afford a decent meal. I want you to start learning how to make money, Dean.”

“What is it with everyone and money nowadays?”

“Nowadays? Money’s always been important. Anyway, where’s my present?”

I pulled something out of my pocket and gave it to her. She looked at it and smiled before punching me. “A twenty dollar JB Hi Fi gift voucher?”

“You can buy a CD with it or something.”

“You still buy CDs?” She kissed me on the cheek. “Thanks, Dean.”

We walked to her balcony and she poured us both wine and we spoke and spoke and spoke and didn’t shut up. Halfway through our conversation my iPhone vibrated. I pulled it out of my pocket: it was Jamie. I looked at her name on my screen for a moment, just glowing there, before putting my phone away.  “You know in my book,” I told Vail, “I wrote a story just about you.”

Vail smiled. “I know.”

She then told me about her recent breakup and how she didn’t want another boyfriend for another fifteen hundred years. She told me about how she was thinking of starting an online business, maybe about organic recipes or something, or maybe even something about Google ads, and that her dad was going to help her with some startup money. She said she wanted to make some good passive income from it, whatever the business was. We drank some more and spoke some more, and when we both started dozing off we stood up and walked inside. She took her clothes off and just stared at me, and I stared back. We both laughed. She said good night and I slept on the couch right in front of her bed.

LASER EYE LONELINESS

laser eye loneliness - Generation End

I had this dream once of becoming a successful writer. I’d be smoking a cigarette on top of a pile of money and every day, I’d buy some girl with nice legs a brand new car. Everyone would buy my books: lonely people would buy my books, the downtrodden would buy my books, bored middle-aged housewives would buy my books, high brow people with ‘a passion for the arts’ would buy my books, angsty but introverted teens would buy my books, prostitutes would buy my books, that dick from high school would buy my books – everyone would buy my books, and everyone would be happy because everyone was in my dream, and in my dream I’d be smoking a cigarette on top of a pile of money.

That dream never happened and I was still jobless. I had savings left so I decided to spend most of it on getting laser eye surgery to fix my shitty eyesight. They gave me valium before the surgery, which was great. The surgeon then had me lie down and look upwards towards a light. I watched with eyes wide open as he used something to scrape the outer layer of my eyes into a pile before using a machine to laser them; I could smell my eyes burn.

Everything was a blur once the valium kicked in. Apparently, after the operation, I loudly told everyone in the room how friendly the nurses were while walking around with my hips thrusting forward. I don’t remember the trip home.

Vail visited me in the evening.

“You look insane,” she said, sitting next to me. She smelt good. Like fruit.

“I can’t see,” I replied with my eyes closed. My eyes were hurting. “I can’t do anything for a few weeks.”

“Wow.” I heard her rummaging through my things. “Look at all these pills. We could sell these to some people I know.”

“Totally.” They gave me Nurofen for the pain, Endone for severe pain, Pramin for nausea and Hypnodorm for insomnia.

Vail put her hand inside my shorts and the both of us went quiet for a while.

“How have you been?” I eventually asked her.

“Good and shit, good and shit. The usual. A girlfriend of mine got punched by her boyfriend. Right across the face.”

“Do I know her?”

“I don’t think so,” she said.

“Is she hot?”

“She’s not bad.”

“How’s she doing?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “I haven’t texted her yet. I think she works at Dotti. She’s lucky to have him anyway, he’s normally a really chilled guy. She can just be like, a real cold bitch sometimes. Especially to men. I think she deserved it.”

I didn’t say anything.

“How long are you going to be like this for?” she asked me. “It’s night time and you’re wearing sunglasses.”

“I’ve been told it may take a week, or even months before my vision will improve. There’s also a chance that nothing will happen at all.”

“Months? That’s a long time.”

“My brother bought me dinner,” I said. “People wished me luck.”

“That’s sweet of them. If you need help with anything, just call me.”

“I can’t see the text on my phone,” I said.

Vail giggled, pulling her hand out of my shorts. “You’ll figure out a way to call me.” She stood up, walked to the bathroom, washed her hands then sat back down next to me. “I heard about your night at the casino.”

“And?”

“I’m so glad I didn’t join you.”

“You weren’t invited.”

Vail slapped my arm. “How much money do you have left?”

“Enough to pay the rent and eat for a few more months.”

“You better find work again, Dean.”

“I hate working. For people, especially.”

“Who doesn’t? But that’s growing up.”

“Can’t a publisher just publish my manuscript?”

“No, they can’t. Have you even been submitting to publishers?”

“Not lately. I’m tired of rejection letters.”

“Well, there you go.” Vail reached for something in my bag. She pulled out a pill and placed it in my mouth.

“What the hell did you just make me swallow?”

“That’s usually a question I ask.” She kissed my cheek. “I just gave you a sleeping pill.”

Vail’s iPhone vibrated – she quickly texted something back.

“I take it you have to go.”

“I’ll be here again soon, okay? Maybe… I’ll let you know.” She put her hand on my face before walking off and closing the door behind her.

As I lay there on my couch I felt terribly alone. I know I had people in my life, people who cared, but there was still something missing. There was still something missing – I sounded like a Hollywood cliché. I suppose loneliness has always been there with me, standing in the background like some weird looking friend I’ve always been ashamed of. It lingers there like a creep, waiting for me to do something stupid so that I can run back into its arms in tears. I took my sunglasses off, wiped them clean. I then sticky taped these things over my eyes, these plastic shields that I was supposed to wear before I slept. I squinted in the dark. It hurt whenever I’d keep my eyes open for too long, but I hated just sitting there. I stood up and stumbled around, found a cigar Jude once gave me and cut it and lit it and smoked it. I played some music and muttered to myself about the things I thought about in life before falling asleep.

 

 

(For those who are curious, I had two options when signing up for laser eye surgery. The first option I was given was to get Lasik surgery, which involved cutting my eyes to create ‘flaps’ in each cornea, lasering what was underneath the flaps and then repositioning them back together. Since I did boxing once in a while I was advised that there was a rare possibility that someone could hit an eye and dislodge one of the flaps.

That didn’t sound too promising so I opted for PRK laser eye surgery. I chose this option because it didn’t provide the risk of any of my ‘flaps’ being dislodged, and also because the way they described the procedure sounded exciting: they’d remove the outer layer of my eyes completely with alcohol or with a plastic blade before lasering the outer surface; then, I’d have to wait for a period of time before they’d heal completely again.)

 

 

WHAT WE WANT FOR CHRISTMAS

Evil Santa Claus Generation End

 

“I want three naked girls and a huge bed to use them on,” Jude said with a cigar in his mouth.

Vail rolled her eyes and dealt the next round of cards. “That’s disgusting.”

You’re disgusting,” he snapped.

We were in Victor’s or Samuel’s or Michael’s or Whatever His Name’s house playing poker.

I looked at my cards and then looked at the flop. “For Christmas, I want to win this game tonight. I could really do with the money.”

“You’re always so poor, Dean,” Jude said. “Stop being so fucking poor.”

Wendy, one of the girls there, sighed. “I fold. For Christmas, I want a business class trip to Japan. Actually, a business class trip anywhere would be great. I just want to get away from work.”

Some guy in the kitchen yelled out to us. “Guess what Ross got his girlfriend for Christmas.”

“What?”

“Placemats.”

Vail didn’t get it. “What’s wrong with placemats? She might’ve just really needed placemats.”

“It was a shit present, Vail. She was really upset about it.”

“Anyway,” I faced Vail. “What do you really really want for Christmas?”

“A boyfriend.”

Jude laughed. “Don’t you already have like, four boyfriends right now?”

“Shut up,” she slapped his arm. “I want a man who can take care of me until the day I die. A tall, semi-wealthy guy who has a safe and secure accounting job.”

“This year was a fucked up year,” Jude said. “This life has been a fucked up life. I can’t believe I’ve had sex with you before.”

“First world problems,” I said. “They’re terrible.”

Wendy took a drink of wine. “I’d like, hate to be a Muslim or be one of those African kids right now. Have you like, seen Homeland?”

“I wish everyone celebrated Christmas. It’s just so fun.”

“I can’t stand Christmas. Everything is so fake and our mailbox is always cluttered with junk mail.”

“I don’t care about that. I like the feeling of Christmas. I’d love to be in New York right now, ice skating in that famous ice skating place. What’s it called again?”

“Did you hear about what happened to those school kids?”

“Yeah, oh my gosh, that was like, so sad.”

“I don’t get why people need guns.”

“I don’t get why I keep losing. Fuck!”

“I’m just glad the world didn’t end. I still have an exam to finish.”

“Like, when do you think the world will actually end?”

Other wishes included a JB Hi-Fi gift voucher, a bigger penis, the complete Twilight book set, an iPad Mini, a Rolex, smaller arms, bigger arms, a thousand bucks. Christmas in Brisbane isn’t like Christmas in the movies. It’s hot and humid and people keep complaining about how it’s hot and humid and everyone walks around wearing as little as possible. For Christmas I gave Jude a small bag of marijuana; I gave Vail a DVD of a movie she really wanted to watch again: Mean Girls. The game went on for another hour or so and by some Christmas miracle I won: thirty two dollars in gold coins.

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’VE LOST YOUR JOB

Floating and time travelling - Generation End

I’d lost the girl and I’d lost the job. What was next?

I started the next morning with a throbbing head; I drank four glasses of water, brushed my teeth, changed my shirt and drove across the universe to reach a McDonald’s. I ordered a McChicken and sat in a quiet spot with nobody around and texted people, asking them how their days were and not mentioning that I would soon have no money again.

My goals were much simpler when I was a kid: watch TV, eat some food, sleep. Because I got decent grades in primary school I somehow believed that life would become easy because of it. I’d go to university and graduate with stellar grades, become a doctor, get into an orgy or two, get married, earn millions. But somewhere along the way I fucked up.

I drove aimlessly around Brisbane for a few more hours until I arrived at The End (it’s not just me being a clever writer – the bar is actually called The End). Vail was there in her tight top and loose skirt, and she smiled when she saw me. I hadn’t spoken to her in a while but I told her everything that had happened and after it all she said, “Honey, that’s shit.”

“I live in a world where I’m not good enough.”

“Everyone lives in a world where they’re not good enough.”

“I guess I should send out more manuscripts again,” I said. “Try and actually get published.”

“Have you ever travelled through time?” Vail asked me.

“Have you had a lot of alcohol?” I asked her back.

“I’m serious,” she said.

“No, I can’t say I have. I haven’t travelled through time.”

“You have, Dean. You’re always travelling through time. You travelled through time as you drove here and you’re probably doing it now.” She leant forward and put her hands on mine. I flinched slightly, but let her hands stay there. Her hands were as smooth as I remembered but her nail polish looked a little battered. “All you have to do is think of the past and you’re there. Just think about the future and you’re there. Do you get it?”

“That’s not time travelling,” I said. “That’s just me thinking, it’s my imagination.”

“Isn’t life just a bunch of our thoughts and opinions? You are what you think you are. I am what you think I am, and I’m what the bartender chick sees I am, and I’m what I think I am. If you think about going back to ten years ago, then you actually are going back to ten years ago.”

“That’s interesting and slightly stupid, kid,” I said, “but what’s the moral of the story?”

Vail drank a cocktail and I drank whiskey. She was a good friend who I once loved, a friend who I travelled with, a friend who I once kissed against a wall of someone’s home, a friend whose panties I once tore off from right under her skirt (I had to pay her back). Her phone buzzed and she smiled as she read the message, and as she texted that person back I looked around the bar, then I looked outside the bar, then I floated about fifteen metres high and travelled through time and arrived at a year where people were generally happy. They had nice hair and nice teeth and great job benefits and a great outlook on life. They all woke up early in the morning to go jogging and stay fit; they wore silver jumpsuits with emblems of peace; they had no hair and outside the walls of their cities were burly dark-skinned giants who all also had nice hair and nice teeth and also had great outlooks on life. I was no longer in my twenties – I was about a hundred years old and my mind had settled. I breathed slowly, contently, and I sighed my last sigh of relief as the sun sort of rose a little too early behind no clouds in the distance.