's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" In Pursuit of Happiness "

Submitted by Lord of Rye

In Pursuit of Happiness A man wakes up in a room. It is still.

He wakes, bleary-eyed, and sees only blue. Not the blue of sky, but the blue of metal. Cold metal. He realizes that he is completely naked.

Not just naked. Clean: as clean as he has ever been. He has been thoroughly washed and scrubbed: he feels raw. He is clean-shaven everywhere: his head, his chin, arms, genitals, and his legs. He checks again. Each and every hair had been individually pulled out by its roots. His nose and ears are empty too.

He turns his mind to his location. Looking around, he sees that the room is constructed completely out of metal. This metal is the steely blue of an alloy: a color that disappears if one observes it for too long. The room was shaped as a cylinder. The man lay at the flat bottom, roughly in the center. He estimated the room to be as high as it was across: a cubical cylinder, of sorts. All around the bottom edge, there were doors. Each was singular, with no windows and made out of a similar stuff as the walls. Each had some light shining around the edges. It appeared to be sunlight filtering through the cracks. This was not the only source of light, however. The air itself seemed luminescent, as he could see everything with no apparent source of illumination.

He decided that his best course of options was to start for one of the doors and see what was on the other side. Previously, he had been lying relatively still in case someone was watching him. Now he sat up by putting his hands on the ground and pushing. Immediately, his hands slid out from under him. they shot off to the sides and he landed on his back. He then tried to sit up again, but this time he used only his torso for sitting up. He managed to get into a cross-legged position on the slippery surface. After running his hand over it, he realized that the polished metal was nearly frictionless. He decided not to attempt standing up, as he would only hurt himself.

The man decided to find out if the floor was nearly frictionless, or completely. He scratched at it with his nails, which were cut to the quick, and tried to bush away at it with his bare feet. His continuous scrabbling at the floor seemed to have no effect. Yet, he might start moving if he pushed hard enough. He broke out into a sweat, and flailed with all his might for a long time. Finally, exhausted, he flopped to the floor. His effort had been for naught: the floor was completely frictionless, or close enough to be negligible.

Drained, he lay on the floor and thought. He was smart enough to realize that physical action would get him nowhere. So, his only option was to think. He knew that any action has an equal and opposite reaction, and so he could move himself by throwing something away from where he wanted to go. He chose the door behind him as his destination, because it was the easiest. Now he just needed something to throw.

But he had nothing to throw. He was naked, clean and shaved. Someone had done a very thorough job of making sure that he had no easy way out. So, he sat and pondered. He had little else to do. He ate up time thinking about his problem, and the light outside began to darken. He lay down, and fell asleep.

The man woke up. he looked at the doors for the time. He saw a deep, reddish light coming from under them, so it was probably the end of sunset. He was somewhat uncomfortable, because he had been lying on a hard metal floor. As he sat up, with some difficulty, he became aware of another discomfort. He needed to poop.

Suddenly, an idea popped into his head. If he had nothing on the outside to throw, he still had what was on the inside. He squeezed out his excrement onto the floor, careful not to send it spinning away. He picked it up in his hands, took careful aim, and threw it, watching as it sailed across the room. There was a little bit of spillage on the floor, and he scooped that up in his hands too to throw. He watched the room for some time and could see his gentle movement towards the door. Knowing that he could now do nothing but wait, he went to sleep again to wait until something happened.

The man woke up. He checked his movement against the spot where he started. It was hard to judge where the center was, because there was no evidence, but he could see that he had moved. Measuring that against the back wall, he saw that he had gotten a good ways to his destination. But he was still closer to the center than to the opposite walls. But something felt wrong. The room had changed somehow since he last saw it. He looked around and could not find any obvious difference in the room's features.

After a period of thought, the man realized what was wrong. He was not moving anymore. He must have had friction against something. But the floor was frictionless. What had he bumped against? He examined the floor. It was no less smooth than before. He had mysteriously stopped, and for no observable reason. Had he coasted to a stop, or was his momentum negated all at once? He did not know. Unless he was missing something, deliberate intervention had stopped him.

The man felt weak. He was shocked by this revelation. He was also weak physically. he had not eaten in what he judged to be days. There is a possibility that when he had seen the dark and the light, they had been from two different days. Or artificially induced. Maybe someone was forcing him through a complicated rat-maze. Maybe he had no hope of getting out. His brain spammed with fear and desperation.

He screamed: who would do this? What kind of person wou- his train of thought was derailed by another one. Of course: it was the air! His friction in air was what had slowed him down. Previously, he had thought of this as one of those physics problems, with no friction at all. There was no way to fix that problem. He just had to keep himself moving.

Now how to get more momentum? he still had only his bodily fluids. there was blood, but that should be conserved. Spit could be thrown, but it was a slow process, and it would dry him out more than necessary. he still had urine and vomit. He did not feel like urinating, so he decided to use what was left in his stomach. that would go away, while urine would build up. He had little choice.

So, he stuck his encrusted fingers down his throat. The smell and taste was enough to make him gag, but he needed more. He grabbed onto his tonsils and wiggled them about. Chunks of dried feces fell into his mouth. His reluctant stomach finally gave its last, and he vomited. He made sure to direct the stream away from the direction of his travel.

he sees the torrent of fluid rolling along the floor towards the opposite wall. It hits the wall and splashes, diverting into two streams. The streams roll around the bottom outer edge of the room. Queasily watching, the man wonders if it will roll back around to meet behind him. Since it does not stick to the floor, the fluid can roll with even less friction than he. Maybe he can throw it again when it comes back around. The man decides to stay awake. He can assist his movement with breathing.

An eon passes. The man is hurting. His throat still burns, and he has a bad taste still in his mouth. His lungs hurt from breathing so hard. His neck hurts from turning. Shifting his head to breathe in while facing backwards and breathe out while facing forwards. He knows that it helps so little as to make no difference, but he still does it. human hope is a stubborn thing. He is bone tired and thirsty. His endurance is fading, and he is near being broken. Yet he still toils, because it might make a difference.

Now he needs to pee. His face lights with hope, and he cups his hands below. A stream splashes into his hands. It is yellow and smells of urea. Careful not to spill a drop, he lifts it. He takes a large draught of the liquid. what? He guzzles it, licking his mouth and hands after he is done. apparently, his thirst was more important to him than his eventual goal. As soon as he is done, a look of guilt crosses his face. he realizes what he was supposed to do, and the chances that he lost. He cries out in shame and anguish. A wasted opportunity, all for pointless bodily pleasure.

With no more heavy excreta, he continues his regimen of breathing. His destination is incredibly close. So close that he can almost touch it. But he had no way to get there. He keeps up the same routine: breathing in and out, and hoping. He constantly stretches out his hands to try and reach the door. His arms burn with the effort of holding them up. Yet it is of no use. Time wastes away, and he has achieved very little for what he has spent.

He knows that he is dying of thirst. He knows not how long he has spent in this place. He knows not how long he has left. Time is something that seems to not exist. He stopped counting under the door an eternity ago. He last had a drink an eternity ago. Every point in time he can measure seems to be separated by an eternity. Time is meaningless.

Only the rhythms remain. The rhythms of his breath. The rhythm of his weakened heart. The beat of his tortured thoughts. Tick-tock. No time but the mixed beats. Endlessly conflicting, bouncing, and clicking. A man has no rhythm but for the one he makes himself. Snicker-snack. Was there a before? Will there be an after? There is no silence. No refuge from the rhythm of life but in death. Silence is an illusion: silence is death. To stop is to die. That is why the man must continue: to keep the rhythm going. Is rhythm life, or life rhythm?

The man cannot stand it. The silence is a lie. The peace is a lie. Time is an elaborate lie. The thoughtfulness is a lie. He is just some elaborate maraca, dancing to some unknown tune. In death, one confronts life, and finds it lacking. The end is not a beginning. It is just an end. Life is a process, one that ticks and tocks, one that has an eventual pointless end. No time for life, just a pattern of endless repetitions. The individual is pointless. It hurts. The man is in so many pains, of many flavors and colors. time is stopped for this period, a period of pointless introspection.

The man realizes. He has been drifting. A self-infused timeless torpor, a coma. A coma in which he has been doing nothing at all. He has been wasting time! Precious time! His mind scrambles to its faculties. He has work to do. Wasted time is unimportant. He has a chance to win, to finish what he started! Intentions rush through his body with the adrenaline. How can he proceed?

He has no excreta left to throw. However, he does have some mass to throw. It's not quite easily extracted, but all for the cause of progress. Whatever he can do to keep moving forward. Compared to all of the pain that he has endured so far, this will only be a little. And, it is a great way to get a lot of water besides. He sticks his index finger in his mouth. He makes sure that it is all of the way in and reaches all of the way back.

As soon as he severs his index finger, a bolt of pain shoots through his hand. He immediately pulls back and convulses. The entirely severed finger stays in his mouth, and his arm hand flies out. His other hand flies to his hand. The blood starts flowing into his palm, but he is sure to keep his other hand cradled around the naked knuckle. the blood is just as valuable as the finger. He takes a moment in shock.

During this period of mind, many thoughts jump. One of the top ones is "what have I done". but that one is quickly silenced. he sis momentarily tempted to swallow his flesh. That thought quickly extinguishes: he is not so hungry as he is thirsty. He does start so suck on the finger to drink some of the blood. It quickly yields what it can give him, and his mind turns to his hand. He keeps the pain at bay with a simple blockage of the mind. It will hurt later, but is not important now. He realizes that he has bitten the finger off his throwing arm. In the heat of his decision, he totally missed that fact. Now: to throw with a weaker arm, or a weakened arm?

He drops the bloody finger into his dripping hand, like a fetched stick. The choice is arbitrary, so he decided to throw it properly, with his dominant hand. He can feel the red rage building in his arm. Soon it will blaze through the simple barrier he constructed. He throws with a a short, snapping, overarm throw. The sacrifice flies through the air, followed by droplets of red.

His attention turns back to his arm. He is loosing a good amount of blood, though it will take some time to empty him through that hole. He canít really stop the blood from coming out. However, he can use it as a propellant! He waves his hands to distribute the droplets that have already landed on his skin. Then, he pushes off against the ever-widening pool of red under his knees. He takes his hands and paddles off it, causing it to spray in all directions away from him. Not perfect, but it will do.

He reaches out both wet arms behind him. Straining for a future that he cannot see. His blind, trembling fingertips wave around in the vague space behind his head. He knows that itís there somewhere. The handle. His neck is too strained to curl all the way around the back. He can only see that he is aimed in the right direction out of his peripheral vision. His hands are searching, blindly searching.

After another period of meaningless time, his hands feel the whisper of where the handle might be. Another pointless eon after that, the tips of his fingers come into contact with the metal. Blood loss has weakened him and his body in a very physical way. His arms burn, his finger burns, and his neck burn. Thatís good. It means he is still there if he can feel pain. His stomach died long ago: it is now a cold weight, knotted into his bowels. All of these pains are minor compared to the one he carries in his head.

He has practically lost sight of his original goal. He is not even really intent on survival anymore. He believes that the door is his salvation. He worships the door. How human to turn to religion. He says Ēit is better than all other doorsĒ. He holds it as a paragon, an emperor: even something that cannot be seen by mortal eyes. Survival no longer matters. Only the door.

In the end, he reaches the door. His trembling fingers do find a hold, and he maneuvers himself over to it. In the end, his will defeated his faith: he turned to look on the forbidden object. With his faith broken (and my faith in humanity restored), his true goal was restored. He remembered that his survival was paramount. With new truth and new intentions in his heart, he affixed both of his hands around the heavy doorknob.

He wrenched at the doorknob with all of his might. The starved, thirsting, pale, weakened, broken and wounded old man pulled with all of his might. and guess what happened? he failed. he was so far lost that in the end, nothing could save him. His bloodied and slippery hands flew off the door handle, and with his energy spent, he falls to the floor. The effort that he had already summoned is the last one that he will ever use. Another eon passes before his head hits the floor. His vision blacks out immediately, and he is not even afforded the vision of the outside that he so longingly sought. The last thing that he experiences is a drop of blood from the knob. It lands in his eye, and wends its way, down his cheek, past his nose and onto his lips. He is erased with the taste of wasted life in his mind.

A man dies in a room. It is still.

I think that, sometimes, there is no redemption. A mistake might not be able to be undone, and it will haunt forever after. I sigh. What a painful life to live. My only job is to watch these people fall. It is my only reason for living. Now, I send one of the messages that are my reason for existence. A line, a circle, another circle. A circle, a line, and a circle. ha. four and nine is thirty-six. but thatís not what was meant.

and the best part is, sometimes there is no winning. sometimes failure is not just an option, but the option. take your pick, doomed one.

You laugh, and cheer, and boast, and brag. This means absolutely nothing to you. Arenít you so pleased with your little fun? Dance about child of man and enjoy yourself in this bloody playground. Is the image of Christ really in every one of you? Would you all make a sacrifice?

Four in the group.