• Published 22nd Apr 2019
  • 252 Views, 50 Comments

Enchorus - GMBlackjack



Stories set in the Songs of the Spheres multiverse written by a variety of authors.

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It Only Takes Seconds (Keywii_Cookies55)

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Christine, though she liked to go by Cris. She stood at five-six and had flowing auburn hair. She had-

“Seriously? That’s how you’re going to introduce me? With a grocery list style read off? And what’s with all this past tense stuff?”

…uh..? What?

“You heard me, give me a better description so the fans can better relate to me.”

…Fine, whatever, I’ll roll with this. Our protagonist stood proudly in her living room after completing the final level of a rather challenging, frustrating even, side-scrolling shooter game. She wasn’t as good at the game as her roommate, but she didn’t mind too much. …Better?

“So I’m a gamer girl now?”

Look, if you’re not going to be cooperative, then I could change you into being some fat nerdy shut-in man.

“You don’t have to get so defensive; it was just a simple question. Plus I like it, it doesn’t reek of cliché or stupid.”

Thank you.

“And you even snuck in that I don’t live alone, it’s hard to rent an apartment in our economy you know.”

Tell me about it, I still can’t nail down a job.

“Noooooo, You? Perish the thought, I’d think that employers be lining up at your door to get a piece of the action.”

Shut up.

“So what now anyway?”

What?

“Well, I just finished this game and you’re apparently the one in charge around here, so what the hell were you planning on doing with this story idea of yours.”

Well, after describing what you look like and what you’re wearing,

“Perv.”

…I was thinking of mentioning a diary or journal of some sort as a form of plot device for later. You were then going to receive a phone call from a friend of yours asking to spend some of the day with her. From there a series of events would be set in motion, leading up to the inciting incident of this short story. A couple of seconds is all it takes.

“YAWN! That sounds boring as hell.”

Well what do you want from me, that’s the style I write in, believable slice-of-life stuff.

“Still sounds boring.”

Fine, do you want to be from the future or something?

“Actually yeah, that sounds cool, because then me and my friend can talk about such things as like lasers and hover vehicles. Put me forward by like, fifteen years. 2010 sounds all futurey and stuff.”

Pffft. Heheh…

“What, what’s so funny? It’s 1995, that means that by using simple math, 15 years forward would be 2010”

I know how to do math, but never mind my laugh, it’s nothing, I just have a better idea. How about I set the story a bit further forward than that, I’m thinking 2012. Now can I proceed with my story?

“By all means.”

Our tale begins with Cris, a somewhat argumentative late 20-something with an affinity for video games. Cris just so happens to be a bit hungry and decides to grab a bite from her kitchen fridge.

“Now that you mention it, I am a bit famished.”

She notices that her phone is ringing as she enters the room.

“You’re still going to go forward with your phone call thing?”

Just answer the damn phone, a couple seconds is all it takes, and I assure you it won’t be too boring for you.

]“…fine, where’s the phone at anyway?”

It’s your cell phone, so I guess it’d be in your pocket.

“Cell phone?”

Yeah..?

“You mean those big bulky things?”

They’re, heh, cell phones are smaller in the future.

“Alright, cool, I guess I answer my phone?”

Cris hits the talk button on her slightly aged slider phone, it’s her best friend Jen. “Hey Cris, it’s Jen, hallah! What up girl?” Shouted a rather energetic and somewhat quirky girl through Cris’ cell.

“Hey B, just chillin’ I guess, just blazed through this one game.”

There’s a short pause where you can tell Jen is rolling her eyes from the other side of the phone. “You troll, we’re supposed to game together this weekend, you agreed.”

“I…just a tick, Jen. I put my hand over the phone? Can you indicate differently that I’m doing and saying things so other characters don’t think I’m crazy.”

Fine, I’ll put what you dictate or say to me outside the quotation marks.

Thank you. I stop covering the phone now. “Sorry Jen, talking to someone.”

“It’s nothing, so you comin’?” Jen asks.

I know it’s her asking, “Yeah sure, gimme-” How far away does she live?

I dunno, I didn’t think of that, I guess about 10 minutes by bus?

“-about 20 minutes I guess?”

“Awesome,” Jen shouts into the phone, “We’ll rock the socks off of those FPS nerdboys. Oh, and don’t forget to bring your account!” Jen hangs up her cell shortly after that, leaving Cris only 5 minutes to pack her game peripherals and head out the door.

What’s an account? Wait, “5 MINUTES?! Shit!”

Cris quickly slips her phone into her pocket and runs from the kitchen over to her room at the end of the hall. The only door she passed in the hallway was the room of her roommate Steph-

Look, I’m in a hurry, can you shut up so I can focus!

A couple seconds is all it takes, but alright.

~~¥¥>Time passes<¥¥~~

After grabbing her memory stick containing her account, as well as her game controller, she stuffed her wallet into her right pocket and headed out the door. Fortunately for our 27-year-old friend sh-

Hold it, I’m NOT 27, if anything I’m 23.

Um, who’s the author here? If I say YOU ARE 27 then you are.

I WILL refuse to do everything you say if you make me 27.

…Fine, what about a compromise? I’ll meet you halfway, literally in this case, if you shut up until you get to Jen’s place.

Can you PLEASE make it so I’m 23?

I can work with that. I’ll just make you turn 24 in a week and a half or so.

What.

Fortunately for our 23-year-old friend she could see the bus stop as she walked out the door, there were a couple people standing there looking as though they’re waiting. Cris takes note of this and rushes across the quiet street to stand at the 9# stop.

What do the people look like?

What?

Describe the people standing at the bus stop.

Why? They have no importance or impact on the story past being setting.

Because I’m a young lady in the city and one of them could be a rapist.

I absolutely assure you that I wouldn’t write that into my story, but besides, it’s not Nu York you’re living in, you live in Hall-hill it’s population isn’t even over 300 000, rape isn’t too terrible of a concern here. Oh, and you’re Canadian in case you were wondering.

That I knew, but I guess if you’re sure it won’t happen then I won’t ask again.

Assured, I may not be able to control anything you do or say, even if I try, but I can and do control literally everything else. So you can trust me.

Okay I guess, I’m still nervous, but I guess I’ll survive. Continue your story.

Thank you. Curious if she’d missed the bus though, Cris asked one of the people standing there.

Fine, “Excuse me, do you know when the bus gets here?”

Cris asks an older woman dressed in business casual. The woman, although looking stressed, and a bit nervous, smiles a bit. “A couple seconds is all it takes.” The woman answers in a friendly matter.

“Thank you.” And thank you, …narrator…guy…

Keyes, you can call me A.J Keyes.

Is that really your name?

It’s as much of my name as you’re going to get. A.J Keyes is my author alias, so like it or not, that’s all I can give you. Sorry.

I can live with that, but can we skip ahead again? I don’t want to ACTUALLY wait for the bus.

I’ll remind you that you actually experience what happens, even if I skip past it, but fine, I’ll skip ahead.

~~¥¥>More time passes<¥¥~~

“Next stop, Parsley St. next stop, Parsley.” Cris hears through the overhead speakers built into the bus she rides in.

Is that my stop?

Your stop is coming up, but no, Parsley St. isn’t yours.

Then why did you cut back in?

I have my motives, but in short, it was in case there was anything you were thinking about.

I did actually want to ask you a couple of things.

Okay, shoot.

Well, the first thing is, how did I pay for the bus?

A bus pass? I don’t know, but clearly, you paid, otherwise you wouldn’t be on the bus.

I have a bus pass?

Well yeah, you bought one of those monthly passes so you could get back and forth to work every day, otherwise, fare for each trip is like 3 bucks, in the long run, a monthly pass is more cost-effective.

I guess that answers if I’m unemployed or not.

You work 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, at a video game store downtown. The place is called Life’s Peripherals and your shift starts at 10 am every day you work there.

Really? That sounds awesome! Other than how I got the most radical job on the planet, I also wanted to know what day it is in the year. You mentioned something about a monthly pass, well, what’s the date?

I was thinking about making it be late SEPTEMBER, to match the time of year it is for me right now as I write this, but I was thinking maybe make it April? Early April?

I can live with that, That means beach season is coming up.

Hall-hill is landlocked Cris, beach season doesn’t mean much where you live.

Son of a- You planned this all along didn’t you?

If by planned you mean “Based Hall-hill off of where I live,” then yes, if otherwise, then you’re wrong.

Where you live kind of sucks.

Eh, it grows on you, plus we get some pretty awesome music festivals.

…whatever, I GUESS I can live with that, sucks though.

You will live with it, the beach is an hour and a half away, you’ll be fine. Anything else before I call your stop?

I GUESS I’m curious what I’m wearing and what I look like…

I knew it was only a matter of time, you’re wearing, a grey Mario 1-up shirt, as well as beige cargo pants.

So far no complaints, nothing too over-sexualized, I like it.

A pair of mostly black running shoes on your feet and a nice looking weaved bracelet around your right wrist.

I wear a bracelet?

It was given to you by your older sister before she passed a few years ago.

I have a dead sister? You’re kind of a horrible person.

…Her name was Willow, in case you were wondering.

Oh yeah, give me her name so I have something to think about as I cry later? Lovely.

It’s been OVER 4 ¥EARS, and speaking from personal experience here, you’ll kind of get over her being gone. It shouldn’t still be bothering you at this point.

Screw off, you’ve done enough, just skip ahead to when I get to whats-her-name's place.

~~¥¥>Technical difficulties due to time skipping<¥¥~~

Knock knock knock, is the sound that the door makes as Cris stands on the front steps of her friend Jen’s house and pounds her fist against its face. After a short moment of waiting, Jen answers the door. “Shoot girl, you looking fine! I love the tee!” Jen says loudly while she opens the door. Unlike our sympathetic friend Cris, Jen lived in a house, much larger then Cris’ apartment. Also unlike Cris, Jen can’t complain while I describe what she looks like. Jen was a bit shorter then Cris, 5’4 was her height. With short cocoa coloured hair and a bit of a natural tan, she’s noticeably darker than our protagonist, but not by much, and she doesn’t mind wearing a skirt. Which she, by the way, currently is. Along with her long dark blue skirt, her slimming baby blue t-shirt which prominently displays the Super Meat Boy logo, and her white hair scrunchie holding her hair up in a ponytail, there isn’t much more I can say about what she looks like besides shes beautiful.

Oops, forgot a COMA, sorry, an apostrophe. But I’m done talking about this stuff if you want to respond to any of it.

I’m still upset with you.

And I’m sorry for it, but like it or not, you’re kind of stuck with me.

Whatever…

Are you going to talk with Jen at all? She’s kind of waiting for you to respond.

I don’t really want to deal with things right now.

Look, I know you’re depressed, we all are, but it’s something you’re going to have to grow to live with.

How did… How did she die?

…This is…hard to do, well where do I begin? There was a CAR ACCIDENT about four years ago, your sister and you were driving around after a shopping trip. It was late and there weren't too many people on the road. Willow stops at a red light when it happens. There was an older woman driving her minivan, she was returning home after working overtime at her office job, she isn’t a bad person - in fact, she’s a mother. She closed her eyes for only a second. But, as we’ve learned time and time again, a couple seconds is all it takes. While she took her microsleep, her foot fell down hard on the gas pedal, and before you knew it, her van was impacting with your sister’s car. You were asleep in the back and you miraculously survived uninjured, everyone else in the car, well, they weren’t so lucky. Willow didn’t make it, and the older woman needed a couple of organ transplants. She lived in the end though, with the guilt of what had happened. She’s in therapy now, but all in all, she’s doing a lot better. And finally you, you missed your final year of college due to depression, but you made it through, thanks to the help of your friend Jen. Presently you go to work, hang out with your friend, and basically get by. It’s what she would have wanted.

…I…

Take your time if you need it.

…Thank you…for telling me that is, I know I was annoyed with you for adding this to your story, but I feel better knowing that Willow is in a better place.

She is, she truly, truly is.

Did Jen see or hear any of this?

I could say yes, but that wouldn’t really be that understanding of me. Just promise me you’ll try to be in a good mood for this. Please?

Sure, I’m already kind of over it a bit.

Your mind is catching up to the idea that it happened long ago.

You can continue with the plot now.

Jen just commented on your t-shirt, it’s your turn to respond to her.

Oh, well, “Thanks, I like my shirt anyway.” I guess I walk into the door she opened.

Jen leads Cris into her living room where there’s a large 42” flat screen television with 1080 3D pixels, very cutting edge. Placed around the television are as follows: an Xbox 360, a PS3, a Wii, a Playstation, an N64, a NES, a Sega Genesis, and a Neo Geo. She also has a combination Blu Ray/VCR player, some rather large surround sound speakers, and a wall covered with rows upon rows of wall-mounted racks, full of CD cases. That means Jen owns hundreds of movies, tv series, anime, video games, and music, all alphabetized into the sub-categories of media format.

…Holy shit…

That’s what I said. So take it in, a couple seconds is all it takes, and it’s pretty damn awesome.

…Anywhere to sit?

There are a couple of leather couches to sit on, pick a spot on either of the couches, I’ll have it so you’ve always sat there, this way Jen won’t get suspicious.

I guess I’ll sit on this two-seater here?

Cris walks into the room, unimpressed with this high-end entertainment system, being that she’s seen it so many times. She takes a seat on the smaller couch in the room, the same cushy comfortable pleather seat she’s always sat in when over at Jen’s house, her spot. Cris’ spot is on the smaller couch perpendicularly facing the television, while Jen’s spot is on the three-seater couch facing the tv, both women sitting at the end’s of their respective seats to be closer to each other, making conversation easier.

Jen immediately follows Cris into the room, taking her spot as well. Cris sets her game controller down on the coffee table in the centre of the television and the two couches as Jen grabs the tv remote to turn it all on. You can start talking any time now Cris.

Well, I’m nervous, I don’t want to say anything and weird her out.

That’s almost impossible, seeing as I control what she says and if you screw up I’ll play along. Basically be yourself, it’s kind of easy, just think it over, a couple seconds is all it takes, and again, it’s super easy.

Why do you keep saying that?

Saying what? Hold on.

The thing about everything only taking seconds to happen or whatever.

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Well, you’ve said it like a million times now.



I mean, I just noticed, but if I think about it, you’ve said it a lot.



…Hello? Are you there?



Please answer me… where did you go?

Sorry, I was talking to someone else and forgot to... stop.

What?

Nothing, it’s nothing… Let’s just continue what we’re doing.

It’s not nothing, something is happening, and I don’t want this story about me to continue until you explain it.

We really should continue, I don’t want to PULL THE PLUG on this story, or on you for that matter.

And what’s with the capital letter thing you keep doing.

Before I answer that let me just lock the door.

YOU ARE 27,

The door to the room I’m in is locked.

OVER 4 ¥EARS,

But what I’m doing is irrelevant, I accidentally hit caps lock a few times, so what.

SEPTEMBER,

That’s the name of a month, it could mean anything.

CAR ACCIDENT,

You don’t know what you’re talking about, please stop.

PULL THE PLUG,

Seriously, stop…

COMA.

There’s, ah, something I need to tell you.

You’re fucking right there’s something you need to tell me.

You recall the story I told you about how your sister died? Well, there’s information I left out.

You weren’t sleeping in the back seat of the car your sister was driving during the collision, you were in the passenger seat. When the two cars impacted, Willow was killed instantly, that much is true, but you weren’t so lucky to just survive the crash… Something from the car pierced your skull in a certain way…

…It, put you in a coma that’s so far been irreversible…for the last four years you’ve been at the Garden River Hospital unconscious.

…Why, why do you know this about me?

I…know this about you because I was there.

My name is Arthur Jacobs, I’ve been your best friend since the 9th grade, and I was in that car accident with you two, I was the one in the back seat of the car sleeping.

W…why, why di, did you li…lie?

You don’t understand…

Th, then why don’t you fu…fucking explain it then?!

IT’S BEEN FOUR FUCKING YEARS CRIS! I’ve been in therapy ever since that night! You don’t know what it’s like to have both of your best friends forcibly ripped from your fucking life at the same time! They already thought I was crazy because of my books, what do you think that did!?

…I, I was weak alright …I didn’t feel anything for months after Willow died, and you ended up here…th, the woman driving that damned minivan…

She and I were the only two survivors in that accident. She went on to give speeches about driving when you shouldn’t, using you and Willow as her fucking mascots, she’s been living with the guilt of what happened every single day since. “A couple seconds is all it takes” is her motto. It’s short for, "A couple seconds is all it takes to completely destroy the lives of dozens of people". Meanwhile, I lived detached from the rest of the world for almost a year. I didn’t sleep, I barely ate, I didn’t go outside anymore. When I finally started talking and interacting with other people again it was already too late, I’d missed my last year of college due to my depression.

For a couple months after that, I visited you every day in the hospital, your wounds had healed up, but you were unconscious. I would read to you… continue writing for you... and beg for days, for weeks for you to wake up…

…But you never did…

…I don’t know what to say…I’m sorry, I really, really am…

It’s alright Cris…It’s, it’s not your fault…

I…

If you don’t mind me asking this, how is it that we’re talking…um…with me being asleep and all.

...After I started visiting you in the hospital, I just couldn't bear the thought that it was you there, you were always the lively and active one, so seeing you so perfectly still all the time was... wrong. I decided to do something about it. You remember my books, right? I even told you I thought they were real, once, and that I'd seen the world my words created... You were the only one who didn't think I was crazy. At least at first. Now... well, seeing what's happening on this screen right now, everyone else finally believes me. You'd think it would've been the time I wrote the convenient funding into existence but...

I'm writing this story on a machine hooked up to your brain, created by Doctor Trigalin. Amazing man, agreed to help me immediately. We had problems with funding for the first few months since it was all experimental, but when a government representative heard the old woman's speech... we got all the funding we could need. The machine was finished earlier today. Technically we aren't supposed to be using it yet, but they wouldn't do anything to us for that.

Well, they wouldn't have. But the machine didn't work... there were no responses... and then I started writing a story. And I brought you here with it. I... I tried writing you awake first, but that didn't work. I've been trying to ease you out of it.

I…I needed to talk to you, even if it were only over text-based chat, it’s still you, you…you have no idea how happy I am to finally be able to talk to you.

I’m, I’m glad to hear it I guess. …Look at me blushing, I must look stupid to you right now.

You could never look stupid.

Hold on though, if it’s experimental or whatever, won’t using this machine thing make everything worse?

Don’t worry, Doctor Trigalin is with me and he has assured me 100% that everything is safe. I trust this man with my life, I mean he’s



Hello?



Where did you go?

Sorry, the representative has found out what we’re doing and is banging at the door, Trigalin is trying his hardest to hold him off, but that won’t last forever, so I need to act fast. In case I’m arrested or worse, and I never get to see you wake up, I want you to know three things, the first is that the world WILL be different when you wake up, please keep that in mind so your brain isn’t overloaded with information. Second, I'm trying to get Jane here - remember Jane? Here's to hoping she'll actually be willing to help...

The second thing I want you to know is that I…I lov


He…hello?



Are you still there…




Please…please answer me…





I don’t want to be alone…







…please Arthur…














I love you too.

Author's Note:

by Keywii_Cookies55

GM: I love this story. It had to be edited slightly to work as part of the Enchorus anthology - originally the 'narrator' wasn't a Prophet and there were just some weird technology shenanigans happening - but not much really changed. It was mildly annoying to get all the colors right though, so thanks for that Keywii.

Keywii: So 'It Only Takes Seconds' was a bit of an odd one for me. I wrote it when I was in college and figuring out what my thoughts on metanarrative were. I remembered reading a webcomic where the main character was a 20 something woman literally having the world being drawn and written around her, and she was sassy and argumentative. I leaned pretty heavily on it for the first portion. But eventually, a deep narrative developed. Something subtler. It wasn't until our main character arrived at Jen's place I even had the idea for the coma. But I'm glad that's the way I took things. It gave me the option for a subversion that not even I saw coming, and I'm really proud of myself for it.

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