Locked In

Never before had Carl thought it strange that he would have a friend like Terry. But as they walk through the night city together, Carl ponders how peculiar it was that his best friend was twenty years older than him- old enough to be his father. Indeed, Terry did act like a father figure to Carl, teaching him things and reprimanding him when he did wrong. They shared a strange but comfortable relationship, yet this was defiled by his father’s attitude towards Terry- his father detested him.

As they approach a traffic light, Carl receives a sharp pain in the head.

“Are you alright?” Terry asks.

Carl nods as the traffic light turns green. As they cross the road, the pain returns again. He suddenly finds the sound of the passing cars unbearable as his balance is thrown off by the seemingly moving ground. He feels Terry grab his shoulders before his vision starts to blur and he loses consciousness.

He hears voices. Where was he? He forgot his own name.

“He suffered a massive stroke…lost all control over his body….”

Mustering his energy, he attempts to move a hand.

“…we are guessing that a high blood cholesterol level may have been a key factor.”

No response.

“It’s called locked-in syndrome. He has a healthy, active mind but he cannot move his body.”

He remembers.

My name is Carl Pax. I am nineteen years old.

Painfully slowly, Carl’s eyes open. His pupils dilate as the extent of what he hears hits him. His eyelids are all he can control of his body. He struggles hopelessly, physically bound as his mind is crushed by the weight of his realisations. Breathing heavily through his nose, Carl becomes aware of his surroundings. From what he sees, he is in a typical hospital room, the imposing walls sterile and impersonal. Outside, he searches for a familiar face, trying to grab onto a thread of normality. He does not find it. Perhaps he is in a dream. Maybe the sharp piercing noise of his alarm clock would sound any moment and he would wake to a more welcome reality. But he finds no such liberation. Denial was not a choice.

Suddenly, he finds familiarity. His father, Robin, approaches his bed, signs of tears streaked across his puffy-eyed face. He stands steady, however, and the reassurance and warmth in his eyes gives Carl a comforting sensation that warms his lifeless body. The warmth however, fades when Robin’s face contorts to anger as Terry enters the room.

Carl’s senses feel weakened from tiredness and he only hears snatches of their heated argument- his father was blaming Terry, having the senseless hatred to trace his misfortunes to him. Yet his dulled senses do not dampen his emotions. He feels like shouting, expressing his anger. His condition has only just settled in, yet already Carl feels the pain of it. He watches helplessly as a prisoner of his own body, unable to act as he watches the heartbreaking decay of his father and his best friend’s relationship.

In his anguish, Carl feels something within him burst and he lets out the most painful, soul-shaking scream he has ever heard, surprised as anyone to hear such an unworldly noise come out of his own mouth. Carl is unable to stop his screaming as Terry and Robin rush to his side. The screaming only ceases when a doctor rushes in and he sees a syringe being injected into his arm.

At least that’s one thing my father and Terry have in common, thought Carl, as his vision fades to black.


“Carl, there’s something I need to tell you,” says Robin.

For two weeks, Carl had lain in his hospital bed. It felt like a year had passed. Only his wandering mind allowed him a little freedom from his imprisonment. He spent countless hours staring at the ceiling, as if it was a canvas on which he mentally painted exotic landscapes, in which he would spend his day with Robin, Terry and sometimes, what he imagined to be his mother. Perhaps someday his father would stop hating Terry as much as he did, and they really could spend a day together.

Yet dreams were dreams – to exist within one’s own fantasies was one thing, but to be a part of the real world was something else. Though his father was beside his bed most of the time, there were times when Carl wanted his life to end. On one occasion, he vomited over himself, waiting for over an hour before his father visited him and called a nurse. In such moments of weakness, Carl felt frustration at being forced to live a life he would rather forsake.

At the present, Carl looks at Robin, who feels a slight discomfort at his fixed stare, trying not to look back.

“I just want to tell you, because it- it might be too late if I don’t,” stutters Robin, looking down at the floor. “Well, why I seem to hate Terry so much is because, well, he’s your biological father.”

Robin looks up. Carl’s face betrays no emotion but his mind is a hurricane of activity. He cannot make sense of what Robin said- it is too much, too suddenly.

“I was so excited when your mother was pregnant. Fatherhood was something I had looked forward to for a long time” explains Robin, his voice suddenly stronger. “But when I found out that you weren’t mine, I was so angry at Terry. The way I saw it, he stole you from me. I didn’t want you to be anywhere around him because I thought he would just take you away.”

Carl’s face is as inanimate as ever, staring blankly at Robin.

“You have to understand, when your mother left me, you were all I had and I wanted you to be my son, despite the circumstances. But now I see- you are my son but you don’t belong only to me. Terry has been a better father figure to you and it’s time I acknowledged that. It’s a shame that I only realise this now.”

A teardrop slowly paves its way down Carl’s cheek. But it is not a tear of sorrow. By some miracle, Carl smiles at Robin. The smile fades however as Carl begins to wheeze, unable to breathe. Yet Carl finds he can move his lips. He mouths a message to Robin. Let me be, this is what is best.

Carl closes his eyes for the last time, with his father clutching his limp hand.

Sorry for the non-MMOness of this. But after 35 decent MMO-related blogs, I think/hope I deserve a bit of slack.

8 thoughts on “Locked In”

  1. Short stories written by guys all include death.

    Except the funny ones, which may still include it but in a comical way.

  2. Not necessarily. And I only posted my one to make up for my absence.
    Did you just post one to match me?
    Ahh, I see you changed it to twenty years of age.

    ~Lily x33.

  3. My name is Robin, Are you trying to say something? Great story though, So sad though,

  4. For some odd reason. that made me laugh. Maybe it’s the Nyquil,

    Awesome story, really ropes us in.

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