Peeking in on Schrodinger's cat
by Andrew Murphy
forum: Peeking in on Schrodinger's cat
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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Peeking in on Schrodinger's cat


       Henry raised the gun to his head. The cool metal ring pressed against his temple. He blinked, took a look around the room. He gently replaced the gun onto its velvet cushion on the dresser, rose from his hard-backed wooden chair and walked over the the bed.

       An empty suit lay there, lifeless. The hollow arms were folded across the motionless chest, clutching an envelope in their ghostly hands. Henry stared at it for some time, readjusted the arms, smoothed out the last few creases.

       The silent room was suddenly filled with a dry wave of noise as Henry cast a plastic sheet over the bed. He sighed heavily as the sheet knocked his suit out of position. Now one arm draped hopelessly downwards and the other seemed to be struggling against a choking coller, the envelope had slid under the bed. Henry looked his best suit over, he followed the acute angles of the arms, considered the stitching. Henry turned his back on it all.

       He paced back towards the dresser, slowly lowered himself onto the hard-backed wooden chair and picked up the gun.

       The cool metal ring pressed against his temple. Henry closed his eyes. His fingers tightened on the grip; they were trembling slightly against the hair trigger.

       The room exploded with noise - Henry's radio alarm clock burst into static life. He had never bothered tuning it in. He would have to leave now. He threw the gun onto the velvet pillow and left his dingy apartment. He passed the yellowing 'Out of Order' sign on the rusty grate of the ancient elevator on his way to the stairs. It was a long way down. As he stepped down his foot slipped, his hand instinctively shot out and grabbed the cold guard rail. Teetering there, he peered all the way down the twisting, jagged spiral and back towards his hand. He swore under his breath. His supporting hand gave up its grip and Henry decended into the garage.

       He opened the large, squeeking door onto a room full of darkness and punctuated by shadows. His hand fumbled and searched across the unfriendly stones for the grubby lightswitch. It snapped up and down ineffectually. Henry clicked his tounge and blindly stumbled into his car, pressing the garage-door open button. The blank face of the door shuddered slightly, then a hard, metalic screech pierced the stolid air and a meagre sliver of grim gray light was begrudgingly released before the whole thing came to an ear-splitting halt. Henry stepped out of his car and battled with the unfeeling door. Straining against rust and neglect, sweat pricked Henry's forhead; it swiftly cooled and left him with a headache. In awkward, thrusting, resisting jumps, the garage door finally yielded. Henry walked back to his car, drove through and pressed the garage-door close button. It glided noiselessly into place, only offering a slight, satisfied click on completion.

       Henry's shoulders heaved. His hands alternately tightened and relaxed. He wiped the stinging sweat from his forhead. He closed his eyes and drove to work.

       Once again, as always, Henry failed to catch the eye of the pretty receptionist whose name he only knew from her badge. The elevator doors closed in his face. His computer would not start. The milk in the staff room was off. He was shouted at for loitering there when he was not. His coffee tasted cheap and bitter. His life tasted cheap and bitter.

       Henry imagined great, undulating, rolling hills covered in fresh green grass and bathed in pure light. Unhurried, joyous, innocent laughter from an unknown source drifted into his ears. He raised a hand up to the paralell bars of his cage. He saw the sun blocked out by a great shadow that crossed the land. He saw worms crawling on their bellies through the dirt towards his cage. They slithered up his moving-dead legs, burrowed into his moving-dead flesh. He could feel them inside his moving-dead body, propelling it, controlling it. He could still hear the laughter, but now it was so faint, nothing but a spectre's reminiscing. He could hear a series of clicks - like a clock counting down.

       Henry hoped no one would find him silently crying in the toilets.

       Henry couldn't pull the trigger. Why the fuck couldn't he pull the trigger? What was wrong with him? His life was a collection of days, loosely chorded together by recurring themes of disappointment, frustration and failure. He was sad; sad and pathetic, balling his eyes out in a toilet like some jilted school girl weeping over a bad boy. And weren't they all bad? And isn't your life so hard little Nancy. Why don't you cut yourself? Make all the pain go away - just for a moment? Why don't you Nancy? Because you can't. Because you're weak. Why couldn't he pull the trigger. What was so damn difficult about pulling a hair trigger? Why can't I pull the trigger? Bang bang shoot shoot.

       Henry wiped his face and staggered up off the toilet. He would go now, go home and pull the trigger. He would take responsibility. He left the office unnoticed and unhurried, drove home, climbed each step like a mountain, turned the key in the lock, shambled over to the dresser, lifted his gun from the velvet pillow and pressed the cool metal ring against his temple.
Henry pulled the trigger. He pulled the trigger. I pulled the fucking trigger! Why aren't I dead?!

       Why isn't Henry dead?

       With searching, emploring eyes, Henry twisted the gun round in his hand. It was not loaded. Every empty chamber peered back at Henry, mockingly. Bullet by bullet, Henry slid every metal-jacketed promise into place - swearing he would end it this time. I will end it this time.

       A loaded gun, what a comforting weight. Henry pressed the cold metal ring against his temple. His hands tightened, relaxed. He couldn't pull the trigger. He replaced the gun onto its velvet pillow and slouched into his hard-backed wooden chair. He could not pull the trigger. He could not keep his promises. What kind of man cannot keep a promise made to himself?

       Henry knew he could never pull the trigger. He could never pull the trigger. I could never pull the trigger.

       Henry ran to the garage. Dusty, miscellany junk was scattered everywhere. He searched for a narrow rope with good tensile strength, a pulley and a winch. With his prizes under his arms he walked back upto his room. Before Henry could think he had suspended the gun from the ceiling, threaded the rope around the trigger, tied it tighter than a hangman's noose, then looped it through the pulley and wound the loose end around the winch he unceremouniously hammered into the wall.

       With solemnity, Henry placed his hard-backed wooden chair underneith the shadow of the suspended, anxious gun. He combed his hair and washed his face, thought he heard the faint echo of a laugh. He licked his parched lips with a dry tongue.

       He sat down and gave the winch a good turn with his unsteady hand. It clicked as he turned. The rope creaked as the slack was slowly drawn in. Every minute action was an achievement for Henry, it was movement in a positive direction. A release offered by tightening a rope. Every second was bringing him closer to metal-tipped salvation. Every turn made the winch click - it sounded a little like a clock counting down. The clicks came closer together as the rope became tighter, as hope drew nearer. Henry started to feel resistance coming from the winch. Henry started to feel. I started to feel. It pushed against my hand, but my hand was now clutched and intertwined with Fate's - and he's irresistable. The clicks bounced off the walls; they were quiet and measured, logical progressions.

       The winch suddenly shuddered in my hands. It was poised on the point of no return. It was hanging between worlds. I looked at my hand, at the pale moving-dead flesh. I could see the worms crawling away from my hand like rats escaping a sinking ship, like prey fleeing from a predator. Those little bastards. At this point, I'm both living and deceased. Now it is
merely a choice to see what becomes of me.

       I'm going to open the lid on Schrodinger's cat - I wonder what I'll find.



copyright 2006 Andrew Murphy.

Andrew Murphy:

I'm currently eighteen, working in GAME in Bracknell and waiting for my UCAS to go through so I can study psychology at Nottingham University; but I'm somewhat contemplating staying on indefinitely in retail as it's an amazing place to meet and greet society's worst.