Connection Lost (xxi)

As one day passed quietly into another, Alan lived his cloistered little life.

He woke at dawn. He pulled on a hoodie and wrapped himself in a blanket. He checked the duct tape he’d put up around the edges of the windows to seal in heat. He brushed his teeth. Then he peed. If he was feeling gigi he could even flush the toilet.

He nursed an energy drink over the next four hours and rode the buzz until well after dark. Not enough to get him rolling – because where did he have to roll? – just enough to keep him from spending all day long in the stupor of the bored.

He ate well. As well as he wanted. He wasn’t eating much. He wasn’t really burning any calories. He wasn’t worried about himself. He wasn’t worried about the world beyond. It wasn’t a bad life. Except when it was.

There were times when he struggled. Even a true-blue nerd can only be caged for so long without going a little Loony Tunes. He would get bored. He would be unable to focus. He would not want to focus. He’d get anhedonic, he just wouldn’t care. Without people to talk to or projects to work on, things to work towards, things needing to be done, there were times when life seemed utterly not worth living.

He wasn’t suicidal. In a way he was less so than ever before. Under normal circumstances, a distraction from his work would have been so unwelcome as to drive him to think of punching his own ticket. Now there was no work doing. This was not a distraction, it was a caesura. It wasn’t worth his time to dream of suicide. But then he’d eat some chocolate or do some jumping-jacks or think about that girl in the red coat, and a few minutes later (or less, depending) he’d be back at his books, doing all there was that could be done.

All day he read. He had nothing else to do. He caught up on all the comics he’d always wanted to read. He read a science fiction novel a day, until he was as well-versed in what old nerds predicted of the future as any basement-dweller in the Lower 48. He studied every book he had to study, until he knew more about electrical engineering than anyone who had never held a soldering iron and could read and write two languages that he had no idea how to pronounce.

He really looked at his apartment. Rather for the first time, come to that. He got to know the little peculiarities of the room like the curves of a lover.******* He read things two, three times through, studying how they presented their ideas as well as the ideas presented. He lay in bed and thought about what he was doing with his life, what he wanted to do with it, what he wanted to have-done, how he could go about it. From time to time he had to stop and reflect on how good it was to step back and look at one’s life.

He knew that, sooner or later, he’d have to look back on this time of his and think of how he’d spent it. So he tried to spend it well. And he thought, well, he was doing a pretty good job.

His apartment was deserted. He didn’t hear a sound for days on end. He’d glance out the window from time to time but he rarely saw a squirrel, and never a person, never the things of man. He heard a siren from time to time. Airplanes from time to time. A helicopter, once, or so he thought. Squealing tires here and there, a crash or two. Twice he was sure he felt explosions, once he heard one but did not feel it. Once he thought he heard a scream. But it could just have been the wind. Everything sounds like death and the Devil when there’s no other sounds to be heard.

Once he saw smoke drifting down his street. He went back to his book. He looked up an hour later, and it was gone.

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~ by davekov on 16 December 2011.

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