(25 March, 2015. This is a quick short story I wrote based on a poem I think was by Nietzsche, but I couldn’t find it online, so I’m not sure. At any rate, it is not one of my best works in any way, nor is it even one of my good ones, but I wanted to post one of my short stories and this is just the first one I saw.)
No. It couldn’t be true. No. He couldn’t accept it. This was it. This was his life. This is what he lived for, and now, well now he had no life it seemed. No reason to live. No reason to keep digging. This was beyond discouragement. Beyond questioning his own beliefs. This was a destruction of everything he believed. Everything he had ever thought or trusted in his realm of work, annihilated. This was the end. All of those debates, all the relationships broken, all the lives lost, and for what? His faith, (Yes, he was not afraid to say the accursed F word now) was so well placed in this one idea, to the point that his entire life revolved around it, and now he was wrong.
Fred Ezint stood in front of the large, open window, his eyes wide and staring at nothing in particular. A few stories below, a passionate street evangelist had gotten the attention of hundreds of passing people. This was to be expected. The street below, usually blocked off by the traffic of New York’s signature yellow taxis hocking each other to pieces, was now covered by swarms of teary eyed, terrified, confused New Yorkers looking for an answer. Today, the traffic was quite a few blocks down, as alluded to by the distant honking of taxi horns and cursing of especially loud drivers. The sky was cloudy, the kind of weather one would see directly before a heavy storm, darkening the late afternoon. The humid, uncomfortable, summer air added to that feeling before a storm in the city.
The speaker below appeared to be the stereotypical gospel preacher, complete with the intense sweating, fanatical cries for ‘Amens’, and a zealous message all about hell and damnation and things of that sort. Any other day, these people in the streets would’ve ignored him and gone about their lives and jobs. But not today. Today, similar sermons and gatherings were happening all over the city, all over the world probably. If Fred wasn’t so angry or confused, he might’ve attempted to listen to this man, just out of curiosity about how the other side was taking the news. Instead, he simply stared out of his window, contemplating what to do.
There was a knock on the door of his apartment, startling Fred out of this reverie. He jumped and turned around, wondering who would knock on his door. There were hundreds of people who would have wanted to talk to him then, and very few of them were people Fred would want to talk with himself: fellow teachers, religious people he had debated with, students that he had ‘led astray’. No. It was better not to answer the door. In a child-like manner, he snuck over to his tiny bed room in the corner of his small apartment, and hid behind his bed, so that he couldn’t be seen through the peephole. The knock came again. Fred didn’t respond. And yet again, there came the three rhythmic knocks on his door.
“Freddy, old boy,” a familiar British accented voice called from the hallway “It’s Charlie! I know you’re in there! I’m a little older and confused, but my eye sight is still perfectly fine. I could see you from below when I was walking into the building.” Charlie nervously laughed a little.
Fred let out a sigh of relief as he stood up and walked to the door. Charlie Ward was exactly the man he would want to talk to. He would know what to do.
“Oh, hello! I was starting to worry you had jumped,” Charlie exclaimed when Fred opened the door.
“I’ll be honest, I have been tempted to since I first heard,” Fred responded with a grave tone in his quiet, clear voice that hinted at his German nationality. “Come on in.”
“Oh, well, thank you,” Charlie said, politely taking off his hat as he walked into the apartment. “Bloody awful mess, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Fred stated quietly, staring at a spot on the ground distractedly before closing the door. “It is that indeed.”
“I suppose that you’d be cross with me,” Charlie guessed aloud, turning to Fred with a worried smile. “Me being the one who taught you.”
“Oh no, not at all,” Fred said, looking up and giving a forced smile. In truth, he hadn’t even thought of that until this point.
“I appreciate it,” Charlie mumbled, as he stared awkwardly at his shoes. “I’d understand if you were though, knowing that we’re bound to be sacked now.”
Fred didn’t respond for a moment, but then invited Charlie to sit down on the plush couch. Fredrick hung up his friend’s hat on the coat rack next to his black blazer, and followed Charlie to the living area where he sat down across from him in a small armchair.
There was a moment of silence between the two men.
“Well, what do you think?” Charlie said, clearly uncomfortable with the quiet.
“Hm?” Fred looked up. “Oh, right. Uhh, I don’t know. It’s rather confusing, I must say.”
“Yes,” Charlie said absent mindedly, looking off into the distance. “But it’s like I said when I was first teaching you: it’s just a theory. It was never truly fact.”
“But did you really believe that?” Fred snapped, starting to get annoyed. “Did you really believe that you were dedicated yourself to nothing but a theory, or did you full heartedly put all your faith into it? You spent your entire life digging for the truth, arguing with religion, and trying to find the answer to the equation of the universe, same as I. So don’t pretend like it was just another theory.”
“I-I thought that there would be an answer,” Charlie stuttered hopelessly, looking down at his shoes again.
“Well, apparently there is an answer!” Fred began to yell. “But clearly it was not the one we trusted! We were wrong! Everything we believed in: wrong! We’ve wasted our lives and now there really is nothing but Hell below us! So, you know what!? You’re right! There is no answer!”
Charlie put his head in his hands as Fred stood up and walked over to the window, trying to cool himself down.
“I suppose we have a few options,” the seated man said miserably from the couch. “We can either listen to what they have to say and change our beliefs, pretend we knew what we were talking about the whole time, or….well, there is always the window.”
Fred was silent for a few more moments. It was clear he was thinking.
“Keep digging,” he said suddenly, under his breath at first, but then aloud and confidently for his friend to hear him. “Keep digging! So, they really think they’ve proved us wrong? They really think that atheism and Darwin’s Theory and evolutionary science have collapsed? They believe that they proved God’s existence today? Well, just like before Darwin, this is a gross misinterpretation of the facts. I am absolutely sure that there is a logical explanation to what happened, or some missing information or something. There is still more to learn! The Truth is out there just waiting to be discovered. We shouldn’t trust these ridiculous claims. Keep digging I say! We will find the truth! Ignore the fools out there, let them keep on preaching on about hell. But we, the people with our heads on straight and no interest in superstition, we will find the answer.”
Fred was glowing with confidence and excitement, ignoring the astonished and disbelieving face of Professor Ward. With or without his old comrades, Fred Ezint would recreate the atheistic belief structure. He would defend his fallen world-view. He would fight against the evil idea of God like he always had. He would be undiscouraged.