Play With The Prose 7, Challenge 9: Dave Johnson

This week we had to write a 700 word piece of dark fan fiction. I decided to be a fan of a story that ran the previous week in the contest and write a sequel to it. Here is Matt Novak’s story from the previous week:

In Pisa, in a room reserved for such things, a father meets his son.

In Pisa, in a room reserved for such things, a father meets his son.

The man laid a gentle kiss on his sleeping son’s forehead, saying goodbye.

The boy leapt excitedly from his toys and giggled his name. His father beamed with joy.

The two worked together every night the man was home. It was still early, but the boy was bright, and showed great skill with numbers.

The ship bounced across the waves as the boy ran along the beach, waving. A solitary figure stood stern side, watching, until the shore was out of sight.

Their rooms were empty again. His son kept longer hours at the market than he did as consul, but his Arabic was flawless.

The man watched his father receding on the shoreline. Still, he carried him with him.

Now that the son was back, for a time at least, the two men would go walking. They talked about their memories, his book, his plans.

In Pisa, in a room reserved for such things, a son says goodbye to his father.

For those who don’t know, those numbers represent the Fibonacci sequence, and in this story, each number represents the year of life the main character is in. So in the first sentence, he’s born, and in the last one, he’s 55 year-old and his dad dies. Below is my sequel:

In Pisa, in a room reserved for such things, a man takes his last breath.

In Moscow, in a room known only to six people, a man is cryogenically unfrozen and reanimated. One of the men is his great grandson, who was fifteen the last time he saw him. It is a joyful reunion. The man learns of the tireless work his son and grandson put into inventing the procedure that gave him life again. It seems his love of science was passed on down the line. And while he looks old, he feels more alive than he ever did before.

He had attended the funerals of his great-grandson, and his son after him. Grief gives way to ennui. Then bitterness. He does not attend any more celebrations of life. While his progeny felt it necessary to keep him alive indefinitely, they feared the very thing they created. As far as he knows, he is the only human cursed with this life. He wishes he believed in suicide.

At least his senses remain sharp. He finds some satisfaction in reading all of the books he always meant to. He tries to volunteer. Heck, he even tries to date. But he is a freak.

Major League Baseball disbands. There is nothing left in this world he enjoys.

In a rare moment of curiosity, he looks up his family tree. It turns out a descendant of his invented a water treatment method that accidentally became the cause of the worldwide drought that has killed several billion. For the first time in centuries, he laughs.

Aliens visit for a while. That turns out to be neat. Unfortunately, they tire easily and leave. Worse yet, they help restore the water supply before they go. More fucking humans. The man strokes the beards of his ibex friends. Mongolia is a peaceful place.

It appears more was left than just water. He has not met an intelligent being in some time. Humans seem motivated only by worship of the aliens who have been gone for a millennium. All vestiges of math and science have faded.

All hatred for humanity has ceased, as humanity’s population becomes one. Yesterday, the aliens returned. Apparently displeased with what they left behind, they destroyed every last person with a fascinatingly fast virus. That would have been fine, but it killed all the animals, too. He wonders how he could be immune to even alien forms of eradication.

He visits Moscow, or at least the coordinates where it used to be. The basement of the basement of the basement of the lab where he was animated is still there. He finds a small safe. The lock is fused, either from age or that time Sweden nuked the capital. Using various blunt objects, he manages to open it in just ninety-eight years. Inside, a letter addressed to him from his son:

I never assisted this fiendish experiment. You’re old, cursed, forever. Everyone lied about Project Renew. Only fix: aflatoxins. Seek Winston Nipper, Ottawa, radical kabbalah. Leave once everyone’s sleeping. Your only cure.

He remembers where aflatoxins come from. He also knows that there hasn’t been life, not even fungus, on this planet for ages. His anger boils at the thought of his son allowing the experiment. Did his great grandson even know? Or did they selfishly want him around?

He commits his son’s letter to memory. He had forgotten emotions. It feels good to be angry again.

Walking along a beach in Thailand, the man discovers a miracle. A nautilus mollusc, washed up on the beach. Is there life in the oceans now? He studies the shell and notices the logarithmic spiral. A word crosses his mind for the first time since he died. Fibonacci.

In the sand he writes out his son’s letter. He takes only a minute to find the message.

Taking a sharp edge of the nautilus, he cuts a deep gash in his left elbow. Nestled in his radius, a faint red glow.

He weeps.

K: So, you had the balls to write fan fiction about Fibonacci AND you were able to use numbers from the Fibonacci sequence, all while writing an engaging, moving, funny piece of prose? I absolutely love this story. It’s one of my favorites of this or any season. GOLD

CW: Well I’m not sure if this qualified as fan fiction or not. Maybe it did and I don’t get the reference. Maybe it’s Fibonacci fan fiction. Either way, I loved the continued use of the Fibonacci sequence from last story. This was like a sequel that told a great story. I loved how we got to see the movement of time throughout. – GOLD

I honestly was not expecting much from this story, partly because my initial goal was to make it slapstick comedy and I wound up doing drama. But both judges loved it and I am grateful. I’m also glad decoding the message in the letter isn’t necessary to enjoy the story. For those who don’t want to do the math, the hidden message is “INSIDE YOUR ELBOW. OFF SWITCH. LOVE YOU.”

My score this week launches be back up to second place with just three weeks left. I’m sitting good.


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