A Million Typewriters

Jaim remembered a story as he descended into the waste pits and began rooting around in the piles of filth. He couldn't remember where he had heard it, or from whom, but it suddenly popped into his mind, clear and strong like a drop of pure, icy water falling on the back of the neck.

If a million monkeys at a million typewriters worked forever, they could eventually type out the entire works of Shakespeare. He didn't know what a monkey was or a typewriter for that matter but the story's message was still clear to him. Even without any knowledge, any hope, if he kept trying, eventually he would succeed. He was only one though, a far cry from a million.

He let out a sudden hiss as he felt the dull slice of rusted metal against his hands and pulled back his fingers from the piles of rotting detritus. He had a nasty gash on the index finger of his right hand. Blood, dark and red, pushed through layers of grim and rust to the surface and dripped down his arm leaving browning trails, like rust-filled veins on his skin. Angrily he sucked at the wound, licking it and recoiling and the foul taste of copper and filth, praying he wouldn't get infected. He kicked at the pile in frustration and it parted, splitting open like an over-ripe fruit. There in the centre of the open pile he saw something. A knife, his blood still slick on it's rusting blade, stuck up from the ground. It was a wicked, cruel blade, curved and serrated along the outer edge. What it had been for, he didn't know. Many things here were the skeletons of yesteryears, tumbled down shells of things whose only place now was the past.

Carefully, he pulled the knife from the pile, placing a thumb and fore-finger on either side of the blade and pulling hard. At first he slipped, almost falling down the mountain of trash to the bottom but he steadied himself and tried again, easing it from side to side to loosen the garbage's hold on it. With a finger still in his mouth, he pulled the blade free and tucked it into his clothing, secret yet ready to come out at a moments notice. With a weapon on his person he felt safer, more secure.

As he dropped his guard the voices suddenly came back, accompanied by a cacophony of sound, a million tiny hammers, metal brushing past metal. In his missing eye he could see other like him, broken and abused, dark insectile shapes embracing them through the skin down to the bone, bleeding out milk and bile. His monkeys were behind his eye, typing on their typewriters. Whoever Shakespeare was, his work would not be as far away as Jaim had first imagined. The wave of sound faded as quickly as it had come and Jaim was left dizzy and confused and feeling strangely alien. He realised then that the alien feeling was hope. Somehow he knew, just knew without proof, without anything that he was not alone.

He gripped his knife tightly and scrabbled into the darkness.

The End

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