Being Cool, a short story by K.T. Clark at

Being Cool

Being Cool

written by: K.T. Clark


My life as I knew it, changed by sheer accident … it was, literally, an accident. There I was sauntering along the pavement, looking ultra-cool. My headphones in, my jeans hanging off the end of my bum. The world was mine. I had mastered the art of multi-tasking – I could swagger and text at the same time. So there I was, on my way to the beach to meet my newest, couldn’t-live-without-her beloved. I was on a promise, her Mum was loved up and staying with her boyfriend and we’d have the house to ourselves. A day on the beach followed by you-know-what. Going missing from home was just a Brucie bonus, whatever that meant. I texted her to say I’d be five minutes while at the same time, I automatically swerved in and out of the tourists in their florid shirts and cargo shorts. The trick was to make it look effortless, a skill I learnt by checking myself out in the shop windows, seeing me as others see me. A sideways glance, nothing obvious. Yeah, just the right balance of being jaunty and relaxed – but giving out that don’t-mess-with-me vibe.

I’d worked hard at being this cool, something my parents hated especially when their posh “associates” visited for networking garden parties. I loved the shock and anxiety in their faces as I went too close to their Jag-u-ars and Fer-rar-ees left carelessly in our park-for-cars (yes, acres of it, well maybe that’s an exaggeration, but more than a normal sized drive and you can turn around in it without having to do a three pointer). My Ma and Pa paid a lot to have me taught how to speak properly and how to conduct myself when faced with silverware and crystal goblets expensive enough to refloat a small developing country. I hadn’t been quite brave enough to break anything last dinner party but I gave my mother her palpitations by being just-out-of-control enough to make her worry. And so, they hated it when I mixed with the locals during the hols; hated it even more when I picked up girls off the local council estate and, shock, horror, when I departed the mansion looking like “that”. But I hated too. I hated the rich, posh set because…well, just because they hated everyone else. They must do or they wouldn’t behave as they do to others who are “not-one-of-us-darling”. But then I know I’m not normal either, I know I don’t fit in with the locals, I know they laugh at my accent behind my back, but I’d rather be one of them so I’ve got to try, haven’t I?

I didn’t notice the car … didn’t bother looking, why should I? When was the last time anyone drove down that side street? Only druggies and skips up there. So uncool to look, no one ever does. Thumbs busy tap tap tapping kept me from thinking what a shit life I have. I was up to level 92, and level 100 would get me re-spect. Suddenly there were sounds of a car horn and squealing brakes followed by the sensation of “thud”; a weird word but I understood it totally when my body hit the road.

So now I’m in quiet whiteness, blankness. A bright smell of clean. An artificial sound of peace. Nearby distant voices, their words just out of my grasping understanding. My thumbs twitch. I struggle to sit up but nothing moves. I want to know what’s happening. Where am I? Where’s my phone? I need to make contact. I call out to Siri but she doesn’t respond. No one responds. The white and blue clouds move above me, blown by draughts of sanitised, cool air. Rustling whispers of fabric as they urgently push by each other. I feel my arm being held, my eyelid tugged open. I see right into its face as it draws close. I panic. What is it doing? A sound booms forth, the fabric mask blows in and out, but makes no sense. There is a faint whiff of garlic. It’s disgusting. I panic and struggle but there is no response. I am caged, tied down. I scream but no one hears. My vision disappears to total blackness. I scream. I am lost. A green dot of light appears, then another and another. Green numbers start flashing at me. The accompanying beeps are hypnotic. The green dots move to the right and I follow them across the blackness. Up and down; up and down making spiky lines across the dark void. I watch the graphics, and the lines calm me. The changing numbers give me something to hang on to … the beeps lull me to peace. It’s not like any game I’ve played before but its-almost-familiarity soothes me. My thumbs twitch, tap tap tap but I’m losing this level. I know when all is lost. I register the lines go flat, the green light fades away and the beeps stop.

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