A Manuscript Containing Disturbing Content Is the Focus of New Sci-Fi Thriller

Christopher Laine


You’ve found this, Chumley. Good for you. Now take my advice and put it back down.

This manuscript isn’t meant for you. You don’t have the stomach. Go back to your safe little life of TV and mobile phones, of Facebook and Twitter and YouTube pouring down your gullet by the gallon. Back to the web, to your game console, your favourite binge-worthy channels. That’s a cozy little spot for the likes of you. You don’t want any part of this.

What I’m about to tell you, this gets messy, and the last thing someone in this post-modern iron age wants is messy. Messy messes with your worldview. Messy messes with the neatness in your head. Messy doesn’t  get episodes played;   it doesn’t get you leveled up. Messy isn’t responding to that comment on a comment on the bottom of some meme. Messy doesn’t fit into a tweet. Leave messy alone. Put this down, before it’s too late. Neatness counts, after all.



It’s better this way. Put the manuscript down, walk away. You’ll stay happy and stupid, a well-fed moron who doesn’t want to know. The only way you’re going to get to stay safe is if you just don’t know. Don’t dawdle. Go on. Walk away. Go back. Get back on the grid. There’s a good little Chumley.

Trust me. You don’t want to know. The batshit accountant told me that, that I didn’t want to know, and you know he was right. I didn’t want to know. I wish I’d listened to him when I had the chance. But no, I had to know for myself, to find out, and that didn’t work out so swell for me. So, learn from my mistake. Take it on the lam.

And yet you’re still reading. Because you can’t stop, can you? No. You worked so hard to get your greasy little mitts on this in the first place. You heard about this manuscript, this one something you can’t find on the internet. A pack of tattered pages in a manila envelope, being passed from one hand to the next. You’ve heard whispers of it, awful rumours, of things you shouldn’t want to know. And so, you got your hands on it, and you read on, even though I told you it’s not meant for you.



But after all, you’re sure you know what you’re getting into, right? You’re positive you can handle it. Pardon me, but how the f**k would you know what you can handle? We’re just here at the beginning. Everybody is sure they can handle everything at the beginning. The beginning is chump change. It’s the end that really matters. That’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s when you’ll know, when you’ll really know what I know, and you’ll be desperate to be gone, and to leave this manuscript behind, never to mention it again. Back you go, little Chumley. Back you go.

So, who the f**k am I, you ask. Who am I to tell you anything? Why I’m f**king nobody, that’s who I am. My name is James, but what does that matter? It’s just a name after all, and I’m a f**king nobody with a nobody’s name. I’m not famous or rich or a celebrity. I don’t have a blog, or a social presence, or an IPO. I have no bitcoins, no venture capital. I’m not bootstrapped, or angel-invested. I don’t have any followers, or stars, or likes. I don’t have a channel of any sort, not a podcast, not an Instagram feed, none of that bullsh*t. Nothing about me counts for sh*t in your dismal digital world. I’m a nobody who’s long dead, an anonymous statistic on an obituary you’ll never find. I’m John Doe, a white chalk-line on a murder scene floor. I doubt you could even find a trace left of who and what I was, no matter how many times you asked Google or Siri or Echo to find me. I am untraceable, a departed soul across an anonymous VPN. I do not register on your monitor, your search screen, or your smartphone. 404: narrator not found.


This is an excerpt from Christopher Laine’s new book, Screens: Seven Coins Drowning. It’s published here with permission.


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Photos courtesy of the author
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