Stanley's Parablic Adventures!
Ending #1 - The Space Ending
"You selfish bastard."
Stanley sighed as he took a seat at a missing coworker's desk. A nearby pot of coffee was heating up slowly, leaving him at the mercy of the voice's remarks and jeers.
"You truly have no intention of finding out why your coworkers are gone or why there aren't any orders appearing on the screen in your office?"
He shook his head. Being a mute made him incapable of speaking, but he was fully capable of typing. Granted his job required mere hunting and pecking on his end, he was fairly skilled in typing mechanics. Although his office door was shut, and for whatever reason locked, his coworkers' absence left him plenty of computers to type his statements and concerns on.
And at that moment, the screen read, 'No, I'm NOT going to the meeting room. I'll just sip a bit of coffee and wait around for a few hours. If nobody comes around, I'm going home. Standard protocol states that employees are to wait up to three hours for executives to give orders, and if by noon there are still no orders then I'm free to leave.'
"You do realize that I'm giving you an order right now, right?" the voice remarked as Stanley twiddled his thumbs.
Shaking his head, employee 427 typed, 'Indeed, but you aren't an executive. You've given me absolutely no proof that suggests otherwise.'
"That might be true, but there's something grand and amazing in store for you if you just go along with what I'm trying to suggest. Please, Stanley, just give me a chance."
Stanley rose an eyebrow at that. There was something in the voice that he didn't quite expect to hear.
Does going to the meeting room seriously mean that much to the voice? No, of course not. He was just trying to manipulate Stanley into doing what he wanted him to do. Screw that. Stanley was no ragdoll for the voice to play with and toss aside once he grew tired of him. He'd stick to his plan of leaving once noon rolls around.
He glanced out a nearby window and sighed longingly. The glass made it difficult to tell what was outside, but it looked like a nice day outside. He'd be sure to visit the park once work was finished, or during his lunch hour. Whichever came first.
"Stanley wasn't aware of it, but if he just went along with the Narrator's story he'd be outside a lot faster than if he just sat there at employee number 419's desk for the next three hours."
Ignoring the voice's implication, Stanley went over to the coffee pot and poured himself a hot cup of reheated Folgers. It certainly wasn't delicious by any means, but at least it would keep him alert and focused on the off-chance that an executive gave him a heavy load of work to complete. They tend to do that on days that they come in late to make up for the lack of productivity. He briefly recalled one or two incidents where executives had come in two and a half hours late, crushing the hopes of him and his coworkers that they might get to leave early.
"Stanley, please, this is more important than you will ever know. I need this. The story needs it…"
He sighed as he set his coffee cup down on the table. A twinge of guilt made him reconsider his plan, but that underlying dread and worry made him remain seated. What if an executive came in while he was gone? He'd run the risk of losing his job. Or what if he wandered into the factory portion of the building and got hurt on some equipment? Without anyone around but this voice he'd be on his own. Nobody would be able to heal him or help him escape from danger. Not to mention the possibility of the voice leading him into some sort of deadly trap.
No, no. The risks were far too great for the office worker to consider doing something as reckless as leaving the work area. It was bad enough he'd left his office; now he couldn't even get back in there.
"Stanley? Are you there? Hello…?"
Stanley blinked a few times and sat up. He relayed another message to his companion.
'Why should I follow the directions of a random voice that suddenly decided it would dictate my every action and decision? How do I know you're not planning on leading me into a deadly trap that will annihilate me in a visceral instant? What if an executive comes in while I'm gone and reports my negligence to my supervisors, costing me my job? What would I tell my boss if he found out I'd left my post? 'Sorry, sir, but a voice that's possibly in my head told me to do it'? Yeah, that'll get me off the hook easily.'
The voice sighed softly. "Okay, Stanley, I won't argue over this anymore. I can see that you desperately don't want anything to do with my story. If that's what you want, then I won't coerce you more than I already have. I just wanted you to get a taste of my story for yourself, to see what I've created just for you. I've put so much time and work into it…but if you don't want to see it, then there's nothing I can do about it."
Damn that Narrator…
Why did he have to sound so defeated and depressed? Why did he have to put this sort of pressure on him? He'd never really had to make any major decisions like this before, but now this voice was really pushing him towards making one he wasn't sure about.
Stanley sighed heavily. He wasn't even sure if he could trust this Narrator, but he couldn't help but feel flattered that someone had taken the time to make something for him…even if that someone was possibly nonexistent. A nagging curiosity so desperately wanted to see what it was that this voice had taken the time to make for him, but that underlying dread still lingered…
Oh to hell with it.
'Fine. I'll go along with whatever it is you've made. But because I want to. Not because some omnipotent punk with a British accent dictated my path for me.'
The Narrator was instantly excited once again. "Yes! I promise you won't regret this, Stanley! Oh, this is brilliant, you're going to love what I've made for you! Come along, now, hurry!"
The office worker rubbed his forehead as he stood and slowly trudged over to the door, but then stopped himself. He considered typing a note to an executive on the off-chance they happen to arrive and find him missing from his office, but then quickly decided against it since everyone else was missing, too. He'd at least made a concerted effort to arrive to work today, whereas everyone else just abandoned their work altogether. In comparison to his colleagues' actions, leaving his work area for a few hours was nothing.
So, Stanley walked down the small corridor and into another office area. He continued walking straight and down the hallway until he arrived at a room with two doors. The one behind him clicked shut and locked just as his office door had done.
"Okay now listen closely. When Stanley came to a set of two open doors, he entered the one on his left."
Hmm. The left? Was he sure about that?
Stanley rubbed his chin while looking from door to door. His curiosity shifted from what the Narrator's story for him was about to what could be on the opposite door. Surely the Narrator wouldn't give him a choice if there wasn't a significant discovery awaiting him on the other side of the door on the right, would there? If the Narrator truly wanted him to follow a direct path he wouldn't give him another choice, would he? He didn't think so. Surely whatever was on the left would be available to him later. Right now that door on the right beckoned to him, and so Stanley walked through it.
"This was not the correct way to the meeting room, and Stanley knew it perfectly well."
Perhaps it was just his imagination, but the office worker could hear a slight trace of aggravation within the Narrator's voice. Was he starting to get fed up with his antics?
"Perhaps he wanted to stop by the employee lounge first, just to admire it."
Stanley rolled his eyes as he walked through the hallways and entered the azure-themed room.
"Ah yes, truly a room worth admiring. It had really been worth the detour after all."
Stanley gave the room a cursory glance as the Narrator continued to ramble on. The room was really nothing spectacular. It looked more like a dental office waiting room than it did an employee lounge in his opinion, or the waiting room to a hospital. Perhaps the higher-ups wanted to construct a room to try and match the cheap comfort levels provided by other institutions in order to provide their workers with a relaxing place to unwind, but the room really didn't suit his tastes. The only other time he could remember ever coming here was to rush some documents to one of his executives before they left on vacation.
Stuffing his hands into his pants pockets, he shuffled across the room and entered the next set of hallways.
"But eager to back to business, Stanley took the first open door on his left."
Memories of his time with his coworkers flooded the employee's mind. He'd never been that popular amongst his coworkers, but it never bothered him much. However, the occasional hush-hush conversations and dead silences whenever he entered crowded rooms did little to make him feel welcomed at the company. Sure, he never minded being ignored or making small talk on elevators, but he was always bothered by what his fellow workers might be saying about him behind his back. What was so secretive about him or his position that others had to gossip about him?
Then a thought occurred to Stanley; what if his coworkers' disappearances had been a planned abandonment by both his supervisors and by his coworkers? What if the company planned on taking the best workers and moving them to a different office building far away and had no plans on telling the workers they were leaving behind? What if the sudden disappearance of everyone else wasn't an anomalous event…but rather a scheme to abandon the worthless workers of this company?
Stanley was so caught up in his thoughts that he walked past the door that the Narrator wanted him to walk through, and soon wandered into a factory area of the office building. As the door clicked shut behind him, drawing him out of his swimming thoughts, he could hear the Narrator's frustrated remark about him not being fired years ago for being so bad at following directions. He sighed heavily before stepping onto the lift, since it was really the only place he could go at this point.
"Stanley, I must admit that I'm genuinely confused by your actions. You made it pretty clear in the office that you wanted to experience my story for yourself, and yet you've completely ignored each of my directions thus far. Is there something you neglected to tell me? Maybe you've simply –"
The office worker had remembered that there was a lounge for factory workers off to the side at the end of a catwalk just below where the lift had been taking him. He'd decided to maybe check there for any other possibly abandoned workers or perhaps any clues as to what might have happened. It was a long shot, but it was worth a try. Factory workers tend to leave notes and paperwork around detailing their progress for the day anyway. If not a hint as to what's happened, it at least would give him some sort of clue as to when the last time the employees were actually there.
"-wha? Really? I was in the middle of something; do you have zero consideration for others? Are you that convinced that I want something bad to happen to you?"
Stanley shook his head and made a gesture towards the factory lounge direction while staring up at the ceiling.
"I don't know how to convince you of this, but I really do want to help you, to show you something beautiful."
Shaking his head again, Stanley made another gesture towards the lounge area. He then pretended that one hand was paper and made a writing gesture with his other one on his first hand. The Narrator was silent for a moment.
It soon dawned on Stanley that he'd really crippled himself by leaving the office area. He no longer had a way of communicating with the Narrator since the factory had no computers for him to type on. He scolded himself mentally for being so careless as to neglect bringing a sheet of paper and a pen to write with. Now he truly was muted…
"Stanley, I'm not sure what you're trying to tell me…but it almost looks like you're doubting my intentions. Please, Stanley, I just want to show you what I've made for you. Really, that's all I'm trying to accomplish here. I can understand if you have some hesitations or uncertainties, but I'm honestly very trustworthy."
It seemed as if the only way to communicate with the Narrator was to go along with whatever he said; to follow his directions. Since every move Stanley made was up to interpretation on the Narrator's part and the only way he seemed to understand what Stanley was trying to tell him was through decisions Stanley made he'd have to communicate through favorable choices on behalf of the Narrator.
At least until he could get to another computer.
"Let me prove it. Let me prove that I'm on your side. Give me a chance."
Stanley was silent as he walked through the door, through the small corridor, down the stairs, and into the next room. He went down another small set of stairs before approaching two doors – one red and one blue.
"Now, listen carefully, this is important. Stanley walked through the red door."
Both doors creaked open and two entrances beckoned him forth. The office worker briefly considered entering the blue door just to aggravate the Narrator further, but then decided against it since it was bad enough he wouldn't be able to explain his reason for doing so. His actions up to this part might have been justifiable if his lounge idea was at least plausible, but the lounge was gone. The red-themed room, picked to contrast the blue-themed office workers' lounge, had been replaced with a cement floor and two colorful doors that oddly represented both lounge themes.
His hopes for finding any clues as to how long the other employees were gone dashed, Stanley sighed as he shuffled through the red door.
"Oh, thank god, you are willing to listen to me. Can you see that I've really wanted you to be happy all this time? The problem is all these choices. The two of us trying to get somewhere that isn't here, running and running and running just the way you're doing right now."
The employee buried his hands in his pockets as he continued to loop around the corridor with the matching doors on the ends. As the Narrator went about his tangent, his mind kept swimming with ideas on how to locate clues about the other employees. Part of him was heavily regretting leaving the office area in the first place. Now he was stuck in some obscure basement in the office building that he didn't even know existed. Soon the Narrator opened both doors on either side of the corridor and Stanley walked through one of them, his mind still focused on the office area and wondering if anyone had actually shown up to work yet.
"Mm…what do we want? What are we looking for, hmm?"
Stanley would've been lying to himself if he'd said he didn't find that smugness in the Narrator's voice somewhat irritating. Here he was, trying to figure out a way to find out what the hell happened to his colleagues and all that voice was doing was humming inquisitively. Though he couldn't blame him for being a little smug at the moment considering how much of an annoyance he'd been to the poor entity. His reluctance to follow his commands hadn't been out of sheer spite, just thoughtless decision making. Had he been in his right mind, he probably would've gotten back on track and saw whatever it was that this Narrator wanted him to see.
Though, technically he could still do that. This voice was trying to show him something at the moment, wasn't he? Well, enough thinking about colleagues that talk behind your back. Time to give this guy some attention. After all, he'd been so kind as to put his time and effort into making a grand story thingy for the office worker, and he'd been pretty patient with his antics thus far. Why not show some gratitude, if only by humoring the voice for a while?
Walking to the end of the darkened hallway, Stanley felt about for the walls until he stepped into an observatory-like room filled with many stars and constellations. A pleasant sound rang in his ears while the stars began to rotate about the room.
"Here! Yes! Oh, it's beautiful, isn't it?" the Narrator asked in breathless astonishment.
Stanley couldn't help but shake in silenced laughter. That serious and assertive British accent sounded so full of life and joyous that it almost seemed silly.
"If we stay right here, in this moment…Stanley, I think I feel…happy. I actually feel happy."
As the Narrator laughed lightly in his happiness high, Stanley reclined on the floor of the room and watched the colors emerge and blend in the sky.
The show went on for several minutes before the final colors of green died off and small bursts of neon colors lined the lower sections of the walls and stars revolved in the room. The sight was one to behold, but as time went on Stanley started to feel a bit hungry. He wasn't sure how long he'd been in the room, but he was quite sure it was time for him to have his lunch break.
He wasn't able to locate a refrigerator in the observatory room, but a light in another room made him curious. Hoping to find a kitchen, he went over to the light and found himself in a small hallway with white circular dots painted on the walls.
"No, wait. Where are you going?"
Stanley froze. The Narrator hadn't spoken since the start of the lights show, so he'd assumed that he'd either dozed off in his happy daze or that he was still observing the lights. He hadn't quite expected the other to still be watching him.
He made an eating motion to the best of his ability. The Narrator didn't say anything. He sighed and tried rubbing his stomach.
"What? Oh, you're hungry, is that it? Oh, uh, Stanley, I…wow. I wasn't expecting the issue of food to come up when I made this room…"
Shrugging, the office worker went into the other room only to find himself in a room with a large stairwell. And nothing else.
"Oh no! Stay away from those stairs! If you hurt yourself, if you die the game will reset. We'll lose all of this!"
Stanley raised an eyebrow while looking up at the ceiling, and unspoken question on his lips.
"Just…just don't go near those stairs, Stanley. Please?"
As he looked over the structure, Stanley couldn't help but question exactly what purpose the Narrator even had for including this room with the observatory room. It was pretty clear that he built the observatory room to show Stanley, but why would he include this if he didn't want him to use it? Stanley never thought about suicide before, but here this giant stairwell was offering him a choice of either letting the Narrator remain in his happy observatory room or removing him from it all simply by ending his own life.
His stomach growled louder and he groaned lightly as he set his hand on his belly. He really wanted something to eat…
"Oh no, Stanley…if I don't get you something to eat, you'll starve to death and I'll be forced to go back anyway. Um…oh, what will I do? There's not a food article in the building, but…um…c-can we just go back to the other room please? I mean sure you might starve to death, but at least we'll be able to prolong your death for as long as possible with starvation. Leaping from that stairwell will force me to go back a lot quicker."
Narrowing his eyes, Stanley looked up at the ceiling. He had been led to a trap. Not a deliberate one, but one nonetheless. And it seemed as if he had a choice after all. He was going to die either way, but his choice at this point was how. Either die slowly through starvation while the Narrator savors every second of the observatory room he can, or die quickly and pry the Narrator from his happiness a lot sooner.
"Stanley? Can we go back to the other room please? I don't want to be in here anymore."
Looking at the floor, the office worker considered his choices. The Narrator had been very kind towards him, certainly more than any of his coworkers had ever been. He'd even gone out of his way to make a special story just for him. Nobody'd ever really shown such an interest in him before…but then again was starvation really worth letting some voice be happy that he only met a few hours ago? Leaping from the stairwell would end his life so much faster, and prevent any future agony.
So suicidal leap it was.
As he ascended the stairs the Narrator begged and pleaded for him to let him stay at the observatory. He did his best to ignore his friend's pleas, but that twinge of guilt returned to plague him as he looked down from the top.
"Please, Stanley, think about what you're doing."
That was the thing. He already had thought about it, and he truly thought there was no other quick way out of this. The exit had been shut behind him, and was undoubtedly locked. What other way was there for him to prevent any of his future suffering?
Stanley sighed lightly while closing his eyes. He mouthed, 'I'm sorry,' before leaping off of the platform.
"Oh…thank god," the Narrator stated with a sigh of relief, "you lived. You had me worried there for a moment. Now, can we please get back to the other room."
Stanley screamed in muted agony. His arm was broken and cut badly enough to make him bleed profusely. The tremendous pain was enough to make tears run down his face, but then an idea began to form in his head. He was going to die, there was no doubt about that. But at the very least, he could let the voice know of his intentions.
He might not have a computer to do so with…but he had his own blood.
Giving a shaky sigh, he dipped his fingers into his own pool of blood and began to write on the wall. The blood from the seeping wound was making him lightheaded and made writing a challenge, but he did his best to keep his hand steady.
'Was lost in thought.'
'Didn't mean to get off-track.'
'Thought factory lounge could have clues.'
The office worker struggled to stand once his messages were written. The pool of blood dried before he could write more, and he was trying to keep his wound from seeping more.
"Oh, so that's what those weird gestures were earlier. Well, Stanley, your carelessness may have landed us here, but I say we enjoy the moment while it's available and cherish every second you're alive…in the other room. What do you say? Could we please go into the other room and enjoy it until you die? Please?"
The pain was unbearable enough as it was, but when he used the blood seeping from his wound to write his final message Stanley thought he was going to pass out.
'I'm sorry. I have to do this…I have no choice.'
As the employee slowly made his way back up the stairwell, his friend begging him the entire time to descend, he considered how things might have been different if he'd just paid attention to what the voice had been saying and taken a different path. Maybe his friend could live in his happiness for all eternity and they'd both be free. Maybe his friend would be able to show him that grand story he'd taken so long to make for him. Maybe…if he hadn't been so caught up in himself, he'd be able to live and maybe actually meet his narrative friend in person. If he just hadn't been so freakin' careless…
Maybe that's why his colleagues possibly abandoned him in the first place…
Stanley sighed as he looked down from the platform. Had he not lost so much blood he probably would've been able to withstand a few more jumps. This next jump though…he knew would do him in. If not from the sheer impact of the landing then surely the amount of fresh blood spilling out from his current and possibly any new wounds would be the death of him.
"I just wanted us to get along, but I guess that was too much to ask. I guess you wanted to make a choice after all. Well, this one is yours."
Damn that Narrator…
Guilt seeped heavily into him. As much as he was willing to let the sadness of his friend be enough to change his mind before, he just couldn't afford that now. Even though he wished he could change something he'd done before to prevent them from being trapped in this situation, there was no turning back now. Stanley swallowed the lump in his throat, let go of his bleeding wound…