Inside Out

Reclusive Arthur Kirkland lives a quiet and routine existence inside the house he hasn't stepped out of for three years. That is until his cheerful, extroverted new neighbor, Alfred F. Jones, moves in next door. Agoraphobic!ArthurxAlfred.


Hey, folks. I know I have a lot of stuff I need to finish, but I think this will be a relatively short project. I haven't yet decided. Still, I'd be happy if you could tell me what you think. :)


There was no real, complex formula as to why Arthur Oliver Kirkland did not step outside his home. He'd lived a normal enough childhood, with normal enough parents, in a normal enough neighborhood in a normal enough town. Nothing particularly terrifying or traumatizing that would make people exclaim "Aha! So THAT'S the reason," and then nod sagely, as if the little bastards had any idea what they were discussing.

On his own, he was not a nervous wreck, shivering in a corner inside his house and clutching a teddy to his chest. Arthur had never been attacked, never been given a real reason to fear the world that lay outside his door. He knew this. Yet he would not step outdoors for any reason, under any circumstances. The thirty year old man kept a fire extinguisher inside of every room in his house, not wanting to consider the slightest possibility of what might become of him and his house in case of a disaster.

Not wanting his lawn to look shabby, even if he were not heading out to look at it himself any time soon, he'd hired a yard service some years ago to come by every month and spruce things up a bit. Thankfully, due to the wonders of the Internet, he could pay them electronically.

Every Halloween, his house was egged and carpeted with toilet paper because the man was too unnerved to stand outside his doorstep and hand out treats. Arthur knew by now to be ready to call service over to tidy it up every November 1st.

After many long years of study, Arthur had earned a doctorate degree in Literature to teach at the University level. But now he worked from home, as an online editor and author. He'd published a few thesis papers on Anderson and Grimm that had won him a great deal of acclaim, as well as a small book of children's stories that was doing reasonably well in the market.

As for all of his groceries, cleaning supplies, papers (he could get the news electronically, but Arthur was still somewhat an old-fashioned bird), milk, and other miscellaneous needs, these were dropped off inside his door, in a little anteroom Arthur had built adjacent to his house so that he would never once have to step out the comfort of his home. Even the trashmen knew by now to come inside and grab the bags Arthur left every Monday near the door, even if they grumbled and complained amongst themselves.

The few acquaintances and relations who had known the severity of Arthur's "case" (or, at least, liked to think they knew) had called it upon themselves to try and drag Arthur back outside, make him see that the world really WAS full of sunshine and daffodils and wasn't really a place to make you writhe and tear at your hair and want to run, run runrunrunrunrun until you could close yourself out of it, lungs burning, the shadow of panic bearing down at him with all the weight of the universe, swallow you up until—

There's no until. Because you've collapsed back inside your house, safe, safe, but not safe, never safe.

There's only him, and Scotch, both literally and figuratively. The people who'd finally learned that Arthur + Outside Rabble= No after sporting a black eye or a bloody kneecap had gone away, and eventually they stopped calling.

Scotch was the Scottish Fold Arthur had adopted when he'd first moved into the neighborhood many years ago. He'd always liked cats, had grown up with at least one or two usually around, was pleased that he had the cat's company, even if it was sometimes a pitiful excuse's for a human's presence and conversation.

But he doesn't care. There's the Internet if he wants to talk to people, there are social networks available, even if most of the people there are absolute morons who apparently can't remember how to spell or turn off the Caps Lock. Scotch is really a good companion, usually ready to cuddle—

If it's his own idea—

—and if the cat isn't snoozing in the thin cracks of sunlight that stubbornly peek through the heavy curtains Arthur has covering his window, or gallamping about outside. Arthur wishes, wishes Scotch were an indoor cat, but if he wanted to go out, he went out. When he'd first came to live here, he was forever scratching at the door, yowling piteously and irritably until Arthur finally opened the door and the cat could scurry outside.

Now, there's been a pet door installed, much as Arthur doesn't like it. But he does care about the cat and wants to make him happy, so he reluctantly watches Scotch scurry outside via the window on the rare occasions he finds himself with nothing to do, sees the cat disappear through a row of bushes that separates him from his next door neighbors. He wonders what Scotch does on his little adventures, if anything at all. Once or twice the cat came back with bite marks that looked as if they'd come from another feline—maybe he had an enemy. Or a lady friend. Where did the cat go? Did he ever think of Arthur? Was he living a double life, perhaps as someone else's cat? Was he only coming back because Arthur fed him?

Of course. And by the time Arthur gets to those kinds of thoughts, he knows he's being pathetic and then gets a replacement for Scotch the cat—actual scotch. A few drinks later, and he's in a blissful stupor, or at least too drunk to care much about anything besides the fact that he can no longer lift his head up from the floor.

And soon enough, even that fades away and he tumbles into oblivion, to be awoken hours later by a splitting headache and a cat staring down disapprovingly at him, waiting to be fed.

Sometimes, he turns on the television and sorely wishes he hadn't. There's nothing but reminders of what he's missing (but doesn't miss) by staying in here, the whole outside world judging him for his life.

He's not a bad or cowardly person, but he knows what they think: Ridiculous. Such a baby. Absurd. They're laughing, laughing laughing laughing, and if he were to step out they'd hone on him like birds of prey and laugh themselves sick.

No, they wouldn't. Perhaps they would. Probably no one would know, care.

And the truth of that is why he never ever leaves his household.

There's not a warm body to curl up next to whilst watching old movies, no one to laugh with at old, silly jokes. But that's still fine, because he's safe. There's no one but occasionally Scotch to warm up his bed, to read passages of poetry to, to make love to or have hold him he's woken up with yet another nightmare chasing him out of slumber, shaking in a cold sweat.

That's alright, too. For all his flowery writing, he's not a romantic. For all the absurd novels out there for sad, ridiculous women and stupid people like himself, of ideal gentlemen and perfect devotion and lasting love—

There is none of that. Maybe for the lucky or unlucky habitants of a fairytale, but not for him. There is no one waiting for him to come home, and that's okay, because he never leaves home to begin with. There's his peace, and he can live without the scrutiny of human beings in his own peace.

Loneliness is but an abject sacrifice when there's other way to live.