Short story in d minor

One morning when Luke Savage awoke from fevered dreams, he had a great idea for a tweet. This tweet would be simultaneously unassuming and profound, bringing with it a torrent of traffic from influencers and putting a smile on the face of all who saw it.

He began to write, certain that new worlds of untold happiness and copious notifications were but 140 characters away. But, as his cursor made the perilous journey from left to right, dropping abruptly with the line break, his brow furrowed. Only 30 characters remained, and the tweet was yet to reach its climax, let alone its critical denouement.

Undaunted, his fingers continued to type even as the rain and sleet battered his face and hair. He had gone where few had dared venture before: beyond the character limit – a risky frontier to which, his courage failing, he hastily tried to retreat. What could be done to salvage the sublime object that was to have been a tweet?

Hark, oh turbulent priest! Hark, oh wretched night! From whence cometh the tortured suffering of man!

The austere revisions began slowly, first by the conversion of “ands” into “&s”. “That actually looks better!”, he lied to himself, as all men do when they are studied by evil.

Still over the character limit, far beyond the precipice of the world, he retreated further. “People” became “ppl”. “Because” was mutilated into “b/c”. Numbers that could be dropped in as shorthand to salvage precious characters were conscripted to do so, and a foul chorus of 2s and 4s took their places amidst the once glistening prose on either side. And yet, against the character limit he still transgressed. His soul tearing itself to pieces he started to excise the punctuation, throwing his once-beloved commas and colons overboard with a demonic zeal in his eye.

The tweet’s steady rhythm was no more, supplanted by a frenzied staccato such as afflicts the jaundiced brain of a mad man. Where once the voices of angels had met in a single, awesome harmony, he now heard only the dissonant shrieks of damned souls – as if a thousand discordant grand pianos had been hit by a meteor sent from the icy beyond.

Then, suddenly, his soul returned to confront him, rising like a phoenix from the ashes. This tweet was a failure, not even fit for the purgatory of the “drafts” folder. His Promethean ambition thwarted by the Janus-faced temptress of fate and the 140 character limit, he hastily eradicated all evidence of its existence.

He then closed his laptop, having crept a few minutes closer to the autumn of his life in this world.

The universe’s manichaean ballet wore on.


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