The Umbridge Building - 574 words


Collective intox
Feb 6, 2014
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Here's a piece that will be in my next collection, if I ever get around to making it. One of my favorites out of 97, it still needs work.


Traveling on the superhighway made him feel small, but interconnected to part of something giant. A red blood cell tumbling down a vein leading back to the heart, pushed through the super body. Or a white blood cell, part of the immune system, able to shoot out pseudopods and destroy a bacteria's cell wall, its insides gushing out, absorbing into the blood's plasma. He imagined this so intensely that the redness of blood invaded his vision until he let the fantasy completely take over for a split second. The sky was like a giant muscle, and the sun, humanity's brain.

He nearly missed his exit, quickly coming back to reality and switching on his turn signal. His brain stopped ignoring the sounds of traffic, and the pressure of the real world made him feel claustrophobic. His anxiety was overwhelming. He needed to get it checked out by a doctor.

Most of the time, his imagination did not completely overwhelm his senses, turning the world into overblown science fiction cinema and threatening to shut him out of reality completely. Only when he was on the superhighway, commuting to work, slipping into auto-pilot, relaxing his vigilant watch over his sanity did he totally lose it. And only for a split second.

"In the news, a man saved the lives of three teenagers who inadvertently put themselves in danger on Saturday. The teenagers were at a convenience store when a gas pump exploded at the handle." Jim turned the radio up a bit as he rounded the exit to work. "The shocked teens were looking for the source of the first explosion when Jim Branson heroically pushed them out of danger. The second explosion, larger than the first, ignited the underground reserves of gasoline and destroyed the entire parking lot. . ."

Jim Branson. The office would find it funny that Jim, the clerk from the second floor, shared the name of a real hero. He considered pranking everyone in the Umbridge building and pretending it really was him.

"It's not the first time Jim Branson has been in the right place at the right time. Last week, he saved hundreds of people when the Umbridge building collapsed. It was impossible to predict the sink hole would open up that day, but Jim followed his gut and evacuated the entire office, somehow knowing there was danger."

Wait, the Umbridge building collapsed? He glanced at the radio knobs. What?

"His sixth sense allows him to react in those situations before anybody else knows what's happening. A real superhero. . ."

He couldn't even hear the radio anymore. At thirty miles per hour, there is little sense of speed to one who is used to driving. Jim felt like he had completely stopped moving. In front of him, a bright fissure opened in the air, from which a winged angel descended. It pointed a huge sword directly at Jim and spoke its message:

"You, Jim Branson, will receive a gift from heaven. God has chosen you to be the savior of the planet. You will be granted superpowers in order to fulfill a great mission."

He unblinkingly stared at the digital clock, waiting for reality to return.

The sound of the radio slowly faded in. It finally seemed real to him again. But how would he get everyone out of the Umbridge building? Wait, was the sink hole opening today? How was he supposed to know? What was he supposed to do?
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Super Member
Jul 5, 2017
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Hey, CaesarNaples, nice work!

I enjoyed the structure you employ to tell the story. It seems to flow pretty logically. I also enjoyed your opening metaphor. The fact that Jim ponders these things gives us a clue to his character.

I think there were just two times I got lost. I have to admit that I didn't at first realize the main character was Jim. I think I was supposed to understand this at the following line:

Jim Branson. The office would find it funny that Jim, the clerk from the second floor, shared the name of a real hero. He considered pranking everyone in the Umbridge building and pretending it really was him.

But unfortunately I didn't. It sounded like Jim was just some guy the MC worked with.

The only other thing that confused me was the timeline of Jim's heroism. I am guessing the main character is involved in some reality where there are time jumps, but that can be a very tricky plot to follow. This reminds me a lot of the movie "Arrival" that just came out a few months ago. I didn't understand what was happening with the timeline in that movie, either. It might be a personal problem I have (lol), but I would prefer more information about how Jim could be unaware of a task he already completed or how he could be having these audio-version visions.

I'm sorry if my review is confusing. :-/