Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Conversation (face to face) (10/07/10)
TITLE: Let's Have a Chat
By Colin Nielsen
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Another potential suicide. Great. Sixth one this week. Managed to save three. Best average in the department. Wonder if they'll give me those steak knives at the end of the month.
Officer Gray rubbed his forehead.
"Fredrickson, is the bio up yet? I need to know what I'm walking into."
"Hang on, sir. It's coming through. Name's Addison. Quiet kid. Stays out of trouble. Hasn't made any enemies. Lives with his mother. Seems regular enough."
"Then why does he want to throw himself off 'The Angel's Spire' then?"
Fredrickson shrugged his shoulders.
"All I know is that the machine's telling us he's about to jump and the machine's never wrong."
Officer Gray rubbed his unshaven stubble. He needed to find a favourable image. First impressions were crucial. You don't get a second chance.
"Does the lad have a father?"
"Died a few years back in the war. Boy was only a little kid then. Might not remember him. We have his image on file."
"Load it up. I'm going in."
Officer Gray plugged his skull into the Transference Holomatrix and descended into darkness. A few seconds later his hologram arrived on top of the building behind Addison.
The boy did not look back. Not a good sign.
The hologram edged along the ledge, closer and closer. He yelled.
-What do you want. Addison said without looking back his voice thick with emotion.
-I want to chat.
Addison turned around.
-Dad? I thought you was dead. What is this? Who are you?
-Officer Gray, City Holographic Police. We received some bad readings from you. I'm here to make sure your alright.
Officer Gray inched closer.
-That's far enough. Any closer and I'll jump. You can't stop me.
-Wouldn't dream of it. Besides, I'm not real anyway. Just light and thoughts. I only want to talk.
Officer Gray sat down, dangling his legs over the edge. Clouds beneath him rolled by. Wind buffeted his face softly. He never told anyone but he was afraid of heights. Over time he learned to control his terror.
-What's the most beautiful thing you ever saw?
-What? Beautiful? Here?
-A few weeks back I was holo-transferred to New Australia in an exchange program.
Lucky people down there escaped the worst of the fallout. Saw my first live tree. It was amazing. It stood at least one hundred feet in the air, it's trunk was so large you could park a shuttle in it.
Fredrickson poked his head into the Holomatrix cabin, "You're doing great sir. Heart rate is down. Thought machine now only puts is chance to jump at 75%. Another 10% and you can try talk him down."
-You got a girlfriend?
Always a risky move. She might be the reason he's about to jump.
-Nope. No one's interested in me. I'm not smart enough. Or strong enough. Or rich enough. Not good enough.
-I'm interested in you. Addison, why are you up here?
-Because I want it to stop.
-Want what to stop?
-Everything. I get up in the morning. Have my meal. Go to school. Learn a bunch of stuff. Go home. Sleep and do it all again the next day. There is no point. No one cares. No one loves me.
-I know what your problem is. I know how to fix it.
-What are you talking about?
-Do me a favour. Try one thing. If it doesn't work, then next week you can jump. I'll watch and I promise I wont stop you.
After a long pause, Addison nodded.
-What do you want me to try?
Officer Gray smiled.
-I want you to march right into Holographic Police HQ on Manning street. And tell them I sent you. They'll know what to do.
-What is wrong with me? he said wiping away the tears.
Officer Gray remembered this moment. only a few short years ago, he was in exactly the same position. He put his imaginary arms around the lad.
-Nothing at all, but your focus is misplaced. You're trying to find meaning by looking to yourself. Why aren't I happy? why aren't I great, or smart, or rich? It has led you to suicide because self-focus is meaningless. The key is helping others. Only then you can be happy. Addison, I want you to become just like me.
-Yes. I want you to join the CHP. We need more people with your focus.
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