Today has got to be the best for at least this month so far.
Somehow at all ends and odds, I happened to win the first place in UTP's 'The Chronicler' Papyrus Award - Short Story Category.
It wasn't expected, really. After all I wrote the piece that I sent in for the competition in a rush, roughly two days before the submission due date.
But for whatever it is, I thank the committee of the Papyrus Award night and I urge the runner-ups and those who didn't make it to keep writing, for writing requires not only talent but experiences. Stay long enough in the field and I believe one day the reward will start pouring in.
Thanks too to The Roomey for accompanying and as well as to all the fans for supporting me all these whiles. Keep supporting, and I promise you that I shall keep on writing to not only entertain but also to inspire.
Below is the short story that won me the award. Do enjoy it, and thanks again everyone! :D
* * *
Submitted in fulfillment of the requirement for the participation in
The Chronicler 2010
If there was any date worth remembering about Daniel, it would be January the twenty-first.
Daniel was, for any fact that matters, just another guy. Height, average; weight, average; intelligence, average, hence his life, also and still, average. In fact if there was, among other things, a competition about who was the most average among everyone in campus where he once studied, many would have easily speculated and confirmed their mutual agreement on Daniel being the only eligible candidate to ever win it, with all possible match competitors being thrown sideways because none of them could even reach a par result, based only on the fact that there was nobody else more average than Daniel was.
Daniel finally graduated late last year with just an average grade and after some time since he left the school, which at the time was considered as an average waiting period for fresh graduates before being hired, he finally was accepted into an average manufacturing company as a junior engineer from which his work there was mostly fixing overhead ceiling; one reason was because the company he worked for manufactured ceiling boards, and another was because Daniel happened to love fixing the ceiling. Despite his job being all average, it did not bother Daniel much – he loved it just like a cow does to green carpets of fresh meadow grass in a cold Sunday morning.
And he stayed hidden for most of the time by being entirely occupied with his fixing works all over above the factory floor, away from everyone’s eyes. The only way to reach him was to either shout his name out real loud using the factory’s speaker system, or by brewing coffee at the pantry and let the scent of the black beverage to travel all the way up to above the ceiling level, and once Daniel smells it, he will immediately stop his work and dashes to the pantry for a sip or two of the hot and very aromatic drink.
He just happened to love coffee, and other than that there was nothing else amusing about him.
But it was not until January the twenty-first that Daniel finally encountered a series of exceptionally unfortunate occasions that changed his life forever, though not entirely, but sufficient enough to make people notice him; an event from which Daniel finally saw his fate to being not anymore an average Joe, but more or less extraordinary than that, only for the better or worst.
And this is a story about how Daniel, from being all but something, to being all but nothing.
* * *
Rain showered on the small town where Daniel lived like never before. Not only that, the rain happened to also be occupied with the most horrendous of storms, bashing on the little town like a fly-swapper does to, of course, a fly. And this particularly extreme weather had been going on for almost a month now- only at times it stopped but most of the time, it never really did.
This was what the people of the little town described as the rainy season.
The rainy season did not affect Daniel much until recently. Five days back when he was cycling to work, he was washed out by the raging storm from which, after struggling for some time to cycle on his bike despite the strong wind, he fell face first onto the tarmac. When he sat up, recovering from that quite a fall, he saw his bike being dragged by the wind and ended up on the other side of the road where next he saw was the bike being squashed flat by a travelling ten-ton truck that happened to cross by at high speed.
That day, Daniel walked to work, all soaked and wet from the rain, with a bleeding face. This had caused the whole factory floor workers to stare at him in total surprise, for this was the first time he ever appeared at work with such awful makeover.
Happened to be exempted from work due to his hilarious injury from his adventurous accident, he spent the next day at home fixing a moped that he found lying by itself in the storeroom – a moped that he owned since he was a kid. He spent twelve hours fixing the moped just so that he could ride on it the next day to work, and fortunately enough it did work despite after being left in all sadness in the storeroom for more than a decade. Looking at his success, Daniel decided to celebrate the occasion with a bottle of juice which he soon grabbed from the fridge while leaving the moped’s engine running, only to return to the garage to hear one hell of a bang that shook the entire house. When he peeked into the garage the moped was no longer there – it has exploded into thousands of pieces, and made a hole the size of a truck through the roof.
The day after that, Daniel walked to work, all soaked and wet from the rain, again. And everyone noticed him right from the first step he took into the factory floor.
Yesterday, Daniel thought to himself at work. “Funny,” he pondered, “just when I thought life could not get any worst, it suddenly does.” And it did. That day when Daniel walked back from work while holding a fancy, colorful giant umbrella that he found at work, he saw that his house – his small, single-storey house made from stone-and-timber – had collapsed on its own foundation, clearly a result from the rampaging storm that occurred while he was at work earlier. And all Daniel could do was standing and staring at the ruins in a complete disbelief, while hugging the firmly-folded fancy, colorful giant umbrella in his arms for almost an hour or so until he finally got a hold on himself again.
Right after that, Daniel walked to work again, all soaked and wet from the rain, for one last time – he decided to just stay at work for he had nothing at all no more with not at all any place to go, and he was pretty sure that his boss would allow it.
Daniel’s boss – Lady Boss - was a fifty- year female; single, unmarried, a cheerful but sometimes bitter old lady. Earlier at work she was entirely a bitter person, so Daniel decided to only let her know about his decision the next morning.
And that night at his workplace, he climbed all thirty-feet above the factory floor to his favorite spot somewhere in between the roof foundation and the ceiling; a small gap where he used to spend his time at whenever he wasn’t working, and decided to make the spot his living space from then on. He then tied his legs to the nearest steel beam using a safety rope, just in case if the ceiling boards decided to fail on him that night.
And soon after that, despite the series of completely unfortunate incidents that happened earlier, he fell asleep like a furball hamster, deep through the cold, rainy night.
* * *
January the twenty-first.
Work began like usual, only that this time no work was done because the whole factory faced a terminal power shutdown due to last night’s storm, where apparently the power grid that supplied electricity to the premise had failed.
The boss, clearly being all too grumpy that morning due to the shutdown, went and asked the coffee lady to send her a cup of coffee to her room. Not a little longer afterward, the lady made the order and left while Lady Boss took the drink from the tray, only to accidentally topple the cup, dispensing the hot coffee all over her skirt.
This was when Lady Boss started to lose her head.
She stormed into her private toilet next to her room, undid the skirt, let the water running and tried to wash the coffee stains off. The strong smell of coffee started to gravely fill the airspace of that small, confined toilet. She was seriously grumpy.
Thirty-feet above, Daniel was still sleeping. He was barely awake when his nose caught on something that smelled sensationally yummy. Subconsciously he started to move himself, following the aroma. Next he knew was, he broke through the ceiling and plummeted all the way down and through another ceiling below while screaming hysterically, and stopped just a few inches from the floor, hung from the rope that he tied to himself and the beam last night before he slept. When the dust settled, he slowly opened his eyes only to see that Lady Boss was standing right in front of him, upside down in his view, with her skirt removed and her face in full disbelief.
After five seconds of awkward stillness, Daniel decided to break the silence.
“Look,” Daniel said. “I know that you could have never believed me, but I am only here just for the coffee.”