All Our Dooms

"DOOM spelt backwards is MOOD," I said.

"That's nice," Tim said, in his standard melancholy voice, "but it's not going to help. You're a fool to think it is."

"C'mon, Tim," I said. "You're not doomed. You're just feeling depressed. It's just your mood, turned in upon itself. Get it?"

He sighed. "Yes, Glen, I get it. But you're wrong. It's not me. There is a doom on me, and I cannot escape it." He looked up at me with tormented eyes. "How can you blind yourself to the evidence?"

I put my hand on his shoulder. "Yeah, but those kind of things can happen to anyone. I mean, what's so strange about running into a horse-trailer on the onramp of the Trans-Canada? Or having a Bohemian Crystal glass break when you pick it up in a store? Those kinds of things happen to everyone."

"Well then, maybe everyone's under a doom. Did you ever think of that?"

I shrugged. "Doesn't make a difference, then, does it?"

"Except for the fortunate few that are free. But it's not an all-or-nothing phenomenon. There are different levels of doom."

"Really?"

"And different varieties. The doom of the failed hero. The doom of the betrayer. The doom of the scapegoat. And combinations. I've been studying this for a long time. You can understand my curiosity. Morbid, perhaps, but well-justified."

I got two oranges out of the fruit bowl. "Want one?" Not waiting for an answer, I tossed him one.

It hit his arm and bounced onto the floor. He rubbed his arm slightly and then bent to pick the orange up. We peeled our oranges in silence, him sitting, me standing.

"I really think you should be more worried about your own doom," Tim said. "It's coming upon you as quickly as mine is upon me. I can see it, and I think you can too." He ate his orange slice by slice. "This is sour."

I laughed, a little hollowly. "You're letting your imagination run away with you. You've spent so much time thinking about doom that you see it everywhere. Why can't you just accept that life is just an interaction between billions of particles, that cannot be predicted in detail?"

He started to reply, but coughing overtook him. He fell forward off his chair, coughing convulsively, spitting out gobbets of blood. There was a pause, and he looked up at me.

"I've known my doom for a long time, Tim," I said.

His eyes closed and he collapsed. I went to the table and pressed the button. "It's done."

The door opened and three men entered. Two of them picked up Tim's body and carried it out. The third stopped and looked at me. "You understand why we had to do it, don't you?"

I did. They'd explained it to me thoroughly enough. The study of dooms was not something they could let into the wrong hands.

They'd known our dooms for a long time.

<Jonathan Blocksom gave me the assignment

DOOM
fool
melancholy
orange

between 4 and 300 lines must include a character named "Tim">

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The Den of Ubiquity/ Aaron V. Humphrey / alfvaen@gmail.com