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The New Metamorphosis by Alexander NewSUMMARY: An attempted faux-gothic parody of Kafka.
The New Metamorphosis
One day A awoke to find himself incurably cheerful.
He did at first realize this metamorphosis had occurred. As he had done so every other morning, he had gotten out of bed. It had become his fastidious habit to every morning visualize some excessively morbid image, so as to prepare himself for the upcoming day. He found this action stimulated the fear inherent in everyone, and greatly enhanced his work at the nightmare factory.
However, when he opened his mind to let the macabre flow in, he made a startling observation: He could think of no gothic images! Instead, all that appeared inside his head was a disturbingly happy vision of unicorns prancing through a green meadow. That general type of phantasm was not completely alien to his thoughts, but this specific one was. The unicorn's flanks were not covered in blood, and the meadow was not on fire. A was frightened by these specters of unmitigated happiness. He had to bring himself back into the world; otherwise he feared the positive feelings would have overwhelmed him.
When he had collected himself after this life-threatening experience, his first coherent thought was: Oh dear. How shall I continue my job at the nightmare factory in this condition? And I cannot possibly call in ill. I used up all my sick-days dealing with that bad case of bubonic plague. Nonetheless, he finished dressing, snuck out of his family's abode. In the distance, he could see the gaping abyss that led into the nightmare factory. A queue of workers was already starting to form in front of it. Seeing his friends Steerpike the Cold and Prunesquallor the Gaunt walking towards the queue, he increased his pace and caught up to them. They all paused in a moment of genuflection before the headless statue of Erl the Eternally Pale. A hoped that being in front of this horrific statue would trigger some of the appropriate thoughts, but nothing came. While Steerpike was writhing in pain, and Prunesquallor was dancing a mad little jig of devious delight, A stood there doing nothing, feeling nothing.
As the little group continued its way toward the abyss, Prunesquallor and Steerpike eagerly discussed the sensations they had just experienced. A could not join them in this. His mind was instead drawn back to that peaceful little meadow. He began to lose himself in it...
Prunesquallor jerked him out of his reverie with a question: "And you, A. What delightful thoughts occupied your mind? I noticed that you were smiling? Perhaps you will enlighten us?"
A could do nothing but stammer that his thoughts had not been of particular note, and that they should continue. Retreating from their conversation, he realized with a jolt that he had been smiling. Indeed, he could not think of a time when he had not been smiling. Gasping silently, he came to a startling conclusion: He was happy! He could not even imagine being sad! That was when he realized something was wrong, terribly wrong. How could a nightmarer be consistently happy? It was unheard of! He would surely be fired if he could not conjure up fiendish dreams to send to Those Who Dwelt Below.