Matt sat at his study desk and smiled. He’d finally fulfilled a lifelong dream of his – he’d finally bought a typewriter.
It was an absolute steal – an old classic, with only a missing ‘E’ key among its faults (and even then, the shopkeeper had said he would fix it within the next few weeks). It cost little – apparently, the family of the old man who’d owned it previously were glad to see it go after he’d passed away, some horrible accident.
Matt didn’t care about the typewriter’s history, though. He just loved the sound of the tapping keys, that feeling of audible progress as you typed.
He’d inserted some paper, and was ready to go.
He closed his eyes, and tapped at random. Tap-tap-tap – that old familiar noise brought a smile to his face. He couldn’t use it for work yet, but he could still enjoy that sound.
He opened them, and looked at the paper.
Spooky, he thought, smiling to himself. What are the odds of coming up with a fully-formed word like that?
Matt closed his eyes, and gave it another go.
He’d typed it twice. How was that even possible, he thought?
Eyes wide open, he pressed the ‘Q’ key.
The typewriter stamped a ‘D’ onto the page.
Matt pressed the ‘W’, and got a ‘3’.
“What the fuck?” he said, lifting his hands.
That didn’t stop the machine – it kept typing, tap-tap-tap, the same word over and over again.
It stopped – the carriage had reached its end, a gentle chime allowing Matt an excuse to breath again. Almost reflexively, Matt reached out his right hand and tried pushing it back. It was suddenly stiff, and Matt began pressing, using all his strength until he forced the carriage back.
It screamed in the process – not the scream of machinery, but a high-pitched scream of pain, as if Matt had wounded its very soul.
And then, it began typing again, tap-tap-tap.
“Fuck this,” Matt shouted out loud, trying to minimise his panic. He grabbed the typewriter off the desk, and headed for the front door.
This had to be some kind of joke, some kind of defect. He’d take it back to the shop, and get the shopkeeper to fix it – easy done. Nothing to worry about, he told himself, even as he angled the terrifying message away from himself.
He marched down the street, typewriter in his hands. He was conscious of his pounding heart, and the eerie stillness of the typewriter.
It was typing again, typing by itself.
Matt turned it around, eager to see what message the machine was trying to convey and terrified of the answer. His focus solely on the typewriter, he didn’t realise he’d stepped into the road.
He never saw the car coming.
The impact launched Matt into the air, his body crashing down on the hard tarmac with enough force to crack his skull open.
As he lay in the road, his last few moments of life, his head in a rapidly-expanding puddle of his own blood, he saw the blood-splattered licence plate of the car that struck him.
His eyes closed. Matt heard the sound of typewriter keys furiously tapping away, but he no longer had the life to turn and look at its message.
This story is part of a brand new Creative Writing series within the Boar Arts section! If you want the opportunity to feature in the new creative section of the Boar, you can submit pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org.