Terminally Challenged

Terminally Challenged

a piece of fiction by The Overlord Bear

beta-read by TheOtherGabby

cover illustration by The Overlord Bear

Summary: Two rich yet terminally ill men have neighboring hospital rooms. One is a cynical comedian who wants to die, while the other is some dude who awaits death with a smile and a lot of beloved companions. Somehow, they become friends before death.

In a room on a somewhat high floor of a tall hospital in the city were two rich yet terminally ill men. They also lived in separate rooms.

First was Mr. Wanna Die.

Mr. Wanna Die was a very grumpy person. Not to say that he didn’t know how to smile, but he mostly knew how to smile for an audience and for the cameras, considering how the public loved people who smiled despite living in deep ditches. He was also known as a comedian, which was a part of his main skillset, and his comedy consisted of tales about his very relatable misery and very motivating curses.

In fact, one of his catchphrases was “If the President’s a cursing maniac, then give him the fair cursing of justice!”

Also, he once had a wife and kids…and a stunning record of live-in partners. And despite his dismay at how he never got along with women, he didn’t have much worries because he didn’t ever give them domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Indeed, he believed that doing things like punching people would only be a waste of time and energy. Such violence only made boring news, after all.

Words? Well, he didn’t think they fell under those categories. He also believed that anyone who just gave up on him because of his words are people who are in urgent need of psych evals. As for the rest, they got what came to them for trying to leech off his fame and fortune.

He didn’t need to meet them in court either, for his fans were pretty good enforcers.

Anyway, when his women left him, what he considered the biggest problems caused by those times were the public outcries and the hate mail.

Really, it was a pain to deal with hypocrites everyday. Wasn’t his cursing within proper standards?

Oh well, at least there were fans who mailed him about how he managed to help them with dealing with their depression, something his comedy often talked about.

Still, despite all the snappy comebacks he had ready for his haters, who worked more like blocks for him and his fans to do ego and popularity rebounds, Mr. Wanna Die really wanted to die a bunch of times. He just didn’t push through with killing himself because people wanted and needed to see more of him. Shared misery is better than lonely misery, after all.

And so, he worked and worked and worked…and then came that fateful diagnosis.

Luckily, the public knew him to be currently in hiatus when he found out about his terminal illness, so he had his dear friends and connections keep his condition secret while he had himself confined and treated…although he expected himself to just fade out of existence and get himself a grand funeral afterwards.

Not a bad way to go for a popular comedian like him, no?

And that’s where Mr. Wanna Die’s neighbor, Mr. Gonna Die (and it should be noted that despite the same last names, they are not related in any way), came in to shake the scrappy remains of his miserable life up.

You see, Mr. Wanna Die didn’t want to take the most expensive room for himself, but he very much preferred being alone in his room, so he took a private room for one on a floor in the upper middle of the height of the building. Sometimes, though, he became bored of being alone in his room and wallowing in the more pressured depths of television, video games, and the Internet, so he went out while he wasn’t up for treatment and such medical procedures.

As for what he did during those times when he was outside his room, he usually stared in silence in some corner of the halls, usually standing on spots where there were clear views of the world outside the hospital. He would stare at the roads and the passing cars, the malls and their changing billboards, and the window cleaners hanging around and doing their work. All those killed boredom, yeah, but not all of it, let alone the sinking feelings he had deeper within him.

He did try to do stand-up comedy to the nurses at times, but the lack of deafening laughter easily got him feeling down more than he thought it would.

“Man, those window cleaners sure are hardworking, huh?”

During one of those staring sessions, a patient approached Mr. Wanna Die, IV stand pushed with one hand and laptop stuffed underneath his other arm.

That patient was Mr. Gonna Die.

“I wonder if it they get paid big for that sort of thing?” Mr. Gonna Die added.

“Considering how manual laborers are still treated these days, they probably get paid really meager amounts, still,” Mr. Wanna Die answered, continuing to stare at the window cleaner who didn’t seem to notice the conversation happening in front of him.

“Well, if that’s the case, then that sucks,” was the other terminally ill man’s reply. “I guess the best I can do is keep on being a good artist and, well, pray.”

At that, Mr. Wanna Die gave Mr. Gonna Die a deadpan look.

“Really?” the former shot. “Pray? Has that really gotten you anywhere in life?”

Let it be known that Mr. Wanna Die really hated religion as much as he hated politics. Lots of radicals and idiots there, after all, and he believed that the world would be better off without it.

Still, he was a fan of The Lord of the Rings, which was written by a devout Catholic, so Mr. Wanna Die changed his view of religion from “useless scum” to “necessary evil.”

Anyway, Mr. Wanna Die still saw prayer as the stuff of crazies crazier than him, so there, he gave that response to Mr. Gonna Die.

As for the mocked crazier crazy, he answered with a smile:

“Well, even with my moderate level of fame, I do have loving friends and family and God, even if being a terminally ill patient takes a lot out of the bank accounts.”

“You mean your wife and kids and friends and loved ones haven’t left you for being a massive burden yet?” Mr. Wanna Die asked back, because crazier crazies like Mr. Gonna Die really needed a double check before getting believed, for such words were also likely to be icebreaking jokes or something.

“Hmm…the money worries – among other things – can be noisy, and I have my ranting moments, but they’re manageable,” Mr. Gonna Die responded, nodding with a casual tone at the end of that statement. “Still, they’re learning experiences, and I thank God for them as well!”

And so, Mr. Wanna Die considered Mr. Gonna Die a masochist, and he didn’t talk to him unless the latter forced him to do so. Fortunately, Mr. Gonna Die seemed to have some brain, considering how he could take a hint when Mr. Wanna Die frowned and groaned at him to not talk to him, but still, he had a tendency to approach him and sing his praises of crazy.

Mr. Wanna Die had great second thoughts about his judgment of Mr. Gonna Die, though, when he encountered the guy having a screaming and crying moment with his wife and then being left alone.

“The missus gonna be filing a split soon?” the cynical comedian asked, ready to lighten the mood for a fellow poor man further.

“No…she just needs some space to relax, and I need some time to reflect…” the poor man answered with sniffles. “It’s tough, but I can handle it…”

By the time Mr. Wanna Die heard that added statement, he then decided to go “Oh, okay” and leave with an awkward attempt at a polite parting, as Mr. Gonna Die was very consistent with the whole masochism or martyrdom or stupidity or whatever because they were all the same, anyway.

The next morning, though, on an early morning staring session, Mr. Wanna Die found Mr. Gonna Die staring out at the city, holding his wife close to him as well.

Mr. Wanna Die honestly felt jealous of the other man when he saw that. Briefly, he wondered if he could make up with his ex-wife and their kids, but he shook his head after thinking about the likely drama that would occur.

And so, Mr. Wanna Die didn’t talk to Mr. Gonna Die for a while, wallowing in the pressured depths of television, video games, and the Internet some more as he ended up bouncing around the thought of being like his definitely luckier neighbor.

Eventually, all the trolling he did online became boring and even more depressing as that thought ended up smacking him back again and again, so he decided to go out of his room, check the halls of his room’s floor or, if Mr. Gonna Die wasn’t working out in the halls, knock hard on his neighbor’s door.

Mr. Wanna Die ended up finding Mr. Gonna Die in his room, smiling and laughing while he was accompanied by friends and family and an honest-to-goodness priest.

On one hand, Mr. Wanna Die could imagine a sitcom scene or something involving whatever ritual that priest made ending with Mr. Gonna Die dying right after, but on the other hand, Mr. Wanna Die was very very very jealous.

His family? His comedy memorialized them as people who would never understand his struggles, something his many fans could relate to very much.

His friends? Oh sure, his dear friends did visit Mr. Wanna Die in person, but they usually bumbled around, deciding to play pranks on him and then finding out that they were expecting too much from him.

Though to be fair to his friends, Mr. Wanna Die realized that even he himself was expecting too much from himself during those times.

Indeed, he hated being such a downer to his dear friends. It made him want to die more quickly, with thoughts of still possible fun Internet inanities, the next episode of a nice anime rerun, and the unfinished storyline of a fun action role-playing game keeping him from pushing through to really killing himself.

And when he thought about all that again while feeling jealous, Mr. Wanna Die decided to upgrade his view of religion from “necessary evil” to “probably has a good point.”

If the world wanted to kill him because of that, then fine, at least he would have a better life and death than them.

Still, as Mr. Gonna Die and his family and friends and priest received him with warm welcomes and all, Mr. Wanna Die couldn’t help crying as he moved forward.

And together with Mr. Gonna Die, Mr. Wanna Die died at the end of that day as well.

Author’s Note: The complexities of activists and activism also inspired this, and said complexities also inspired certain other recent stories of mine.

Also, at first, Gabby thought that this would go like The Bucket List, a movie which we had first watched during high school.

As for the cover illustration…No comment, I guess? (hahaha)

Honest constructive feedback is highly encouraged and will be highly appreciated, yo~

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