Malcolm Steadman will dial the suicide hotline in 46 days.
The aroma of the port wine felt sweet and heavy as Malcolm Steadman poured it into a glass. He swirled it around merrily and admired its dark color. Setting it down, Malcolm moved on now to his stove where he removed two slices of fried bananas from the heated pan and lovingly placed them on top of his freshly made waffles. His happy stride was closer to that of a dance as he glided without worry and fetched the candied maple bacon strips from his other pan. His whistling was as light as his mood and became a sort of jazz as he drizzled melted peanut butter on top of his breakfast concoction. Malcolm rarely took the time to cook like this and admired his decadent plate with pride. He sat now, with his waffles in front of him, and his port wine back in his hand deliberately facing a blank wall. It was time for his scheduled panic attack.
Yes, scheduled panic attack. He was proud of the idea.
If Malcolm Steadman was going to be plagued by his panicked ponderings anyways, why not set aside a specific time for them, why not just get them out of the way? His existential terror had as of late stricken at times that were inconvenient, and now that he was going back to work in a couple of days and had vowed not to let his future be dimmer than his past he could not afford to let them hinder him again. Though he was vaguely aware that scheduling a panic attack into his week would look like the habits of a mad man to an observer, he saw no other option. Aside from self trepanation what else could he do? No, it was better to get them out of the way, to treat them as a chore that needed to be done. Malcolm sipped his wine.
Everything he was doing now was deliberate. All of the conditions for his philosophical freakouts were there: He was not distracted by his phone, his environment was mundane and boring, and it was time for breakfast (when the majority of his terrors seemed to take place). Yes, the meal and its port wine companion were a little more lavish than he normally had, but why not make an event out of it? If Malcolm was going to schedule a panic attack, he was going to enjoy it. So Malcolm began to eat his favorite comfort food and stared intently at the blank wall. Time passed.
Mr. Steadman will not be successful in his efforts today, as enterprising as they were. This is not to say that he wouldn’t have a panic attack that day, no, that would happen in the night, but his scheme to have a controlled one will fail. His breakfast, however, will otherwise be a success, in the sense that he had one. The attack at night will creep up on him where he is most vulnerable…
Malcolm washed down the taste of peanut butter and bananas with the port and started to feel buzzed. Nothing had happened yet, maybe he was concentrating too hard? He felt that there was a lot at stake here in his experiment. His first day at his new job was just a couple of days ahead, and later that week he had a date. Yes, Malcolm had a date! Well, the beginnings of one at the very least. He had first came up with the idea to schedule a panic attack after his old manager texted him to meet for a coffee. Because he was no longer her subordinate and believing that he had purposefully taken a nose dive when they were competing for the same job, she reached out to him. His replies were awkward and embarrassing, the last thing he needed was a frightening epiphany when he went to meet her. It was imperative that he got that out of the way now.
Malcolm had finished his breakfast, he had downed the last bit of wine, and no epiphany came. The main antagonist in his life had not shown when scheduled. He continued to stare at the wall for a little longer, occasionally checking the time nervously. He hoped that his date later that week would not be a repeat of this, him, sitting alone, waiting for something that wouldn’t show. Malcolm giggled to himself at the idea that he had been stood up by his existential dread and washed his dishes. At least Breakfast was good.
Peanut butter and bacon, as it turns out, is not good for digestion.
Malcolm will wake up in the middle of the night with a sharp pain in his bowels. He will rush to the toilet and in a sweat will rid his body of his breakfast. He will glance at his toilet paper roll and will ponder the full beginnings of it as a tree. He will flush the toilet with the remains of that tree in shock. It will take him a full hour to go back to sleep as his mind will reel in horror of the panic attack that finally came.
He will feel relief moments before succumbing to sleep. Whether or not the panic came when he wanted it to, it was now out of the way. He could go on to his first day at work, and later his date without worry.
Malcolm, is often wrong, and unaware of the countdown.
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Big fan of nonlinearity and this sort of indirect storytelling where it pulls together.
I’m glad that you enjoyed it, I had a lot of fun writing this one.