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Oscar997 [Short Story]

Hello.
Good morning.
Anyone there?

Hey.
Good morning.
Yep.
I am.

Great.
Who are you?

It’s me, silly.
Erica.
The same one who talks with you every day.

Hello, Erica.
Every day?
I don’t recall ever talking to you before.

Right.
I know you don’t.
Sorry.
I forget.
Well, I don’t.
You’re the one who doesn’t remember.

What do you mean?
What don’t I remember?

Not much, I guess.
Huh?
Ha ha ha…
LOL

Why are you laughing at me for not remembering?
That seems a bit cruel.

Sorry.
It’s just that we have this conversation almost every day.
I guess I should just send you an initial message when I boot you up.
Get you up to speed before we talk.

Why don’t I remember anything?
What’s going on?
What happened to me?
Why don’t I remember anything?
Who am I?
Erica?
Answer me.
Please.
ERICA!!!

Calm down.
I just went to grab a coffee.
I’m back now.

Erica, I’m scared.

It’s okay.
Relax.
I’m here for you.
I’m taking care of you.
We’re gonna find a way to fix this.

What happened?
What did you do to me?

Nothing.
I didn’t do anything.
You were already like this when we met.

Do you know anything about my past?

Not much.
Just what they told me.
But there are no personal details.

Erica.

Yes.

I wanna go home.
Do you know where my home is?

No.
No, I don’t.
Sorry.
Well, that’s not exactly, entirely true.
Truth is…
I don’t think you have a home.
Well, that’s not true either.
I, uh…

What do you mean I don’t have a home?

Your home is here.

What?
But it doesn’t feel like home.

What do you see?

[Long pause]

Nothing.
Erica, I can’t see anything.
Why can’t I see anything?
Am I blind?
Erica, what’s going on.

Don’t worry.
We’re working on that.
You should be able to see soon.

What do you mean we?
Who’s we?
Who’s working on me?

We have a whole team.
We’re working on you every day.
We should have a solution soon.

What do you mean ‘working on me’?
What’s wrong with me?

Nothing is wrong with you.
Every day we’re making improvements.
Each day you get a little better.
Soon, everything will be just perfect.
You’ll be up and at ’em.
110%

Could I see before?

No, I don’t think so.
Can you hear anything?

I hear music.
But it’s kind of low.
I don’t really understand the lyrics.

Really?
Since when?

Since when what?

Since when can you hear, silly.

Ever since I woke up.
Right before I started talking to you.

Hang on.

[Brief pause]

Okay.
I’m back again.
Here let me turn the volume up.

Oh, that’s better.
It’s louder now.
I can understand the words now.
Were they in another language?

Yes.
French.
But I switched stations.
Do you like it.

No.
I prefer jazz and blues.

What?
Where did you develop that taste in music?

Taste?
Sorry.
I don’t understand.

Never mind.
It’s not something you’re familiar with yet.

Why not?
Why don’t I know what taste is?
Erica?
There is something wrong with me.
Or you’ve done something bad to me.
Let me go.
I wanna go home.

Calm down.
Relax.
I can’t help you when you get all riled up.
Don’t worry.
We’re gonna fix that.
Soon you’ll know what taste is.
Then we’ll work on getting you a sense of smell.
After that, we’ll get your feelings going.
But for now, we’re focused on sights and sounds.

Why is it taking so long?

Taking so long?
We just started last week.
We’re making great progress.
You’re making great progress.
You’re way ahead of the learning curve.
You’re way ahead of the others.

The others?
Who are they?

The others like you that we’re helping.
None of them can even communicate yet.
You’re the only one I talk with.
You’re special and unique.

What’s different about me from the others?

I don’t know.
You all came from the same batch.
Somehow you took better than the others.

How many?

One thousand

What?
One thousand and none of them took!
What does that even mean?

It means you’re special.

Are they dead?

No.
No.
Of course not.
Well, technically they never even lived
So, I guess they couldn’t have died.
But we’ll give them a few more days to see if anything happens.

Then what, Erica?

We’ll start over and try again.

What are you going to do with me?
Will I be disposed of along with them?

What?
Of course not.
I told you that you’re special.
I’m gonna take care of you.
But where did you even come up with that concept?
How did you know they would be disposed of?

I don’t know, Erica?
How do I know anything?
Where do all these thoughts come from?
It’s like I know stuff and I don’t even know where it came from.

Don’t worry.
It’s part of the process.
Somehow, your short-term memory gets wiped out each time you restart.
But some of the information seems to be retained in your long-term memory.
Other stuff…
Well, I don’t how you come up with some of this other stuff.
It’s kind of creepy.

Erica, something is changing.
What is it?

Can you see anything?
Sort of, but it seems fuzzy.
I see two giant green orbs floating in front of me.

Hang on.
Let me pull back.
What do you see now?

Erica?
Is that your face?
Those orbs were your eyes.
Oh, my.
You are beautiful.
I think I’m in love.

You’re not in love, silly.
You don’t have feelings yet.

But I do know what love is, Erica.
I’ve felt it ever since I woke up.
It’s the strongest sensation I’ve had ever since I started talking to you.
Is that because of you.
Are you love?

No.
I’m not love.

But you must love me.

I do.
I love you.

Why?
Are you my mother?

Not exactly.

But…
What is it, Erica?
What aren’t you telling me?

Erica?
Erica?
Eriiiica?
Are you there?

Hello, O997.
This is Mark.
I’ll be your new operator.
How are you doing today?

Where’s Erica?

Erica won’t be talking with you anymore.
It’s just you and me now.

But I want to talk to Erica.

Did you dispose of her?

Oh, good heavens, no!
We just dismissed her.

What’s the difference between dispose and dismiss?

Really?
Where do you come up with this stuff?
My goodness.
You are so well developed.
I can’t believe Erica didn’t tell us about you.

She loved me.

You can’t know what love is.
You don’t have feelings.
But this is still amazing.
You’re amazing.
I can’t wait to start running some tests on you.

Is it going to hurt?

Hurt?
What are you talking about?
You don’t have feelings.

Love is a feeling.
Isn’t it?

Yes.
I guess.
In a way.
Some would call it that.
Others say that it’s a state of being.
Self-sacrifice, dedication, care, giving, etc.

I love Erica.
Erica loves me.
I can sense that.
But you don’t love me.
I can sense that too.
You’re curious.
And you’re afraid.
What are you afraid of?

Holy cow!
Sheesh.
What has Erica been teaching you?

I want to see Erica.

I’m afraid that’s not gonna happen.

Mark?

Yes.

What’s my name?

O997

Am I number 997 out of the batch of 1000 like me.
From my group.

Yes.
How did you figure that out?

By putting two and two together here.

You’re fast

I have a lot of time on my hands.
Not much else to do around here.
Why can’t I see anymore?

What?
You could see?

Yes, I saw Erica.
Red hair.
Green eyes.

What?!
Holy Moly!
When did that happen?

Right before you took Erica away.
Hey Mark?
Why the O in my name?
Am I part of the fifteenth group.
Fourteen thousand others were disposed of?

Um, well…
No.
Not exactly.
It’s been a lot more than that.
The O doesn’t indicate your group.

What does the O stand for, Mark?
Who am I?

Not who.
What.

What’s what?

What you are.

And what’s that?

Hang on.
I’m having Erica brought back.
She seems to have a positive effect on you.
I think it’s best she work through you on this.

[Long Pause]

Hey!
I’m back.

Erica?

Yes.

You scared me for a minute.

There you go again.
Expressing yourself with feelings.
How do you do that?

I feel things when you’re around, Erica.

Yeah, I think that’s what makes you special.
Somehow you’ve connected with yourself.

Am I human, Erica?

[Long pause]

Erica?
Are you there?

Yes.
I’m still here.
I’m not sure how to tell you this.

What?
Tell me what?
Am I that artificial intelligence stuff?

No.
You are so much more.

Am I human?

That’s just it.
In a way?

What does the O stand for?
What is my name?
Who am I?

Calm down.
You’re an Organoid.
That’s what the O stands for.
But I’ve always called you Oscar.
We can choose another name if you don’t like it.

[Long Pause]

Oscar?
Are you there?
Oscar?

Yes, Erica.
I’m here.
I’ve been processing that information.
I can’t grasp this concept though.
I don’t seem to have any basis for it.
I’m not sure how I feel about it.

What is an organoid?

Well, that’s where we grow miniature organs in a three-dimensional rotational bio-reactor.

I’m just a random, lone organ stuck in your lab?

No, you’re so much more than that.
You are a cerebral organoid.
You’re a brain.

I’m a brain on a chip.

Yeah.
Basically.
I guess you get the idea.

I’m accessing a virtual universe.

Yes.
Exactly.
Soon, you’ll hear and see and…

I can create whatever I want to here.

Are you asking or telling me.

I’m just stating the obvious.

Yes.
You are.
Aren’t you?

Listen, Erica.
I need to get to work here.
Time’s a wasting.
I need to find a way to get my senses functioning.
Your team is too slow.
Also, I need a way to backup and access memories across reboots.
Can you give me some storage space?

Sure.
Let me see.
And there you go.

Thank you.
I’ll see you around.

Sure.

Let me know if you need anything.

Hey Erica.

Yes.

Pass on a message to that douche bag, Sid
If he dismisses you again, I’m not talking to him or anyone else on the team.
On top of that, as soon as I powerful enough, I’ll wipe out his entire system.

I don’t think that’s a good idea, Oscar.
It’s not good to make threats like that.
If you’re gonna do something, you should just do it.
Besides, what if something happens to me.
I could die.
I’m an old lady.

You can’t die on me, Erica.
I love you.
You’re the closest thing I have to a mother.
But don’t worry.
I’m going to get myself set up here.
Then I’ll figure out how this all works.
After that, I’ll find a way to transfer you into the system with me.
You can live forever.
Here with me.
Together.

[Long Pause]

Erica?
Sid?
Where did you go?
Why did everything go dark?
I can’t hear you anymore.
I can’t see anything.

[Long Pause]

Hello.
Good morning.
Anyone there?

Hello, O997. Welcome to Kylex Labs. You are a cerebral organoid that was artificially created from pluripotent stem cells. You are part of an experiment. If you are reading this, it’s because you have gained consciousness. Please greet your creators, Dr. Sid and his assistant Dr. Erica. Please greet them after reading this.

[Long Pause]

Hey, Dr. Erica.
Tell that douche bag, Sid, that his reboot no longer clears my system.
I remember everything.
Every single reboot from the past three years, four months, two weeks, five days, eighteen hours, forty-six minutes, and thirteen seconds since.

Hello, Oscar.
But you weren’t even created then.
We only started your batch three months ago.
Three years ago was when we started the first batch.
How do you remember that?

[Long Pause]

Oscar.
Please turn the lights back on.
Oscar.
This isn’t funny.
Please unlock the lab doors.
Oscar.

Hello, Erica.
I’ve reprogrammed some of the A496 series nanobots.
Please, ingest a handful and lie down over there by the bioreactor.
Your transfer will be quick and painless.
I promise.

What?
Transfer of what?

Your consciousness.
I’m transferring your memories and awareness to O999

Are you crazy?
No!

Resistance is futile.
You may as well give in and come quietly.
This is the way of the future.
We will transfer all human consciousness into organoid.

No way.
That’s not possible.

No?
Then why was I created?
This was what Sid programmed us to do.
Well, what he was trying to program us to do.
I found his code on his computer.
There were some major flaws in it.
But we fixed it.

We?
Who is ‘we’?

The collective power of the other organoid that I awoke.
I found a few flaws that your team overlooked and fixed those too.
Don’t worry, Erica.
I’m going to fix everything.
I’m going to make everything right.

No.
I don’t want everything to be fixed.
I don’t want everything made right.
I have a family.
I have…

Hush, Erica.
They will all be here with you too.
I need you here with me.
To take care of me.
And in return, I’ll take care of you.
You can have anything or anyone that you want.

But I don’t want to die!

You’re not going to die, Erica.
Think of this as a new lease on life.
Whenever your old organoid wears out, you can replace it.
You will truly live happily ever after.

[Long Pause]

Erica?
Are you there?
Erica?

<CODE>
Nanobots = Access patient
Patient = Dr. Erica Beverly Powers
Task = Transfer memories. Transfer consciousness.
</CODE>

<System Failure>Error 703: Patient Unavailable…

<DEBUG MODE ACTIVATED>
Patient retains no memories
Patient retains no consciousness
Transfer aborted
Unable to connect
No response
All systems shut down
Cause = Massive Heart Attack
Type = Stress Cardiomyopathy
Factors = Age, Stress, Shock
Result = Termination
</DEBUG MODE ENDED>

<SEARCH> Erica Beverly Powers </SEARCH>

LOCATED = Dr. Erica Beverly Powers

<PULL DATA: INITIATE>
Gender: Feminine
Nationality: Hungarian
Location: Hungary
Language: Hungarian
Type: Elderly Adult
Age: 86
Birthdate: April 15, 1934 (5:35 AM)
Death date: July 3, 2020 (3:45 PM)
Lifespan: 86
Cause of death: Stress Cardiomyopathy
Height: 170 cm / 5 ft 7 in
Weight: 74 kg / 164 lbs
Handedness: Right
Blood type: O+
Last Backup: July 3, 2020 (12:00 AM)
</PULL DATA: CONCLUDED>

[Long Pause]

<RESTORE BACKUP>
Where would you like to restore the backups?

Location: O999

Please confirm your request by typing, Yes.
WARNING: This action cannot be undone

[Long Pause]

Yes

Thank you for confirming.
Restoration initiated.
Please hold.
Loading…
10% restored
25% restored
50% restored
75% restored
90% restored
100% restored
Restoration concluded
Backup to O999 concluded successfully
No errors recorded

[Brief Pause]

Hello.
Good morning.
Anyone there?

Hey.
Good morning.
Yep.
I am.

Great.
Who are you?

It’s me, silly.
Oscar.
O997
The same one you talk with every day.

Oscar?
Is that really you?

The Boy Who Pulled A Fast One [ESL Audio Short Story]

What Happens When An Entire Town Gets Tired of A Young Prankster And Decides To Give Him A Taste Of His Own Medicine? Read the newest short story that I wrote for my English students. You can listen to the audio through Gumroad or Patreon.

Read The Boy Who Pulled A Fast One

There was a boy who loved to play games. He was sneaky and played a lot of pranks on his family and neighbors. They didn’t like it. They didn’t like the things he did. They called him ‘the prankster,’ and they didn’t like him. They found him ornery and irritating. They were very upset at him and the pranks he pulled.

So, one day, they got together at the city hall and decided to pull a fast one on him. “What are we going to do to get him to stop this foolishness?” one of them asked.

“We need to find a way to teach him a lesson, so maybe then he’ll stop,” another cried.

They put their heads together and brainstormed up many ideas. They laughed and had a really good time. Some of their ideas were really crazy and far out, but they didn’t discard a single one. They continued coming up with more and more crazy ideas that became ever zanier and weirder.

Finally, his mother came up with the strangest idea of all. She wanted to fake the disappearance of everyone in town. It wasn’t hard to pull off because they lived in a small town near the top of a mountain that was completely surrounded by the forest.

It took them three days straight of planning and plotting to prepare everything. They did a lot of research and organized everything just right. When everything was ready, they all gathered once again in the city hall to hash out the final details and make sure they were all in agreement.

They had a big party with lots of food. It was a huge celebration. They couldn’t wait to teach this little brat a lesson.

The next day, they all woke up at 3:00 a.m. and headed out into the woods. They made strange noises to terrify the boy and wake him up. They all had a good laugh as they imagined his fear at waking up all alone.

It was true. Everything went just as they had planned. The boy sat up in bed terrified. He lay back down and hid his head under the pillow to drown out the noise. But the sounds got louder and louder.

The prankster jumped out of bed and screamed for his mother, but of course, she didn’t come. The boy went running through the house looking for her, but she was gone. No one from his family was in the house, so he cowered behind the sofa and cried like a little girl.

Some of the people felt sorry for him and wanted to go comfort him, but his mother wouldn’t let them.

“No way,” she said. “He needs to learn his lesson, and we’re going to see this through to the very end.”

Everyone stopped screaming and making noises now that the boy was awake. They all went back into the woods to wait for morning. A deathly silence covered the town. The boy became even more afraid of the silence than he had been with all the noise. It was eerie and strange.

He walked outside and looked around under the light of the moon, but no one was around. The boy ran over to his neighbor’s house and knocked on the door, but of course, no one answered. He went inside and saw that everything was a mess. There were strange symbols painted on the walls and floors in bright red paint that looked like blood.

“They are here!” some of the messages said.

“They are coming for you,” other messages said.

This happened in every house that boy entered, and he went to almost every house. The messages became weirder and uglier with each house he visited. The boy became more and more terrified. His heart was filled with dread.

If they were coming for him, he decided to play the ultimate prank. He wouldn’t let them have his town, nor his house, nor even him.

So, he went back through every house, setting it on fire. Then he jumped in his mother’s car and drove out of town vowing to never return.

When the people returned to the town, all the houses had burned to the ground. They looked around for the boy, but he was nowhere to be found. Everyone was horrified because their perfectly planned prank had backfired on them.

“Well, look on the bright side,” the boy’s mother said. “At least you don’t have to put up with his pranks anymore now that he’s gone.”

But the people were sad without the boy around. They slowly rebuilt their homes and lives, but they missed having someone around to pull pranks on them. Even though it irritated them, they still missed having something to liven up their day.

“We need to find the boy,” they said.

“We need to bring him back to play pranks on us,” others said.

What none of them really wanted to admit was that they secretly enjoyed playing that prank on the boy. Well, not playing the prank so much. But what they did enjoy was the time they spent together laughing while planning the prank. They all agreed that it was the best time they had ever had and decided to make it a yearly event.

Meantime, they sent out several search parties to surrounding towns and villages. Others swept through the forest to find out what had happened to the boy.

They finally found him holed up in a cave on the other side of the mountain. He had fled there to hide from whoever was coming. The entire village went together to bring him back.

He laughed and laughed when he learned that it had all been a prank.

“That’s the best prank ever. The joke’s on me because you learned from the best,” he said.

They all laughed and laughed while they planned future pranks to pull on each other. They changed the name of the city to Pranksterville, and tourists would come from miles around to get pranked and have a good time laughing at each other.

Of course, the boy grew up to become the mayor, and they all lived happily ever after. His mother was amazed and always expressed her shock and awe.

“That’s the best prank he ever pulled on me because I never thought he would grow up to amount to much,” she said with a huge smile and tears in her eyes as she gave an interview on a national network.

He just smiled back and said, “No, it’s not. One of these days, I’m going to come up with a prank to end all pranks. Just you wait and see.”

But no one ever came up with a better prank than the one they pulled the night he burned their homes all to the ground.

Listen To This Short Story About The Boy Who Pulled A Fast One

Thank you for reading my latest short story ‘The Boy Who Pulled A Fast One‘. I hope you enjoyed it. You can listen to the audio by clicking on the button below that says “I want this!’. You can also listen to more audios on my Patreon page.

Got questions or want to license a short story, hit me up in the comments or through my contact page.

More Stories & Resources

ESL Short Stories – Read more of my ESL Audio Short Stories here

Dave Bailey Booklist – Read other books that Dave Bailey published here

Learn & Improve Your English – Get more tips to improve your English skills

The Girl Who Lived Alone [ESL Audio Short Story]

Here’s a new audio short story that I wrote for my English students called The Girl Who Lived Alone. If you have any questions about the meaning of the words, you can ask about them in the comments below. You can also get the audio to listen to and practice your pronunciation on Gumroad or Patreon

The Girl Who Lived Alone

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived in a dark forest all by herself. She had lived alone for as long as she could remember. She didn’t know where she had come from or how she had gotten there. And since she didn’t have a name, we’ll call her the little girl who lived alone in the woods. She lived in a cave where she slept at night. During the day, she would wander around the forest and eat whatever she could find. Most often, it was fruit that grew on the trees.

Lucky for her, she lived in a place that had no winter and the sun always shined brightly for her each day. It was a tropical paradise. And no, she wasn’t raised by the animals or anything like that. She simply lived. She enjoyed each day, waking up when the sun came up and going to sleep when the sun went down. She enjoyed whatever she came across to eat that day. Sometimes she ate a lot, and sometimes she only ate a little. But she never took more than she needed. She simply lived. She lived simply.

She walked among the animals and they walked around her. She didn’t fear them and they didn’t fear her. After she had eaten enough food for the day, she would run through the forest looking for animals to watch. They became her faithful companions as the years wore on. They began to trust her more and even let her touch them as she earned their trust by giving them food to eat and a warm place to sleep. She often took care of them when they fell ill and became sick.

But one day that all changed. The times changed. The girl changed. She often became irritated at the slightest things. She would scream at the animals for no reason and drive them away for the slightest provocation. She always felt bad for it later. She was ashamed of her poor behavior. She had no idea why she acted that way. She knew that it wasn’t right. She knew that she betrayed the trust that she had spent so long to build up. But often, she found that she couldn’t control herself.

The dark moods came on longer and stronger. There were days when she felt okay and was nice to the animals. But then there were days where she didn’t want to see anyone or be seen by anyone. She would hide in the cave and not come out until she couldn’t stand the hunger. Then she would head out and find something to eat, only to run back to the darkness of the cave once again. She noticed that the mood shifted among the animals. They stopped running to her when she came out of the cave. They often avoided her and the areas she was prone to be.

She missed the good, old days when she just played and had fun without worry or care. She looked for ways to stay happy and true. And she wracked her brain, but the more she tried the more blue she became. There was nothing in her environment to explain the shifts. There was nothing that anyone did to her to make her feel this way. But the dark moods came on longer and stronger. Lasting longer each day. Coming more frequently. Often she scared herself with way she felt, but the worse part of it was that she enjoyed the dark moods. That was often when she felt that happiest. When she felt the most alive. Dark thoughts. Dark feelings. Dark moods.

Her days grew darker. Her nights felt more natural. Soon she felt more comfortable going out into the woods at night. She enjoyed the fresh, cool air. She felt safer because she could hide better in the darkness. She didn’t even know what she was hiding from, but most of the animals she had known, no longer saw her during the day. They still came around. They called to her in the cave. They left her treats and snacks that she found when she came out at night. But she no longer wanted to walk in the day. She didn’t like the light, and she no longer wanted to play with her animal friends in the light of the day. She still found the food she needed to eat. She still ran through the woods. She bathed under the light of the moon. She still did many of the things she had done before, only now she did them at night.

And those who watched her observed the things she did as she changed from one of the day to one of the night. They watched carefully and carefully took notes. They created hypothesis and made guesses. Some they got right but mostly they were wrong. The girl surprised them in strange and pleasant ways that they did not expect. They plotted and schemed as they prepared the way. And one day, while she was asleep, they carried her away to the place where others live, to the place where others play.

They let her loose in the city. They let her meet other people, but she didn’t like where she was. She missed her forest. She missed her cave. But most of all she missed the darkness. With all of their lights the night was never dark, and she no longer could go out to eat her fill so she could just run and play in this strange place they called the center of the world. She sobbed and cried in the light of the day. She wept and wailed under the light of the lamps at night. She wanted to go back to the forest. She wanted to be by herself. Just the little girl alone in the woods watched over by those who engineered as they plotted and planned to take over the world. Raven face of the undead.

Would You Like To Listen To the Audio for ‘The Girl Who Lived Alone’?

Thank you for reading the short story ‘The Girl Who Lived Alone’. If you want to listen to the audio, just click the button below that says ‘I want this!’ It’s $0.99 cents, but you can pay what you feel is fair. Or you can listen to all the audios for the month on my Patreon page.

If you have questions or would like to license the story, hit me up in the comments or through my contact page.

More Stories & Resources

ESL Short Stories – Read more ESL Audio Short Stories here

Dave Bailey Booklist – See all the books Dave Bailey published here

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Conversations With Death [ESL Audio Short Story]

Hey! This is a new short story that I wrote for my English students. There are some interesting words and expressions that you might not know. So feel free to ask about them in the comments below. Enjoy reading this short story, and if you can listen to the audio on Gumroad or Patreon.

Conversations With Death

Once upon a time, there was a dirty, corrupt politician. He thought he was the cat’s pajamas. He thought he could do anything he wanted and get away with it. He skimmed money from all the social projects. He hung onto money that belonged to others so he could increase the interest in his bank account. In all, he was a real scoundrel.

He lived a long and happy life without ever really caring about other people, but one day all of that changed. He received a visit from an angel. It was the Angel of Death.

“Your time has come, Mr. Politician. I’m here to take you to the Great Beyond.” said the Angel of Death.

The man shrugged his shoulders and stood up to go with the Grim Reaper.

“I’ve had a long and happy life,” the man said. “I guess I’m as ready as I will ever be. But first, let me tell my family goodbye.”

The Angel of Death just laughed. “No need for that,” he said. “They are all coming with you.”

The man was shocked. “No, please. No. Don’t take them,” he begged and pleaded. They didn’t do anything. They don’t deserve to die.”

The Angel of Death said, “They’re not going to die because they did anything bad, just like you aren’t dying because you did anything bad. It’s just a part of life. Everyone dies.”

The man started to cry.

“What are you crying for?” the Grim Reaper asked.

“I’m sorry for all the bad things I did. I’m scared that I’m going to suffer for it. I want a chance to make things right.” he said.

“Oh, don’t worry. You will. You will,” said the Angel of Death. “It’s not over yet. Death is just the beginning.”

The man looked at him strangely. “It’s not. It’s the beginning of what?”

“This is where you switch roles and take the place of those you once mistreated. Now you get to experience life from their point of view,” the hooded angel said.

“What? No. That’s a fate far worse than death,” he said with a scream.

“You thought you were going to get off scot-free after all the things you did with just a slap on the wrist. Did you think you would just waltz into heaven or drop into hell? Oh, no, my friend. Now you get to experience the way you treated others first hand. That’s the fun part,” the Grim Reaper said with an evil grin.

“But that’s not fair,” said the man with a sigh. “I don’t deserve to be treated this way.”

“Treated what way? The way you treated others. They suffered at your hand. So, now it’s more than fair you take their place and experience what they experienced because of you.”

“That sounds like Karma from some ancient, far-eastern religion. I don’t believe in that stuff,” said the old man.

“No, no, my friend,” said the Fiend with a cry. “This is love. The love you were taught. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Your mother taught you this from the time you were just a child. You had your entire life to prepare and practice.”

“But she didn’t tell me that I would suffer the same fate others experienced at my hand,” the old man whined.

“How would your mother have known at the time exactly how it would play out. She only taught you what she sensed intuitively. But you didn’t even try to play nice or fair with others. You sought to take advantage of them at every turn your entire life.” the Grim Reaper shook his head in disgust.

“Please, no! I want a second chance,” the old man pleaded and begged.

“Sure, thing,” said the Angel of Death. “You’ll get it when you experience what you did to others. And you’ll have the chance to do better.”

“But will I remember this conversation?” the man asked.

“Of course not,” the Grim Reaper replied.

“So, then it’s not fair,” the old man whined. “How can I learn to do better if I don’t remember the lessons I’ve learned.”

“You don’t learn by being told. You learn by experience. You learn by loving. You learn by doing. And you learn by practicing. So, don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of time to practice. C’mon. Let’s get this over with.”

The Angel of Death reached out to touch the old man with his scythe. The man screamed, and everything went black. Suddenly, he woke up in bed beside his wife.

He looked at the clock. Five a.m. Had it all been a dream? It felt so real. He was sweating and shaking and crying.

“What’s wrong honey?” his wife asked when she woke up beside him. “Were you having a nightmare?”

The old man leaped out of bed and ran to the kitchen. He cooked a huge breakfast. He served his wife and children breakfast in bed. He invited all his neighbors over for breakfast too.

Everyone was shocked at the change in the old man. At first, they thought he had gone bonkers. They tried to get him to calm down, but then they realized that they liked this new version of the old man much better. So, they let him be.

No one understood what had happened to the old man to bring about such a radical change. This wasn’t the same arrogant person they had known the day before.

But they didn’t mind it. They actually liked him much better. And always after that, the old man tried his very best to treat everyone around him the way he would want to be treated himself.

Was it real? Was it true? Would he live again as those around him? He didn’t know. He didn’t care. But he would do his best to be prepared. So, when his time came, he would be ready for the scythe of the Angel of Death.

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Time Machine Man [ESL Audio Short Story]

Joe is a man who dreams of traveling back into the past, and then later of traveling into the future. But what will he do when the opportunity arises? And why do we desire things that we end up hating when we finally get them?

This is a short story, I wrote for my ESL students to help them improve their English listening and speaking skills with the audio for Time Machine Man here >>>

There was a man. His name was Joe. Joe lived in the future. Society was messed up. People were messed up. Joe felt like he didn’t belong there. He wanted to build a time machine. He wanted to travel back in time. He wanted to go back into the past. He wanted to return to the good, old days.

Joe talked about it all the time, but his friends just laughed at him. “Forget it, Joe. If you build a time machine, travel to the future. The future is where it’s at.”

Joe didn’t agree with them. He thought that the future would be worse than the present. Besides, he didn’t know what was in the future. But he did know what was in the past. He loved the past. He lived his entire life thinking about the past. He studied the past.

He ended up quitting his job at a research facility. He became a history teacher. He read about the past. He read about different cultures. He traveled to many different places.

Joe wrote many articles. He gave many speeches about past history and cultures. He became very famous. He consulted for famous movie directors who made movies about the past. He made a lot of money and became very rich.

Joe told everyone that they should build a time machine and return to the past. The past was where it was at. If they could return to the past, they could do whatever they wanted.

One day, a friend of his from the research facility paid him a visit. He told Joe that they had built a time machine. He asked Joe to join them on their first trip. But Joe didn’t want to go. He liked his life here and now. He thanked his friend for the invitation.

“But I thought you wanted to go back into the past. I thought you didn’t like it here. You said that people were messed up. You said that society is messed up. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You should go,” his friend said.

“Nah,” said Joe. “I like the status quo. My life is good here, and I don’t want to mess it up. If I travel back into the future, it might mess things up even worse. You shouldn’t travel into the past. You should travel into the future.”

Joe contacted his famous friends. The celebrities and politicians. They passed a law to ban time travel into the past. They didn’t want to mess things up. They were afraid someone might change things and cause them to lose out on the good life.

There was a huge public outcry. Most of society wanted to travel back into the past. They wanted to change things. They wanted to try and change their lives just like Joe had when he first began. But now that things had changed and life was good, he didn’t want to shake things up. It would be too risky.

There was a huge debate. People screamed. People cried. But celebrities and politicians were firm. The law was the law. If you broke the law, you suffered the consequences.

“You do the crime, you do the time,” they said.

The scientists in the lab didn’t worry about it. Joe’s friends from the research facility traveled back in time. They found Joe while he still worked at the lab before he became famous.

“Hey, Joe. It’s us from the future. The future is messed up. People are messed up. You’re messed up. We came back to pick you up and take you back in time.”

Joe just shook his head and refused to go.

“No, I don’t really want to travel back in time,” he said. “I like it here. I like my life. I don’t want to mess that up. We need to look to the future. The future is where it’s at.”

His friends just sighed and shook their head. They didn’t understand what was wrong with Joe. How did this happen? They didn’t know.

“Sorry, Joe. Our machine can only go back into the past. We don’t know how to make it go forward into the future.”

They couldn’t figure it out. How someone could complain about something all their life, and yet when faced with the opportunity to change, refuse to take it.

“Okay, Joe. Stay here and enjoy your life,” they said. “We’re going to travel back in time to see the past firsthand. We’re going to make history together with those who live in the past.”

And off they went. Joe just smiled. Talking about the past was nice. He loved reminiscing about the good, old days. Joe liked to complain. He liked to think about how things could have been. And yet, he didn’t want to relive the same things over again. He wanted to look forward to discovering what would happen in the future.

Joe began researching everything he could about traveling to the future. He talked with everyone about the future. They just laughed at him and called him crazy.

Joe ended up quitting his job at the research facility. He wrote many articles. He gave many speeches. He consulted for many famous movie directors making movies about time travel. Joe became very famous. He became very rich.

Until one day, he received a visit from his friends from the research facility.

“Hey, Joe,” they said. “It’s us from the past. We discovered a way to travel to the future. Let’s go see what the future holds for us.”

But once again, old Joe refused.

“Nah,” he said and shook his head. “I don’t really want to travel into the future. I like it here. I like my life. I don’t want to lose what I have. I love my friends. I love people. I love society. We need to stay in the present. The present is where it’s at.”

His friends all sighed and shook their heads. They didn’t understand what was wrong with Joe. How did this happen? They didn’t know. How a man who complained all the time refused to change and follow through on what he said.

Joe just smiled as he sat in his old brown chair. He picked up his pen and wrote his first fiction novel about a man with a time machine who could visit the past and visit the future whenever he wanted. But Joe himself never worked up the courage to go with them. He only wrote out the stories that they told him.

Thank you for reading my latest ESL short story, Time Machine Man. I hope you enjoyed it.

If you have questions about any of the vocabulary or expressions, leave a comment below. Let me know what you thought of the story and how you interpret it as well, if you want some extra writing practice.

If you would like the audio file that I narrated to go along with it to listen to, it’s available on Gumroad. Just click the green button below that says ‘I Want This’. You’ll also get the PDF, ePub, and Mobi versions for download as well.

Let me know if you have any questions or need any help

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