He held Grandpa’s letter in his hand and began to open the seal. Mid way through, he stopped, and put the letter back in the drawer. He turned to his keyboard and began typing, waiting for his next call. Grandpa’s words echoed in his head, “No, no don’t open it yet… have patience.” He sighed and waited. Across from him was a skeleton and to his left was another co-worker. His once clean desk was in disarray. “Get it together”, he thought, as a call came in. “Hi, this is … over at …”. As quickly as the call came, it was over and he was back to his thoughts. No light came into the office and he was located in a corner in the back of a dimly lit room. Grandpa’s letter still sat in his drawer and he often wondered what it said. But he thought, “it could always be worse” and saw no need to open it. He checked the clock and it was time to go home; he was late and would miss the bus.
When he arrived to his small, two bedroom apartment, he sat down at his table. When he was comfortable, he opened the fridge and checked for food. He grabbed a beer and finding nothing edible in the fridge, settled for ramen in his upper cupboard. He slid back in his chair and turned on the TV. He flipped through the channels, trying to find anything to entertain him, at least for a bit. He settled for a rerun of an old childhood show and made his way to bed. It was already midnight. He stared at the ceiling for an hour, restless and tired, but not entirely sure why. He was happy. He made steady pay and had a job. Yet he couldn’t stop thinking of his childhood. He drifted in and out of sleep.
His alarm beeped and he slammed his hand down to stop the sporadic sounds coming from his nightstand. He checked the clock and it was 11:30. “Shit, I’m late for work”, he thought. When he arrived, 10 minutes after 12, the desk next to him was empty. He had liked his neighbor and brushed it off as business needs, thankful that he still had a job. He had been with the company for the last 3 years, in the same role. He had seen plenty come and go, so this was nothing out of the ordinary. He got his first call of the day and forgot about it.
He sat alone in the break room for lunch. There was a dartboard and a Wii and a vending machine filled to the brim with soda and chips. As he unpacked his cheddar and pepperoni sandwich on whitebread with a smidge of mayo, he decided to grab a bag of chips. As he typed in “A5” for a bag of Cheetos, his finger slipped and added another 5. He typed “A5” once more; the metal curled and the bag began to drop. Halfway through, the bag got stuck, hanging in the vending machine. He went back to his table and took a bite of his sandwich.
After lunch, he wandered back to his desk and began to daydream. He thought back to 3 years ago when he first decided to accept his offer from Joja Corporation. He needed a job and it didn’t seem to matter so much then what he chose. He had finished his studies and he needed the money. Another call came and he answered “Hi, this is … from Joja Corporation, how can I help today?” He reached for the drawer and couldn’t find the letter. “Huh, I must have misplaced it.” And then he took another call.
When he went home that night, he took a deep breath. He pulled a beer out of his fridge and boiled some water for the ramen. He sat and watched his shows. When he was tired, he went to his bed and drifted to sleep.
“There will come a day when you feel crushed by the burden of modern life…” Grandpa’s words echoed as he slept. And the haze lifted as he was pulled from his sleep, the last words evaporating before they could form.
He sat thinking about the envelope all that day. He sifted through his loose papers in his desk, searching for what was lost. He couldn’t find the letter. And then he began to forget. Clock in. Clock out. Routine was routine and life was easy. Days turned to months and months to years.
… When he got home, he was exhausted… He sat for a bit and then went to bed… He had been with Joja Corporation for 9 years going on 10. Tomorrow would be his work anniversary… He would receive his card and… Gosh, was he tired… And he drifted off, mid thought…
“…and your bright spirit will fade before a growing emptiness.”, Grandpa’s words echoed as he dreamt. “When that happens, my boy, you’ll be ready for this gift.” A single tear fell from his eye and when he awoke, his eyes glistened.
When he got to work that day, he searched frantically for the letter. And then he found Granpa’s letter… Crumpled, stained, and wedged between the wall and the edge of his cubicle. It looked old and worn. When he opened the letter, the words had all but faded. He could not read what Grandpa had wrote. He tried to squint and hold it up to the flickering light. But it was all too faded and was a relic of the past. Time had passed and the letter along with it. “If I had just opened it then…”, he thought. And then he sat down and cried.
Hi All, Thanks so much for reading! It’s been a long while since I’ve gotten around to writing a short story. I’m quite happy with how this piece turned out and have been planning on writing this for quite a while now. It is my first venture into what some might call “Fan Fiction” and I decided no better way to start than with the game that caused me to fail my marketing final. It plays with the “What if” in Stardew Valley and ponders the question of what would happen if your character never opened the envelope and simply put it back in the drawer. I plan to be writing more short stories for 2020 and will finally be getting back into writing articles. It has been slow going now that I’ve been working but I’m making a steady income and would rather not rush a post. As a reminder, you can always donate if you want to support the blog but I write for fun so do not feel obligated to. As always, feel free to leave comments and if there’s anything you want me to write about, let me know!
3 thoughts on “The Hidden Horror of Stardew Valley”
Loved the story Mike! Looking forward to more.
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Thanks Tara! I have a feeling 2020 is going to be a great and productive year!
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I sure hope so! ☺️