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stargate, DanielJackson

Week 3, Title: Panglossian Promise

Posted on 2015.12.28 at 14:23
Tags: ,

There’s someone new at the photocopier. She smiles at them, saying,
“Hi, I’m Siobhan.”

“I’m Astrid,” the woman replies, giving a little wave.

Suddenly Siobhan is in a large hall, decorated in yellow-white flowers, with people in fancy clothes sitting on fancy chairs. She and Astrid are there, in two long white dresses.

She’s back in the copy room. She blinks. Well that was an odd daydream. She returns Astrid’s wave and goes back to work.


The morning is peaceful. A soft breeze flows in through the window and for once the phone on her desk is silent. Astrid brings her a coffee.

“Thank you,” she says, hands winding around the mug. Their fingers touch. It feels like more than it should. It means more than it should. It’s the best coffee she has ever tasted. She says so.

She blinks. The coffee is gone, her hands wrap around air. Astrid is gone too.

Astrid comes in holding a coffee. Siobhan frowns.
“Thank you,” she says, taking the mug.

She’s still frowning. It’s one hell of a déjà vu. But it’s more than that. It’s too vivid. She lived it twice. It’s real. It couldn’t be real though. Is it a strange daydream? Is she hallucinating? She doesn’t say anything about the coffee. She’s too unnerved to notice it.


It’s late at night. She and Astrid are still working. They sit on Astrid’s desk, eating cold leftover pizza. The conversation flows easily, silk-like. Siobhan has never been a natural at speaking, but she feels like one now. Talking to Astrid fills her with warm joy. A hand slides over another hand, taking an errant slice. They lean in, towards each other, lips meeting.

She blinks. There’s a dull ache inside her at the loss. She’s having visions. Siobhan knows this now, even if she can’t be sure she’s sane.

They sit eating pizza. Siobhan tries to remember what she said before but she can’t reach the words. She needs to recreate it. It was perfect. It needs to still be perfect. But she stutters and fumbles the words. She frowns as she tries to remember. They are off topic. She’s pushing for a serenity that’s no longer there.

She excuses herself. It’s awkward. She doesn’t cry. It would be silly to cry over a kiss that was never going to happen. It’s silly to cry over the idea that she thought for once she might be good enough.  


She’s buying a coffee at the local shop, mainly to avoid Astrid. There’s a cry. A child is choking. No one knows what to do. Someone runs to them, does the Heimlich manoeuvre. And the piece of food comes flying out. The kid is fine.

She blinks. The table is empty.

She goes to the coffee shop three times a day. She looks around. The kid is never there. She keeps going. It should be okay. It was okay in the vision. Yet there’s a pit of dread in her stomach.

She finally sees the kid enter the shop, his hand in his mothers. Siobhan has a plan. She does. But under the overwhelming weight of this, all logic has been cast aside. She runs up to them, tells them they need to leave. Makes up a slew of unbelievable lies, her voice loud and manic. She’s escorted out.

She stares in through the window as the kid chokes. But there’s no one coming to his rescue. She realises it’s later. She delayed things. The rescuer has already left. The people present huddle around, trying the best they can. They don’t know what they’re doing.

She stays in place until the small body bag is rolled off the premises. It’s all her fault.


Siobhan talks to Astrid about the coffee shop, it’s comforting.

She blinks. She moves to another room and avoids Astrid. She doesn’t deserve to be comforted. She’s just making everything worse.


Siobhan ends a call with a client. It was an important call and it went well, she’s pleased. She’s needed something good. The boy still haunts her. Every vision feels like another hit. She knows better now; they show the best possible version of events; a possibility that she can never reach. She does her best to ignore them. She’s not sleeping. Her dreams are filled with Heimlich manoeuvres and false hope. She’s distracted. Everything is blurry. She blinks against it.

Her boss is angry. She’s not sure why. He says she didn’t make the vital call and now the business has gone to a competitor. But she made the call, it went well. She sighs as she realises it was a vision. Her boss says she’s been distracted. This isn’t the first time apparently. But she knows the difference between reality and the visions. She does. She’s just so tired.


She’s sitting under a bridge, her hair greasy and skin unclean. The cold sits angry inside her bones. Someone drops a twenty into her hat.

She blinks and lets out a feral bark of laughter.


She’s in a supermarket aisle, counting the coins she has. A man collapses. CPR is done as they wait for the ambulance. The paramedics shock him and a heartbeat returns. He’s stable when he’s loaded into the ambulance.

Siobhan has a shower at the Y. Ties her hair into a bun. She finds a free CPR training course. And then does another and another until she feels ready. She jogs from one homeless shelter to another. She is not failing this time. She refuses.  

She pushes down on his chest, all of the weight she has, the need to push through flesh and bone to reach the heart. And again and again and again. She’s fitter than she was but it’s still exhausting. She switches places with the store owner, talks him through it. They go back and forth several times. She pushes down. Her hair clings to her face, sweat dripping into her eyes. Her knees and back ache terribly. Her arms and shoulders are strained.

She motions for them to switch.

“I think it’s time we let him go. Nothing’s happening.”

“No!” She screams, raw and angry. She doesn’t have the strength for it. Forces her body to keep pushing and says, “This isn’t tv, he’s not going to just bounce back up without proper medical intervention. What we’re doing is keeping his blood pumping until the ambulance gets here.”

But the store owner can’t hear over the sound of their own ego. They’ve already dismissed the situation. The persons dead and she’s the pathetic one who can’t let go.

She keeps pushing, long after she knows she’s too weak to get to his heart. When the ambulance finally gets there she starts laughing, a loud wretched cackling sound. She’s rolling on the floor and can’t stop herself.

The man is pronounced dead on arrival.


Siobhan leans against the padded walls. She feels better today. She’s getting better. Her psychiatrist agrees. She knows how to deal with the visions now.
There’s someone here to see her. She nods and follows the orderly. She smiles when she sees Astrid sitting there waiting for her. And takes the offered thermos.

“This is the best coffee I’ve ever had. Thank you.”

She blinks and waits for it all to disappear. It doesn’t.


leni_ba at 2015-12-29 03:33 (UTC) (Link)
Whoa. Never even imagined there could be a dark version for this prompt. *takes hat off* I'm impressed.

I'm also re-reading, because it was that good!
swirlsofblue at 2015-12-29 18:03 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much, it means a lot to hear it impressed and made you want to re-read :).
muchtooarrogant at 2015-12-29 16:50 (UTC) (Link)
Wow, I really didn't expect Siobhan's world to get quite "that" dark. Great job telling the story, and keeping me wondering how it would finally end.

swirlsofblue at 2015-12-29 18:04 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad it managed to surprise :)
tijuanagringo at 2015-12-30 00:34 (UTC) (Link)


Very impressive. A tour de force in so few words.
I still have chills, just sitting here trying to decide what to say.
Thank you for the experience. Much better than a lot of TV I have seen lately. Much, much better.
swirlsofblue at 2015-12-30 17:46 (UTC) (Link)

Re: whoa....

Wow, thank you so much, that's such a lovely comment to hear :).
bleodswean at 2015-12-30 01:03 (UTC) (Link)
Excellent! You really excel, J, at these complicated and entangled vignettes. I love how you twisted the positive aspect of the prompt into a curse! You really had me loving your character and I found myself very much wanting a "win" for her.
swirlsofblue at 2015-12-30 17:47 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you muchly, so glad you liked the twisting of the positive aspect :)
sarcasmoqueen at 2015-12-30 19:50 (UTC) (Link)
That was pretty amazing.
swirlsofblue at 2015-12-31 19:10 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much, so glad you found it amazing :)
inteus_mika at 2015-12-31 01:14 (UTC) (Link)
A perfect story to illustrate why one should never let perfect become the enemy of good. On another note, I once knew a woman named Cioban. Her name means "Shepherd." Seems this character could have used one. Glad the last vision didn't fade.
swirlsofblue at 2015-12-31 19:11 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked it :).

It's easy for perfection to become your worst enemy if you let it.
eeyore_grrl at 2015-12-31 23:27 (UTC) (Link)
Visions like that would suck. God, I would crack under the pressure.
swirlsofblue at 2016-01-01 08:20 (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I would too, think most people would.

Thank you :).
Teo Says
eternal_ot at 2016-01-01 14:43 (UTC) (Link)
Wow! I liked the way your mind worked around the prompt..very innovative. Cool take! Good Job!
swirlsofblue at 2016-01-01 14:56 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, so glad you liked my take on the prompt :)
Your argument is invalid.
logical_fallacy at 2016-01-01 20:52 (UTC) (Link)
I'm still not 100% sure which parts of this were real and which were visions, but that really only enhanced the reading experience. Really nicely done.
swirlsofblue at 2016-01-02 14:07 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you :). I would tell you which I intended to be which, but as you say, it's always best to leave it up to the reader's interpretation. And of course the final scene is deliberately done to be able to be read both ways.
alycewilson at 2016-01-02 09:44 (UTC) (Link)
Wow. This is very moving and a creative take on the prompt.
swirlsofblue at 2016-01-02 14:08 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, so glad you found it moving and creative :)
dmousey at 2016-01-03 14:33 (UTC) (Link)
How surreal...nicely done.

swirlsofblue at 2016-01-03 16:23 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you :)
rayaso at 2016-01-03 17:32 (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful - such a dark vignette on a word that would easily inspire something positive.
swirlsofblue at 2016-01-03 17:45 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you found it wonderful :).
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors
halfshellvenus at 2016-01-04 19:31 (UTC) (Link)
Neat! What a great way to use the prompt-- envisioning the best outcome, which rarely actually happens.

This was pretty dark, in sum, despite how very hard Siobhan tried. It seems unfair, but not unrealistic. Terrific story.
swirlsofblue at 2016-01-04 20:25 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked my interp of the prompt :)
misfitmanor at 2016-03-02 20:15 (UTC) (Link)
This is simply stunning. A lovely fantasy.

swirlsofblue at 2016-03-02 20:34 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, I'm so happy you found it stunning :).
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