The words went straight to his heart, shattering what little self-confidence he still had.
The cluttered, shadow-filled room seemed like a perfect reflection of his own inner being at that time. Dark, unkept, illuminated by a single, dying light. Stacks upon stacks of discarded items - sculptures, paintings, tools, resources - lay scattered around the room, like forgotten ideas. In the middle of it all was him, a shadow of a man turned to stone, but weak to influence and control like clay.
"That's a bit harsh, especially considering he's right there."
The man wasn't alone of course. One of the other three with him spoke up, their masculine voice surveying anger at the underhanded attack at Adam.
"Oh come on Yokim, he knows it's all in jest." The second voice was masculine too, but laced with a hint of malice. They would defend their previous statement regardless of any facts arisen - even if Adam were to prove themself superior, he would still be overlooked.
Adam made no attempt to respond, not even feebly mouthing any words. He simply stood still and dully stared at the other three, no motivation to attack or respond spurring him to action.
"I'm choosing Adam. Donny, if I hear anything like that again I'll break your damn jaw." The leader of the club was audibly feminine and extremely assertive in nature. If the lone guider for the group of only thirty-seven wasn't as strong willed as she was, the group surely would have disintegrated long ago. There were still cracks amongst the members, as was being observed between Donny and Yokim, but the glue of their collective goal was strong enough to hold them together. For now, at least.
"I'll help. I could make a statue using it - I'll name it Donny Dickhead the Dumbass," Yokim growled at the grinning bully. He gently rested his hand on Adam's shoulder as a show of confidence. "Congrats Adam. I'm sure you'll do well."
Adam didn't respond, still sore from Donny's blunt statement. He felt a brief sense of pride, but it was quickly washed away by the overwhelming feeling of worthlessness. The words echoed in his head, silencing everything else and demanding all of his attention. He felt no reason to stay, to continue burdening these people with his caustic present, stealing and wasting their heat, light, air. He turned away from them, mindlessly walking and weaving betwixt the piles of abandoned artwork, following the dim trail to the doorway.
"Are you ok?" Yokim had followed Adam, human nature spurring him to ensure Adam's wellbeing. Unknown to him, the action was futile - the question had been asked countless times, but always received the same answer.
"I'm fine," came the parroted, false response. It had become second nature to Adam, to lie about his emotional wellbeing. It was all he could respond with anymore - he had no motivation to say otherwise, to go through the trouble of sharing his burdens to another. No good would come from the truth anyway, other than brief pity before everyone stopped giving a shit.
"You sure? You sound unhappy." Yokim was unconvinced by the dull response.
"I'm fine," repeated Adam, briefly showing a faked smile to deceive Yokim. "Just tired."
Tired was an understatement. Anxiety and depression wreaked havoc with Adam once the moon arose, its pale light strengthening the emotional werewolves and vampires. His world became vast and hollow once depression arrived, reminding him of the immense distance between him and his closest of friends. It whispered failures in his ears endlessly, finding fault in anything and everything he had done in his life, dredging up long-forgotten memories if needed; remember that kid you punched in primary school? His nose will always be slightly off, thanks to you. Remember that addiction you had? You'll never be free from it. You'll give in eventually. What good have you ever actually done?
In its wake, anxiety bloomed. There was no greater pestilence, no hardier weed, than the constricting growth that was anxiety. It would sprout from anywhere and everywhere, wrap its roots around anything it could, and refuse to wilt or leave. Your rent is due. The air-conditioner needs fixing. Your sister needs help. Your grandfather will die soon, you haven't seen him in years. Flights aren't safe nowadays, you can't go see him. Your friends might have been killed. Your heart is pounding - this is bad. You're having an anxiety attack. Will you recover? What if this is it? What if this kills you?
The two would dance around him endlessly, keeping his mind racing throughout the night. Simple tasks for others had become perilous quests for Adam - he hadn't slept in his own bed for months, defaulting to the uncomfortable couch in the superstition that he was more likely to sleep on it. It rarely helped, leaving him sore and exhausted in the morning; all the more susceptible to the twins that tortured him.
Adam struggled to open the stubborn metal door of the warehouse, taking a brief run-up before bursting out into the light. He didn't bother to close the door behind him, simply starting the long trek home. His mind and thoughts were hardly his own, puppeteered and toyed with by depression's spectre.
Donny is right and you know it. You're worthless. You fumble everything you do. Nothing you do will last. You're not even a good artist - you just stumble over popular ideas at the right time. You're pathetic.
Adam sat in his collapsing chair, staring blankly at the screen before him. Colourful, energetic characters jumped and ran across the screen, but the man watching barely noticed. His eyes followed them, but his mind was elsewhere.
GrayPhaser: You there?
He wasn't. Even if he had, a conversation with Gray would be unlikely. In their childhood they had been exceptional friends, though they had never truly met. A chance encounter within a digital realm, one that neither remembered anymore, forged the beginnings of their bond. Limited only by their imaginations, the two travelled through all kinds of lands simply to tell their stories; towns were established, governments rose and fell, new worlds found, species exterminated. Fun was the goal, and by any means it was achieved.
But the friendship was superficial and shallow. Time brought change, and change pulled them from the realms they had established to a place where their relation could do nought but fade. Though Gray remained forever close with the others of their group, their homes sharing the same region, Adam grew distant from them. Eventually they simply stopped talking. Eventually, they simply forgot about Adam. But Adam didn't.
A day came when Adam mustered the strength to try and rejoin them, but his mind was quickly changed. The people he spoke to were not his friends, but vague echoes of what he remembered. They had become corrupted and vile, following a path of life that Adam dared not even consider following. He was repelled from their presence, deciding to burn the remains of the destroyed bridge their friendship had become. Not a word of it was spoken to anyone, either - Adam was alone in the world, no other would share his view of their lives. A paradigm shift had occurred, good was evil and evil was good. Adam would just be seen as the demon he saw in them.
Without the bridge to his past, Adam could not retreat to his childhood. Without the ability to speak to others, he could not make a bridge forward; all he could do was stand still, and watch as his world collapsed.
Adam spun his seat around, surveying the bland and empty apartment that was his home. Featureless white walls and halls on all sides, bland grey carpeting across all floors. Furnishings were minimal to the point of nonexistence; a single-size bed sat undressed in his room, covered only by a coverless pillow and a thin sheet for his blanket. A small couch sat in the living room, directly opposite to the thirty-five inch television. His office consisted of a store-bought computer, a bland desk and the chair he sat upon. Adding in the outdated fridge in his kitchen, the list of Adam's possessions became complete - there were no paintings, no plants, no statues, no prizes.
He had gone shopping several times in the hope he would find something to liven up his home. But every time he looked, every time he pondered upon them, he simply found them… boring. They did nothing useful, they looked uninteresting, so he simply never bought them. Income was no issue for Adam - he tossed enough garbage works into the void to more than make up for his expenditure. Worthless art fuelled the boring life of Adam the anartist, who lived only to make more worthless art. Some life that was.
His true works went overlooked and ignored by the community at large. He was an anartist, yes, but not the sort one would expect from the name; he was neither painter nor sculptor, not a maker of physical or visual arts. He was a wordsmith, a man who forged places and events with information and strokes on his keyboard, moulding them into the mind of the reader. And yet, the same dismissive comments came in, time and time again - "words are not art," they would say. "Anart is physical, visual, tactile, experience. Stories are not. Go make some real art."
Few even feigned an attempt to defend him. Yokim was one of them. "This is fantastic! How do you do this?" Nothing but false words, half-assed comments to continue his misery. Adam could tell. He couldn't prove it, but he could feel their condescension, their pity for an inferior lesser. They were right - words were no art, and Adam's works were less than words. Art made a point, was remembered, stood out. Stories were read, then forgotten. Adam's probably weren't even considered.
Adam had no hope of succeeding. He had no hope to represent his group, Donny was right - Adam was worthless, incapable of achieving anything worthwhile, meaningful, purpose filled. His work was less than filth, utterly valueless.
Your existence is an insult. There is only one worthwhile thing you can do. Do it, you pathetic fuck.
Adam did as his mind told him, opening a word document. He knew what he was supposed to do, the only way he could give his existence some semblance of purpose he could experience.
Tap tap tap. He wrote.
Tap tap tap. He wrote down the experience of his last few hours.
Tap tap tap. He spilled his mind, his disgusting, worthless mind, onto the page.
Tap tap tap. He remembered, and explained. The lifeblood of his soul explained his feelings.
Within half an hour, the document was host for 1,970 words. The story of a worthless, forgettable man occupied the data of the page, wasting the space on his hard drive just as he wasted the atoms comprising him.
Minutes later, the task was completed, the art now anart. A short time frame for a simple task, the page adopting a poor man's gimmick - once the file was saved, fiction would become fact, all the events within becoming true. A mediocre ability for a mediocre writer.
It was ready. All he needed to do was finish it, add the last little bit, and it would be done. The only work of his that people would care about, the only one that did something worthwhile. The only impact he could ever make upon the world.
With no reason to avoid the inevitable, Adam wrote the final four words - the most important words he had ever written in his entire life - before saving the file: