The loner punched out at exactly 5 p.m., just as he did every single weekday. He then proceeded to make his way out of the office, not stopping to say goodbye to anyone. After all, he had never really spoken to any of his coworkers outside of a few dealings with the human resources and payroll people, and his supervisor knew nothing about him that wasn’t written on his resume. Whenever he passed anyone in the hallway, he would avoid making eye contact, and his face had a sort of blank expression that made it seem like he was always off in his own world. There were quite a few rumors about this strange, solitary man, but all of the details were shrouded in mystery. Nobody knew anything about him, not even his name. He worked in tech support, just fixing anything presented to him and immediately moving on to the next issue. It was a very easy job for him, seeing as most of the problems could be resolved by either by updating drivers or just simply restarting the machine.
Though there was not much glory nor a hefty paycheck involved in the loner’s job, it gave him enough money to support himself, so he didn’t mind. He was a very intelligent and capable man, and his teachers had always told him of his limitless potential, but he lacked the ambition to pursue any further education. He just didn’t see the point of it. He had never really cared much for school. His classes never really challenged him, and nothing he learned seemed to be remotely useful. Going to school was never any fun for him either. He never really had any friends and was bullied by the other children. School never seemed to him to be a place that promoted free or independent thinking. Everything was structured so rigidly and his ideas would usually just draw ridicule from his peers. He thought back to the time in 6th grade when one of his bullies took his notebook and read its contents aloud in front of all the other children, and they all just laughed at him. He eventually gave up and decided that it would be best to just keep his thoughts to himself. There was really nothing he had in common with the other children, so he lost interest in trying to fit in or form friendships with anyone.
He didn’t mind keeping to himself all the time; it was a very easy lifestyle. He never had to wait on anyone and never had any real obligations outside of work. His life never made him feel sad or lonely, since this was just the way it had always been. He was an only child, his mother died when he was very young, and his father was always working or drinking, so he never really had a family either. He didn’t even have many strong memories of conversations with his father, other than the fact that the word “disappointed” came up fairly often. Being alone had made him learn how to fend for himself, and he felt completely independent.
After leaving work, the loner stood on the street corner waiting for the bus to come. When it arrived, he paid his fare and went directly to the back of the bus, taking care to make sure that he would not have to sit next to anyone else. He did not own a car and saved a lot of money by just walking or using public transportation. What exactly he was saving this money for, he did not know, but he felt like the savings would eventually be useful. After all, he had no real need for a car anyway. He did not mind riding the bus at all, as he would use the time to read a book or to write in his journal. He kept this journal so he could write down any thought that he felt was worthy of preserving. The pages were filled with scribbled, disorganized notes that would take a great deal of time for anyone else to decipher. Any great theory or brilliant idea he would’ve had would be written down in that book, but no one else would ever see its contents. He had no plans to share his journal, since he felt like nobody would care for anything he had written and he would just be ridiculed like when he was in school.
The bus drew closer to the loner’s street and he pulled the cord to request a stop. He exited the bus through the rear doors and walked a few blocks till he reached his building. His mailbox was empty as usual, and he proceeded up the stairs to his apartment. It was a decent apartment, but barely big enough for a single resident. The loner did not mind though, it had everything he needed in an apartment and he wasn’t going to be entertaining any guests there anytime soon anyway. He opened his freezer and took out a single-serving microwavable dinner. While he was waiting for the meal to cook, he read the newspaper and saw that a movie he had wanted to see was now playing at the discount cinema down the street from him. The film was a big budget sci-fi epic, and he always enjoyed those “nerdy” movies. He did not want to miss the film so he left immediately after eating.
Luckily for the loner, the theater was mostly empty, since most people had seen this movie on its first run. It was a dramatic tale of loss and redemption, with the protagonist emerging as a hero. The loner looked at the valiant sacrifices of the protagonist and wondered if he could ever feel strongly enough about any other person to drive himself to act selflessly like that. He knew it was odd that he had to think about it, as it seemed like that would just be a fact of life to anyone else. He just had never been able to relate to other people. It was as though his mind just operated on a different wavelength and he couldn’t connect with them. He did not feel like he was superior to the others, he just felt as though he was on a completely separate plane. This inability to relate and empathize with others was always what had separated him from the rest of society. There were times when he didn’t even feel human. He wasn’t even sure entirely what that meant, the definition of humanity just seemed so ambiguous. Just once in his life, even for a single second, the loner wanted to know for sure what it felt like to be human.
The loner thought about these things as he walked home along his dark, quiet street. He just kept walking, consumed by his own thoughts as per usual, until he heard a woman’s scream coming from a nearby alley. It was time for him to decide whether he would just keep going and disregard this occurrence, or to investigate the scream and possibly put himself at great risk. For some reason, he did not feel like he could just forget about this and leave the woman to her fate, so he proceeded into the alley. There he saw a beautiful young woman being held at knifepoint by a man with a rather sinister-looking grin on his face. Without even thinking, the loner moved to confront the man, the girl was able to quickly run away. He continued to struggle with the mugger, but eventually the mugger broke free and stabbed him directly in the stomach before making his own escape. As the loner lay there in a pool of his own blood, a rather ironic thought occurred to him – in his death, he finally knew what it meant to be human.
But that was not the end for the loner. The young woman was able to immediately call 911 as she escaped her assailant, and the police were waiting for him as he exited the alley. An ambulance was on the scene to quickly rush the loner to the hospital, where he was able to make a full recovery. News of his noble actions spread throughout the community, and the loner became known as a hero. The experience inspired him to come out of his shell, and go back to school to explore his intellectual pursuits. In coming to terms with his humanity, the loner no longer felt alone.