A Boy Appears, Excerpt 2

Benjamin Obler
6 min readMay 8, 2023
Photo by Daniel Burka on Unsplash. A way larger and more mossy and mysterious cave than Daniel’s, in the #workinprogress below.

Synopsis/Set-Up: In the year 2040, Daniel is research scientist who has quit his college post, administered a gene-changing injection to himself obtained on the black market, and abandoned his house to live in a mountain cave. What he changed about his genetics is the introduction of the mutation which causes congenital hypertrichosis terminalis, a condition which creates rampant hair-growth body-wide. With a coat, a furry hide, he can survive in winters. He wants nothing to do with society anymore, or the institutions which refuted and buried his research which discovered the nature of dark matter as being narrative in nature and form. In this scene Daniel is in conversation with a boy named Sebastian who has run away from home and come upon his cave hideout.

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Morning in the cave is damp, the cold stone shiny, the fire smoldering, gray smoke snaking upwards sleepily. Sebastian lies on one blanket, under another, the hood of his jacket pulled over his head, bunched tightly around his face, the material gathering in ripples that look like waves of worry coming from his twitching closed eyes. His lips waver too, agitated by dream-stuff known only to him.

Daniel’s hairy foot stuffs into a hiking boot, and now the toe nudges Sebastian’s rib.

“Time to get up. Time to get moving.” He looks to the cave entrance, to the outside, and sniffs. He looks at the boy’s closed eyes. “Come on, we got ground to cover.”

Sebastian doesn’t move for a time.

“Let’s go.”

Then, with no apparent wakefulness, he asks, “Where?”

“To the McCance Consortium, where else?”

Now the boy’s eyes open. “Why?”

“Isn’t it obvious? We have to tell Hutchins that he’s wrong about my theorems. They have to recognize my work and…and…”

“And what?”

“Well, I don’t know! Take action!”

Sebastian sits up, loosens the hood enough to wedge his hand inside it and scratch his hair. “But Mr. Daniel — ”

“For the last time, would you just call me Daniel?”

“But Daniel, you can’t go to McCance. You have to stay here, in the cave, and do whatever it is you do. You know, like hang…



Benjamin Obler

Instructor at @GothamWriters, NYC. Ed.-in-Chief of AspiringWriterSyndrome.com, where fiction is the focus and inspiration is the goal. #Javascotia @PenguinBooks