Here I am, facing the nadir of my existence, and I have the need to go to work. A specialist recommended I do so. I don’t think that the psychiatrist had any inkling of who I am, or how volatile I had become, but I take the advice. Learning to live again, and going back to work is the first step.

So here I am, putting up with the hordes of commuters, the likes of whom I’ve spent a decade learning how to ignore. Somehow, I have lost this capacity. These few inconsiderate… that one per cent of self-absorbed twats simply don’t get the fact that nobody wants to be alerted of their presence. My brain inadvertently zeroes in on these annoying, meaningless one-way conversations, those beeping fucking games, and the high-pitched sibilance hissing from tiny loudspeakers stuffed inside their ear canals.

I put my mind to work, driven by guilt, perusing through all the useless apps I’ve accumulated since buying this now outdated phone. For a person of my generation who missed the technology boat completely, this is normal. Ignorance is bliss until the technology becomes a requirement. There was no legitimate excuse for not keeping up to date, I just didn’t. Stubbornness, call it old-school mentality, I didn’t see the need to compete with machines. In an age where nobody has to think anymore, my enthusiasm for technology peaked as a kid, with the TV watch and ended just after the advent of the pocket electronic organiser. I barely got used to using word processors and mobile phones, now all of a sudden there’s clouds, social networks, an internet of things, apps… If it weren’t for my work conditioning me to use these things, I’d be the most isolated human on the planet.

This is why they call me, The Caveman.

With a name like Nathan Caves, I became an easy target. I should have known better when I changed it from my ancestral Cavettes. Today, family and friends all know me by this nickname. I can never live it down. I don’t bother trying, it is what it is. I prefer the outdoors, the wilderness, the solitude, I’m a Neanderthal who’d rather the sun, sea and wind than the ceaseless dabble with modern-day distractions, abhorrent replacements for human abilities. A rebel, who would rather talk face to face with a person than via a mask of convoluted, complex software.

This was me.

Of all the apps, the Neechat icon caught my attention. With fifty alerts waiting, I instinctively tap the icon without thinking.

Julian used this app. All the kids were on it. The guilt and pain intensify as I mentally utter my son’s name. He had uploaded Neechat to my phone in case I decide to modernize and join the real world. I tried it a few times but it never stuck. I had let him down. I let him down a thousand ways and this was one of them.

One cannot stop these damn things once the program starts booting up so I wait it out. It nearly freezes up the old phone. I muster the courage to click onto Julian’s profile and discover it had been converted into a memorial page. I guess it’s a feature within the app.

How did it know to do so? My mind covets the answer while my eyes scroll down the comments posted by random strangers.

“There are no words to express the sadness in my heart.” ~Geraldine_T

“I wish you could see how much everybody cares.” ~Kelley_Kiemvic

There are over 328 posts and comments.

Tributes from total strangers. I don’t know any of these people. Neither did Julian. These mawkish outpourings of grief are a part of what’s wrong with this world. How do these people feel good about themselves with these disingenuous posts?

Then, I spot a post that twists my universe apart.

“What do you call a news article about a TR2 driver? An obituary.” ~silvertroll

It struck a note. Julian bought the Caprio TR2 with his own money. I was never happy about his choice because I knew what style of driving these kids were into. Shit, I drove one of these things in my day, mostly sideways. A white one. I was a speed demon, hence my apprehension.

This Silvertroll doesn’t let up.

“Apparently he snores so loudly that it scares everyone in the car he’s driving.” ~silvertroll

“Don’t drink while driving – you will spill the beer.” ~silvertroll

43 minutes ago.

My response is automatic. No thought goes into it.

“Is this really necassary?” ~Nathan_Caves

I post it and quickly realise I spelt ‘necessary’ wrong.

Within seconds a new post pops into existence. This time, a picture of a car wreck, its chassis bent into a curve.

Fucking prick. Who is this dickhead? Rage from deep within my gut works its way up. My thumbs pound the glass, at letters, any letters, trying to get words up that expressed my anger.

“To all you trolls, fuck off, you lowlife pieces of shit.” ~Tim_Saturday

I decide to add…

“Have you no shame, you prick?” ~Nathan_Caves

“Suck a dick all u grief tourists.” ~silvertroll

I react, unable to resist.

“Get a life, asshole.” ~Nathan_Caves

“Stop feedn dis troll.” ~infin8reaper

I just can’t help myself.

“There was no alcohol involved.” ~Nathan_Caves

“Maybe he be masturbating.” ~silvertroll

I look at the screen, numb and powerless.

“Maybe he get blowjob????? BANG!!! OOOOPS!” ~silvertroll

“From the slut passenger :}” ~silvertroll

“FUCK YOU YOU FUCK!!!!!” ~Nathan_Caves

I’m sure the commuters around can hear me mumbling, “Exclamation mark, exclamation mark, exclamation fucking mark… ” The heartless prick had attacked Heather, the other life upturned that fateful night.

I look up and see the station platform sign whizzing by outside and surmise the obvious.

I had missed my station.