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The Fallen

When standing is all that's left

By Renessa NortonPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
The Fallen
Photo by Mario Purisic on Unsplash

It was a sound that Sarah had heard countless times. 10, 9, 8… A sound that typically indicated that something exciting was about to happen. New years, or… when else did anyone actually count down out loud? Now that she thought of it, it made sense that she wasn’t excited. New years’ eve had never held much appeal to her. It was just another day, except more disappointing somehow. It held so much promise but rarely, if ever, did it result in any palpable change. People swearing to change their lives without being willing to change themselves or their outlook on life. And then the bad habits just gradually became worse because they had repressed them for a week. If you want to know what I mean, take a look at peoples’ fingernails on the 10th of January each year - it is as though a ravenous toddler mauled them with fresh, strong baby teeth not yet cursed with cavities or fear of a chipped tooth.

No, precedent dictated it made perfect sense this countdown brought no joy to Sarah. Anticipation, sure, but more in the sense of a knot in her stomach wriggling tighter with each ascending numerical figure chanted around her. She glanced across the water at Monty’s reflection. His face mirrored hers, all the while everyone else’s eyes shone with relief. Their esteemed government had said that they would be providing much needed relief at 8pm that evening. The announcements had been spruiked for days that if everyone gathered by the lake, at 8pm on the dot, help would arrive. But Monty had pointed out that their government did not have a habit of transparency, and had worked tirelessly to hack into the government’s systems over the preceding days. Several of them had been in the room when he finally infiltrated their computer systems. What was uncovered was worse than they had imagined. Worse than anyone could have. An unstoppable gas that would cause death within 30 seconds. But not for everyone. Just for certain people with a specific genetic marker. That marker meant that person would not be able to survive in the world within 3 years. The gas was already naturally being emitted and causing a gradual degradation in certain people. Their suffering would be long, with no cure, culminating in an agonising death that no one could stop. The government planned on releasing a huge dose to bring the death about as quickly as possible. A kind of cruel pain killer but one the government found necessary. Instead of working tirelessly to try to stop the natural process from taking root, just rip the bandaid off now and be done with it.

3, 2, 1. Nothing. And then screams. Shouts. Agonising cries. People started dropping around her. Within minutes, 80% of people were silent, with everyone else except those in the know screaming in terror, fearful they would be next and completely unsure what was happening. Likely feeling completely betrayed by their government who was meant to care for them. Monty had fallen. Sarah stared, horrified - she was suddenly dead in spirit, but not in body. She remained upright when really she wanted to crumble to her knees - grateful to still be alive - but she felt that doing anything but standing there would be disrespectful to the fallen. The murdered. Another person fell. And another, like a Mexican Wave without feeling. Until someone finally remained standing. Her best friend from high school, Charlie, stood there. They hadn’t seen each other in 14 years. At 17, they had said one day they would lead the country. Neither of them moved, not wanting to disturb the deceased. Sarah reached her hand out toward him, and he returned the gesture. Serendipity.

Short Story

About the Creator

Renessa Norton

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