Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Potentially Alive, 3

This is the third post (out of six) in a short story about how the world ends, or begins. Click on the appropriate link for the first, second, or fourth post in the series.


The red pick-up truck came to a full stop, a thick cloud of black smoke belching at odd intervals from its muffler. Any other night the streets leading to his house would be empty, thought the boy. Tonight they were full—not of cars but of people.

The people held signs and shouted at passersby to head to one of the many local clinics. There, in brightly lit, white laboratory rooms a small group of people would suffer so that another might live.

It was a painful process and, when individuals were used instead of groups, it was so physically demanding that some had died. So, groups it had been ever since--but the size of the groups had been getting smaller. And quickly.

Part of the reason no doubt was the rise of "the suicide boys"--a group of mostly teenage kids who, realizing that they would be brought back to life, attempted the most dangerous stunts or worse yet killed themselves in spectacular, fame-seeking ways. Where successful, and some had been, the number of imitators soared.

The boy looked out a dusty window. A pale-faced young girl with eyes dead to the world and shoulders sagging, slouched near the front of her more passionate elders. She held a sign which said "they aren't dead yet; only your selfishness can kill them."

Reading it, the boy felt a cold chill run up his spine. For a brief second he wondered why that should be his emotional reaction, but then decided to focus on the matter at hand--like how to get into his house.

The road ahead was blocked with people. And these seemed to be of a more violent nature. They were surrounding his neighbor, a girl he had grown up with and last year, but not this one, had a crush on.

"How can you do nothing while the dead die," they pleaded, "how can you stand yourself while a new holocaust happens?" One person reached out, grabbed the girl and shaking her said, "their blood is on your hands, don't you understand, you're responsible for their deaths."

The boy got out of the red Chevy, leaving the door unclosed, and started to walk towards the group. His walk became faster and faster, his emotions rising with the pace of his feet.

By the time he got to the group, his fists were clenched tight together and his eyes were on fire. "Leave her the hell alone," he said. "She's not going to die for those who should remain dead!"

The crowd momentarily stopped, shocked by his words. Then somebody yelled out, "Remain dead?!? Those are the words of a murderer."

Others might have made the connection, and might not have, but they caught the last word and put all their emotional feelings into it. "Murderer!" they shouted, "Murderer!"

A fist reached out and punched the boy in his face. The boy staggered back, then swung forward with all his might at the person who had punched him. The hit landed squarely, sending blood flying through the air. The sound of the impact made the boy half-expect to see the guy's jaw fly with it, but this was real life, not the movies, and so the guy was simply hurt.

The guy did however fall a few paces back, along with the rest of the crowd, leaving the boy and his neighbor with some space for a brief second. But the raised eyebrows of astonishment were being lowered one by one into those of anger. The boy, recognizing the danger, grabbed the girl and ran.

He was afraid now and running. The girl who trailed behind him was holding his hand and crying. The crowd was shouting "murderers" and chasing after them both, throwing anything they could.

With the sound of feet and insults fast approaching, the boy opened the door to his house, launched the girl inside, then closed and locked the door just as a fist on the outside banged fiercely against it.

The boy let his back slide down the length of the door. He sighed heavily, and wondered why he should be so scared for his life from those who so vehemently claim to be for it.

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