A short story of 500 words. Something quick and tense for readers wanting a futuristic feel.
A girl. A bunker.
The world - dying.
Oxygen - none.
Death - inevitable.
From my place on the damp forest ground, I laugh softly. My limbs bark with the pain of being thrown to the dirt, my bare feet screeching at the bite of ice. With a low groan of frustration, I force some movement into my body. I throw myself onto my back, spitting out the foul taste of defeat. Panting through my teeth, I remind my stiff figure to breathe.
How can I breathe? The question rockets through my crazed thoughts, bouncing from one wall of my mind to the next. My eyes snap open.
Stars. They blind me. Each individual speck of bright burning light sears my pupils. I feel them widen, feel my mouth drop open. My mind conveniently forgets about the pain. Everything is secondary compared to the light. To the stars.
Living in a bunker underground with the darkness as my one companion, I could only hear about the bright lights that scorched the dark sky. Old stories shared around skeletal rooms full of fading people. Some of them old enough to remember the sight themselves, and some of them just too young.
The pale shadow of the moon’s breath blows down on my undernourished body, causing me to squint and inhale sharply. The air is thin and unsatisfying, so much so that my mind remembers to feel the pain. To realise that pain has travelled. As I look up into the sky, its dark magnificent glory penetrated by the bony limbs of dead frostbitten trees, I struggle for a grip. Had my brain not been suffering from lack of fuelling oxygen, I would have laughed at the world and its unceasing attempt at cruelty.
Here on the forest floor, I feel more suffocated in this mass of space than the cramped hell of that box. My home. A second daughter, a mistake, a curse punishable by Landing. I find that I do have it in me to laugh. After being forced to hide in that box for fifteen years, I was still found. Still thrown to the unstable earth above our heads as punishment for merely living.
My lungs shriek with exertion, searching for enough air to rise. To be able to walk to that hatch in the frozen ground and bang against it. I shake my head slightly. Because I won’t beg.
I’d rather die.
I was told to fear death. To run away from its presence so fast and so far, that you’d have to dodge its arms on the way out. I was told that death is cold and merciless and lonely. That’s really the only thing I was told.
They were wrong. Death is silent, peaceful. Comforting. It holds its hands out toward me and smiles softly as I step into its arms.
What’s next? I ask.
Everything you deserve.
The stars are my only witness as Death kisses me softly.