There’s a time when I would get asked about what I thought I’d do with my life – how I would contribute to society and live up to my worth, so that I wasn’t useless baggage. I remember never being able to answer that question. How do you expect a kid who knows next to nothing about who they are and what they like to decide what they want to do with their lives when it’s hardly begun?
As the threat of genocide looms over you as a child, you say whatever it is they want you to hear so they’ll be happy. If anyone ever took the time to walk through the halls of the facilities and listen, they’d hear all the young hearts beating with bitterness, being blamed for a situation they were born into, and about to end a life that’s hardly begun.
And the lies they tell us are simply there to keep us in line.
I still don’t know the answer to that question and I doubt I ever will. Not simply because I’m a criminal on death row, but because there’s so much haunting me. I don’t have the ability to dig deep enough past my own defences to find the kid I used to be, sit him down, and ask him what he wants out of life. I look at my hands and I can’t help but see the blood I’ve shed, the dead I’ve touched, and the pain I’ve caused.
But I’ve learned to live by something Day taught me.
Fate’s cheated us, but God we will die trying. So long live those kids in us all, I say – in all their pain and glory, their fears and happiness, and their fucked up dreams and memories. They’ve gotten us this far, and no matter what they will never die.
It’s wet, I realise, and that’s the first thing that pulls me out of whatever forced sleep I’ve found myself in. It’s also really loud – a shrill wail of the likes I don’t remember ever hearing before, and there’s an odd smell in the air that finally gets me to force an eye open.
Almost as soon as I do that my lungs stutter, forcing a series of coughs from my straining lungs, and as I clear them up I push myself to my hands and knees. When it subsides I lift my head up, curious about where all this water is coming from.
Way up high, there’s a black canvas above my head churning with clouds. They’ve split open and are letting the rain wash down to the earth, and when I realise what it is I feel my lungs stop a second.
I’d forgotten what this feels like. Every drop on my skin seems to bring back some lost life to the husk I call a body, and I close my eyes and breathe through my mouth a sound that’s almost a choked sob and a laugh put together, my heart hammering in my chest with the sensation. It’s cold on my skin. It’s like being reborn.
There’s thunder rolling in the distance, and I open my eyes to watch the drops fall from way up high for a moment longer before I look around, blinking the rain from my eyes and pushing my hair from my forehead. The world is dark, but it steals my breath away.
There’s a faint wind, a little chilly, that’s gracing the scene before me.
I’m kneeling on a pile of rubble, unrecognisable bits of concrete and metal that haven’t killed me in the blast beneath me. All around me there are fires raging despite the rain, fuelled by the chemicals in the labs and the bodies of everyone that lie beneath what’s left of the facility. The fence that used to keep us in has been blown to bits, inexistent, and when I look to where the gate used to be I see a whole squadron of cop cars with flashing red and white lights, military vehicles, paramedics, and fire trucks. Choppers hover overhead, searchlights sweeping through the wreckage in search of survivors as the firefighters work at putting out the chemical fires. Cops and the military personnel here are walking through the wreckage with their flashlights in hand, trying to find anything of importance at all. There are people yelling everywhere.
Slowly I get to my feet, a little wobbly on them but still standing. I must’ve been out for a while, and I look around in hopes of maybe finding someone I know still alive even though I know that’s a lost hope. I can tell that doing what he did killed him.
He made me promise to get him out. Used and manipulated me all that time, made me feel like shit, and then when I finally get to meet the real him he pulls off a stunt like this.
Everyone here always thought that who they were died when they committed their crimes, but I know that that’s not the case. When we were in my cell like that, I got to meet him. Aslan, that is. In turn, he met Casper.
They’re still alive. They always were.
Lightning strikes somewhere behind me, bringing everything in sharp relief, and that’s when I’m spotted. A cop sees my silhouette in the darkness and yells at me to stay where I am – and in that moment, everything I’ve learned in the last few months kicks in and my instincts tell me exactly what to do even as guns are trained onto me and the light of one of the helicopters rests on me. Their memories come to the front of my mind.
Only in your memories do your dreams stay alive.
Move along like I know you do.
Give them hell for me.
Long live the kids.
Keep us alive.
So I take two steps backwards and turn on my heel, ignoring the way they yell at me to stop what I’m doing, and with my fifth step I disappear.And I run.
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