Now Or Never - Sneak Peek.Mature

Set in a dystopian future.

Darkness.

That intense agony is back again, only somewhat more distilled than the times before. His vision begins to cloud. The world seems to stretch and shake in slow motion. With a sharp intake of breath, Hunter prepares himself for the inevitable…

“Subject 641, get back in your dorm.”

Darkness is the only thing that keeps Hunter company, the only thing which comforts him after these occurring episodes. An icy dusk wind electrifies Hunters’ blood in his veins, reminding him that he is still Human.

Hunters’ breath escapes, scratching his throat like a demon trying to claw their way out. Pain… it is back... 

The harsh crackle of the Security-Bot 6000 follows him as he runs down the cold, marble, corridors.

Darkness wraps its arms around Hunter as his hand is on his head, panting. It awakens bad memories as it tries to protect him from the illness inside which threatens to overwhelm and consume the man himself, spreading like cancer, metamorphosing him into one of them.

This is Hunter’s last and final chance, he knows.

The merciless pain arises again, screaming through Hunters’ skull, making his knees go weak…

“Subject 641, we order your return to your dorm. Stop now or we will use force." 

He ignores the mechanical monotone voice. Pushing himself onwards. Desperately searching for a way out. For an escape. For freedom.

Hunter grits his teeth. Sweat burning his eyes. Lungs on fire and his limbs are screaming at him as he skids around another corner, shoving the empty vessels of what is left of humanity out of his path.

A piercing pain pounds through his skull.

Orange leaves. Think of orange leaves… leaves are a good distraction right? They have always been before…

The orange leaves crush and crunch under his heavy hiking boots, yellow roots grip tightly around them, attempting to halt Hunter in his efforts to carry out the inevitable mission that’s ahead of him. Like they know the risk he takes and aren’t willing to part.

He has to make it there!

Hunter scratches his temple as that nagging pain creeps up on him again…

 A piercing pain pounds through his skull.

 He has to know if it’s true!

 Through the sea of crowded bodies, Hunter sees no one. And they see nothing.

 Not the autumn sun slowly sinking in the sky, frantically struggling to touch the Earths’ crust with its fiery fingertips, getting so close but – alas- it was never meant to be.

 Yet it still tries, Hunter smiles slightly at the thought.

 Not the empowering trees holding their mighty branches which free a few bronzing leaves, letting them get taken with the wind as far as the eye can see. Free.

 Resisting the urge to groan, Hunter grits his teeth together…

A piercing pain pounds through his skull.

He cries out but his legs carry on moving, determined to get away. Determined to escape. Determined for freedom.

“Subject 641. You have broken Law 225, Section 1a. The appropriate punishment shall now commence.”

Hunter’s only meters away from the glorious exit when a sudden severe sensation of agony courses through him, bringing Hunter crashing to the ground with a thunderous  thud. Blood pours out from his ears and nose in the form of a rapid waterfall as his screams shake the walls around him!

Hunter passes the brain-dead zombies, compacted in the streets. So much for humanity in its greatest form. He feels a slight sympathetic sting as they look through him with blank expressions, the usual uneasiness overcomes him.

This rebel travels through them, mimicking the doll-like creatures which stand still. Inactive. Waiting for orders received through the small skin-coloured devices that whisper in their ears.

Everybody has one through law. Even Hunter, although his has long since worked, he still wears it, not wanting to take any chances.

Hunters’ nails dig into his palm as the all too familiar feeling arises… 

Piercing pain. Thunderous thud. Rapid waterfall.

Wincing automatically, Hunter curses himself instantly after.

He cannot afford to show his emotions around them, he knows that. It will be too obvious that he is not one of them if he fails to keep his reactions in check.

He cannot let them know that the government has lost control. Again.

Everybody knows that there is no such thing as third time lucky; not where the government is concerned anyway…

With a hesitant hand, Hunter lightly touches the area between his upper lip and the base of his nose.

A red substance instantly covers his hand. A metallic taste in his mouth as the blood passes through Hunters’ lips with ease.

Hunter pauses. Tilting his head to the right slightly like the others around him as he comes to terms with the dizzy sensation. Looming over the citizens, with thousands of deadly eyes which shimmer when light catches them, Hunter stares up at the gigantic building.

Nothing’s changed since the last time he remembered it and why should it?

Still, there is a hologram advertisement at every window, promoting the “earwig” device as Hunter calls it. Even though it is law that every child must be equipped with one in their right ear since the age of 6 and if that little red light goes out –God forbid- it must be replaced as soon as possible. No exceptions. Ever.

Hunter’s gripped with a strange, horrific, fear. But there’s also a slight smugness that he’s been able to hide under the governments ever watchful gaze for all this time.

To his right, a roar of flames engulf a group of large old oak trees which hardly seem to struggle to cling onto life and fight the flames. It is almost as if they had known that this was going to happen. That they have always known, they have just been waiting.

Spreading the smell of burning bark, the wind picks up, natures warning of the inevitable.

Hunter takes a ragged breath to steady himself, trying to not to look directly at the human imposters whom have just destroyed hundred years of wisdom inside of those great oaks because they have told them to.

Like they had any choice. By oppressing any form of consciousness, any form of soul, the government has made it so they can “earwig” into humans brains. So all that’s left is a hollow shell, ready to be controlled like a puppet.

Not only has everybody been forced to receive the amazing invention of the “earwig”, they also have to have an identification number code stained into their skin like cattle. This is so they can identify the bodies, not that it really matters anymore.

Hunter looks down at his left palm. 641 is stamped in thick black blocks…

“Subject 641, get back in your dorm.”

Mentally, Hunter curses those who did this to him. To everyone.

This man never could understand how there must be hundreds – if not thousands- of people who’ve been coded, yet he has never seen anybody with their code higher than eight hundred.

He could swear that he has seen the same number at least twice… but that doesn’t make any sense.

No ones’ code is the same, not even if the code has been re-used after a death.

With new determination, Hunter strides off towards the building which promises disaster.

Once inside, he winces slightly as his eyes get invaded with cold whiteness.

Hardly anybody is here. There’s not much need for them to be.

Apparently- years ago, this whole building used to help those who were ill. Now it condemns the healthy and independent to a life of imprisonment.

Hunter takes the stairs, pondering vaguely how he seems to know exactly where to go, as if he has done this task thousands of times before.

Floor 32. The floor where his flashbacks keep returning him to.

Hunter walks up and down the corridor five times, feeling the strange sense of déjà vu stronger this time.

It’s here.

Hunter doesn’t know how he knows this or why, but he knows that the answers he has been looking for is here. Has always been here.

In the distance, various screams are heard, travelling down every hallway, through every corridor.

Hunter knows those screams.

It is the sound of the “earwig” device being implanted through young children’s ears along with their terror at the laser tattoos their codes into their skin.

They are always awake. Some sort of sick joke from the government that the last hours of everyone’s consciousness is spent in total terror and agony. Like they are doing us a favour by removing these emotions. By removing all emotions. By removing all that makes us human.

Footsteps… footsteps?! What are footsteps doing here?

Before he has time to turn towards the soft noise, the venomous hiss from his haunted thoughts reveals itself.

“Subject 641. You are in violation of Laws 225 Section 1a,  Section 5c of Law 32. Law 952 Section 52s and others.”

Hunters starts to breath faster, adrenaline rushing through his veins as he knows what is about to happen. As if he has always know.

“Subject 641 stands still. The appropriate punishment shall now commence.”

A series of lights flash onto Hunter and in seconds their purpose is revealed as death wraps its frostbitten fingers around his organs, squeezing each one until breaking point.

Hunters cries fill the building.

The End

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