Before I show you this post, I just want to give you guys some good news. A couple of days ago, the founder of Feedspot reached out to me to let me know that I was included on his list of Top 50 Fiction Blogs.
When I first started this blog, I had zero expectations or idea of how successful it would be. I didn’t even know if I would still be using it. I never expected to have the audience I do now. I also didn’t know my website would go from a blog to a literary journal.
I sit humbly at number 44 on the list, but the fact that I’m there at all is a significant accomplishment for me. I’d just like to thank you all for sticking around all these years and making it possible.
I’m sitting on the couch looking out the window watching them watch me. I see their lights. I see the flashes. They’re hiding in plain sight. No one else can see them. Or, better yet, no one wants to see them. People who notice them tend to disappear. And not because they go around telling people. They know better. Anyone can be a spy for them. However, once you notice one, you notice them all. Noticing them all changes you. Every action is done consciously.
Every breath you take, every smile you fake, you know what’s at stake. You have to be on your A-game every second. There are no ifs. They will find out. You will run out of food. You will walk outside to the store. And they will be watching. They’ll look at what you’re buying, they’ll look at how much of it, too. Why so many Doritos this time? You bought five cans each of beans and Spam, but no one’s been to your house in weeks. Speaking of that, why haven’t you seen your friends lately? They’re worried about you. We know they’re asking. We watch everyone, you know.
We’re all trapped. We have nowhere to go. The corners are covered; they have eyes on every block, every alleyway. We hear their voices all day: through the screens, the phones, the electronics. We can’t find solace in our own minds. We don’t know if they can monitor our brain waves. Perhaps they’re already manipulating them. We want to go out, meet up at the speakeasy around the block, where we know there are no wires, and revolt, but what if it’s a test? What if they want us to think we’re safe. We wouldn’t put it past them to bait us. And knowing that would affect our plans–if we had them.
There is no plan, though. Some people receive shipments from the outside world. There’s a vast, underground market where anyone can get anything. In the beginning, we were allowed one item, no questions asked. Some people took food, some people took money, and some people took pills to purify water. I took the gun. I saw it was unmarked. They said it came with a bullet in the chamber. That’s my plan if things go bad. And the more I look at it, the more it tempts me. It’s a test of my own.
Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m failing. I stare at it all day. I take the bullet out and press it against my temple. I pull the trigger and shudder at the sound of the click. My goal is to become numb to the fear. If they come banging on my door, I want to be ready at a moment’s notice. I’m practicing right now. I try to run an errand beforehand so I have an excuse to check the hallways. If I peak my head out the doorway, they’ll see I’m looking for something, and that’s all it will take to have them here in minutes, if they’re taking their time.
I walk out and I forget the gun’s in my pocket. There are metal detectors everywhere. Their cars have sensors. They’ll know I know I’m hiding something. And they’ll know that something is something I’m afraid of. I can’t pretend to play calm because that’ll just be a giveaway. But I keep moving. I have to pick up more food. I need more to make sure I’m going to be okay through the winter. If I can get through the winter, things might be better by then. We might not have to worry as much. I can turn back, but would it look suspicious? Did they see my lock the door? Or take my phone? There has to be something I forgot. I can’t. I’m hesitating.
Who’s that? What’s he want? “Sir?” he asks. Oh fuck. It’s real. I’m a fucking goner. This was way too soon. Where are his hands? Not on his side. Okay. I have one chance. “You okay, sir?” the man asks again. There’s no time. I take it out. “Put it down!” he yells. I cock the pistol, take a deep breath, place the cold barrel on my temple, and pull the trigger in one swift motion. I hear the click.
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