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My Story
Posted By: unipeg, on host
Date: Friday, December 10, 1999, at 17:36:38

This is a story I wrote. I like my story. Any comments anyone has on it are welcome, though. So, um, yeah.

Blessed Are They That Hunger and Thirst

The silence in the room was unbearable. Her head was beginning to pound in
rhythm to the insistent throbbing of the central cooling unit. She didn't know how long
she had been there, but she had the feeling that she didn't have much time left. A decision.
She hadn't known about the decision until the beginning of the week, however long ago
that had been. They hadn't even bothered to tell her what she had to decide, so how could
she decide it?

They had escorted her into a room with walls so white that the one speck of dirt
which had somehow appeared over the course of the week stood out like an inkblot on a
clean sheet of paper. She had assumed that it was for one of the normal "Virtual Reality
Learning Experiences". They locked her in, and she had settled down for another foray
into the world of what they called education. But this time, instead of the walls fading into
3D movement and color, a voice echoed through the room, coming at the same time from
everywhere and from nowhere.

"Welcome to the first day of the last week of your life as you know it," intoned the

Cliché, she thought.

"In a week, you will be let out of this room. Until that time, you will be given no
food, no water. You will spend your time thinking."

"About what?" she asked out loud. She was used to not eating. Her unit had gone
without food often because of bad crops, but being locked in a room? To think?

"At the end of the week, you will be given two options, options that every person
has been given in the past. You must pick one of them. Your thinking in this week will
guide you in your final decision."

The voice left without even an echo to verify that it had existed in the first place.

In the past days, she had thought about everything and nothing. Nothing, for the
most part. There really wasn't anything to think about. All she had ever had was the
VRLEs. Life was dull. The food was dull, the books were dull, the people were dull.
There was the occasional person her age who all but buzzed with an excitement not easily
found in the units and never in adults. They were always moved into different units as
soon as they had been seen talking more than two or three times. There was always an
excuse for it, something about Quality Rearrangement, whatever that meant.

Finally the door opened. She stepped out into a hall devoid of any decoration. All
around her members of her unit emerged from doors just like hers. The pinched, confused
looks on their faces told her all she needed to know.

They followed the pulsing green lights on the floor to a door. She moved with the
crowd out of the door and found herself half-blinded by a light that poured through her
body like a river of gold, cleansing as it went. As her eyes slowly adjusted, she realized
that she must be in what the VRLEs always referred to as "outside". It was better, cleaner,
more real than anything she had ever experienced before. Directly above her was a
stunningly blue sky glazed with wisps of clouds. The land was devoid of any life save a
lone tree in the distance. Straight ahead was a place where the world seemed to abruptly
end. She moved cautiously towards it, curious even though curiosity was something that
she had been reprimanded for many times over. What she saw left her breathless and

The world dropped off, and what seemed like hundreds, thousands of feet below,
the ground started again. Littered on the ground far beneath her were skeletons. She
backed away slowly, frightened and disgusted. However, before she was far enough from
the edge of the cliff to tear her eyes away from the gruesome sight, she saw movement.
She stopped her retreat abruptly and gazed downwards once again. After a moment of
concentration, she realized that there were people below her. They yelled when they
realized that she had seen them, but she was too far away to make out their words.

She turned away, confused, and realized that the rest of her unit was gathered
around a large sign. She walked up to them, pushed her way through the crowd easily, and
read the cold black words written there.



That was it. There was no other information provided, nothing to tell them which
choice was better. After a moment of total silence, the unit turned as one and began
marching back towards the door which still stood open, awaiting them like the yawning
mouth of some huge, hungry, prehistoric monster. All she could think of was how much it
looked like the mouth of one of the monsters that had haunted her as a child, the monsters
with cold, glaring eyes and gnashing teeth that nibbled at her and often threatened to
swallow her whole. But the cliff.... could she face that? With the group, she moved back
into the building. As the white walls closed in around her, she felt as if she was
suffocating. Her headache worsened to the point where she could hear the blood pounding
in her ears. She was back to her room - how did she know it was her room?

As her hand moved almost involuntarily towards the handle and began to push the
door closed, her brain began to whisper one word. Through the haze brought on by her
throbbing temples, she could only just make it out - no. No. No no no no no no no no no
no..... the word tore through her body. Her head was pounding to it, and when some of
the other members of the unit turned and stared at her, she realized that she was screaming
it. She yanked her hand back from the rapidly closing door as if it had become one of her
childhood monsters. Immediately, it swung back open. She threw herself out of it and
down the hall to the door that led to the outside. It was still open.

The moment she stepped outside, everything became clear - but with the sudden
clarity came doubts. What if this was just a trick, a way to weed out those who could
never survive in this society, in the dreary houses with the lifeless neighbors and the
tedious conversation? Wouldn't it be better to stay and stir things up a bit? But hadn't she
always tried to stir things up? It had never worked, had it? No. And if she did stay, she
wouldn't remember this choice. Who knew what else they would erase from her mind?
Maybe her will to fight, to survive, would be gone. Suddenly even her doubts began to
push her towards the edge. She stopped just before she would have fallen and looked
down. The bones were still there. The people were gone. Had she imagined the people?
Was this going to lead to her death?

She moved back a few steps. After one last glance back at the door, she ran
towards the edge, this time leaping an instant before she would have stepped over. The
power of adrenaline carried her upwards for a few moments, then with a shout of
exultation, she began to fall.

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