Annnndddd… strange day for me. I think this is the first time I’ve been totally blank for 5MinuteFiction. Well, in 74 weeks, it was bound to happen sometime.
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So, you think you can tell, heaven from hell, blue skies from pain? And you think you can tell the difference between a fluffy little bunny and a shit hole of a demon that’s looking to suck the soul right out of your body and leave you an empty husk? Because I’ve been out there, and I’m telling you, this is a fucked up world, and most of you aren’t even seeing past the veneer.
Do you want the truth? Truth is I’ve tangled with the worst that has crawled up out of the oceans of this world, I’ve pushed back again things that have come from beyond the stars looking to control the minds of men. I’ve been on the front line of a war that you don’t even know is being fought, seen men be grateful when they die because it’s better than the hell that prisoners would go through.
I’ve seen men lose their very fucking minds right in front of me, seen the pain on their face as sanity is stripped away from them like so much clothing, leaving them bare and naked to the reality that you just can’t deal with. I can’t deal with it either, but I’ve got to deal with it. I’ve got to do something to save pink delicate little fucks like yourself, because I’ve already seen too much. I already know to much. And that’s the burden I’ve got to bare for the rest of my life.
Do you understand? The rest of my fucking life.
I don’t say this because I want thanks, I say this because you need to understand that the simple little world you woke up to this morning is a lie and the nightmares that you’ll have tonight are so much closer to the truth. So you should just live your little life and not think about what I have to think about, because you just can’t handle it.
I’ve had to make decisions that can cost men their lives, their sanity, and their souls. And I’ve had to make them without thinking, without feeling, without caring about the results. Because I can’t afford to. All I need is for you to make one god damn decision in your meaningless piffle of a life.
So I’m asking you again. Do you want fries with that?
Pink Floyd blared from the radio as I texted, So, you think you can tell, heaven from hell, blue skies from pain? and I remembered the days of a summer lost, the years gone by, my memories ravaged by time.
And who the hell would have thought I’d be here now on the back of a military half-ton heading south to liberate Atlanta? Man how the world has changed.
They said it could never happen in North America like it did in the middle east. Hell, that was over twenty years ago. I can’t for the life of me figure out how anyone could think that could have influenced the U.S. and Canada today. But I’m no historian.
I know you don’t think that what I’m doing is the right thing. I know that you think joining up was the same thing as giving in. But when I see the videos with all of those people. Old people, children. All of them literally starving in the streets while the fatcats hole up in their high rises. I sympathise with them. Yeah, I want order again. I want stability in the world. But I think the only way we get there is by cutting out the cancer while we can, before the government is back in charge. So I’m going. I hope you’ll be there when I get back. If I get back.
Wish you were here.
So, you think you can tell, heaven from hell, blue skies from pain?
Cause it looks to me you’ve got nothin’ to lose and everything to gain.
Born broke and hungry, life kicked you down
As you ran away from it all, city to town
Your heaven’s anonymity, your hell is being known
But that ain’t no way to survive … all alone.
Buck up and deal, toss your troubles behind
Cause livin’ calls for friends, healthy spirit and mind.
“So, you think you can tell, heaven from hell, blue skies from pain?”
Grant scanned the subway car, looking for the voice. There were at least three candidates.
One elderly black matron with a wild patterned dress looked like the kind of woman that could belt out a song like that. At least, Grant thought so.
A rod thin teenage wisp clung to the silvered pole as the car shifted along the track. He met Grant’s eyes. Narrowed. his unwashed hair was stuffed under one of those caps that looks like it was from alpaca fibers and bought in Peru. Probably bought on the lower east side instead. Grant moved on.
A blind man with reflective shades and a white cane decorated with a red ribbon that wound up and down its length turned to Grant, nodded.
Nope. none of these.
“Rufus rufus I been thinking, life would be so easy then….” Grant whipped around behind him and finally found the singer. A short boy of about 12, ethnicity unclear. Could be a mix of several different lines, all culminating in one perfect package.
Making his way hand over hand, politely pushing other passengers out of the way, Grant moved down to the part of the subway car where the young man sat by himself, with shoes made out of bread sleeves.
“This seat taken?”
“This seat here… ok, I’ll just sit here, then.” Grant tried to sound friendly and non-threatening.
The boy scooted away slightly, eyeing him suspiciously.
From his mind, Grant projected: ” I heard you singing…. in your mind.”
Like a bolt of lightning, the boy shot up and dashed down the subway car, making rabbit holes in the empty spaces between the commuters.
Since Grant had made the first thread, he didn’t need to chase Stephan, the boy radiated his name like a neon light.
“Go ahead and run, little man,” Grant thought furiously, “But we WILL catch you”.
Someone elbowed Grant in the shoulder and he looked up, flashed his MindCrimes division badge and made a circle of emptiness as he walked after the boy. No one dared get in his way.
Magda cried out, squeezing her eyes shut, tears leaving wet tracks across her cheeks; he body arching up off the cold of the metal table. Only the leather straps held her down. Panting, covered in sweat, the chill air made her skin ripple with goosebumps.
“So you think you can tell heaven from hell, blue skies from pain,” he said, his voice coming from everywhere and nowhere at once, “You don’t know anything!” The last was said almost as a shriek of frustration that rose in tandem with Magda’s own scream bouncing off sterile walls, a hollow cavernous echo.
Magda could hear the machinery’s humming grow louder as he leaned over her. His breath warm and smelling of apples. She remembered apples, the crisp texture and sharp crunch, and the sweet, sweet juices.
“Tell me! What else is there? Tell me what it looks like,” the formless voice demanded.
His words jarred her, pulled her back into the neverending nightmare. Magda shook her head, wishing for words but all that came forth was a whimper. It was hopeless. She didn’t have the answer. She wished to whatever God still floated in the blackness of space that she did, but no…
No blue skies, or trees, or fish or birds. Just pain and the questions. Always the questions. What did it look like? But Magda didn’t know; she’d never known. Her eyes had been taken from her too many years before.