“I’m going to die”, thought Marcus Holst sitting on his couch in the middle of his small apartment.
It was a dilapidated old thing, his couch, covered in plaster and bits of dry-wall dust. All of its springs had gone bad years ago, and if one did not sit directly in the center, they would find half their ass higher than the other in a most uncomfortable way.
Marcus had planned on throwing it out and buying himself a newer, more comfortable couch, perhaps one made of leather with a reclining feature, but that no longer mattered to him. And why should it.
He sat there in the center of his couch staring at the blank television screen in front of him. The walls around him shook at odd intervals. The lights flickered on and off. Large explosions could be heard nearby. Occasionally pieces of the ceiling would give way and fall and break on the wood floor around him. Marcus was calm. Relaxed.
“Soon none of this will matter at all. Not the television. This couch. The lights. Not even the marketing campaign for Munch-A-Crunch cereal I’ve been preparing for months. . .Who the fuck needs Munch-A-Crunch cereal.”
Marcus Holst thought back to the countless amount of hours wasted away behind his desk, behind spreadsheets and expense reports. The stress weighted down on him from long hours at the office, from pressure by his peers and superiors. How much time had been wasted on worrying about what others thought? How much of his life had he failed to live? Who’s dream had he been creating? Who’s dream had he been living?
He thought back to that little cubicle. Its grey walls. His little desk and computer. Telephones ringing this way and that. He thought back to how Ron, his coworker, would lean over the top of the grey little wall and say, “Marco, we’re almost out of here, buddy.” His voice like a mouth full of saltine crackers. His jowls jiggling with every syllable. White foam forming at the corners of his mouth.
This had been his life. . .Eight hours a day. . .Five days a week. . .Fifty two weeks a year. . .For twenty years.
“That’s forty one thousand, six hundred hours,” he whispered to himself, the words escaping with a breath.
That meant forty one thousand, six hundred hours he wasted on someone else’s campaign designed to lure people in, weaken them, and implant an idea. A dream. Someone else’s dream.
“I’m going to die,” he repeated to himself.
He had always wanted to see Greece. Egypt. Rome. Paris. Venus hanging over Chichen Itza. Places of beauty and inspiration, places where ones soul was at home with all things and felt in everything. He had wanted to see the world, meet the people within it, and share and laugh and love along the way.
He had even wanted a family once. Yes, it’s true. A wife and kids with a house perfectly fit for all of them. Nothing superfluous. Nothing extravagant. Something simple and quaint on a good piece of land they could call their own. Marcus had wanted those things for himself, for his family. There was love in him to give, and it swelled up in him as he sat there staring at the blank television screen, but never seeing it. . .That love. . .For there is no love greater than adoring the grace of another being. So much so that the thought of them brings tears to your eyes. Such a love is difficult to find. Such a love is even harder to see.
Marcus Holst could see her through the blurring scene in front of him, through the trembling and shaking of the walls around him, through the death hanging over his head.
Her name was Amelie Foray. Hair the color of beach sand on a Summer day. Eyes as big and bright and brown as polished amber. And a Petersburg complexion like a pearl glinting under the sun. She had a sweet disposition too, one of piety and fragility and bliss in an uncouth landscape. . .In short, she was perfect for him.
“I’m going to die.”
He had let her get away though. He couldn’t even remember why. Why hadn’t he done something? Why hadn’t he seen the world and love the woman he wanted? What was it that got in the way?. . .But nothing came to mind. Even if he could do something now, it was already too late. She had got married. Had kids. Moved to the country. Started a vineyard. . .No, there was nothing he could do about any of it now. Nothing at all.
Another blast went off. The walls shook. A siren trailed off in the distance.
Marcus heard something wailing like a cat getting ran over.
The sound clawed its way up Marcus’ back.
It came from down the hall. Marcus looked toward the empty space where his front door had once been. Bodies hurried past in a panic heading down the stairwell.
The suffering cat cried out again.
The bodies continued to flood downstairs, one on top of the other in a liquid mass of flesh, all eyes and mouths and fingers. All worrying about their own little worlds.
“Why aren’t they stopping? Why aren’t they helping that poor thing?” Thought Marcus.
He got up and moved towards the threshold. The scream came again.
Marcus went towards it, fighting against the current. He pushed and forced his away until the sound was in front of him. It was a young girl trapped under a large piece of ceiling.
Marcus went to work.
Someone passing him yelled, “There’s no time! The building’s coming down!”
Marcus heard the words, but they had no effect. He grunted and sweat and worked with all his strength.
The building soon crumbled down on itself, and when the noise and dust finally dissipated, and the bodies were no longer found, Marcus Holst was huddled over the girl, whispering, “It’s okay. . .We’re alive.”