Their Days Are Numbered is a new year-long project authored by the collective Entropy community. It is a collaborative online novel written by the Entropy community on a weekly basis. A different author will write the next “chapter” each week, to be posted every Tuesday, following the previous post from the previous week, and following a very limited set of guidelines (that each author has one week to write the next piece after the previous week’s installment goes up, that installments should range between 150-1500 words, and that pieces should somehow incorporate a real-life occurrence, current event, news item, or other happening from that week).
Follow the entire “novel” here: Their Days Are Numbered.
The fiftieth installment is presented this week by Bryce David Salazar.
Hope died a second time. In the quiet that follows is the sound of a crying child.
Around the corner you see her. Small, dressed in pink with a knitted cap. She’s covered in the same red as you, lying in the arms of the dearly departed that birthed her. You look around, hoping for someone that will know what to do, someone that can handle the burden of the little girl’s life in their hands.
She’s hurt. One of the bullets that took her mother had passed through her. A wound like that, so small, so great on her body. You crouch next to her and brush her cheek with your finger, quietly telling her to “Shh…”
This is ridiculous. In a world where parents feed the remains of their murdered children to pigs, you try not to think about the children that suffer. As concepts, sure. But you want them kept as far from your thoughts as possible.
Because of Katherine Hope James.
You called her Hope. She was a girl who lived on the same street as you. Sometimes the two of you would play, running through the quiet street of your cul-de-sac where nothing bad ever happened. Traffic always passed by, as though the street only appeared to those who lived on it. The world carried on. But that street, yours and Katherine’s, came alive and appeared to the both of you.
It would have been a clean, victimless crime any other day, the way the man tore out from the drive. The street was supposed to be empty. He had no reason to believe a girl was behind him.
You knew you should get your parents. But you didn’t. Not right away. Instead you walked up to the body of the suffering Hope, shocked and shattered with no chance at all. The man was too far away to even see what he had done. You still wonder if he was late.
Hope is the reason you can’t think of children in pain. Whenever there’s a tragedy you go back to that day in the street and you stand over her as the sand in her short lived hourglass thin out into a line so small that only God and the insects would even know of it. And now here you are again, different context, but the reality is the same. A little girl is going to die right in front you.
How long does it take for an infant to bleed out? Jesus, did you really just ask yourself that? Why? What ugly, sick and depraved little bastard thinks like that? Have you really given up already? Isn’t there still…
Gunshots in the distance. More screams. The world is ending today. Not for everyone. Somewhere, miles away, some cozy fuck is enjoying himself, wrapped up in his comforts. But here, for you, the girl, everyone else, the world’s over. You’ll never get help. You’ll never get the child to a hospital or to someone who cares. Your options are to let the child bleed out or…
God damn it.
You end it quick. It was for the best, wasn’t it? Didn’t she deserve that much? Didn’t she deserve to have the suffering end, to be with her mother who was given the quick death she, the girl, should have been given all along? Or did it have to be this way? One way or another you always have to go back to that sunny day on that quiet cul-de-sac, where Hope looked at you with the same agonized emptiness as the baby girl, and be reminded. Always, until you’re lying amongst those around you in the dirt, always you’ll be reminded that there’s always Hope.
Bryce David Salazar is the [bleak] author of She Sees Metaphors and the forthcoming Tales of Timeless Springs. A Michigan native, he can often be found roaming about the capital city with Chinese takeout and energy drinks. For more go to: www.BryceDavidSalazar.com.