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Tram (Based off the Song Krone)
I walked through the bustling city districts, alive with the spirit of commerce and interaction. Wading through the sea of people, I shifted from side-to-side, dodging the absent-minded who took no note of where they moved.
No one noticed me. I was invisible to everyone, seen by none, for I almost did not exist in this world.
“How lucky,” I pondered silently. “Rooted down to this dreary world, absorbed by emotions and compassion. I wonder what it’s like to be chained? If mother and father were still alive, I wouldn’t be this free.”
As I continued down the street, brief memories of my childhood flitted through my mind.
“I’m sorry, son, but your parents…their evacuation truck was hit by an explosion…”
My parents died when I was young, in one of the many wars that raged on this planet. As resources of Earth have begun to decrease, conquests for substances like food and water have become common.
“Hey, scrawny kid! I’m your guardian now, and you’re going to live at this orphanage. So you had better listen to everything I say! You only eat when I say, you only sleep when I say, and you only speak when I say!”
And so, as I was orphaned, a sense of overwhelming freedom grasped me, almost choking me. As there was no one to raise me, I had no restrictions. Nobody told me to do or not do something, and so through this freedom, I felt discontented.
Glancing around at the bleak, dreary people, I frowned. I want to die. To be free from this world that is bound with such bland feelings.
To conserve resources, our city was built in an incredibly uniform design: block after block, the buildings sat in several organized rows, allowing the streets to pass between them and form intersections. Concrete was the most efficient building material, and so the entire metropolis was a drab, lifeless grey. Despite the windows reflecting the blue sky, the entire city had no spirit.
Suddenly, as if to break the boring schedule of the world, an enormous explosion rocked the street ahead. An eerie silence settled over the once-oblivious citizens, and as if on cue, everyone began to run and scream.
Yet I, shocked and awed by the rising fiery pillar, stared at the blazing rage. It’s so beautiful, I thought, smiling at its wonder. The fire of death and destruction; the fire that can set me free! Slowly yet surely, I began to approach the flickering flames left by the explosion. As the heat grew more and more unbearable, I grinned wickedly. This is it! Free at last!
Suddenly, someone thwarted my glorious plan of escape by tackling me, driving me away from my hellish paradise and throwing me onto the sidewalk.
“I know this is scary, but you can’t space out!” As I sat up, I realized from his blue uniform and badge that he was a policeman. “C’mon! There’s a shelter not far from here!”
As the defender of justice began to drag me from the terror, the perpetrators revealed themselves through the smoke: a convoy of armored cars, packed with rugged soldiers armed to the teeth, bristling with belligerence and pointing their weapons at us. The policeman pushed me into an alley, but without warning, the attackers fired.
The tiny, metal spears riddled his body, and as he collapsed, blood began to pool out of his body. My eyes widened, and I began to breath quickly as fear began flooding into my head. He’s dying, I thought.
I gaped as he began using the last of his strength to push himself to the wall, sitting up and tightly grasping his bleeding chest. “Don’t throw away your life. There’s so much good in this world.”
Slowly and weakly, he raised his arm and pointed down the alleyway. As I opened my mouth to argue, he shook his head. “Leave me behind…I’m going to die anyway. Now go!”
With the last of his strength, he softly pushed me away. As I hesitantly ran down the alley, the near sounds of gunfire pushed me into a sprint until I emerged from the alley into a completely different district of the city. Bending over to catch my breath, I suddenly felt my heart torn asunder.
“What? Why am I hurt?” I asked, grasping my chest. “Is this sadness? Am I sad because I left him behind?”
Several more explosions snapped me from my tears. Flames began to leap high into sky, and the city once known as our home was transformed into a hell.
As more people screamed, the buildings, weakened by the explosions, began to collapse like dominos. Over the crashing of rubble a young voice cried desperately, “Darren!”
I turned around, and through the fleeing crowd of civilians, saw a teenage boy crushed under rubble. Kneeling beside him was a younger boy, whose face was full of dismay.
My eyes widened at the enormous piece of concrete crushing him. “He’s going to die…” I thought. “Too much of his body has been crushed. It’s too late to save him.
“C’mon, big brother! You have to be okay!” the younger boy began to cry.
The words big brother suddenly froze me in place. They’re siblings. The thought of a relationship snapped my mind. “What if I were in that situation?” I asked myself. “What if I were that younger brother? As if a revelation had come upon me, I began to move towards the boy, Darren. To do what, I don’t know, but perhaps it was to save him.
Darren smiled painfully, and reached out his arm to pat his younger brother on the head. “John, I don’t think I’m going to make it…”
“No!” John, his younger brother, let loose a torrent of tears as he wailed. “We planned to have a fun day today! You promised me we would always be together!”
With a sad chuckle, Darren smiled and shook his head. “I’m sorry, John. The world is cruel, and sometimes promises were meant to be broken,” John’s eyes widened, and suddenly, he embraced his elder brother, letting his tears unleash, as if an aqueous dam of sadness had been broken.
Darren noticed my approach, and lifted his gaze to me. “Don’t bother helping me…my legs are crushed. I can’t go on,” As I opened my mouth to object, he jerked his head towards John. “But can you take him with you? I don’t care what happens to me, as long as he can still live.”
John wailed again, and Darren chuckled once more.
“C’mon, John. You’re going to grow up soon, right? You’ll find plenty more friends in this world. I know because I’m your brother,” His eyes once again snapped to me. “You! Hurry! Take John and go! Now!”
I grimaced, wanting to scream with frustration, but I plucked John away from Darren and began to run from the devastation, cradling him in my arms.
“Let me go! Darren’s still back there!”
As John shouted with sadness and anguish, an enormous crash caught my attention, and I turned around. Darren had been completely crushed by an enormous steel girder. All that remained was a pile of rubble.
“Everyone’s dying…everyone’s dying!” My mind spun in circles as the unthinkable concept of death rang through my head, and I turned around to join the crowd of fleeing citizens.
As John and I dashed through the city with the remaining survivors, we passed a small, café, whose interior was aflame from the wreckage.
“Wait, there are still people in there!” John exclaimed, pointing and getting my attention. “Look!” He promptly scrambled out of my arms and approached the café’s entrance. “That’s dangerous!” I mentally chided, yet followed him into the shop.
A blonde girl was supporting a raven-haired boy, whose walk was dangerously unsteady. “I’m not going to leave you here! You only have a twisted ankle! You’re still okay!”
I quickly approached the couple to help the boy, Matthew, when John suddenly warned me, “Some more trucks are coming this way!”
“Holly…” Matthew groaned. “There’s an exit in the back – remember?”
“Will you stop that? You’re always so stubborn! I love you because of that, but just please stop for once!”
Matthew hung his head, and suddenly, began to laugh softly. “I’m really happy I met you. You understood my sadness, and wanted to know me more, even though I was such a terrible person,” He smiled, looking deep into his companion’s eyes. “Thank you.”
He suddenly tore from our grasp and leapt onto the street, and a storm of bullets tore through him, ripping apart his body. Slowly, he fell onto his knees, dying with a smile on his face.
Holly’s eyes were wide with shock and fear, and almost collapsed from shock at the quick death of her love. But the sound of trucks suddenly caught my attention, and I grimaced. “They’re here!”
I leapt forwards and grabbed John’s hand before running into the café’s back area and snatching Holly’s arm. “Where’s that back exit?”
A while later, after fleeing from the café, we had managed to find a route to an underground shelter – a wide, dark tunnel, designed to allow several people through at once. “These tunnels are meant for large-scale evacuations,” I silently observed. “But why is it so empty? Where’s everybody else?”
I looked down at John, who was lifelessly clinging to my arm and staring ahead with dead eyes, blank and still.
Meanwhile, Holly was walking slightly behind us, her head down as she weakly dragged her feet.
“They’re in shock,” I noted sadly. “I’m not surprised.”
After a few minutes of walking, we arrived at a circular steel hatch, operated by a keypad on the tunnel wall.
“Hold on…this is an evacuation tram operated by the military,” I thought.
As I approached the keypad, I remembered the tram’s key feature.
“This vehicle can hold up to thirty people…but because of that accommodation space, it can’t house an interior operation system,” I remembered. “To launch it, someone has to activate the keypad and be left behind.”
Footsteps from behind us suddenly drew our attention, and as I recognized the heavy clamping of boots and the quick, yet steady speed, I cursed in my mind. “They’re here already? Darn, they’re quick!”
As their armed silhouettes solidified through the shadows, Holly and John began to retreat to the hatch, beginning to breath heavily and tear up with fear.
“Live.” The word whispered itself in my head, and time seemed to freeze around me as its definition became clear to me.
“This world may be cruel,” I thought, punching a button on the keypad and opening the steel hatch.
“What are you…” Holly began to ask, but I cut her off when I pushed John into her arms, before shoving them into the tram.
“There may be so many terrible things like pain,”
John began to wail, and I turned around to face the advancing soldiers.
“But that lets so many good things exist,”
“Wait! What’s your name?” John cried.
Slowly, I turned around and grinned the widest grin I could muster.
And why we must live.
“I’ve lived three times already,” I declared, my hand hovering over the keypad. “I don’t have a name,”
I punched the button labeled SEND.
The steel hatch slid shut, and a rumble shook the tunnel as the tram took off.
Now that I’ve ensured their safety, I’m all done here.
The attacking soldiers had reached the hatch by now, and pointed their weapons at me.
“Surrender now, or be killed!” the leader shouted, stepping forwards with great belligerence.
Slowly, I turned around.
Techland Government Record
The attack on Forestland’s South City was largely a success, although a few individuals did escape the task force.
Of note, however, is the unidentifiable citizen found in front of an emergency evacuation tram. Although they were clearly male, his face was covered by a golden mask. Half of his shirt was a warm orange, while the other half was a dark blue. Lastly, they seemed to belong to the police force because of the badge pinned to his shirt.
Upon being surrounded by our advance force, the individual suddenly disappeared. It should be noted that they had words written on the ground around them:
“This world may be cruel, and there may be several terrible things like pain. But that’s why so many good things exist. And that’s why we must live through this world. Through heartbreak and sadness, we still have to cling onto our lives until we finally arrive at the end of the journey, where we can finally rest in happiness and joy. My name is Mankind. It was nice to live.”