Ignorance is Bliss

By
Perhaps the sound of loud, angry gunfire and the blaring, ugly noise of an ambulance's sirens should have disturbed the doctor inside the vehicle, but the truth was he had already heard it all before. Riots, fires, freak accidents, car crashes...the poor man had seen everything. Especially in this huge, horrid city full of turmoil and discord on every corner. But this was his job, his duty. It had been since 1982, nearly 30 years ago. He hated it, but in a few short decades he would be dead, and he could not care less what happened to the world thereafter.

He stepped gingerly out of the ambulance and looked around for immediate danger, without success. The night was as black as his soul, and just as disturbed. Gunfire continued to break the stillness of the city night, and screams pierced the calm of the younger doctor at his left. “Uh...where should we be off to, Doctor Arawon?”

“Your first time out on the city streets, Thompson?”

“Yes, sir. Uh, so...” the man was clearly waiting for orders. Arawon let him wait.

“We don't look. They come to us.”

“Excuse me?”

But Thompson got his answer. A figure appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Arawon jumped back into the car and hit the lights. As he got out of the ambulance once again, he saw it was a mother, tears streaming from her eyes. She seemed unable to speak, and merely gestured to the corner. Arawon started for it, Thompson at his heels.

The street corner was clearly lit, due to the lamp post that stood sentinel over it. Blood mixed in with the grime of the concrete, and the mother began to shake. At the center of the mass of blood was a crumpled body, clothed in black. Unlike its mother, it did not move in the slightest. Arawon knelt by the body, and slowly straightened it out. It was a girl, hardly sixteen, her tan skin caked in her own blood.

“Breena...” the mother whispered.

“My lord.” Thompson gasped, stumbling as he caught sight of all the blood. “No. Why would someone...” he trailed off, unable to finish the question on everyone's mind.

“What a waste of a question.” Arawon snapped. “Don't ask why. Ask where.”

“Where?” Thompson repeated faintly.

“Where the bullet wound is.” Arawon explained, rolling his eyes.

“Her neck.” the mother gasped. “Her pretty neck. My Breena...my beautiful Breena...”

“Well, what she didn't have in brains, I guess she made up for in beauty. You don't go walking on these streets after dark. Didn't you teach her that?” Arawon asked, pulling the medical supplies out of the kit he had brought with him.

“Doctor!” Thompson cried aloud. “Don't say that.”

“Why not? It's the truth.”

“My Breena...” the mother kept whispering, deaf to the doctors' comments.

“Alright. Let's stop up this wound.” Arawon ordered.

The two doctors worked well into the night. The gunfire eventually ceased, leaving the night still and somber. Breena's mother never stopped whispering her daughter's name. Breena was in a catatonic state, and the doctors stayed with her, unable to move such a damaged victim. The sun was just beginning to rise and shed light on this tragedy, when Thompson swore under his breath.

“Her heart.” was all he said, and Arawon knew exactly what the younger man was saying.

“What's going to happen to my pretty Breena?” the mother asked.

Neither of the doctors responded. They looked at the beautiful girl, and wondered where they had gone wrong.


Breena awoke in a cold room. In fact, cold was too generous a word. Freezing, frigid, Siberian...those seemed much more appropriate. She began to shiver, curling her body into the fetal position to preserve warmth. Her heart began to beat quicker and quicker with each moment. Where was she? This wasn't the streets of that awful, dark city. It had to be Antarctica. It had to be at least as cold there as it was in this room.

“Are you alright, miss?” said a man from somewhere beside her.

“She must be cold.” another stated.

“Poor dear Breena. Let's take her out.”

“It's been long enough.” the first man laughed in agreement. Long enough? How long had she been in this Antarctic room?

She felt the gurney on which she lay start to move. Warmth! Pure, painful warmth entered her soul. She gave a soft scream of pain as the heat started to prickle her whole body.

“Don't worry, Breena. It won't take long, and you'll feel fine.” a doctor next to her said.

Finally, when the warmth had spread throughout her, Breena opened her eyes and glanced at her surroundings. She was in a hospital of some sort, and she felt a different stab of pain. Her mother would never be able to afford this. It seemed outrageously technological, and very state-of-the art. She sighed, and looked at her doctors. All of them, three men and three women, were stunningly beautiful. They had lab coats of the purest white, and seemed to float down the hallway in an unearthly fashion. The doctors noticed that she was awake, but they kept pushing her along until they were in a small room.

“Greetings, Miss Breena. I know that you may be confused. That is normal.” The doctor smiled at her. “My name is Robert. How are you?”

“Who is paying for this?” Breena asked, wary. “We don't have money to spare, you know.”

“Oh, we know.” Robert replied. He gestured to the other doctors to leave. They obeyed. “We also know why you were walking those dangerous streets at such a late hour.” Breena looked downward, her cheeks turning pink. “Don't worry. Here at the Clinic, we have sessions for such wrongdoing. It will take you a while to see the way, but...it is all worthwhile. Trust me.” He smiled radiantly. Breena only curled herself up more tightly.

“How much is this going to cost?” Breena asked.

“It's free.” Robert laughed.

“What? Liar.” Breena hissed. “Everything costs something. What do you want me to do?”

“Get better so you can leave the Clinic and have a good time.”

Breena didn't reply, but only got up off the gurney. “No, thank you, Robert.”

“You don't want to get better?” Robert asked, bemused.

“I'm fine.” Breena replied uneasily.

“Oh, if only you knew what fine really was.” Robert murmured. Breena opened the door and sprinted away from the doctor. He did not give chase.

When she finally arrived at the front door, she took one last look around the hospital. Nobody seemed to pay her any mind. Breena cautiously walked up to the receptionist. “What's the date, ma'am?” she asked.

“Name, please.”

“Breena Andreas.” The receptionist raised her eyebrows, and checked a memo.

“It's 3021, my dear. Have a good day.”

Breena stumbled away from the receptionist, and threw herself out into the streets. Her knees gave out in shock. The city, the black and ugly city, was vibrant in a way Breena would never have been able to describe. The colors, the sounds, the smells were so unlike the old city that Breena wondered if it was really the same place after all. She found that she couldn't comprehend all of its beauty, and would never be able to if she lived for hundreds of years. Tears streamed from her eyes at the ineffable sight. Could this really be the future? Had they preserved her body so she could see this?

That seemed unlikely to her, since her mother had no money to her name. She would not have been able to freeze Breena, and keep her frozen, for a thousand or more years. It was impossible. This was impossible: the beauty, the wonder, the happiness that this city now embodied.

She was not aware that Robert was next to her until he spoke. “Great, isn't it?”

“I...I...” Breena found that words truly did fail her. “It's...the opposite of what...I remember.”

“That's how it goes with your type of person, Breena.” Robert said sadly. “I just wish...” His face clouded. “Never mind.”

“Am I really in the future?”

“Do you think you are?”

Breena looked down at the marble steps she was sitting on. “I remember...a stray bullet. I think it hit me. Could I have survived?”

“I don't know.” Robert said. “What do you want me to say?”

“I don't want to be dead.” Breena whispered. “I don't...no! Not yet!”

“Well, if you are, it's certainly too late to change any of that.” Robert said calmly.

“What? I thought...don't you, at least, know if I'm alive or not?”

“What do you want me to say?” he repeated.

“Tell me...I'm in the future. That I'll be immortal from now on. That life will be better.”

“How much of that is true, do you think?” he asked.

Breena looked up at the city, the beautiful city, and didn't answer for quite some time.

“None of it, I think. I think I'm dead. Am I?” she glanced at him, imploring that he denied her claims. Instead, he chuckled sadly.

“Ignorance is bliss, Breena.”


Thompson and Arawon walked sullenly back to their vehicle, the woman crying wordlessly behind them. “I can't...she's...my God.” Thompson whispered.

“Ah, so it's your first one.” Arawon muttered. “Happens all the time. She's-”

“Don't say it.” Thompson implored.

Arawon glanced at the younger man, and turned to him angrily, his eyes boring into the other's. “Don't say what? You think if I don't say that certain word, Breena's heart is gonna start again? It won't. If you want to survive in this profession, listen to me, Thompson.

“Everybody is going to die eventually. Nobody changes their ways. If they do something wrong, they're gonna do it again. And then they're going to push their luck and die. Don't whimper like a dog. It's the truth. And it hurts, doesn't it? You shove this one small truth under the rug. Most people would rather die than think, you know. So start thinking, Thompson! Stop shoving death under the rug, and look at it. It's going to be there whether you like it or not, because one day it's going to be you out on that street. It's time for you to stop hiding in your own ignorance. There's death, and that's it.”

“No afterlife?” Thompson muttered weakly.

“Death is afterlife.” Arawon snapped. “Because it's after your life.” He looked away, pain etched in every feature. “That's what I think. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope, every day, that I'm wrong, that I'm ignorant of what's to come. Because ignorance is bliss, Thompson, and you can never deny that.”





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Liv said...
Jan. 5, 2009 at 5:55 am
Fantastic! What a haunting story, but incredibly well written. Great job! :)
 
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