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The Right Decision
Dear Lord, please have mercy… It finally happened.
The sirens have started, just like I knew they would. I had a feeling this wouldn’t die out and be a bad memory, something said this was real. That’s been happening a lot lately, that little nagging feeling I get that ends up being something real. I’ve been ignoring it most of the time but I just knew. I just knew it wouldn’t turn out all right.
Maybe it’s my position of power that gives me this knowledge/ paranoia, I don’t know. I must say, being a senator puts me one step ahead of the general population when it comes to the latest news of political turmoil, so I understand this situation in Cuba better. Also, dealing with liars and hidden agendas on a daily basis makes you cautious, almost to the point of total distrust of everyone who cries, “Peace! Peace!”
Either way, in my eyes, the situation getting to this point was inevitable.
I’m getting out of here. I have absolutely nothing of life and death or national value in this office; I’m taking nothing to the shelter but my own self. There are a few documents, but this is nuclear war and new and different thing will be important in the post-apocalypse… if anyone even survives to decide what’s important.
Looking at all the people being evacuated, I must say, it interests me, the reactions of a man in a time of crisis. Watch someone who is facing imminent death and you will know that man. You see their heart, what they really care for when there are no inhibitions to stop them. Emergencies create chaos because it’s almost as if you’ve removed all humanity.
Look at that man punching and shoving and knocking over desks in an effort to be the first out of the building; I can say without a shadow of a doubt that he is a coward and a loathsome man.
Of course, here is a woman frozen by fear, completely immovable, struck dumb and stupid by the reality of our inevitable end. She has lived too comfortable a life.
Then there are the guards.
That old black man is trying to make the woman leave, but isn’t wasting time on a lost cause, he just left her to attempt to break up a fight. Now he is supporting a man who smashed his head and walking him to the door. He is a hero, self-sacrificing, patient, focused on others more than his own needs.
This guard on the other hand is yelling at people and hitting people and trying to get out into the open as soon as possible, what a rat and a scoundrel.
I’m at the doors now, and I have to wonder, “How would another observer describe me?”
I have a feeling they’d note that I seem numb and calculating, callous to pleas for help. Unfortunately, they would be correct; I analyze, calculate, and think. I don’t hold much space in my heart for others. However, I would never stoop so low as to actively hurt somebody; I’m too civil for that.
I just got into my limo, along with the chauffeur (he deserves to live) and a few of my employees and co-workers. In all there are ten people pushed into this vehicle; under normal circumstances, it holds five. We are allowed to break certain rules when lives are at stake.
I’m in the front next to my driver, and right behind me is the kid I’ve trained up.
For some reason, I took a liking to him even when he was only an intern and sophomore in college. I don’t know why I like him; I can’t even really put into words how I like him. He’s not like a son to me, he’s more a protégé, but less brilliant. I guess I’d say our relationship is closest to that of a tutor and his student, except that I’m also his boss.
Traffic is ridiculous, but we have to get out of the city to the fallout shelter before the bombs hit, we may still have a chance.
It’s funny, I’m usually one step ahead of the masses, but now I may as well be just another Joe off the streets. I don’t even know what the ETA is on the bombs is. I think someone said something along the lines of ten minutes. That will barely be enough. I know exactly when the missiles were launched and I could calculate approximately when they should hit, but I’m brain dead and don’t feel the need to. It’d most likely just cause more panic than there already is.
Making it out of the city is our only chance, and that may not even save us.
The shelter itself is a secret military installation beneath a warehouse. I went there and took a tour when they first revealed it. It’s about what one would expect: dark and badly lit, everything is made of concrete and steel, you could taste the recycled air even in the “grand opening”, and there is no thought of comfort. The food is all dried and powdered, and the cots we’ll be sleeping on are flat and lumpy. There are adequate medical supplies, I must give it that. But all in all, it won’t be pleasant. Then again, dying of radiation poisoning or having the flesh evaporate off your body wouldn’t be any fun at all either. So obviously I’m hoping we make it.
We’re out of the city now. Unfortunately it’s still a bit of a drive till we get to the bunker. A time like this really gets me thinking; I’m sure it does the same for others. Still, I look at what we as a race have accomplished and I have to wonder, what have we actually done to better this earth? I got into politics because I wanted to change the world; I figured if I made a difference for the better it would give me a purpose and power that most men cannot feel. I don’t know if I have accomplished anything actually lasting. If this is the end, was I good enough? Did I succeed? I’m not at all sure.
I think time will prove my hunch (this again) that what we’re best at is destruction of any good that may have been.
We’re out of the city now. The limo is going about 80 MPH. The way we’re driving, the bombs won’t have to kill us.
I feel it.
They’re about to hit.
Here it comes.
The world shifts and turns white, a blinding, burning light. The car is literally in the air. All the bullet-proof windows just popped like balloons. That secretary who I’ve never particularly liked is hit with shrapnel. He may be a jerk and a slacker who doesn’t deserve a job, but I wouldn’t wish shards of glass on him.
Somehow, the vehicle is still upright and running, but it’s oppressively hot and smells like we’re breathing in our own death. Unfortunately, there is only one gas mask in here, and the air filters are useless with shattered windows.
I’m getting another “feeling.”
Whoever wears the mask will be the only one who lives.
I can’t take this protection.
I’ve had my chance at life. I took my shot at purpose. Don’t ask me if I succeeded; I still don’t know. This is my chance to give someone else a chance. Perhaps this decision is my life’s purpose.
The mask is mine to give. This one decision may redeem or cement my life’s current trend. Who in this car deserves to live? Every second I wait makes their chance of survival smaller.
It has to be my protégé.
He has so much potential and experience, and he’s younger than the rest of us. His life isn’t half over; he has more time to decide who he is.
I give him the mask. He’s shocked and hesitant. He looks at me as if to say, “Are you sure?” Then he puts on the mask.
Yes. I can finally say I am sure. Another of those feelings hits me; I made the right choice. History will vindicate me. My student will prove to be invaluable to “post-apocalyptia.”
Though I’ve sealed the fates of nine people, including myself, to slow and painful death, I believe I have indirectly saved the lives of thousands.
I sit back as we pull into the shelter. I will die; there is no question of that now. I can already feel the fumes eating away at my insides. This is going to be slow and painful.
I feel sick.
It’s been two days and I’ve vomited away most of my body. I’m feverish and my mind and body are pretty much immobile. The radiation itself weakened me somewhat, but we were all exposed. So that’s not what’s killing all of us. The only one of us who will live is my “underling,” just like I predicted. It’s all the fumes that are causing our doom.
I asked for him around three minutes ago. Here he comes.
I’m not big into talking; I’ve always been a quiet contemplator. But there is a time for everything: a time to remain silent and a time to speak out, a time for me to live and the time when death will not wait, a time to think, and a time to act.
Now is the time to speak:
“My boy, in my life, I’ve never been certain about the wisdom of my decisions, but I’ve always felt an unexplainable certainty about certain other things. When it was in my power to give the mask, I chose you.
“I chose you because I see something in you that I don’t see in myself. If you had reminded me of me, I may not have picked you. You have the potential to do great things, actual things that actually affect the world. I want you to use this power.
“I occasionally get these feelings about what will happen, not precognition, they’re more just general hunches that are almost always correct. I have a hunch about you. You have potential to be a great voice in the post-war government. So go, join the senate. They will need as many level heads as possible to decide on the correct course of action. Prove me right; be that level head. Do all the things that I never could.
“I’m counting on you. I believe that you can take my name and complete it.”
My time is over now.
I feel just as weak as before, but I’m not in pain. All I feel is a sort of numbness as my heart and mind slow down. I guess it is death’s courtesy to relieve us of pain as we die. It’s his little consolation for taking away everything.
I can’t keep my eyes open.
I close them.
They’ll be staying closed now.