Friday, December 4, 2015

"The Day He Died" (a short story by anonymous)

I wish someone would believe me.  No one does.  How could they?  Everything that happened before didn’t happen after all.  Well, it did, but then it didn’t.  So how can anyone remember something that didn’t happen when it actually did?  It’s all terribly confusing so I’ll just tell you what I know.

Ten days ago the world was involved in its most horrible world war yet.  World War XX had already spelled the worst for Brazil, Peru, and Argentina, and the Syrians were gunning for the whole continent.  Over ten million were dead from the concentration camps alone and the Venezuelans were next to be interred.  I was sitting in my apartment in Puerto Ayacucho with my AK-47, my lucky fishing knife, and the last of my rum.  I had already heard gunshots, and I was pretty sure mine were going to be heard too.

So I waited.  Then I fell asleep in probably under five minutes.  I was never good at waiting.

I woke up to find myself sitting in an enormous, beautiful, larger-than-life garden.  I had never seen anything so glorious.  Even the leaves of the ferns and the petals of the flowers seemed to glimmer and have a radiance that would wipe away darkness from anywhere.  I didn’t move.  I didn’t want it to end.  I started to think I was dead.

Then I saw him.  I knew who it was immediately.  Anyone would know.  The flowers, ferns, trees, and grasses all bent toward him hoping to get closer.  I felt the draw too, but as I was about to get up and follow him, he was sitting right next to me.

I sat there not knowing what to say for what felt like years, then he began to speak.  I mean, what do you say to someone like him, but he spoke the most eloquent prose about the garden, its intricate features, and the way they all weave together to form a symbiotic whole.  He said, “This is my creation.  It is good.”

Remembering Venezuela, my shyness fell away.  “Why not bad?”  Life is certainly not like this everywhere, I thought.

He smiled a great smile and said, “Not bad.  Creation as a whole is better or else I would not create.  There would be no point to my existence otherwise.”

Wrapped in my own head trying to understand everything meant by that, I offhandedly asked, “Why is something necessarily better than nothing?”

He pursed his smile, thought about the question, and a speck of doubt crossed his brow.  It was the most horrifying thing I’ve ever witnessed.  He said slowly, “I do not know.  What would be the point of my…”  And with that his body turned ashen and exploded as rotting flesh.  Within an instant, the garden, once so beautiful and radiant, was a wasteland of fuming disease, excrement, and ravaging maggots.  For miles around, only death and the harbingers of death could be seen and smelled.  He just died.

I woke up back in my apartment, in my chair.  Instinctively I reached for my gun, but found nothing.  After the mental reorientation needed after vivid dreams, I surmised that the Syrians had not killed me and…something was different.  The morning light felt a little cheerier than normal.  No gunfire could be heard.  Only people.  Lots of people.  I peeked out my window to see the streets bustling with the old street market back in full force with hundreds of happy shoppers.

Didn’t they know there’s a war going on and that we’re next?  Maybe they were tired of living scared and decided to give life one last hurrah.  I went outside and bought an apple.  It never tasted so sweet.  I probe the vendor about what would happen if the Syrians came right now.  Would she just give up?  She said, “Syrians?  All the way over here?  I guess I hope they have lots of money to spend!”  Giving my best puzzled while frowning look I ask, “Aren’t you afraid of getting killed?  What about the war?” 

Dumbfounded she says, “Silly boy, people don’t kill people.  That wouldn’t be a very good thing to do now, would it?  What do you mean by ‘war’?”

Confused, I leave the vendor and walk down the street.  I pick up a newspaper, peruse it quickly, but read no mention of any war.  I go to the gun shop thinking I’ll get some straight answers, but there’s a bakery now standing in its place.  My head’s spinning.  I ask the bakery clerk what happened to the gun store and he asks, “What’s a gun?  Is it a new food?  This bakery has been here for over a decade, son.”

I walk outside and breath the air.  Sweet.  Life.  I buy a flower from a vendor.  It glimmers.

There was never a war.  No one believes me that there was.  People have a hard enough time believing that I made up such an awful word as ‘war’.  After checking the library archives, I find that there has never been any war on Earth.  Ever.

I lean back in my chair, fail to make sense of it all, but think to myself: this is good.


  1. That's a nice fantasy, but systems of moral values do not work that way.

    1. I guess I didn't read the story as explaining how morality works.

    2. So what was the story explaining? Was it not implying that if we just didn't have *him*, we could still have had practically the same moral values develop, but basically without any war?

    3. How about the world would be a much better place without God, even if God is only an idea. I take the exaggerated ending in comparison with the warring beginning to be making that kind of point.

    4. Maybe it would, but God is such a deeply ingrained idea that runs people's entire way of living... can we do anything but keep educating new generations, and wait for God to gradually go away?

    5. I believe that education is the only way to go, and hope that the die-hard religious folk eventually die off. Unfortunately when ignorance is rampantly taught from many religious and conservative circles, I'm afraid this fight is steeply uphill.