Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Every Man for Himself By Liv Sandwell

I’m running as fast as I can. Faster than I’ve ever run before. My heart is banging in my chest, and my mouth is clogged with phlegm which I need to spit out. But if I stop, that’s it. I’m dead.

A shooting pain erupts from my shoulder as I am hit with something. Hard. I try and regain my balance but I can’t. I tumble to the floor, my bare legs scraping across the concrete, my shoulder now in agonising pain. I can feel something stuck in my shoulder blade but now isn’t the time to inspect my wound. I roll over quickly so as not to have my back to my attackers. They hover over me, dressed in black, white masks covering their faces. All I can see of them is their eyes glinting through the tiny slits in the masks. I wait for the final blow, and for my world to go dark.

They don’t attack. I open my eyes. One of them beckons me. They won’t kill a man whilst he’s down. I clamber to my feet. I offer up the bag of food I have clutched in my hand. I know if I fight them I won’t survive. There’s nothing else I can do.

One of them steps forward, snatches it from my hand and throws it to one of his companions. I start to back away, hoping that now they had what they wanted they’d let me go.

The man in front of me pulls a gun out from his jacket pocket and points it directly at my head. I don’t feel scared. I just feel defeated. Understanding almost. If it was the other way round I would probably do the same. It’s survival of the fittest. Every man for himself. Kill or be killed.

The man squeezes the trigger.

I open my eyes and I’m back in the arcade. I’m on the floor curled up in a ball with my brother standing over me. He’s holding the virtual reality helmet he’s just ripped off my head, grinning at my cowering form. I stand up slowly and look at the helmet. Post Apocalypse is printed on the helmet in bold green letters. Underneath the slogan is “Can you survive the not so distant future?”

“Man, we really need to stop that apocalypse from happening,” I say.

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