The Wrong Test – An Award-Winning Short Story
He became aware of rustling sounds. Scratching, searching, like a rat scavenging in a rubbish dump. A smell… the stench of human waste was suffocating. He tried opening his eyes. Nothing.
Frozen together… God help me…
Panicking, confused, he tried to rise, tense his muscles, twitch his nose, anything. Nothing.
Cloudy… hazy … druggy…. Why can’t I move…?
The noise ceased. A steady beat arose, a bass drum echoing off the narrow walls. It came closer, and closer, and closer, and it halted, towering over the prone figure.
He felt nothing. Claw-like appendages grasped him, turning him over, searching. Adrenalin coursed through his veins, warm steel slicing cold ice
Fear! Panic! Terror.
It snatched something from his wrist, his pocket, and scurried away.
He arose, furious. His eyes broke free of the frost. His muscles relaxed, released from their cold stiffness. Hormones raced, his eyes adjusting to the dark shadowed environment.
“Heeeyyy,” he slurred with numb lips, half yelling, “Thatsch mine!”
“Whatcha gonna do ‘bout it?” it snickered, “Call the cops? Oh, I’m so scared!” It scampered away into the night.
Sluggish… lethargic…. Outraged. I will! I’ll have him in jail in no time…
He clumped, trudged, through the deep twisting alley piled with shifting shadows, shades of black, silhouetted objects. Broken glass was scattered on the cold ground, glinting rays of light. He stopped.
It was… overwhelming. The harsh, blazing neon lights lit up the sky, blocking the celestial light of the stars. The harsh lights of transports surrounded him, blinding, assaulting his eyelids. The cacophony of honking, swearing, screams ganged up on his eardrums. And there was the smell. Polluted, as he remembered, thick with smog, but different, somehow. And the pedestrians….
Everything … Different? The same…?
He grimaced as he shielded his eyes from the brutal light, which cast deep shadows on their faces. Callous, uncaring. Blood- shot down-turned eyes, pale, and void of emotion. Gaunt, hollow cheeks. Despair, hopelessness. But there was more. He watched in horror, in morbid fascination, as the spectacle unfolded before him. Pick-pockets picked pockets, thieves thieved, murderers murdered, assassins assassinated, rapists raped. In plain sight. And nobody cared.
Can I believe it…?
He hurried down the distant, dazzling street with down-cast eyes, towards the dark, decaying, dilapidated police station anxious not to be noticed by the swarm of crime, of wrong, of… of…
He reached the cobwebbed station, forced through its flaked hinges, creaking and croaking, and entered the forbidding building.
“Whaddaya want?” a harsh voice reverberated off the tilting walls.
“I-I-I-I’ve come t-t-t-to re-re-report a ro-ro-robbery,” he stuttered timidly.
The voice snorted, causing a small avalanche of dust, “And?”
“We-we-well, tha-that’s wr-wro-”
“HA!” the voice barked, growing tense, “Wrong! Tell me, now, can you show me one molecule of wrong? Or one atom of right? Or even justice, mercy? Or good or evil? Or God!” The thin walls trembled and shook.
“N-n-no, b-but h-he sn-sn-snatched it f-from m-me!”
“So? Survival of the fittest, mate, survival of the fittest. You couldn’t protect your belongings; you lost them. That’s life. You’re weak. Now scram before I decide that I would be better off killing you,” the shadow smiled evilly. “The Government is looking for someone – experiment on cryogenics or something like that. If you see him, it would be right,” the voice chortled at this, “to report him.”
Can I believe it…?
Cold steel cut through warm flesh, cleaved muscles, chopped tendons, carved organs. The voice chuckled, and the man ran out, clutching his chest, bright red blood spilling from his fingers, eyes dazed with pain, searching the buildings for a red cross.
Pain. Searing pain. Fear. Cold. Someone, God, anyone, Help!
At the edge of his vision, shadows were gathering, swooping birds of carrion. Their eyes, cold, calculating, waiting to swipe the moment he was vulnerable. Thieves, murderers, ravagers; vultures, hawks.
He found it. He staggered in, blood spurting everywhere: on the plush, but faded sofas, the lush but ragged carpets.
“Not another one!” the doctor moaned.
The man’s face twisted in pain, “What?”
“We’re stretched as it is! We can’t help every hopeless case that wanders in here!”
“But nothing! You got yourself slashed; it’s your fault. Survival of the fittest. And you aren’t. Why should I help you? All you are is rearranged pond scum. Get out before you dirty the floor!”
Can I believe it…?
“B-B-But that’s wrong!”
“Wrong?” the orderly scoffed, “Prove it. Where does it say that it’s wrong? Show me the proof! It’s all in the head!”
“God?” exclaimed the attendant disdainfully, “There is no god! Get out!”
He staggered out, clutching his stomach. It was a miracle he was still alive. The cut seemed crusted over – it felt cold, freezing –as if it froze over.
God… God… … Father Don! He’ll know what to do…
He lurched to the place he knew so well. The pristine architecture, the beautiful columns, the alluring stained glass windows, the exquisite stonework, the enticing candles. It was just around the corner now. Away from this strange, strange world of… of… evil…
Yes, Father Don will know what to do.
He rounded the corner, leaving behind the harsh lights, the terrifying noise and the plethora of horrors, of dreads, of… of… evil.
And fell to his knees in shock.
I can’t believe it!
The high columns, the stones, the building was still there, but…
Blasphemous! Sinful! Godless…
The majestic cathedral, a once great pinnacle of society, lay in filth. The walls, once examples of fine masonry, were covered in ugly scrawls. The most obtrusive graffiti:
CLOSED BY ORDER OF GOVERNMENT
GOD IS DEAD
CLAUSE 10 SECTION II THE CODE
Can I believe…?
A loud whirring appeared overhead. A spotlight blazed, pinning the prone figure down. And a metallic voice: “I told you he’d be here.”