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My crew saw it before I did. The abyss of blackness consumed all of our terrified eyes, for we knew what would come of this. More accurately, we only knew death was inevitable, but we didn’t know precisely how. One might say ignorance at times like this makes anything far more daunting and hopeless than before. I grab my microphone to send a signal to everyone on board.

“Brace yourselves, men! We are about…To face our maker. If you believe in a god, goddess, or some sort of concept, pray to it. For today, we are ready to meet them. Everyone, go to your escape pods!” I saw my technician turn to me quizzically.

“Captain, you can’t possibly intend to stay!” I keep my head held high, my eyes only holding certainty as I stared into the jaws of this mighty beast. The black hole, space’s most unknown and horrifying entity. With that look, she understands and ushered everyone out to the pods. A few minutes later, everyone left onto their escape pods and flew off into the stars, towards Earth. They’ll be safe now, at the very least. Swallowing thickly, I prepared myself for death.

I walk to my quarters and open the cabinet. Within said cabinet was a photo of my family. My wife, my two beautiful daughters, and me, all smiling on the beach together. Suddenly, everything finally sunk in as my tears flowed down. Anxiety clenched at my stomach as everything I knew was about to be destroyed. I screamed, I cried, I apologized, I prayed. All I know now is that my family would never see me, their father, again. What a terrifying thought to behold, for now I truly must consider what death will feel like. Will it hurt? Will I go somewhere else? What will happen!?

Falling to my knees, I choked out a sob, shaking. I never thought it would end this way for me. My children…I will never see them graduate high school, or live their life. It wasn’t until now that I realized grim and dark death truly was. What if this is what I deserve? Have I done something to deserve this cruel fate? Does the universe wish for my soul to be torn apart? Now, all I want is for the black hole to kill me now. I want this over with already. This is terrible. I wish I could tell my family I love them. That I will always love them. I hope my wife finds someone else, or moves on, so she can continue being happy.

Why couldn’t I live on? I had so much to look forward to. Truly, death is a cruel mistress. Perhaps I should just take my life now, to avoid anything that could be worse. But how? How could I manage that? With those thoughts most likely being my last, the ship began to shake as I entered eternal blackness.

End of part 1

The cool, crisp air of the beach crossed through my hair as I sat by my wife, Caroline. Her hand fell on top of mine as we watched Elizabeth and Lyra play in the shallow water. Elizabeth splashed her younger sister, so now her large, red tuffs of hair are sticking down to her face, so she starts chasing sibling. It was all in good fun, as they giggled like kids their age should. Caroline looks at me, love in her eyes, much akin to andromeda, a calm smile crossing her face.

“It has been way too long since we could relax like this.” I couldn’t help but nod in agreement. Somehow, there was a strange aura of peace that dripped from her words, like a weight that was never there has been lifted away from my shoulders. I held her hand tighter, knowing that this wouldn’t last. Nothing good ever actually lasts. She seems to notice this and she puts her palm to my cheek gently, concern crossing her beautiful features.

“Is something wrong, sweetheart?” I know I should tell her, but my soul is screaming for me to keep it in. She can’t know about the trip I’m about to take out of the star system, she’ll be scared to death! No matter what, I can’t make this gorgeous woman fret over me. So, against what may be the right decision, I swallow down my fears and anxieties.

“You know you can talk to me, right? Did I say something? Or…Did you forget to take your morning shot?” Now her eyes looked scared, like a deer in the headlights, from the possibilities. I put a hand on her shoulder. I hate that I worry her so much. She doesn’t deserve this. I never deserved this. Why am I allowed something so good in my life? Wha-

“Honey, please! Your thoughts, they’re getting to you again! Don’t let them consume you! I’m here! The kids are here! We’re okay!” My jaw clenched unconsciously as I replied “How did you know?” She looks me dead in the eyes with the face of a terrified loved one. Look at what I’ve done now. I’ve made her upset, didn’t I?

“Leo, I’m not upset. You know that, right?” Okay, this is weird. “How do you know what I’m thinking!?” She moved back a bit with a look of surprise. Oh crap, I sounded far more agitated than I should have. She hugs me tightly, her warmth radiating like she was a human furnace.

“Leo…You were saying that stuff out loud. Are you sure everything’s okay?” Chewing on the inside of my lip, I nod. She sighs, slumping a bit as she moved back from the hug. “I know you’re lying, but I suppose I’ll leave it alone for now.” I nod again, the words just not coming to me. What am I even supposed to say to fix this? How do I help?

Both the girls run up to us, grinning from ear to ear. Caroline begins to dry them off while I call the hovercar to our location. Behind my back, I could tell my wife and kids were looking at me. I heard Lyra whisper, “Hey, is papa okay? He doesn’t look happy.” Caroline sighs again, “It’s nothing, little star. Papa is okay, he just needs to have some space to think.” I could hear not just exhaustion, but a bit of pity and irritation in her voice. This isn’t the first time I’ve been difficult, after all. I just hate those shots they make you take, just because you aren’t normal. It’s a form of conformity, not a cure for…Whatever my brain is. I’d rather be human than regular.

—–

They did always say you’ll have flashbacks in your final moments. I guess this is God’s way of saying that I was wrong. Oh well. At least the kids and Caroline won’t need to deal with my petty problems anymore. Maybe they can be happy that the dad who needed extra shots in the morning is finally off dead. That’s what I hope, at least. As I close my eyes and lay on the floor, defeated, I know that the black hole was still going to kill me.

“Caroline…I’m sorry I never told you I was doing this. On the bright side, you won’t need to worry about three children, just two. All I know is that I acted like a baby who never grew up. So, this is precisely what I deserve as penance for my crimes.”

Everything became black as I muttered the goodbye no one was listening to. Even in death, I feel sorry for myself and others around me. All because of some stupid shot I never wanted to take, I became so abnormal. Simply because I wanted to be creative, wanted to think outside the box, rather than erase it all. What a cruel joke. Perhaps I can be decent in the next life, if there is one. Goodbye, Caroline. Please don’t miss me.

End of part 2

Once again, my husband has run off to work at his job. I wonder where Leo could be again, at this hour. After all, this is odd, even for someone like him. For him to abandon me like I’m some sort of trophy wife who’s there to smile and look pretty! The nerve of a man! Oh well, nothing I can do about it now. I hope he’s happy with whatever woman he’s with. He’ll waste his life away for all I care! The only reason I’ve stayed this long is because he’s the only reason I can still support the family!

Breaking away from my thoughts, I realize that I slammed the glass I was washing to the ground, shattering the translucent object into hundreds of sharp pieces. Somehow, this brings an odd satisfaction to me, like I could be strong enough to break something tougher than glass…

“M-mom? Are you okay?” The shivering voice of my young darling Lyra made my eyes dart to her direction. She hid behind the wall, a look mixed between confusion and concern. I swallow thickly, replying in a voice that didn’t even sound like my own.

“Mommy’s alright, dear. Go back to bed.” I sounded almost robotic out loud, it scares me a bit. Lyra picks up on this as well, walking towards me. As a result, I counter her with a venomous tone I never thought to be capable of.

“Mommy said get back, Lyra! Do you want to start bleeding!? Do you want to shove glass in your foot like some sort of moron!?” The redhead jumped back, her breathing audibly shallow and sweat beginning to appear upon her brow. She clutched to the necklace her father gave her. How pathetic that she thinks he still cares! My body was flooded with such indignation and wrath that I lashed at her. I walk over the glass and approach Lyra, ripping the necklace off her body and throwing it to the ground.

“Do you think he still cares?! Lyra, don’t be so dense to think that he’s coming back! Daddy has left us for some broad on motel street! What makes you think he ever wanted this!? That he ever wanted you!?” Lyra tears up and runs off to her room, sobbing louder as she grew farther away.

“You’re just running from the truth! He’s gone! That’s all anyone in this family does! They run like cowards!” I slam my feet on the ground as I return to the dishes. I put my hands into the soapy water and just stare for a few moments. My fists clench as I bit my lip, attempting to hold back my own sorrowful cries. After what felt like hours of staring, contemplating what I’ve just done to my poor daughter, I leave to my room for the night. Gazing at the cupboard where he kept his medical shots, I bite my thumb. I won’t be addicted, not again. I can’t go back to such a toxic life.

Then I start pacing, heart thumping, body aching, shivering, sweating, biting so hard on my thumb that I tasted the familiar copper tang of blood. Throwing my arms in defeat, I rush to the cupboard. I grab the shot and inject it quickly, toes curling in the process. The room was becoming dizzy, the lights fading out. I knew that this was the effect of the medication, so I just lump myself over to the light switch, flip it off, and fall to the warmest bed I’ve ever slept in.

“Goodnight, my husband. I hope you like whatever short-dressed blonde you’ve picked up.” It sounded like perfect English at the time, but I knew what I just said out loud sounded like

incomprehensible gibberish. Everything was a big blur and the next morning, I woke up to the hard floor at 5:00 A.M., some blood dried out on my thumb, and a needle sticking out of my arm.

End of part 3

-Sammi (Samantha) Best

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