Late by M. Silverman

The clock tolls once, twice, three times, then is silent.

I’m late.

I quickly cross the street, then break into a jog. My feet fall in a regular pattern, but my breaths are starting to become jagged and uneven. My lungs are gasping for air, my legs whimpering in protest.

I’ve never been a runner, unfortunately.

My hair is falling out of my ponytail and flying into my face. I reach up to fix it, and am surprised when I discover that the back of my neck is soaked.

I can barely feel anything anymore, just the rhythm of my feet striking the pavement, and the pounding of my heart in my ears.

The only thing keeping me going is the thought that everyone is depending on me, we’ll all fail if I don’t show up on time.

My lungs are screaming in agony and my mind is starting to go fuzzy when I see it.

My destination. Finally.

I burst through the doors, gasping. All around me are my friends, family, and everyone else I’ve ever known. They all finished before me, with perfectly acceptable times. I was the only one who went over the time limit.

Hopefully we’ll all still pass.

We all slowly turn to the back wall, which is made entirely of glass. Two blue, humanoid figures stand on the other side of the glass wall, holding clipboards and shaking their heads.

One turns to the other. “This group is too weak. Cull them.”

“WAIT!” My mother screams. “We can take care of the problem!”

The creatures look at each other for a brief second, then nod curtly to her. I sink to my knees in relief, at least we won’t die today. I’m still trying to catch my breath when I notice them.

My family. My friends. My neighbors. All of them, staring at me. All of them carrying rocks, sticks, and other blunt weapons. They start closing in on me.

The last thing I see are the two creatures smiling toothy grins, and eagerly taking notes on their clipboards.

Categories: Gallery

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