Mitch woke to a horrendous assault on his nose.
God that smells like a hooker's day-old vomit.
Opening his eyes, he saw there was indeed a pool of vomit, which was clearly of his own making rather than that of a hooker. It was lit only by the dim light from the setting sun that managed to find its way through his window, and the view was enhanced by the handful of flies buzzing over it. Not far off of a day old then.
Suddenly everything started to come back to him, along with the weight of the decision he had to make. It seemed a bit unreal now, distant; nowhere near the soul-crushing pressure Mitch had felt during his panic attack earlier.
He tried to stand and failed. Looking around aimlessly, his mind still somewhat muddied, he saw that the side of his body resting on the floor was glued to said floor by a healthy dose of crusted over puke.
Ugh, that's grosser than the opening of Nocturnal Animals.
With a bit more effort and a sound halfway between a squelch and a crunch, he was able to detach himself from the wood. His thoughts still churning he went back to the bathroom and got into the shower to wash off the filth. You would think after such a traumatizing experience he would be racing to call someone and get this story out, but he was still conflicted. Maybe it was that the whole thing seemed so surreal since waking up. Mitch wasn't sure, but he wasn't ready to make the call yet. Maybe when there was no more spew in his hair.
After his shower, he cleaned his floor and sat back in front of the computer. He sat there for a few minutes. The numbers for the news agencies were still open in his browser.
He checked the news again. The government was acknowledging that it had data to suggest that the scores may be able to predict who was most likely to die at the next Tolling. They were quick to follow with statements saying that it was not sure, and was still just a theory and that of course if they were confident of this the American people would have been told.
Mitch scoffed. Even if they had suffered losses at double the average, there would still have been approximately two point four million data points after the second Tolling to draw upon to formulate their "theory." Only the most skeptical of scientists, or those whose body of work was directly challenged by this information, would deny it at this point. There was no mention of what the threshold for survival might be.
There were also no reports on the possibility of changing one's score: no easy solution then.
He browsed the conspiracy theory sites again. The majority of the ones he had visited previously were now shut down or blocked by a government firewall. Mitch snorted, the government would have had to already have the firewall ready and waiting for deployment for it to be active so quickly. Of the few that remained and the new ones that he could find, none mentioned the possibility of the score being anything but a static number.
If anyone had mentioned anything close to the number being dynamic and possible methods of changing it a lot of the pressure would have come off of him, but now, as far as Mitch could tell, he was the sole possessor of this information.
So the burden truly did rest upon him.
Elbows on his knees and fingers intertwined behind his head Mitch took a few deep breaths. Prepare for impact.
He would be reviled. He knows it now that he thinks about it. Some may view him as a savior, but the majority would hate him for not coming forward sooner. He might not have known that acupressure, or formations, or acupuncture could change anything but he had only found out those things because someone had told him seven months ago that the score could predict if you were going to die or not. If he had come forward right away, it might have been different, but now, he would be hated.
Still, countless people might be saved considering that he now had a method for changing the score. Mitch had no way of know if it would be practical for everyone, or even anyone besides himself, but the possibility remained.
He wasn't making any progress like this. He shut off the TV and set up his formation. He climbed inside and activated it once again with his blood. He did not meditate, but he let his mind wander as though he were about to; passively processing the myriad thoughts that he would not even acknowledge consciously on a regular basis.
Sitting there the questions of public perception faded into nothing. Even Mitch's personal well-being and advantage faded out of the equation, and he was left with two arguments: he could potentially save an inconceivable number of people from death: his training method would widen the gap between the strong and the weak. The second may not seem like much of an argument; of course, there will always be the strong just as there will forever be the weak and ne'er shall the two exist in harmony.
The weak are meat, and the strong do eat.
So it had always been, and so it would always be. Whether it was the strength of the arm, or the strength of the mind, or the strength of the wallet those with power would perpetually take advantage of those without. It was a tale as old as humanity itself.
Before a conclusion was reached, Mitch felt his meridians straining to contain the energy present in his formation and so exited.
He found himself single-minded during meditation and did not make any further progress on this decision.
Mitch passed a few days this way, continuing his training while debating the choice before him. He would check the news and the websites every day to see if anyone else was sounding off on the topic, but no one ever was.
After all of this, the arguments were sitting balanced in Mitch's mind. Sure, an incomprehensible number would die now; but, on the balance of eternity, an unfathomable number would be saved.
In the end, it was an argument he had initially discarded that came back to tip the balance: personal advantage. Mitch would be far more likely to survive if he kept quiet, he might even find himself sitting among those powerful few who controlled the weaker masses.
A terrible resolve began to form within Mitch's mind; a sinister surety. The more he thought about it, the more it seemed inevitable until finally, it crystalized into decision.
Even after his choice was made he sat in front of his computer for an amount of time he did not keep track of. He felt hollow: there was something that had been left behind in the process of making his decision; some essential component of his humanity that had fallen by the wayside. Still, even knowing this, his decision was irrevocable.
Finally, he stretched out his hand and used the mouse to close each tab of his browser individually. As each number of each newsgroup vanished, a bit of darkness crept in to fill the void that he had created in his soul.
He didn't cry or curse or scream. He was beyond that now. The stillness of a grave permeated his being.
The rest of the world was on their own.
- Indiana, USA
Bio: I've been a reader since I can remember. I remember reading late into the night using just the light I could get from cracking my bedroom door to the hallway, much to my parents frustration I'm sure. Animorphs, Where the Red Fern Grows, Call of the Wild, Ender's Game, Dune, The Wheel of Time and many more than I can name here all defined my childhood. To a certain point I remember the stories from the books I read better than my actual youth. Recently I felt a strong desire to write something. To pour out a bit of what I have built up over the years. I had always had a kind of formless "one day" kind of desire to write, but this was different: persistent. Thus is born my first fiction, Rescendence, begun some random weekday night when an extra nightcap gave me the courage to finally put fingers to keys and see what happened. This is my first serious attempt at writing anything, and is proving more exciting and more difficult than I anticipated. I hope that through it all I can give you, dear reader, something that you enjoy and can look forward to.