Seventeen Seconds

Initial pain, hatred, sadness caused by another human being only lasts roughly seventeen seconds, after that all emotion felt is caused by our minds subconscious as a defence and survival mechanism, ourselves hurting ourselves. But imagine a world where this no longer applies, where a pill you took surpressed these feelings; sadness, depression and grief lasting not weeks, months or years, but only seventeen seconds; a world no longer controlled or infulenced by past emotions. What would it be like? Paradise? Eutopian? What if something went wrong, what if during those seventeen seconds the emotion you felt was mutliplied by how long you had been holding them back, what then?


3. Final Straw

"August 30, 2035.
It's a strange feeling worrying about your future, not the kind of worrying like you would about future job prospects, or marriage, or getting a new pet; this is the kind of worrying about the future of the human race. It's strange though, you don't feel as you think you would, you feel distant from it, you feel separate, it's not the destruction that scares you; angers you. No, what affects you is the thought that there will be no mention of this in any of the history books, there will be no evidence that we ever existed, no mention of the dead, the losses we took, the fight we made. No remembrance. It feels as thought not only is our future dying, fading away into the abyss silently; like a disease, but so is our history, everything everyone ever went though will count for nothing, will become nothing. I will continue writing this, I know no one will read it, but maybe, just maybe one person out there will survive, then they'd know. Then someone will know."
A tear fell down Hanna's cheek as she closed the book for another day. She sat in silence for a while, staring at the dead grey plaster-wood wall in front of her, marred with the stains of countless harsh and troubled years, with cracks running deep, reaching the houses foundations, and seemingly to the centre of the world.

Hanna rubbed away the tears with the back of her hand, she forgot just how much weight she had lost over the last few months with food becoming scarce. She always imagined her room covered in colourful cloths, fairy lights and mirrors. But as she sat in the darkness, the candle wick burning low, the blue flame reaching extinguishing, she was glad there were no mirror, no reflection in which she could see her body for how it had become. She reminded herself how beautiful she once was; long flowing chestnut hair, a voluptuous body that always caught the boy's attention, the ones not on the pill of course. But all of this had become lost, taken from her, stolen. Her femininity had been destroyed, her chest flattened with the malnourishment, her arms thinned, her hair became like wire; brittle and flat, dead from root to tip. Just by wiping a tear from her face she could feel her newly found bony features, causing her to recoil slightly in horror.

She sat in silence for a little longer, thinking nothing, forcing herself to feel nothing until she was shocked back to reality with a bang and a crash from down below followed by shouting and more crashes. She sprang into life  and made for the door, knocking over the wooden chair on which she sat in the process. She rushed down the stairs and was met with a scene of pure chaos, her father lay on the floor, a table by his side toppled over and her mother and brother pinning him down; mark astride his chest and her mother grappling with his arms. He lay squirming and screaming, anger boiling over, the effects of the pills apparent to all; a blind fury lasting no more than seventeen seconds.

He spat and he bit, trying with every bone in his body to harm those around him. The strength in his arms, multiplied by adrenaline and Euphoria, overpowered his once loving wife and threw her to the side and over the toppled table. Then, knowing he could not harm the others, starting biting and clawing at his own arms and face, scratching and bleeding, his eyes wild. A vein opened in his wrist and a fountain of wine-dark liquid spiralled upwards, reaching the ceiling and drenching Mark. Hanna stood on the stairs, hands over her mouth, unable to move or act, watching as her father tried his hardest to end his own life.
As quickly as the rage had started, it subsided, his eyes returned to normal, his seething and gritted teeth relaxed, and he squirmed no more, the life blood quickly leaving his body. Without another thought Hanna rushed to the kitchen, grabbed a bolt of moth-eaten cloth, and returned to her father's side, applying the cloth to the wound, plugging up the holes. Silence fell up them as they all lay on the floor, splatters of blood on every conceivable area, and a soft dripping filling every ones ears.
"What happened?" Her father asked, out of breath and only now noticing the damage he had done to himself.

"You stumped your toe on the corner of the table, me and mum held you down, but you were too strong," Mark replied as he climbed off of his father and wiped the blood from his face.

"We should have thrown out that table in the first place Norris," Their mother said as she helped her husband to his feet, "it's ghastly anyway."

With that all of them burst out into laughter, the pills doing as instructed, they all laughed apart from Hanna who stood shocked and breathless, staring at the scene before her, half not believing her eyes, and half surprised that no one was killed.How can they do it? She thought, how can they just move on? Can't they see what's happening to them? Do they not understand? Frustration had gotten the best of her, and with no other options she merely collapsed on a nearby green leather couch, covered her face with her jumper, and wept.

The sun had fallen down somewhere to the west, behind the silhouettes of tall buildings far out on the distant horizon. The last few minutes of struggle as day holds on to the fading light painted the old farm house building in a blood red hue, then, the light died, the day lost, and the world was plunged into darkness once again; left to endure another cold dead night. Hanna had watched this battle from the couch on which she lay. She gazed out of the window at the surrounding landscape and tried to feel happy, she tried to find the beauty in the nature around her, and the sunset before her; but she could not.

The room had been cleaned from the incident earlier. Bloodied rags piled in a corner, no doubt to be used again sometime down the line, inevitable, she thought. Her family members had disappeared somewhere in the building, probably in their own rooms doing their own thing; not taking notice, merely trudging along. I've had enough, she thought,enough of just surviving day after day, here, waiting to be killed by my own family, to starve to death in this hovel. I need to do this. I'm special, I'm not addicted, I could help rebuild. But not here. I need to leave.

The walls around her had began to close in ever since she arrived here; each day creeping closer towards oblivion. She knew this day was coming, when it did she'd always thought she would know what to do or where to go. But as she lay there, looking out at the encroaching darkness, she felt more scared about leaving than with staying, a rare thing. There must be someone out there, she thought again, a group of people like me, clean, willing to start again together. I can't be the last one, I can't be the only person to be left standing on this planet, with a head empty of narcotics as the whole world murders each other. Just me, alone with God. She had made up her mind.

Hanna stood up, full of energy and made for her room to pack what little belongings she had left. A fire had risen inside her heart, a fire that was all but burnt out, and set her body into motion. If God has seen what I've seen here, she thought as she climbed the stairs, then he would have left this place a long time ago, and I wouldn't blame him.

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