|This story, Halo: Unending Sorrow, written by slowfuture, was voted as the Best Short Fiction of 2011 in the Fourth Annual Halo Fanon Wikia Awards.|
|This article, Halo: Unending Sorrow, was written by slowfuture. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
|A truly painful day of school|
|Date Published||6th January 2011|
|Length||1,406 words, Vignette|
Halo: Unending Sorrow is a vignette by Halo Fanon user slowfuture which details a day at a school on Reach that was attacked by an insurrection cell, and the details which follow. The unnamed protagonist has no connection to any of the author's articles, as of yet, though chances are it will be Michael Trask, the author, however is undecided.
“Which one of you is it going to be?” the masked gunman asked. “I’m not going to ask again!”
His gun moving slowly over each of the people’s heads they’d picked. Mine...Another person’s...My best friend’s...I wince at the thought of them shooting her, or any of us for that matter, but they had made a good offer: kill one of us and they’ll leave, killing no one else, they claim to be men of their word - I hope they are...
“Move, move!” Men with guns running around, rounding the school children up like lambs to the slaughter, they had no hope, the first years crying; most of us were crying, you don’t imagine that such a thing would happen in this country, the thought of the terrorists attacking the School on Tribute was still fresh enough in people’s minds around UNSC Space...But no, not this world, not Reach, surely not.
10 minutes moved into hours. Six hours in and the gunmen are getting restless, they want out, but they want to show they’re serious...They talk amongst themselves...The leader decides something and everyone agrees. They begin shouting, asking for volunteers. No one volunteers. They begin moving down the section were the oldest students are...Where I belong. They pick people...My friends...God don’t let them pick me. The pick the person right in front of me, I let out an explosive sigh, what a mistake... ”...and you.” He says. Fuck. Just my luck.
We’re marching down a corridor that I’ve been down many times, chatting to my friends, laughing, having fun. Now I’m walking down it wondering if I’m going to get a bullet in the head, knowing that one of us is going to die, it’s not the thought of death that scares me, it’s the thought of someone dying for me, I can’t handle that...If given the opportunity to volunteer, I’ll volunteer. Well, I hope I will...
They untie us, a sign of their sincerity, such an odd display. One girl begins crying, screaming for God to save her - God isn’t in this room, God left us long ago. Another person begins to console her, all the men but their leader leave...He takes his pistol out, and crouches down to the girls level and whispers something in her ear...She calms down...Maybe we’ll get out of this alive, all of us...
“I would like a volunteer to save the school, you will die but you will save everyone else... You have my word.”
The option I said I’d volunteer for...I didn’t...I’m ashamed of myself...I said I’d do it... Why won’t I volunteer? I’m not scared of death... Or at least I thought I wasn’t... But now that the it’s staring me in the face I realise, I am scared. I’m a kid again; those nightmares of death and decay come flooding back... What if there isn’t anything after this? No, there isn’t anything - maybe that’s why I’m scared...
“One of you better come forward, or I will simply kill all of you,” he says in a voice that betrays nothing, why does he find this so easy?
We started to get frantic, people looking at each other, eyes begging for someone to offer themselves up, a selfishness that requires no forgiveness, none of us want to die, but none of us wants all of us to die, we’re simply waiting for someone to offer themselves up, but if everyone waits, how can we all survive this? We can’t, it’s as simple as that. I look at my best friend, she’s the only one who’s really calm... Her eyes sooth me, their aqua-greenness gives off auras of calm...It’s...Helping...
“Which of you is it going to be?” the masked gunman asks. “I’m not going to ask again!”
I looked at my best friend, and nodded, her face turned into a grimace, she’s realised what I’m about to suggest.
“It’s going to be me,” she said beating me to it.
“W-what? No!” I tried to say, but nothing came out but a muffled cough.
Everyone else sighs, they can’t help it; and I don’t hold it against them. They’re going to live... But part of me is going to die if I let her take this bullet...
“No, shoot me instead.” I said, with defiance painting through my voice.
She merely looked over at me, disappointment in her eyes. That caused me to feel an unbearable indescribable anguish, but I couldn’t simply watch her die, I had to be the one to do it, she doesn’t deserve this... She’s got so much more to live for. I know she’s doing this simply because she doesn’t want anyone to die in her stead, but I’m the same: I can’t let her do this.
The gunman sighed, obviously getting worried about wasting time, the police were close to making a move.
“Right, which of you two is it going to be?” He asked, agitated.
“Me.” I said, adamantly. I looked at her, she was too shocked by my decision to do anything else.
He lowered the gun to my head...Time slowed...All images of my youth began to come streaming towards me...My fifth birthday, the excitement I felt as I opened the gifts...Christmas aged sixteen, as I finally got my laptop that I’d be waiting for. School...Days gone by came flooding in, exams...friends...teachers...her... Images of times her and I shared came back, and I was glad that they were my last thoughts...I hoped she’d live a good life...A life I’d spared for her, though I didn’t think she owed me a damn thing, this was my debt to her paid.
The gunman’s finger slowly closed around the trigger, I was prepared to die. It was going to be over soon, all this worrying about dying had been wasted, it wasn’t going to be so bad. I began to slow my breathing down...
This is it. I always wondered how I'd go out. Always thought it'd be an unremarkable end for an unremarkable human.
I hope my parents understand. I hope they know why I choose to do this, I really do. This isn't fair for them, but it's not fair for everyone else if I don't.
I wonder if people will miss me.
Oh god, let it be quick, please don't let it hurt. I don't want it to hurt...
”No!” I heard her scream as she pushed me with all her might. I opened my eyes as I fell sideways; she was in line to be shot...No! No, damn you! I’m meant to die, not you!
The gunman didn’t notice, and didn’t attempt to turn the gun on me; he simply continued pulling the trigger. He fired...And I screamed...I felt the phantom bullet go into my chest, and cried, with such anguish...I cried, and jumped forward.
I cradled her body, please be alive...Don’t be dead, don’t be dead. Don’t die...Please...
I titled her face upwards, shutting out the sounds from both inside and outside the room, it seemed the police had finally decided to put an end to this...Bastards...Didn’t save her...Didn’t save everyone...They’ll call her an “acceptable loss”, her death isn’t acceptable, nothing about this is acceptable...
I looked down at her face...its pale now...So much of what made her, her, is gone...Her happy eyes, her smile...it’s gone, forever.
The tears began streaming down my face...
“Why...? Why did you do it?” I cried. “I was meant to die here, not you!”
The tears flew off my cheeks, and fell onto her bloodstained neck. I, for some reason, expected this to have some sort of effect on her...The desperation had set in, and holding her in my arms, I knew I could do nothing...I longed for her comments...Just some idea that this was a dream...
“Please don’t be dead...” I sobbed silently into her ear, “you can’t be dead...We’ve so much more left to do together...”
I knew nothing I could say would bring her back. I...I have no idea why I kept asking her to not be dead, I knew it wouldn’t work, but total emotional loss is something that cannot be explained...I was a babbling fool, but at that moment in time, that’s all I could be...
I gently set her body down, and wiped the tears from my eyes, the gunshots had stopped, and I wanted to know what was happening. Had they killed the terrorists? Or was this nightmare only going to get worse.
A soldier walked in, rifle in hand, he quickly looked around the room, before resting his eyes on her body. His body dropped, and his eyes softened. He knew he’d been too late, but he had no words to even try to console me; the only other person in the room. So instead, he took off his helmet and gently placed it on the table next to me. He slowly sat beside me, and put his arm around my shoulder.
We sat in silence for a few minutes, with me crying almost unbearably. Finally he turned his head towards me and asked:
“Tell me about her...”
Behind the Scenes
This vignette was inspired by a conversation the author had with his best friend, in which they discussed what would happen if such a situation were to occur. They both agreed that they'd volunteer, however were unsure how they'd decide which one would be shot. The author's friend said she would demand to be shot, since she couldn't live with the author dying in her stead. In this vignette, the author has tried to re-create the pain he believes he'd experience, should the unthinkable happen.
Since its publication, the vignette has recieved universal acclaim, with Administrator Subtank saying she "loved it", claiming that she "liked the ending (quote)". Halo Fanon user Rozh called it "interesting and very touching", another user who praised it was Spartan G-23 calling it "emotional", Athena32 also agreed with the previous users. Indeed, this praise turned into the vignette receiving two awards. It received the first ever Short Fiction Annual Award in 2011 and Good Article status in 2014.