Highly Commended Story - That Day
“That Day” by Manya Jaybalan, C.S.I. Jessie Moses, India, is the Highly Commended story in the senior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2019.
Manya Jaybalan is a student of class 9 at C.S.I. Jessie Moses School. She enjoys expressing her views regarding the present day situations and also tends to dream a lot about how the world may take shape in the future. This is where the idea of her story came from. She is quite an extrovert and takes pleasure in public speaking, but sometimes she feels just the opposite and that is when she picks a pen up and starts working on her stories. She is also an avid reader, the thought of what an impact a story can make amazes her. It is the reason why she started writing her own.
Around two hundred years ago the population shot up to an undesirable number, the people began to overconsume food and other resources. Billions of starving and debilitated people affected with diseases. So, the leaders of the major countries came together and decided to create an equal partition among themselves and their people by building barriers… Now an extremely powerful and restrictive government called the Gravitas rule one of the partitions.
Ayla brushes her hair over her shoulder as she gets up and out of her clumsy bed, there was a sudden earsplitting sound that reverberated through the house followed by an announcement, a man starts with a husky voice “ Notice! Today is Inoculation day, the first two hundred 13 year old children are to stand in a queue in front of our main office, there is a new custom we are introducing this year due to some alterations in the vial. Your children will stay with us for the first five days. Thank you for your co operation. Signing off Head Gravita”. That is when it hit her, as far as Ayla has known every year there is a gathering where all the 13 year olds come together and injected with these excruciatingly painful vaccines. The Gravitas say that it is to provide immunization from the fertilizer, pesticides and other harmful substances that they use in the plants and fruits they consume. But the uncanny thing is the fact that they are making them stay together for five days.
The aroma of the coffee gushed into her nostrils, she pivots around to find her father with a warm smile on his face. He offers her the coffee and she takes it without a single word. She sits down on a chair in the porch and found herself mesmerized by the cold weather, the easy wind carrying strands of her hair but still lost in her thought about the five days she would be spending alone.
She slowly lifts herself up from the chair and finds her way to her father’s room, he wasn’t there. So she decided to look for her ID for getting the shot. She ruffled through her father’s drawers, there it was, a piece of long paper slipped following her ID. She carefully picked it up and began to read, “ Report From Head Gravita To Mr. Albert.
The neighbouring society is willing to trade their meat production if we are willing to sacrifice around 200 lives from our society, they need to test the preservation that they will be using on the meat to keep it fresh.
You will be playing a prominent role in the transporting of our teen citizens beyond the barrier for their experiment. Please do meet me in my office, we shall discuss the matter in detail.
Ayla's mind went through a fluctuation of emotions, first of all betrayed by her father. He was ready to sacrifice his daughter. “Why am I thinking this way, I don’t even know if he agreed. What will happen to me? He said sacrifice, so that must mean I might die during this experiment”, these were the thoughts taking strolls through her mind. She was simply helpless.
Ayla blindly walked all the way to the main office, acting as though nothing had happened. The usual friendly waves and smiles at the neighbours and a quick talk with one her friends. But no matter what, she knew that she was heading towards death.
As soon as she got to the office a group of men led all the children behind the main office into a small concrete building. Among a couple of men getting ready to transport them she her father. They began to inject. She couldn’t hold it in anymore, tears rolled down her plump cheek some flowed into her mouth even. She just couldn’t hold the thought that would be leaving the world so soon. She was up next, her father ready to send her off. He came close to her with the needle, “How could you do this to me?”, she muttered. “What are you talking about?” he whispered back. One glare at the ID in her hand and he found out, “Cry, cry out loud”, he commanded. She did as he said. He quickly took a piece of cotton on her skin and cupped his hands over her arm and pretended to inject her, she cried louder than ever right when he took it out and put a cotton on top. Her eyes skipped and looked behind him for one and the saw the injected ones sound asleep. So, she pretended to sleep and suddenly drop to the ground. Her eyes were tied with a piece of cloth the rest of the way. Asleep.
She woke up to find herself locked up in glass building, all the others were still asleep. She felt like exploring this area whatever it was, it looked like what the Gravitas would call a lab. Her father had tried to save her, or did he just want her to spy on these people. She eased herself into her knees and scurried slowly across the room, she heard a few voices having a conversation. Ayla decided to eavesdrop, a man with a curious tone asks “ So what’s our plan Laiza?” the women answered with a tense voice, “We need to release the virus, we have already tested it out on twenty of children and I think that should make the virus precise enough. The people of our society are dying due to lack of food and they are thriving. How is this fair, Sir? We have decided to release it at 8:46 tonight. It is designed to destroy the entire population but no harm will the plants and crops face. We can bring the barrier down and occupy the area as soon as this is over" . Ayla froze for a moment trying to process this information, if she tries to express this to one of the Gravitas she would be automatically put to death. Right then she realized what cruel and selfish creatures humans can be. Millions and millions would lose their life if she let this happen, the entire situation was in her hands. The began again, “Well, where have you stored the virus” he asks. She had the answer right when she wanted it. “Room 2005”, the women answered. Ayla ran bursting out the glass door with a thought, her eyes trained of the number 2005 on the door. A straight path led her to the room, she heard quick steps heading her way. They were out for her! She looked avidly around the room to find the virus, it wasn’t there. She shuffle through the shelves and drawers, finally she found clear glass jar that looked as thought it wasn’t there. Just as she was taking a look at the minuscule organisms , the a stout man and a tall woman barged into the room. She had to make a decision, one that could cost her life. She thought of the millions that would die if it was release in her society, but this was a packed glass building and only a few would have to go, pictures of her entire life flashed through her mind, her father , her friend, the education center, her house but most of all herself, she was going to be gone. Without a second thought, she precisely unscrewed the glass lid!