Do Your Duty

The crisp, starched pages of an unopened novel always managed to soothe me. It was a relief to feel at ease as I folded back the cover and read the title on the first page. Everything was finally getting back to normal. As normal as things could be in this tumultuous world. I finally felt a calmness without my inner demons launching an attack against my mind.

I was three pages into the first chapter and completely lost into the world the author had created when a knock on the door dragged me back to reality. For a split second I remembered how the world outside had hurt me and decided against answering. The knocking became more insistent and made it impossible for me to return to the novel.

Sighing, I placed the novel on the side table and pushed myself out of the plush armchair. In the three steps it took to reach the door every single one of my demons reared its ugly head. By the time I reached forward to grasp the door handle my entire body was shaking.

It’s going to be alright, I reassured myself. They came for me only three months ago. There’s no way a messenger of Hell stands on the other side of that door.

It had been a long journey to be able to talk myself out of panicking and fight my own subconscious and win. So when my body relaxed until only my hands were shaking I felt relieved that I was getting complete control of my life back.

The knocking finally ceased as I eased the door open. Harsh midday sunlight hit me directly in the eyes and before I could recognise the visitor he spoke. “Mr William Banks. You are hereby summoned by the Government of the United States of America to perform your civic duty Tuesday hence. Signed by President Washington Hill.”

I slammed the door in the messenger’s face, banged my clenched fists against the back of the door and screamed until my lungs gave out. I wish I could have reacted in a better way and not let everything come rushing back in but I just wasn’t strong enough. The pain and sorrow came rushing back and I collapsed into a ball, my breath returning in retching breathes as tears streamed from my face. I couldn’t believe that just as my world had been rebuilt the government had come through and knocked it all down.

Why would they do this to their own citizens? Don’t they realise that it destroys far more lives than just the one that must be taken? Of course they realise. This is just a game to them. A game that they’ve implemented and everyone must play.

My thoughts started out that coherently and then very quickly devolved into a barrage of mixed feelings; none of them pleasant. Anger, spite, betrayal, hatred, destruction.

I wasn’t sure how long passed before I finally sat up with my back against the door. All I knew through the fog of my mind was that I couldn’t let them get away with this. Not again. I wouldn’t be a good little soldier and kill on command. My mind screamed for me to get revenge against them all, but I knew of only one way that I could quiet my demons and show the government that I wasn’t a pawn.

Trying to climb to my feet was a chore. My body couldn’t recover from the stranglehold on my mind and I felt totally exhausted, close to collapsing. The realisation that in moments it would all be over was the only thing that kept me standing as I stumbled towards the kitchen.

My fingers closed around the cold, steel handle of the sharpest knife on the bench and I caught my reflection in the surface. When I had woken up in the morning there had been hope in my eyes that everything was going to be alright. At that moment all I could see was the haggard and scared face that had lived in the mirror since that day three months previous. I turned the knife and pressed the tip of the blade into my wrist.

They wanted me to perform an execution. Too bad for them the only life they had taken was my mine.

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