*Update* Good Monday Everyone! Below is the next addition to 40,000 A Rough Draft, weighing in at 1,009 words finished in an one hour and fifteen minutes. I hope you enjoy and check back next week for story number 3. Only 38 left now. *Update*
Mr. May 3001
Word Count: 1009
Writing: 1 hr
Editing: 15 min
Total Time: 1 hr 15 min
The dank stink of the forest chased him. On his hands and clothes, in his hair. He wasn't sure how many hours it had been since he entered the bowl. Yet, even through his fear he couldn't help but wonder if he had broken the record. A pang of yearning gripped his insides as his footfalls beat rapidly on the thick carpet of vegetation. Everyone he knew would be at a bar somewhere, or in front of their televisions at home, enjoying the show. That's where he would be if he hadn't been chosen. Mr. May, 3001. That's all anyone would remember about him. No name, no past, no life. Just a photo with a brief bio next to it in the memorial catalog, Mr. May written in bold black letters at the top.
As he ran deeper into the bowl, down what seemed to be a never ending hill padded with bright green, and purple bushes. He wondered how it had all began. Of course he knew the story of the first Endurance, everyone did. Some revolted when their names were drawn, others ran. The population took care of itself quickly in those early days. So many uprisings, so many deaths. Thinking about it now he assumed that was always the plan. The world's government's were smart.
Once they deemed the population an, “over abundance, and hazardous to the longevity of the Earth,” everything changed. His grandfather had still been alive then and used to tell him stories about the first drawing. There was a program on television that took you into the extraction room where they choose that month's contestants. They showed you how the algorithm used various genetic sequences to randomly choose a deserving person to, blah, blah, blah. He didn't believe they had an algorithm, not now.
He had done everything right his entire life, terrified of the bowl since he was a boy. They told you growing up if you did your homework, said your prayers every night, did all the things that good little boys do, then you wouldn't ever end up in the bowl. It was supposed to choose the bad people. He had graduated with honors from high school and college, gotten a good job, met a woman he was supposed to be marrying in a few months. Now he was Mr. May, 3001. He couldn't believe in an algorithm.
He stopped running. The air he pulled in through his mouth was harsh and burned his lungs. How long had he been running? He put his hands on top of his head and began walking in slow circles. Everything looked the same, as far as he could see, in every direction. The hills around him vanished into one another. He turned and looked back up only to see the same thing he had seen for the last, hours? Days? He was surrounded by the thick bushes that lined the walls of the bowl. The sunlight was nothing more than a sliver at the this depth and he wondered if the hills led all the way to the center of the Earth. They said it was possible for someone to make it out alive. Yet month after month and year after year, no one did. At least not in the eighty-three years since the first Endurance.
As he caught his breath he thought about his next challenge. He had already run into bees, a little quicksand, poison oak, minor things. Maybe they were going easy on him, or maybe he was just built to survive. Either way he knew it wouldn't be long before something really dangerous came along. He thought about Ms. September from a few years back. She had done so well, and many people thought she would break the record. Then, the panther pounced from the shadows. He remembered watching as the wild cat batted her around the way he had seen his own pet play with mice. He yelled at the television begging her to get up, rooting for her with the rest of the bar. But it was no use, the animal played with her for another hour before they deemed her dead and cut the programming.
So what then would be his demise in this vibrantly colored purgatory? His breathing had calmed and now he was fully aware of the smell again. He had never been exposed to anything in the world like it. The bushes wreaked and reminded him of a time when his cat had urinated all over the floor of his closet. Yet there was a strange zesty sweetness to the stench as well. A stink so foul it was almost pleasant.
He desperately wished they had given him a watch or perhaps had a large clock displayed for the“contestants.” At least give them one last hope, show them how many hours away they are from not ending up just Mr. or Ms. month and date. After all what household in the world didn't know the name Slechra Monnhaf. Mr. February, 2089, the famous Russian who survived one-hundred seventeen hours. He thought maybe if he could beat the bowl he would suggest it.
The air behind him was getting hot and he turned to see smoke up the hill. He stared for a moment trying to figure out exactly what was heading his way. The smell of the woods began to dissipate as the sky above lit up. A large wall of flames was making it's way down. He turned and began running once again. If he kept his speed up maybe he could beat the wall and find a safe place to rest for a while before the bowl made it's next attempt on his life.
The alien aroma filled his lungs quickly while his feet beat away at the soft Earth. He didn't know how long he had survived but he knew he would keep running, for as many hours as his body would let him. And hopefully with a little luck, he could be something more than Mr. May, 3001.