Title: Fire and Ice
by C. R. M. Nilsson
I’ve always felt that there has been a certain poeticism to committing suicide with pain killers. It’s like you expect them to take away all the pain. Not only the physical, but the one in your soul and the one in your heart. The invisible scarring that nobody ever sees, but that is always visible in the way we act. What shapes us into who we are and creates our hang ups.
I never expected to be force-fed painkillers, enough to make me overdose. The government can’t bring all of us with them on whatever mode of transportation they have designed to save a selected few from the apocalypse. But they won’t leave any of us behind. That’s why men with white masks hiding their faces are walking among us, making sure that we swallow and don’t vomit it all up. I did, half an hour ago. They just forced down more of the pills down my throat together with a motion-sickness pill when they discovered that I had. There’s no getting out of this.
I’m not surprised that I was not selected to be saved. I have a history of being slightly unbalanced. Deranged, even. Not in the range of the normal, certainly. I’m also homosexual. So should the world as we know it end right here and now, I’m not any good to them. I cannot be used as a breeding machine. But they won’t leave me behind for the shadows to swallow whole. In a way I’m grateful. I’ve seen people swallowed by the shadows. It’s not pretty. And they scream and scream and scream like they’re having their soul torn out. It looks like acid is eating away at them. Sounds like it is what it feels like, too.
I’m grateful that the shadows won’t take me. But I’m also resentful. Why am I chosen to die? Because I have a history of holing up in my studio, not coming out for days? Because I sometimes go for days without eating, until I collapse and my assistant or some errant model brings me to the hospital? Because I am a homosexual artist who cannot be convinced to breed with someone of the opposite sex even though it would mean saving myself and mankind?
I’m bitter and angry. But it’s hard to keep my eyes open. I do struggle to keep them open, you must understand. There’s an innate curiosity in me that makes me unable to close my eyes. I want to see how the world ends. Will it go out in a blaze or will it just slowly fade away? Will the world end in fire, or will it end in ice? There’s something in me that begs to find out. But it’s so hard to keep my eyes open.
Suddenly there’s a flurry of activity. Army boots are stomping around in panic. One stomps down on my hand. I hear the bones crushing. But there’s only a dull sensation. No pain, not anything. Just a sensation of something breaking off and never being put together again. I’m sinking. The waves are pulling me under. My eyes are closing against my will.
I used to be an artist. Slightly manic, slightly brilliant. I loved fiercely with all my heart, but my love was never fully accepted by the mass. And I died as I had lived: alone.
And I never got to see how it ended.