Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sharing is Caring: Groupthink

Hey everyone. I thought I'd share the first chapter of a novel that I started and abandoned. Reading over it again, I think I might pick it up eventually, but I figured I'd post it here to see if anyone thought it was worth pursuing.

It's a YA sci-fi, currently untitled. I wrote it, so there's a language warning. Enjoy.

This is how it ends.

He’s running because he can, even though he knows they won’t catch him. These are his woods, his back country, and he knows them better than he knows himself. Each sharp breath stabs his lungs and his heart pumps battery acid through his veins. There are shouts and sirens behind him. The police are closing in.

And he throws back his head and laughs, because if he’s going back, he’s going to enjoy these last few moments of freedom.

He skids down a ditch. Branches cloaked in shadow tug and tear at his clothes and he lands in a puddle of mud. It sucks him down, but he manages to get a grip on a root and pulls himself up to freedom.

A gun fires and something too heavy and fat to be a bullet whizzes past him. He ducks under another branch, leaping over a fallen long, and then another shot is fired. A bean bag hits him dead in the back, throwing him from his feet.

Lights cut through the night, casting leafy shadows across him. He scrambles to his feet, but he doesn’t get far. His lungs feel as though they’ve exploded in his chest. He gasps and gulps air, but he’s done. His muscles cry ‘no more’ and he sags against a tree, defeated.

When the police arrive, he realizes they’re all there. Veola, Mom, Jasper, even Craig. They all watch him with those soulless eyes, faces devoid of emotion, devoid of life. It’s a sign they’re under Groupthink’s influence. He can’t believe he missed it before. That empty, dead, freakin’ zombified look. The Groupthink look. He can hardly believe he used to be one of them.

“Give us the Bug, Kyle,” a policemen orders. Guns are aimed at him and he wonders if these men would actually shoot, if Groupthink—a lousy computer, for fuck’s sake!—is that afraid of him.

He holds the flash drive high in the air, clutched tightly in his fist. “Don’t move!” he shouts, as if that would stop them. Every single pair of eyes looks to the flash drive at once. “Mess with me and I’ll… I’ll…”

What? What more can he do? He’s in the middle of butt-fuck nowhere with no chance of escape.

His mother’s already crying. “Please, Kyle. Groupthink is good. Groupthink helps us. Please don’t hurt it.”

And that is it. Because his mother is not a crier. She’s a strong, amazing woman who he’s looked up to for years. And Groupthink changed all that.

“Don’t you see what this is doing to you?” he shouts. The guns train on him, and he’s just had it. The past few months flash before his eyes and he just stops caring. They can shoot him right where he stands and he wouldn’t care, because at least he got the chance to live. He isn’t giving that up for anything. “Groupthink has turned you all into puppets! Groupthink was supposed to take away the bad, but it got rid of the good as well. You can’t live without sadness. Without anger. Without jealousy.”

He stares into a field of blank faces. They’re puppets. They only feel what Groupthink wants them to feel.

Which means if these men shoot him right now, his mother would probably nod and say it’s for the best. If he dies now, no one will care, because Groupthink won’t let them care.

“It ends here!” he yells, and then he takes the flash drive between his fingers and snaps the brittle plastic and metal.

There’s a sputter, a spark, and a sound that makes him wonder if the flash drive just cried out in pain.

The crowd before him shifts. Blank faces turn down into mirrored looks of rage and hatred. Their eyes trail from the broken flash drive back up to look at him. He steels himself for the inevitable, and even though he knew it would come to this, he’s scared.

In those final moments, he can swear his brother is standing with him. Zac’s hand on his shoulder, his calm, amused tone ringing in his ear.

“Looks like you’re up shit creek without a paddle. What are you gonna do about it, Tile?”

Not much I can do about it, he replies to his brother’s imaginary voice.

“You going down a martyr?”

“Yeah,” he breaths aloud to the voice in his head. “I think I am.”

“Good choice.”

One of the cops fires and the force throws him back against the tree. His head cracks against the bark, and suddenly everything is a hell of a lot lighter. He knows this is the end—always knew it would be—and maybe he’s okay with that.

This is how it ends. It’s hard to say when it starts, because there are so many details in the way.

But it should go something like this.


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