Hunger (short story)


Lights Out #5

One thing which I know makes us different is that you have never felt the hunger I have felt. Your belly may not have been full in months, perhaps longer, but it has never been truly empty.

There were always places where food was kept. Ten desperate souls would go to find it and a hundred more would wait for them to return. Some were clever enough to fill their bellies before trying to make their way home. You know what little good cleverness does when the whole world has disintegrated around you. The watchers just assumed you were hiding something from them and tore you apart searching for it.

Food was not what kept me alive; it was avoiding it at all costs. I ate the things which nobody else was willing to touch. After a while you learn to spot scraps which have been forgotten and things which are rotten enough not to be appetising, but good enough to eat. In a world of billions, these things provide a feast for those willing to eat them.

But it is not food. Crumbs of bread which taste of mould and fruit which has rotted black are nothing more than something which keeps you from dying for another week. They never fill your stomach or make the hunger go away. Eventually, it becomes a bundle of knives which jolts about inside your belly and threatens to cut you apart from within. You cry and beg, but the pain does not stop. You survive, but I would not call it living.

I now know what I should have done. When the lights went out and everything grew silent, I should have sung and danced until I collapsed in the hope that I never woke up. When I went to fetch water for my family I should have drunk all of it at once and let the mob break me trying to get it back.

I wonder what it is about us that stopped us from doing either of those things. Perhaps we chose to survive rather than live, or maybe it was not a choice at all. It is possible that we are just incapable of allowing ourselves to give in and end the torture. If you had known the hunger I am feeling, you would understand.

Find the first in the Lights Out sequence here.

You can read another fantasy short story here.

Or click here to view my e-book on Amazon Kindle.

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