This story is by Zeina Bazarbachi and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Listening here you little shit, when you have as little time as I have to live, you start to do stupid things, okay? So don’t you dare judge me as I narrate my day to you. And my plans to put an end to all of this.
Where I come from, things aren’t really nice and dandy, we all have this tattoo that we are born with. Are we wizards? Are we Fairy Oddparents? Heck no. We are just some idiots born with tattoos with a countdown to our Death. Dark, ey? Yes, we do write Death with a capital letter, because we’re not that stupid. (We respect Death and all its might.)
To be honest, we all just roll with it, until Death catches us. No one has ever questioned the system, and don’t be mistaken, I don’t either. I just have a tiny weeny slight problem with this.
Last week, I had six days to live. Then five, four, three, two, and this morning I had only one day to live. The problem isn’t my certain and close death. I’m curious about what happens on the other side. I’m almost -excited-. The problem is that my watch tattoo has been -stuck-. Stopped. No more tic, and no more tock.
Does this mean eternity for me? Watching everyone I know and their grandchildren die? Will I outlive Death? Even though that sounds incredibly badass, I’m not a big fan of the idea.
I didn’t even know that was possible. and quite frankly reporting it seems sort of counter intuitive,
“Hello? Yes. I have a complaint to report, according to the watch tattoo I should be dead. Yet I’m still alive… Can someone fix that?”
Plus, I don’t think that whoever is in charge will like knowing about a defect.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, on what time is it stuck? How many seconds are left on the watch. The answer is four. Four! Frigging four! What am I supposed to do with this information? It’s such an ugly number! I hate even numbers! That’s besides the point, but it still matters to me. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, there’s a certain elephant in the way that needs to be attended… so I suggest you stop bothering me, Mr. Brain.
After I’ve had my fit, I came up with a perfect plan to solve my problem. This solution is inspired by the game Dumb Ways To Die. In this game, you have to stop your character from dying… in a dumb way.
What I am going to do is the opposite.
I will proceed to have fun, and try to die in the most wild way possible. After all, I only have four seconds, right?
To begin with, I compiled a list with all the foolish things I want to do, hoping one of them will make the countdown start working again. I’ve decided to start small.
Plan A: sliding down the cables of an elevator shaft.
I walked towards the elevator and pressed the “top floor” button. The elevator had almost reached there when I mashed the emergency stop. It jerked to a halt and I pried the doors open with my dad’s old crowbar. The emergency alarm howled. If I weren’t about to die, I’d be dead.
It was a long way down.
I figured it was more effective.
As I fell, I wondered about the meaning of what I had just done. Do I really want to inflict my own death? Will big-D Death be mad at me?
Flooop. As I came close to my sweet, sweet end, I landed on a mattress. How is that even possible? Why is there a mattress at the end of an elevator shaft? Is this my “lucky” unlucky day?
After the initial surprise and frustration wore off, I realise something important: I actually want to die today.
No time to waste, I move onto the next stupid, hopefully breathtaking idea.
Plan B: Drinking gasoline, and then -wait for it- smoking a cigarette. Pretty nuts, huh?
I pour some gasoline from my reservoir into my tea mug, because there’s no reason why I shouldn’t go classy. Needless to say that’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted. Well, second. I HATE cinnamon. I grabbed the pack of cigarettes that I had bought earlier and lighted one on my stove.
Reckless, but are we really going to talk about my bad decisions right now?
God, the smell of cigarettes is so darn awful. I can just puke to death. (I wish.)
I got through the cigarette, and then the entire pack, but nothing happened! Why aren’t my plans working?
Plan C: planking on the edge of my balcony. Well, the edge of my window thingy.
I suck at planking, so this should be good.
I climb onto the edge and get into the uncomfortable position that is planking.
Honestly this is why I am not an athlete, because I hate planking.
As I expected, I start to fall down shortly afterwards because I cannot hold my position. What I hadn’t anticipated; however, is falling onto one of those outside window cleaning equipment.
The poor guy was just doing his job and I fell on his tools.
“Are you okay?!” He asked me with great worry.
I looked at my watch tattoo and realised it hadn’t moved at all.
“I’m fine. I’m alright,” I said with disgust.
“Then what the heck were you thinking?! Why would you jump like that? What are you trying to do?”
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry this happened. Can you by any chance drop me off?”
“Of course I’m gonna do that, what do you think we’re going to become best friends and solve crimes together?”
“I… I don’t—”
“Of course not! Do you think your life is some kind of Disney movie?”
After the cleaning man dropped me off, I decided that my plans aren’t working, so it’s time to get creative. I went to the nearest mall, and I decided to steal one of their shopping carts. Well, technically I bought it for a 50 cents coin because I had to detach it first. You’ll soon find out the purpose of this shopping cart. I went back home to get an old rope. I tied the rope to the shopping cart. I placed them both in my car and I drove to the river shore. The shopping cart fit pretty surprisingly well into my car.
When I got there, I tied the other end of the rope around my feet, in a knot worthy of a Girl Scout, and I throw the shopping cart into the lake. I take a deep breath as the rope falls into the lake and hope that this finally works.I’ve never put so much effort into anything as I’m putting into dying. I’m pretty proud of myself, if I’m being honest. Never thought I’d be the rule following type of person. But this defect is deeply concerning me. What if the word gets out? Can they know that I’m still alive? Will I be persecuted when they find out? Oh shit oh shit oh shit. The rope begins to move, dragged by the weight of the shopping cart. Not long after, I start to submerge in the water, and I feel that this is it. This time it’s going to work. There is no way that I’m going to be miraculously saved.
I feel my lungs burn. My legs are kicking, and my hands are desperate to untie the rope, even though I have no want in living. Suddenly my entire body is rock hard. I feel like I’m showering in hot lava. For one reason or another, I feel sheer panic. I’m terrified. What happens now?
I think of my mom. I remember those times she used to read me bed time stories. I remember when we used to go to the mall together, and I would sit in the shopping cart, pretending to be on a spaceship. The spaceship has become a deadly submarine.
I wonder how mom felt when her final countdown was happening. Was she as scared as I am? She was probably a lot more terrified, because she didn’t restart hers. She didn’t have any extra time. I hope I’ll get the chance to ask her soon enough.
I can barely keep my eyes open. I hear the sound of a boat. It’s loud and frightening. No. This is not going to be ruined. I am going to die. This has to happen. I can’t afford this not to happen. I will die. I will die. Please just let me die. They’ll kill me anyway. At least this way I have the choice of choosing how to leave this world. I look at my tattoo watch.
I smile with relief as I feel my body giving up and inhaling water…