Disclaimer: The story is a disturbing and dystopian account of the year 2020 and may not be suitable for all readers. 

 

The key finally twists inside the rusting lock. The door carefully creaks open so as to not wake the dead.

As I step onto the untrodden pavement, the grey sky gives a weak roar to warn me of the danger still lurking. A leaf crackles beneath my shoes. I look around.

The streets are empty with all the shutters still down. A sheath of sadness seems to have settled on everything. I let my gaze follow the stationery shop with its dusty exteriors, the ice cream parlour that never closed its doors, the dairy that never took a shuteye, the playground that never stopped laughing, the grocery stores, the arcade gallery, the…

Breaking my stupor, a figure shuffles behind the curtains in the house by my side and a small head peeks out and looks at me. A lady, probably his mother, grabs his shoulders from behind and rests her eyes on me. Her eyes demand answers. Answers to questions I am too afraid to think about. I give her a small nod in return, only to put her heart at ease. I turn away from them and walk towards the town hospital. The nurses seem to have finally returned home.

With a sigh, I give in to my visions; I let my eyes paint the soulless mélange of the greyest hues around me into the colours of the rainbow that always bounced off the streets. I stand anchored as the world changes around me; I see Mr Buckets give me a big wave on his way to work, best buddies walking huddled together licking their favourite ice creams, tiny tots playing hopscotch in the middle of the road. Someone comes running towards me and envelops me in a big hug.

“Congratulations!” she says.

I am not able to feel her warmth. The world fades back as a tear rolls down my eyes. What happened? I demand the universe for an answer. Things were perfectly fine, until one day reminded us how vulnerable we are and how we’ll always remain at the mercy of the cosmos.

I walk a little deeper into town, stopping only when grief takes over again. It feels like a funeral, the world resting in peace. But, the world isn’t at peace, it’s in pieces. 2020 is exactly what 2012 was supposed to be, I think. The end of the Mayan calendar––the complete wiping off of humanity. I even manage a laugh. A screen whirrs to life in front of me.

Not believing what I’m witnessing, I take a step closer towards the electronics shop. I see the last victim being felicitated for fighting so very bravely! I remove my mask for the first time in months as I breathe in, first slowly, and then all at once.

 

– Aditi Banerji, Amity International School, Noida

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