Tijana Damjanović Gertner
Always been a loudmouth. Always lived in my own little world. Then I realized journalism is the perfect job for me. A job that combines my passion for telling the truth, and my passion for making shit up. However, it is incredibly frowned upon to serve fiction instead of news.
So, in order to appease all of my inner monsters, I’m a journalist by day, and a writer by night.
Among millions of stars, in an infinite universe, there are billions of possibilities. When something is limitless, everything is bound to happen somewhere. In one distant corner of an unexplored universe, within a cloud of stardust, everything is happening right now.
If you enter that thick cloud of stardust, you will notice the figure of a woman floating in its center. A necklace rests around her neck, its pendant in her cupped hands. Her celestial eyes are focused on that small pendant, her favorite creation.
At first glance, this pendant looks like a simple black goldstone, but our Lady isn’t staring this intently into an ordinary pebble. The tiny sparkles within this stone move, each little light flowing in a slow eternal dance of its own. An entire universe is resting within it, but our Lady’s gaze is focused on a single sparkling dot in there. Actually, on a planet that is circling that dot. This is where her creation went wrong. Went dark.
And now, she has to see what will happen next.
He felt trapped. He couldn’t run anymore. He couldn’t find an exit, and the bloody castle was under a mountain, so he wasn’t even able to tell how long he had been in there. He could hear something behind him, but he couldn’t go on anymore; he had to stop and rest for a moment.
Yael opened his eyes. He was in his bed.
He got up, exercised, showered, answered a few texts, had breakfast, said good morning to his parents who were sitting in front of the telly, and headed out to fetch some cigarettes. Everything was fine.
On his way to the store, he pondered for God knows which time why he still hadn’t quit that nasty habit. But it was hard, and he had no other vices, so why on Earth would he deny himself this one little thing?
The moment he reached the store, Yael realized two things. One – the streets were even emptier than usual, and two – his parents had never answered!
“Damn it! They never answered!”
Yael ran as if a horde of hungry Stainers was after him, ran back home in hope that he had misunderstood that silence. Ran like there was hope in spite of knowing there was none.
When he threw the house door open, he saw what he had so casually failed to notice that morning. His parents were looking at the TV with dead eyes on blackened faces, their arms and legs already significantly shortened. The Stain had already started taking over. His eyes welled up with tears, but this wasn’t his fault. He had told them not to get the treatment. Yael knew what he had to do before the process was complete. He had to burn them.
When he returned from the garage with a bucket of gasoline and a lighter, those black unblinking eyes were turned to face him. It was starting, but…
“They’re my parents, for fuck’s sake!”
Yael woke up. His sheets were all wet from the nightmare, but he realized that’s all it was – a creepy, bloody nightmare that had taken him too far. He could still smell the gasoline, his heart was still pumping like he’d run a marathon, but at least he knew he was awake now.
It was Vaccination Day. According to the FDA, this new Life Expectancy Improvement vaccine (or LEI, how people had already started referring to it) was now completely safe, and according to the government, it was also completely free and mandatory.