Image of Set Stories Free - 2018
Image of Short Story
With his heartbeat hammering in his ears, Mariano looked up at the gray sky slowly being tinged pink by the the first hints of sunlight. Any other day, the rising sun would have brought a smile to his face, a promise of a new day on the fields bringing forth new life from the earth. Today, amidst the groans and moans of everyone around him, the new day is a death sentence. Today, they continue to walk, to march towards certain death. Today, it ends.

He looks at those around him - farmers, students, rebels. White, black, brown. Today, they are one mass of tired and broken humanity. Every so often, someone gives up and falls to the ground. They never get back up. A bayonet to the heart or the stomach makes sure of that. He looks around, no fight left in him. His life flashes before him in a series of pictures - his wife, she is strong. She will find a way to raise their daughter despite the oppression, despite the hardships. Now that he is gone, will his child miss her father?

Aimlessly, Mariano marches, parched, in pain, and dead. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees a spark. Roused from his stupor, he looks again. Then he sees it. In the eyes of the man beside him - a spark! While they march on without hope, this man still has a fight in him. In that spark, Mariano sees a life with his family. He sees a future where he gives his daughter away at her wedding. In that spark, he sees a future.

He falls back until he is able to brush his hand against that man's hand and he knew he had to survive. So they march, but this time with a purpose, with a mission. He looks around and I no longer sees a mass of humanity marching to their death, instead, he sees several men who have a mission. They want to live!

They communicate without words. Furtive looks and seemingly accidental contact spoke of plans for freedom, for escape. That morning 14 men decide that they will not march to their death without a fight. 14 men, out of hundreds, wake up from their stupor and make a decision to live. They make a run for it. Amidst gunshots and panic, 13 manage to escape and find freedom and a future.

Over a century later, humanity still marches the death march. Each one waiting for certain death, knowing that there is no escape until they see that spark - a reason to wake up, a reason to live