Tag: death

The Fragile State of Human Mortality

Roman King | United States

There comes from time to time a moment when man must contemplate his own mortality, and come face to face with the inordinate truth that, like it or not, we have a limited time on this mortal soil. And it should also come with that knowledge that at any moment, no matter how crude or cruel, we may suffer that terrible fate, stolen from the machine of life, stolen from our loved ones, stolen from humanity. Such crises, God willing, will not happen often in any one person’s life. But time to time, tragedy strikes with the cruel, cold hand of a tyrant, punishing the innocent, and leaving behind a wake of horror. Such is the harsh reality of life; that we are subject to the ultimate truth that we are here for a limited amount of time, often times not nearly long enough.

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Inevitable Death at the Hands of the Former

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

As Jake sprinted down the dimly lit hall, he did not dare a look over his shoulder. Doing so would spell out his certain and inevitable death at the hands of the Former.

All-seeing and all-powerful, the Former, having created the whole of existence, could inhabit the mind of any man who did not recognize its power. However, Jake, having learned the world’s true nature in a dream long ago, was not under Its control. Rather, he was a threat to the Former’s hold, and thus, needed to be erased.

Jake had spent ten years on the run, never trusting, never even speaking to another man. From ghost towns to desolate woods to arid deserts across the world, the traveler always was ahead of anyone else. But now, in the abandoned theater, the Former had caught him.

Rounding a corner, fearing for his life, he bumped into a young boy of about ten years. “Wh.. what are you doing here?” the child asked, puzzled. “Are you going to erase me, like the scary man says?”

The question struck Jake like a heavy metal mallet, freezing him in place and dumbfounding him. “You hear it too? In your dreams?” He began to sweat, hands growing clammy, terrified and excited that he may not be alone in this world. The boy frowned slightly, mumbling, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”. Quivering, he reached into his coat. Jake realized what was happening a moment too late as the boy pulled out a small silver revolver and shot him in the chest.

Gasping deeply, Jake woke suddenly, sitting upright with a look of alarm on his slightly wrinkled face. Though only twenty-nine, his knowledge wore away at his years, and he looked nearly double that. With grizzled gray hair, a coarse beard, and tattered clothes, Jake looked as if he had spent a number of months alone in the woods.

The woods, though, would have been preferable to his current surroundings. For nearly ten years, Jake had been in an insane asylum. For most of that time, today included, he was in solitary confinement, due to his tendency to attack anyone in sight. After all, he had yet to meet anyone who the Former had not taken control of.

If at any time, he thought, he helped another man see the world for what it really was, nothing more than an energy source for a powerful being, the Former would lose a little bit more energy. Without access to the mind, the Former could not control it, feed off of it, harness it for greater power. Jake knew little of the nature of the Former, why It desired such energy, why It could only inhabit males, or what It used it for. Merely, he knew that the Former was real, could inhabit anyone, and wanted him dead.

Anyone, then, could end his life at any time, for he was a threat to the natural order of the world.

Jake sat and thought, as he often did in the mornings. Of course, he thought at the other times of day too, for there was little else to do without the company of another person. But something about the mornings made those thoughts of particular importance to him.

In the previous night’s dream, he remarked, the boy had suggested that he, too, was enlightened. This was the first time, in his many lonely years, that a dream had revealed the possibility of someone like him. Every night had been the same: endless running, never stopping, always running into another person who killed him without hesitation.

At around noon, a scratchy-sounding buzzer rang through the confines of the small, uninviting room. A female voice rang through, no more smooth than the buzzer. “Visitor here for you, Mr. Anderson.”

Hearing this, Jake erupts into a panic, knowing only the Former would have any interest in visiting him. Though his life was without freedom or ability, he nonetheless feared deeply for its end. In life, at least, Jake knew how the Former reigned; but in death, anything was possible.

As his door creaked open, he feared for the worst. Surely, someone would emerge holding a weapon. Every night’s dream showcased one, always catching him off guard. Sometimes it came in the form of a knife, club, even a flamethrower, but none were so frequent as the silver handgun.

Suddenly, a flash of silver moved in through the now ajar door, and Jake flew out of his seat. “Jake! I told you I would come for you!”

But the voice was female, not male, as the Former had always been. As Lucinda, his fiancé, entered the room, Jake felt his heart turn to liquid, and he relaxed back into the seat.

“Luce, where have you been? Ten years in this place and not even so much as a letter or a message?” Jake spoke with no malice, only longing relief, as he embraced her for the first time in what felt like lifetimes.

Lucinda frowned slightly, looking ashamed. “It wasn’t easy getting in here. I spent the whole first year trying to get myself in. But after that, I couldn’t do it. I saw you through the monitors here, but every time you looked to be having those horrible dreams of yours.”

Jake began to make a remark, but Lucinda continued abruptly. “After that, I marched myself into the office and told them to let you go, and that you needed me, not some dark cold room. But they didn’t like that, and things escalated, and I did things I regretted. Spent some time locked up myself.” Jake inhaled sharply at the thought of his beloved behind bars but kept listening. “As soon as I got out, I decided it was time to do the same for you. I called everyone I knew, I fought the state and the country and the world and raised more money than I ever thought I’d have. You’re coming home with me now!”

The patient tensed suddenly at the thought of being a part of the outside world again. “Home?” he spoke quietly. “What home? Lucinda, this has been my home for almost a decade. This is my home now.”

“Well I mean, our home! I bought the place last week, a beautiful ranch on the river where we used to sit and watch the sunset. Not too far from where you proposed!” Lucinda flashed her engagement ring, beaming when she saw his as well.

Jake screwed up his eyes as if some horrible demon was grappling his brain. “No, no, no. This is my home, Luce. It’s the only place I’m safe from the Former!” He trembled as the words slipped out.

Lucinda, hearing this, looked sullen. “Jake, you know that’s why they put you here. It was wrong of them and I fought so hard against it and I won. But this is all in your head, love. I’m real, and I love you, and I made a new life for us! You don’t have to live like this anymore.” She spoke with a soothing tone, delicately balancing her assertion with a strong regard for his predisposition.

“Well, of course, it’s in my head,” Jake replied thoughtfully. “But that doesn’t make it any less real. Ten years I’ve had to do nothing but dream horrible dreams and think horrible thoughts, and as much as I hate the latter almost as much, it helped me realize so many things. Nobody can disprove the existence of the Former, whether I’m right or not.”

“What are you going on about, sweetie?” Lucinda appeared not to understand this new direction. Though he had begun fearing the Former slightly before his confinement in the ward, he rarely spoke of the matter to her.

“I mean, those men out there can never, with full certainty, insist that their minds are their own. If a Former took them over, could it not, just as easily, convince them that they were thinking clearly and of their own accord? And even if I am wrong, and their minds really are their own, how could I ever prove it to myself? With all of the visions, all of the dreams, it is too dangerous to dismiss the possibility! I die every night in bed, only to come back to reality where I suffer through to die again the next. Nobody else has to live like this, and nobody else’s head is full of the Former’s haunting voice!” Jake’s own voice rose suddenly, with growing anger, then shrank again. “I’m sorry, Luce. I love you too but cannot jump into a world in which everyone wants me dead.”

But Lucinda, now fully understanding, took matters into her own hands. “You think your life is so rough? Then why sit there and dream and think? You don’t have to do this anymore. You can come with me and start a new life. We can even sell that stupid ranch and get a place wherever you would like, with nobody else around.”

“No, Luce, we can’t! They’ll always find me, they always do! The Former is in every man and can get everywhere, everywhere but for some reason, inside of this room. It always has and always will. I am the biggest threat of all men, for I alone know of the oppression that It brings to the world. I threaten Its way of being.”

“And how are you going to make anything any better from the inside of that cell?”

“I don’t know. I’m not. I’m going to sit here and think until I die.”

“And what good will that do you? What good will it do anyone else?”

“What does it matter what good it does me or anyone else?”  He grew angry once more.

“Well it would sure do me a lot of good, and you too, if we went and were happy together.”

“Until I die and leave you miserable and single.”

Identifying his true fear, Lucinda knew exactly what to say to soothe it. “So, Jake, if I am right, we get to live a wonderful life together. Perhaps we may finally marry, and raise a family, and move to the country. I have plenty of money so that we can invest it and never work a day in our lives. We can devote all of our time to each other. But suppose you are right, and every man in the world wants to kill you. I’m no man, as you should know by now. We can run away together, and if one finds you one day, we will have spent the remainder of your life together. That is all I could ever desire.”

Jake quivered, but this time, with a joy he had not felt in a decade. “You mean that Luce, don’t you?”

Lucinda grinned and replied, “You know the answer to that already, sweetie.” She reaches into her bag and pulls out a pair of beautifully-baked muffins, handing one to her fiancé. “Before I go and let the guards know you’ve decided, I thought I’d give you a taste of real food again! I spent all night baking them, knowing you’d want something special for the first edible thing you’ve had in some time.”

As he took the first bite, tears streamed down Jake’s face. After all of this time, he was finally going to make it out. Of course, the Former still lurked around every corner, but it was no matter. Even one day spent in peace with Lucinda was worth the suffering that may follow it. A small part of him even clung to the desperate hope that, by some miracle, she may be right, and the Former was all in his head.

After scarfing down the muffin, he looked at Lucinda with pure love as she moved for the door.

“I’m going to get the guards now, sweetie.” She smiled once more at Jake. “But I suppose I don’t have to even leave the room for that! I can just slide into their minds next.”

The grin suddenly turned shrewd. “I really thought this would be more difficult. You really couldn’t fathom the notion that I could get into a woman’s mind, too? Well, I’ll be on my way now; these guards have a body to dispose of! Don’t bother trying to resist, sweetie. The poison in that muffin will take effect long before anything you do has any prayer of working.”

As if on cue, Jake started gagging violently, as his insides erupted with pain. Choking, he was unable to form a clear response.

“You really thought that I would let my men and women let you out of this place? What, so you go could go about, trying to take the world back, stealing from me? I fight a battle stronger and more powerful than anything your puny brain can imagine. Your attempts to derail me are pitiful. But, you can at least die with the knowledge that you were right about Me.” Lucinda slowly walked out of the room, the door closing behind her with a resounding thud.

Convulsing on the floor, Jake looked up, fury in his gaze. But in less than a minute, the fury, along with his life, had completely subsided.


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Several Shooting Deaths Reported at Madden 19 Tournament in Jacksonville

Ian Brzeski | United States

Shots were reported at a Madden 19 tournament in Jacksonville, Florida today, which was being live streamed on Twitch. People tuning in to the stream were able to hear a dozen or so shots. Authorities confirmed “multiple fatalities” at the scene, including the suspected shooter. The event was being held at GLHF Game Bar in an upscale area known as The Landing.

Since it was a stream, the clip was recorded, and viewer discretion is advised.  In the video right before the shooting occurred, you can see around the 27-second mark that a red-dot appeared on the shooter’s chest. Right after, the recording of the players cuts out and leaves only the Madden gameplay. A couple seconds later, gunshots could be heard along with the screams of the people.

The player on the stream who had the red-dot on his chest was shot 3 times. He was a professional Madden player who played for the Bucks Gaming Team. “I have to get to him. I am four hours away from him and I have to get to my son,” the mother of the deceased player said on the phone.

Authorities have reported that 11 people were shot and there are 4 confirmed deaths. The shooter, identified only as a white male, is also dead at the scene. The scene of the shooting has been cleared and many people were evacuated out of the building. No more details have been released so far.


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A Free Society Doesn’t Assault and Kill Children

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

There is something fundamentally wrong with the United States of America. The time for patriotism, for honor, for pride, has long since run off like an embarrassed father of a financially failing family. Now, long since buried in a morose depression, it is time to weep. The economy, as it stands today, is in a simply excellent condition. Unemployment is low, incomes are up. Technology only continues to advance, as the quality of living increases for everyone across the globe. Our esteemed free society, in the eyes of many, is in the midst of some of its best times. This all matters very little.

In the grand scheme of things, most would agree that human life is the most valuable resource. However, it appears that the leaders of our society do not share this seemingly obvious opinion. For time and time again, they continue to violate the basic law of nature, compassion and morality, by assaulting the most innocent members of our society. Ladies and gents, the United States government, comprised of the professed rulers of a free society, is continually killing and assaulting innocent children. This is not compatible with the ideals of freedom and prosperity.

In the past week, two blatant violations of morality stand out, in particular. Many others have undoubtedly occurred and been forgotten like a high school outsider. The thing is, matters of life or death are more important than some American’s exclusion. All lives matter. Black lives matter, police lives matter, and foreign lives matter. None matter more than any other, and there is absolutely no need to senselessly politicize any of them, when the government respects none of them.

To the foreign soldiers killed by American soldiers this week, I am sincerely sorry you had to die, and wish you a gentle journey to the afterlife. I wish the exact same for American soldiers killed by foreign soldiers, and foreign soldiers killed by other foreign soldiers. Nationality does not define the meaning of a life. Thus, your badge and flag do not give your life any more intrinsic meaning than anyone else’s.

Coming back home, though, it is obvious that not only soldiers have a violence problem. Our free society’s very own police force has quite a lot of the same.

Just a couple of days ago, a tragedy occurred in Cincinnati. After an eleven year old girl stole small amounts of food from a Kroger, an unnamed, off-duty officer brutally Tased the girl, leaving gashes on her back. This is simply not an acceptable action. The girl’s mother, Donna Gowdy, states it perfectly. “If you can’t handle an 11-year-old child, then you really need to get off the police force.”

The fact that America needs to have this discussion at all is mind-boggling. The officer, it appears, will not be facing any charges for his actions. In fact, Cincinnati policy allows the police to use tasers on anyone between the ages of 7 and 70. In what world is it necessary or acceptable to use potentially lethal force on a seven year old child? Surely this cannot occur in a free society. Perhaps the world needs new standards on just what a free society really is…

Going beyond our own borders, the American trail of blood only deepens, both metaphorically and literally. More specifically, this week’s news moves from assault to death. Thursday morning in Yemen, the United States gave fuel, weapons, and mid-air support to planes in their coalition with the UK and Saudi Arabia. Their collective results? One of the planes hit a bus in the middle of a marketplace. The bus was carrying a group of children on their way to summer camp. Because of the ever so free society and their military coalition, dozens of children will never make it to summer camp.

Free societies do not kill children, and they furthermore do not call it collateral damage. But from Vietnam to the Gulf, both of those things are constant. The state dehumanizes these civilians, whittling away their lives one by one. The empire feeds on the blood of the innocent. The only way to end this is to end war and to bring back accountability. All lives matter, whether domestic or foreign, and a truly free society will always recognize this. America, it’s time for you to become one.


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Abandoned Independence: The True Story of a Young Girl in Gaza

By Joseph Brown | United States

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES (BLOOD/GORE) BELOW

It’s that time of year again.

The taste of sulfur from a barrage of fireworks collides with the familiar smell of barbecue as the nation commemorates the ol’ red white and blue. For many Americans, the 4th of July is seen as a way to celebrate the capstone of American accomplishment, and any elementary school kid could tell you that the United States of America gained its freedom against all odds by forcing colonial British forces from its land.

Who has time for royal weddings when you have Monday Night Football anyway?

The classic tale of a determined ragtag band of rebels defeating the most powerful military force in the world has influenced thousands across the globe. It has inspired subsequent revolutions, formed modern American culture, and of course, created the masterful cinematic universe of Star Wars (Let’s not talk about the last one).

The memory of early American revolutionaries is alive and well in American society, but their legacy might have died with the founding fathers. Let’s take a gander at what life would have been like for a family in colonial America:

Amanda is a young woman living in the coastal city of Boston during the height of the American Revolutionary War. Though previously privileged enough to receive post-secondary education, Amanda was forced to abandon her studies and her talents after the conflict between Imperial and Rebel forces escalated. With hostile forces occupying a portion of her hometown, and the infamous British fleet blockading Boston’s ports, life in the besieged city has slowly begun to fade. Rations are running low, and the community is forced to face the possibility of starving,  while wandering a few blocks in the wrong direction could lead to a fate even worse than death.

If you thought life couldn’t seem any more bleak than it already is, you’re wrong.

Amanda’s brother was shot in the leg by British soldiers during a protest to lift the blockade, and for the past 64 days, Oliver has existed in a hellish state of unimaginable pain. Rebel forces have commandeered the majority of goods, and the merciless blockade prevents any significant aid from entering the dying city. Amanda and her family have no choice but to sit and watch Oliver writhe in excruciating agony before finally losing consciousness in what is the only remote escape from his pain.

While her brother sleeps, Amanda gathers bits of rubble and driftwood as a means of insulating her home from the bitter Atlantic winds. The war seems impossibly hopeless, and she doubts her brother will survive the winter. Every night, she watches the sun set on the silhouettes of British warships, as they strangle what’s left of her broken city.

Luckily for you and I, we know the ending to Amanda’s story. We know that the Continental Army would eventually manage to defeat British forces, and the rest is history, right?

Unfortunately, not everyone has the privilege of such happy endings.

Although the above narrative is a perfectly probable allegory describing life in the midst of a great American conflict, it is modeled completely upon the true experiences of a family on the other side of the world.

You’re familiar with Amanda, but have you met Asmaa?

During her lifetime, Asmaa al-Housh has witnessed unimaginable amounts of destruction and despair, much like our fictional Amanda. The only difference?

Asmaa is from the Gaza Strip.

Formerly an outgoing photographer and active student at her local university, Asmaa was forced to abandon her aspirations after her brother, Omar, was shot in the leg by Israeli security forces while attending recent march protesting the Israeli blockade of Gaza. As of May 30th, 2018, Israeli border patrols have killed at least 134 Palestinian protesters and injured 15,000 others during the protests. Among the dead and wounded are men, women, and children. Since 2007, no one has been allowed in or out of Gaza territory, and a merciless land, air, and sea blockade has prevented the transportation of significant medical supplies and basic goods.

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In Gaza, the most brutal wounds are often treated without any pain medicine due to a resource blockade.

 

Asmaa provides full time care for her twin brother, and for the past two months, you can almost always find her at his bedside. With local hospital facilities lacking staff, supplies, room, and tools, emergency services are quickly overwhelmed, and patients who are in need of critical care are often dismissed, or could face lengthy treatment times. Some can’t survive the wait.

The horrendous conditions of healthcare facilities merely reflect the state of being in the Gaza Strip. Residents of the besieged city are lucky to have four hours of electricity a day, and often resort to collecting driftwood or rubble as a means of heating water among the demolished ruins of Gaza neighborhoods. Blackouts are frequent, and uncertainty looms in every corner of human existence. Is the water clean? Where will we get our next meal? Will our house be bombed tonight? Will my son even make it home alive? These are the real questions that residents living in Gaza are forced to ask themselves every day under the Israeli occupation.

Few Palestinians within Gaza ever have the chance to have their voice heard beyond their own neighborhood. When asked what she would tell Americans about her homeland, Asmaa told me that few Americans can comprehend what it’s like to live there.

“Gaza is a prison. I have  dreams to travel…but none of this is possible. I have great hope, but it is not always this way. When I hear my brother scream or see his wounds, I am very tired.”

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Omar lays wounded in a hospital, where even the most essential resources are scarce.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine has proven to be one of the most divisive and dynamic disasters of modern history, and continues to be a polarizing political issue, both internationally and within the United States. Yet, amidst the heartbreaking violence and hopeless political upheaval, the victims of the conflict have largely been forgotten, and are seldom represented as anything more than a statistic. Israeli or Palestinian, these are human lives, and this is as much of a human issue than a political one.

So before you crack open a beer, or eat one of those generic Walmart sugar cookies with colored sprinkles, take a moment to recognize that the principles of freedom and self determination aren’t exclusively American. There are thousands of oppressed peoples around the world who will die before they see the fruits of their resistance, and there are children in Gaza who could teach an American a thing or two about “The rocket’s red glare”.


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