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Chasing The Sunrise

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For a school assignment, I've chosen to do a small (1000 word) story with dystopian themes. I'm not terribly happy with my results, and I'd like an outsiders opinion. Also, having difficulty trimming 200 or so words from it. Any feedback would be lovely.


Chasing a Sunrise

I cannot remember when or why exactly I started chasing the Sunrise. I am pretty sure it was an idea born out of my insomnia and curiosity, two of the driving factors of my life. I can almost imagine the moment it dawned on me that seeing a Sunrise was the only thing I was put on this earth to do.


Grandmother had told me stories; stories that were sure to get her in trouble should they fall on the wrong ears. Stories of the past. Things could I could not even begin to comprehend: crowded shopping malls, schools, some archaic device she called a ‘letter’ that turned up in a person’s Foodbox from time to time. She spoke of blue skies, of enormous bodies of water, of birds, whatever they were. The world she described could not be real, a senile woman’s rambling. But in her rambling, she painted a perfect fantasy that I longed for with the entirety of my life force.


That was something else Grandmother had talked about. Apparently, long ago, back when the sky was blue instead of grey, it was possible to go outside without a safety mask. Grandmother, until the throat cancer got her, would do just that. Even though the government podcasted frequently that it was dangerous to go outside at all, that was the way things was.


Perhaps most captivating of all were her descriptions of a sunrise. In her world, every day started with a breath-taking eruption of light. Glorious bursts of orange that danced across the sky, heralding the arrival of the sun. “The darkness stands no chance,” she had informed me, “although it tries to hold out against the spreading lashes of blue, of purple, pink and of orange, it cannot. Everything between yourself and the horizon is silhouetted completely black, as if the world understands the sheer enormity of the struggle above it. If there is one thing of the past that I miss the most, it is the sunrise.”


Well, that woman is five years gone now, and in the way of sunrises, she hasn’t missed a thing. Chasing the Sunrise has become my Holy Grail, the only purpose I have on this earth. Every morning, without fail, I take up my camera, don my facemask and brave the outdoors in search of that perfect photo.

When Grandma had died, it had destroyed me. I had become obsessed with her stories of the past. I sent the undertaking department the appropriate email, and half an hour later, a Grocer took her away from me. The moment she died, the past went with her. A past I desperately needed.


I took my anger out on the computer. I removed it from the wall, something horribly, horribly illegal, and immediately replaced it with another plug. With a mighty kick, I sent shards of glass crashing to the floor. I was screaming now, punching and kicking and throwing the goddamned box that represented to be the government that had betrayed me, betrayed my grandmother, betrayed the past! I still have that computer, an unrecognisable heap of twisted metal and wires, the corpse of a mechanical beast. Every moment from then on, I was a criminal. I would be found out sooner or later. I didn’t care. I started to Chase the Sunrise every morning.


One morning I caught it.


It was like any other morning. I woke with my alarm clock ringing, proudly plugged into what was one of the few power points in the world that didn’t feed a computer. I rose without a word, rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, dressed myself and took up my camera. Facemask on, I slipped into the outside world, a land far apart from the one described grandmother, god bless her soul.


My street was as normal as any: featureless concrete cubes facing long runways of black tar. Grandma said that once every person in the country had owned a car, something like an upscale version of the motorscooters used by Sparkies and Grocers, who I sometimes saw from time to time on these walks. The world was bathed in grey smoke so thick I sometimes imagined touching it, holding it, moulding it in my hands. For years, I had been informed by the government, that the source of this smoke was unknown and a feature of life. That was bullshizzle. Grandma pointed to the giant factories that stood tall on the horizon as responsible, and I sided with her in an instant. A quick walk on the outside told me all I needed to know about that.


This morning was insanely different. A wind I had no felt for a long time hurried me along, and although it was still night, it was a lot brighter than any I could recall. By the time I climbed to my usual seat, a chimney stack on one of the abandoned factories in my district, it was almost too bright for my eyes. I waited half an hour, camera poised for a photo that was five years coming. I sat in silence for a very long time, ready to leave.


Then the clouds parted.


It was a miracle. Simply a miracle. It was everything grandmother had described. A blooming flower, orange leaves trailing in every direction, blossoming with a kind of urgency. A thousand colours I cannot even begin to describe, illuminating the heavens through a gap in the smog. I had expected a slow, continuous shift from night to day, but this was much better. A hundred million tiny detonations of every hue, dotting the sky in a pitter-patter pattern. I raised my camera to my eye, and snapped the lens again and again and again and again. Tears ran down my cheeks unbidden. I only wish grandma had survived long enough to see this.


The repugnant Konex chimneystacks still shuddered as copious amounts of smoke so thick you’d swear it were cotton thundered from within. The Sparkies and Grocers would be zipping around town on their motor scooters, and I doubted many of them would even turn their heads at the spectacle. In the windowless homes across America, millions of lemmings tapped away at their keyboards and not one of them would remember a sunrise, or even care what one was. I was exalted above my fellow man. I felt at one with this natural miracle and I deep sense of fulfilment washed over me. It was as if the wind had pulled back the clouds, revealing a window in time, and I was audience to the greatest show on earth. A sunrise.


I stood on the rooftop, turned my back to the sunrise. I tore the mask from my face; let it fall in the wind. A death sentence for sure, but I didn’t care. I had already done what I was put on this earth to do. Nothing else really mattered now. I took a deep breath, carrying more pollutants into my body than oxygen, and hacked out a series of coughs. What had we done to a world capable of producing such beauty? Where the hell did we go wrong?

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