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Feet pounding against the hard, damp rocks between sand and earth, Henry didn't look back as he sprinted along the shoreline.

He made it less than a hundred yards before he slipped. It was inevitable, really, that he skidded along the wet shingle stone, his red sneakers losing traction and sending him onto his butt as he fell. He rolled over onto his side, pulled in his knees against his stomach, and wrapped his arms around his shins on the ground. Classic fetal position.

Henry had been the picture of ignorance up until now. But something so fragile as denying one's mortality couldn't last forever. His ability to play pretend and act as though nothing were wrong was apparently less persistent as he'd anticipated. So now he was faced with a cruel, unbearable, unavoidable, inescapable unerring truth. He and dozens of other classmates, companions, friends and acquaintances, all of them would be killed. Probably within a week of today.

There were so many reasons that this was a devastating revelation; Henry's own personal demise was just one. Sure, he wanted to live; he liked being alive! Still, if it were only him to suffer, it'd suck, but it'd be okay. But so many people were hurt; the other students, for one, who had so hopes and dreams of their own. The parents, who would lose their beloved children. Even former survivors, whose trauma would be reopened anew by this travesty.

Nobody deserved this. Not a single one of its victims.

Of course, Henry wasn't so concerned with all that. He would've liked to be able to look at this from the bigger picture, acknowledge the cruelty from a selfless stance, and be at peace with his own fate. But he wasn't in that state of mind; he was scared, selfishly scared, to die. He wanted to go home, see his dad, watch some movies, play games, do things! He didn't want to die.

So Henry curled up on the ground and whimpered, overwhelmed by sudden, crippling waves of fear and dread. Not the good kind of fear, the kind bordering on delight from his films and books, but real fear. He didn't like it.
V5: Cut Short

V6: Broken Down

V7: Unprepared
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Self Doubts and Hurricanes · Shoreline