Here’s another of the little stories I write now and again – this one at Holmfirth Writers, I think.
The little boy had been staring out of the window for some time.
“I want to go outside,” he shouted. “I want to touch the trees, to smell the flowers, to walk up the mountains. Why do you keep me in here all the time? It’s not fair.”
“You know very well why we keep you inside,” his mother replied. “Outside there are germs in the air that would kill you if you breathed them in. When the Great Plague came, people came out in horrible lumps all over their bodies and they went blind. Their lungs filled with water and they died. That’s what will happen to you if you go outside. In here we are safe, and we have all we need.”
“But look,” said the boy, “there are birds outside, and squirrels – see, there’s one on that tree over there. Why don’t the germs hurt them?”
His mother gave an exasperated sigh. “Because they are germs that cause a human disease. There are different germs that cause bird diseases and squirrel diseases. Perhaps they will have a great plague of their own one day.
“I hope not,” said the boy, reflectively. After a few moments, a thoughtful look came into his eyes.
“Are there no people outside any more, then?”
“Not that we know of, Michael. Not alive, anyway.”
“How long has it been since we came inside?”
“Twelve years and seven months.”
“Well then, if there are no people outside, and the germs can’t eat birds or squirrels, won’t the germs have starved to death by now?”
Another exhausted sigh. “I don’t know, Michael. Germs can live a very long time. If anyone went out, the germs might come in here and that would be the end of us all. Listen, Michael. At least you can see the trees and the mountains, and the birds and the squirrels. Sometimes you can even hear the wind blowing through the trees. Isn’t that a lot better than nothing. A lot better than being dead?
He made no answer. She kissed him on the forehead and left the room.
Michael looked through the window again. A heron was fishing in the stream that flowed through the forest. How sweet that water must be compared with the horrible stuff he had to drink. It was all so beautiful. He could not believe there was anything bad out there. A little storm of anger welled up inside him. ‘I will get out, I will!’ he chanted to himself. Taking off his shoe, he banged it repeatedly against the glass.
There was a slight tinkling sound. What had he done! A spider web of cracks radiated from the site of his last blow. Then a jagged triangle of glass detatched itself and fell with an ominous crash onto the window ledge. He began a scream, then stopped dead. In the place where the glass had been there was no hole, just wires and bare grey concrete.