“Dreams in the Void” By Davis Bartels

I am not content with my life.  I have school most of the time, and when I don’t have school, I have homework.  Nothing fun happens.  And if it does, it never lasts. When I am an adult, work will take the place of school.  I look forward to nothing.  I wish I could be like a character in the movies or in books.  They always have such exciting lives.

I wake up. As I sit up in bed I groan—it’s Monday. I get out of bed and get dressed. I slowly make my way down the stairs, lumbering like a bear.  I hear my parents discussing the disappearances.  “Another one?” I ask as I walk into the room and begin to pour myself a bowl of cereal.  “Someone in Manhattan,” my mother responds.  I could tell they were nervous.  This one is the closest to us so far.

People have been randomly disappearing.  There is no evidence indicating what happened to them, and there is no way to know who will disappear next.  The officials say that the disappearances have been going on for a long time, but only recently has the rate of disappearances been increasing.  And only recently have they begun to think that they might all be connected.

After I finish breakfast I say good bye, put on an old, blue jacket and my backpack, then I step out into the cool autumn air.  I see my breath rise in front of me as I walk down my street to the bus stop.  As I get off the bus at school, I see my best friend.

“Jason!” I call to him.

“Hey, Clay” he says back.  I look at him and I see stress in his face and bags under his eyes.  He looks like he is a 40 year old man after a long day at work.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m just nervous about the test I have today.” As I sit in class I can’t stop worrying about Jason.  Somehow I just know that it isn’t the test that is making him so stressed.

When I wake up the next morning, I hear my mother crying.  I rush downstairs, still in my pajamas.  My father sits me down and after a long pause he tells me, “Jason disappeared.”  I can feel my eyes begin to water and I rush upstairs. My body is screaming in agony. I can’t think straight. The next thing I notice is that I’m on the floor. My day passes in a daze. I think I took a test; I think I failed. Before I fall asleep I promise myself that I will find out what happened to Jason.

Black. I see the sky. The sky is black. But it is not dark out. I stand up and see Manhattan.  But I can’t see anyone. I make my way to my apartment, wondering how I ended up outside.  Nobody is home. I get nervous. A mechanical voice speaks to me. I look around but no one is there. “Welcome to the void.  A dimension created by human greed.  It is entered in the sleep of people who are not content with life, greedy for more.  You must find the exit to escape and wake up.  If you die in the void you will disappear.  If you escape and try to tell anyone about the void, you will disappear before you can. When you escape you will return to the void every night until you beat it.”

The voice stops and a red beacon of light shoots up from the Empire State Building. I am still only beginning to comprehend what happened when “Crash!”—the roof of my apartment crumbles to the floor.  As I crawl out of the debris I see something.  It is gray, grotesque, and gargantuan, and it has metallic looking plates on its body. It has long gray hair, black eyes, and blade like claws. I run.

I make it across the street and turn behind a building. It follows. I take off down the street turning through alleys hoping to lose it.  I don’t know where I should go, but the beacon seems like a good place to start.  I finally make it to the Empire State Building, with the thing breathing down my neck the entire way.  My muscles are on fire and I’m out of breath, but I continue into the building. I scamper up the stairs. The narrow staircase makes it hard for the creature to chase me. As I reach the top deck the monster lunges out at me with its claws like an enormous, gray lion.  I dive in an effort to evade the blow, but the monster nicks me on my left ankle.  The rest of the attack hits the railing and part of it falls onto the deck with a snap! I stretch out for the metal bar of the railing.  I swing it as hard as I can at the beast.  The blow connects and pushes the monster into the part of the railing that is still attached to the building.  It trips on the railing and topples off the building.  It reminds me of King Kong.  Immediately I collapse.

I rest for a moment, get up, and limp my way over to the column of light, what I assume is the exit.  As I’m about to step in, the mechanical voice comes back.  “You have made it to the exit.  But I have a proposal to make.  Would you like to trade your life for everyone that has disappeared?  They will all escape, but you will be trapped here forever”.  I pause for a moment to think.  Am I actually worth more than all the people trapped here?  All I wanted to do was save Jason.  It doesn’t take me long: “I accept your proposal”.  The voice responds: “Congratulations, you have beaten the void.  The void is made of greed.  You were just about to give up your life for others.  Such an act of selflessness has defeated the void.  Everyone, including you, is free”.

I wake up in my bed.  I hear my mom crying once again.  But this time I know they are tears of joy.  I know I won’t be greedy for anything anymore.  As it turns out, my life is interesting.  I am content with what I have.

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