The Endings :
319 Honeytree Lane was just like any other house. It lay in the recently built neighborhood bordering the old downtown streets to the West. The homes were expensive, and only the filthy rich pondered setting their greasy, prestigious lives down in a home on Honeytree. The only difference in the plot of land labeled “319,” was that the house atop that plot regularly contained a very unique boy.
Mark Graham sat at his computer desk. The lights in his room were off, and the only thing adding any luminescence to his greasy, dirty face was the bright screen of his laptop. This had been his day: another day of sitting down in his squeaky chair forgetting to shower, or rather preferring not to, and wasting away mindless hours of his “life” browsing the Internet.
A tall, fully-grown man walked side to side on Mark’s computer screen. He had darker skin, and his black hair was slicked back. The man was in a dark apartment by the looks of it: a dimly lit room with an indistinguishable painting on the back wall, just above his unmade bed. He wore wrinkled pajamas, as if he had just woken up to film this video, and his sweaty face gave the impression that he clearly did not care how he presented himself to the Internet.
Mark knew why; he leaned in closer as if he was preparing for what was coming next. The man leaned in closer to the camera. The webcam adjusted to his nearing face, and produced a clear picture of the gentleman. His lips moved as he stared just below the camera at his computer screen, obviously whispering some important words to the thousands of onlookers that would see this, but the man’s “production” had no audio.
Mark clenched his fist and licked his lips briefly. He knew what was coming next. The sweaty man tightened his face and shut his eyes for a moment. A single tear squeezed its way out of the man’s tightly closed eyelid and rolled down his cheek. Another inaudible whisper to the camera, and the man stood up and returned to his standing position, this time with a pistol in his right hand.
This was the sixth time Mark had watched this video; he had a rather intriguing obsession with it: the man’s face, the last tear, and of course, the end. Mark always loved the end. He had replayed the endings of not just this video, but many before it. In fact, for the past several years Mark had been looking for endings just like this, and this one especially interested him.
Mark wanted to go into the bloody body lying on the rough carpet of the man’s poorly kept apartment. He wanted to feel the man’s final emotions before he made the decision to pull the trigger. What did the bullet feel like? What was the feeling in the man after the bullet tore through his lively and healthy brain? Did he lose consciousness immediately, or did he slowly fade out of sense and reality as the blood left his skull? The man had slumped over and fell immediately, did that mean he was already unconscious, or did he simply lose his motor skills? Did he immediately regret pulling the trigger, or was there not enough time to think? Plenty of these questions circulated through Mark’s curious little mind, but he didn’t have the power to answer them. It was getting quite late, and he wanted at least a generous five hours of sleep before school the next day.
As Mark slept, he dreamt up answers to the questions that had circulated in his mind for so long. He dreamt up a world where death took all men back in time before they were killed. Then, they had time to change the path of events that rendered them dead before. It was a curious dream, but for a boy as imaginative as Mark, it was nothing out of the ordinary.
Mark arose from his bed to a bright sun. A hushed radio announcer read a traffic report. “A fender-bender on Magnolia Road is causing a delay of 5 to 10 minutes…” The radio was barely audible: definitely too quiet to have woken him up. He angrily turned his alarm upward toward his barely-open eyes. 8:40, another day where he had foolishly overslept. He had missed the bus, and his parents were long gone at their jobs. Mark grunted. His parents had completely left without checking on him; he couldn’t recall seeing them for the past several days. If he had ended up like the man from the video the night before, his parents may not have found out for weeks. Certainly they would notice a smell coming from his room after the bacteria began to take over…
He gathered his books, put them in his backpack, and marched out the front door. A cold wind slammed into his face, drying out his eyes and skin. He trekked through a 3-inch layer of snow down his front yard onto the sidewalk. He walked down the road as a morning wind whipped into his face and blew snow from the ground into his eyes. He pondered for a moment what freezing to death would be like: a long and horrible experience of pain, and then the much-belated loss of pain towards the end. When a person moves that tiny finger muscle and pulls the trigger, there is no going back, but a man can recover from nearly freezing to death, if he can accept his body with a few less limbs.
8th grade; the children are mean, the teachers are strict, and the real future-planning begins. Mark hopped up the large stairs at the front of his school. Surely students could see him all bundled up and miserable from the windows on the side of the building, but Mark didn’t care if he was being watched. He would be in this school as long as the government required that he be educated. He didn’t need friends, and he didn’t care to try to “enjoy” these years he had to spend with the brainless ingrates that paraded through the hallways showing off their expensive clothing and flaunting their undesirable personalities. He sat alone; he talked to no one, and this is how he intended to spend his life as long as he needed to.
Mark entered the room in the middle of his teacher’s lecture. He loudly shuffled to the other side of the class and sat down in his seat, right in front of Jacob Martin. The teacher continued her speaking, pretending not to notice the 6th time her student had been late. Something was clearly wrong with his personal life, and she supposed that these problems should be addressed in private, not in front of the congregation of annoying, nosy creatures that sat before her.
Mark quietly sat, listening to the kid behind him suck in air. Jacob Martin may have been the closest thing to a friend Mark could account for. Still, Mark had little desire to affiliate with someone so acne-ridden, bad smelling, and worthless as Jacob Martin. Jake was a quiet student, and Mark knew very well why. His mother died of leukemia only two months ago, and the compassionate students at the school were kind enough to alienate him from their pretentious cliques when he became emotional. Mark had mentally sifted through Jacob’s psychology plenty of times. Maybe his depression from the traumatic experience truly made him a boring and dry person to be around. Thus, the “friends” he had were quick to abandon him, and let him “sort out his emotional problems.” Deep inside, however, Jacob desperately needed a friend, and Mark could be that friend.
Of course, he was still a sad, pathetic weakling, and Mark would much rather just let him cry about his unfortunate “loss.” Why these fools loved each other so strongly, only to be let down when they pass, Mark would never understand. In the coming weeks, Jacob might move that muscle in his finger and hear that click of the trigger, and if Mark was lucky, he would be able to hear the bang from his room 4 houses down.
When school ended, Mark walked home quickly, avoiding conversation with any of his “fellow” humans. He sped down the hill of his school ground and made his way up the snowy sidewalk to his home. With a key hidden in his backpack, he unlocked the dead bolt and snuck inside. His green door shut muting the heavy winds outside, and he climbed up the stairs to his room. He pulled off his backpack and coat, threw them on the floor in the middle of the carpet, and fell into his computer chair. Quickly shaking his computer mouse left and right, Mark awoke his computer, and clicked on the “bookmarks” icon on his browser. He had collected quite a stash of disturbing and frightening websites since he received his first computer. Mark frequented such websites, and he could navigate them with his eyes closed. Each site had an impressive amount of precisely the videos he was looking for: murders, traumatic injuries, and his personal favorites, suicides.
Mark’s first indulgence was a video he had seen many times before. A young, attractive teenage girl with bleach blonde hair and expensive school clothing was speaking directly to her camera. Tears rolled down her face, disrupting the symmetrical bliss of her mascara. Black streaks on her face made it halfway down her cheek before she wiped them off with the back of her hand. Mark enjoyed the video because it had one thing he loved: sound. Sound brought out the best of each video: the pistol’s bang, the people’s last words, the air escaping from the person’s lungs after the ending, and of course the blood spilling out of an open wound like water pouring onto the hot pavement from a hose. In this case, Mark was able to hear the girl frantically spill her inner sadness to the camera, and reveal the “horrible” instances of her recent breakup.
She whispered one last statement: “I don’t want it, but I can’t…” Her idea ran dry, and she shut her eyes, had a spurt of angry sobbing, and stood up unable to express her sentence. She turned, walked off-screen for a moment, and returned to the center of the screen with a belt. The girl eagerly attached the belt to an above-screen ceiling fan, formed a makeshift noose with the hanging portion, and set a white wooden chair directly underneath her masterpiece. She stood on the chair with two steps, and gracefully set her head in the loop.
Mark clenched his fist and licked his lips. The girl, crying loudly now, made an effort to take a step backward and pull her head out of the noose for a moment of thought. She probably would have pondered, “Is this really how I want to die?” or “Am I really going to kill myself over this?” or “What is this going to prove?” She didn’t ponder these things however, because she slipped. Mark grabbed his knees tightly with his sweaty hands and leaned in to watch. Her thin, tall body fell downward. Her hair flew over her face, and she screamed and choked trying to set her feet back up on the chair. She squirmed like an animal in a slaughterhouse, flailing her legs up and backwards toward the wooden, white chair. This caused her body to swing back and forth, which Mark thought as quite humorous. He longed to be in her room and really see her choke and cough, and swing around with the thick, leather belt fastened tightly around her neck, causing her face to turn red and purple right before his eyes. This girl was still very afraid of death, and although she produced the means of killing herself, she probably was not going to go through with it. Gravity had a different plan for her, however, and her futile attempts at undoing her mistake were nothing more than a silly dance now.
Mark tried to imagine the pain and irony of having the life literally choked out of a person by their own creation, especially after they have changed their mind. Her silly joke suddenly became all too real, and she surely was not prepared for an actual chance of death. What a stupid girl; she had let herself love another, and when the love was lost, so was her will to live. Her life was like a pile of dirt surrounding the roots of a plant. When the plant was pulled out upward from the pot, so was all of the soil, clinging hopelessly to the roots, and only an empty pot lay behind. The empty pot was quite easy to see; it was hanging by a belt in the middle of her room.
Mark had gotten no more than an hour of sleep the night before. He had watched hours of endings, from hangings and trigger-pullings to car crashings and wrist-slashings. He even found a video of what looked to be a government agent held captive in a hostile facility, most likely from the cold war. When the interrogator turned to select his next instrument of torture, the man popped a cyanide pill in his mouth. A small amount of cyanide with a glass shell and rubber coating could be bitten into, and the liquid swallowed. Cyanide gas would form within the host’s stomach, and cause death within a minute.
Mark always pondered these. How could a man be so honorable to his country that he willingly would end his life forever? What point is it to be honorable if your consciousness and self-gratification end in the process? What were the man’s final thoughts? Did he regret swallowing the deadly liquid, only to realize that it was already working to kill him, and he had no way of preventing it? Was it a painful feeling, to have a toxic gas form in one’s stomach?
Once again, Mark’s questions would never truly be answered. He did not possess the ability to communicate with the dead, and as much as he begged God each day, he would never be able to ask them how “love” and “honor” could have ceased their existence.
Mark slowly rose out of bed and squinted at the green blur emitting from his alarm clock. After a few seconds of a changing blur in his eyes, he could make out the clock. 5:30; he was on time for once. With a lazy hunch in his back, he crept over to the window and pulled apart the black curtains. Light entered the room as if it were burning away the cold darkness from the night. Snow was blowing wildly across his window, and a heavy, white fog ensured that nothing farther than four feet away could be seen outside. He pulled the blinds closed, and left his room. Mark tiredly shuffled down the carpeted stairs of his home and looked into the garage. His parents’ cars were gone. Apparently, they must have left before the blizzard began, or, knowing their stupidity, left in the middle of it. Mark shuffled into the living room and flipped on the television. The news showed a blonde meteorologist and a Doppler radar. A mass of pink and white slowly worked its way across the screen behind the woman, right over Mark’s town. With a storm like this, school would surely be cancelled.
Mark shut off the television and headed back upstairs to his room. He heaved himself on his computer chair and opened his Internet browser for another go. Hoping for a beheading or at least a bloody amputation of some sort, he traveled through his usual grind, checking the latest uploads on the bookmarked sites he’d collected. Too tired to discern which one’s he’d checked recently, he clicked on the first bookmark.
A black screen with cursive, red writing appeared before him. Mark had always been a fan of this site; many of the videos were in high definition and had sound. The videos were sorted by types of deaths, from hangings to bizarre and rare tragedies. Mark spent most of his time worming his way through the “suicide – hanging” section, but he would often check the famous “suicide – pistol” videos when he was in a more brutal mood.
Something was very strange about the site this time. It was not its contents, nor its creepy nature, but a recent change that puzzled Mark. Whenever he moved his mouse towards the top of the screen, a small link would light up white in the midst of the blackness of the page. Obviously whoever programmed this website was unaware that the link’s color was the same as the site’s background. Mark glanced at the link, and decided to disregard it and move on to his usual videos. He then stopped, having just realized what the link had said. “Real Time Suicide! Live Feed:”
Mark’s eyes widened. A real suicide? Live? Who would coordinate their life’s ending with a website? Who would literally plan their death on a certain date, at a certain time? Mark sat for 30 seconds, just staring blankly at the computer screen. He could see each individual pixel making up the small lettering of the white-highlighted link on the webpage. Something seemed very wrong here, but Mark was used to the “very wrongs” of life. At last the quiet of the room was broken. *Click*
319 Honeytree Lane was a normal home. The architecture fit well with the rest of the street’s houses, the sidewalk had the same curvy path unique to the rest of the neighborhood, and sometimes the snow piled above the entire lawn, leaving a river-looking indent in the snow leading up to the house. The only difference was that if one were to take the river-path of 319, they would surely not be pleased with what they found inside.
Mark’s assumptions had been fairly correct. A few weeks had passed, and still his parents hadn’t noticed his body lying on the floor, knife in his throat, and his computer forever showing the live suicide, with his webcam just above the glowing monitor.