Short Stories

Short Story: A Passing Thought

How can you calculate the value of human life? If you ask a mother, they would say priceless. Okay, some might say something else, but bet you all my savings their kids would say, “Back at you, lady.” Then if you ask from a politician, they might ask what age. A child costs money until they get a job and start providing meaning and paying back their education, healthcare, and other forms of pampering. But then again, children are the hope, at least if you ask their parents. Adult workers, those are the best, their potential is in the now. Not in some future ponds. But grannies and grandpas, those are a money sink despite how much scientists say that they are a resource for their grandkids and not only in pampering sense. But to politicians, the elderly citizens cause problems, especially with their pensions funds that seem to rule the world. None of these matters, as there are those who think you can’t measure human worth in money, that humans are valuable on their own. As always, you can disagree. Some might say that humans have never been valuable, and at the current state of the world, humans cost more resources than they produce any meaning. Maybe back then, when all what humans made decomposed, they were not a complete waste of oxygen and cells, but now, good riddance.

It was one of those thoughts that went inside her head in loops. She glanced out of the train’s window. And always, she ended up thinking the whole thought was a pointless exercise as there was no consistent number to be had. Not if the question wasn’t part of some extreme sports event were a group of men (it was always men, women rarely bother, quick poisoning gets the same satisfaction without the hassle) hunted down some fit young man for the fun of it. She bet those men knew how to answer her question, and the answer would be “it depends on the person” − that they themselves were worth the amount in their bank account plus all their investments. But the man running for his life, he was worth the amount they would pay for the one who managed to shoot him, which was pretty high compared to a say to their cleaner, whose stock went up instantly if they were a good sport about it.

A man coughed next to her. She was sure he was dying of influenza. Over ten thousand humans died in a year to your common flu. But she was sure the man’s death and the rich men’s sport price were only a figment of her overactive imagination. That as arrogant some people might be, they would never ever give cash as a price for the greatest sport in the world. That would be pointless. Rather it would be a title like “you are the man” until next year when others had the opportunity to claim that title. But until then they could buff their chest and grunt like the kings, they saw themselves.

She hated that she thought these thoughts, making her wonder, was she a product of her time where everything was measured with worth. Look any person on the train and instantly the tiny brain of yours compose lists how to categorize and value them. Nowadays, shining hair, tight abs, zero fat, white teeth, a pleasant smile, and you are someone to be followed. But she couldn’t help but think those attributes sounded a lot like something how you priced cattle. And not in a breeding sense, more like eating in mind. She was sure that the world or more like the current culture of madness did that, ate humans alive.

If the default setting was wrong, then how on earth was she supposed to fix it. Should she be more merciful to others? Or how about herself? Now, as she looked down at her tights, she saw a piece of meat to sell for the hungry and bored. That everything even her inner self had become a commodity. Even her “soul” had to be perfect like the shell it came. Pleasing, attractive, smiling, social… Everything she failed to be. If she thought she could get away with it, hide somewhere, find a haven, she was mistaken. There was no place where someone didn’t demand from her something or measure her. Not in a friend’s house, not in a job interview, not in the thoughts transmitted by the programs all were made to watch. Every single thing in the world was constructed so that you wanted it to feel better, to feel yourself to be valuable, desirable, meaningful, someone. The jacket in the movie will make you cool. The soy yogurt with no added sugars makes you a good person. The meditation app will open your mind and make you feel better. All this was guaranteed to make her a better person, perfect. Yet, again as she glanced her arm, she was sure it would make a nice dinner for two.

She bit in, and could taste metal in her mouth.

Thank you for reading! Find the number three ball and see how bright it is.

© K.A. Ashcomb

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