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Grey Skies

The heavens rumbled as if to warn the world of the living. The sky was covered with a grey blanket hiding what was above from those below or maybe what was below from those above. The sun was hidden in this argument between the dwellers of the earth and the heavens and as a result the earth lived in whatever light shone through the grey blanket. Water also dripped through the blanket, falling to the earth. The outlook for the earth-dwellers was grim yet life went on in its perpetual way.

On a part of the earth under the grey blanket of the heavens lied a few humans with no hope for life but that it would end soon. They had no other complaints other than the pain that fate had dealt to them throughout their existence. They wished to be free. They didn’t know whether their life ending would bring them freedom, but all they could do was wish and hope, because that was all they had left. In the cancer ward at St. Andrews’s children’s hospital, those few humans were living the little time they had left in captivity.

It seemed so unreal that there were seven children that day, all waiting to die soon. Never had there been so many children in one place with one binding truth other than in the maternity ward. The main difference here was that these children were here to die, not to live. Their suffering would end soon, but no one on earth knew when.

Timothy lay quietly watching episodes of "Tom & Jerry" he had seen umpteen times before. Jeremy, Asha and Robert lay watching as well as if the 4 children were part of a complex symphony of life and death. Rose, Helena and Jack lay asleep, oblivious to the chaotic antics of the cat and the mouse. They rested and used their remaining time among the living in avoiding the pain. Among the children were a few anxious parents who were going to be stripped of that title all too soon for their liking.

Outside the quiet and chaotic ward of the hospital, water continued to drip through the grey blanket of the heavens. It grew darker with time, becoming gloomier as each minute passed. The grey blanket thus thickened as part of the heavens’ preparation to receive more souls and to make their journey from the earth to the heavens as comfortable as possible. The guilt of the pain delivered to the souls while living had probably tormented the heavens into this task.

In the meantime, the living on earth continued with their lives with no expectations of death or otherwise. No one had any idea of the pain suffered by the other, but then that was the life that they had chosen to live. They lived that lifestyle as comfortably as a person could, for each one suffered too much to be worried about any other.

In the cancer ward of the hospital, those seven children were quite different. They knew the pain that each other felt and that helped them with their own. Each one knew how the other thought and, most of the time, what the other thought. They had, after all, been in each other’s company for some time now and probably for the rest of eternity. They had formed a bond a friendship that would most certainly outlive their lives on earth. It was this bond that comforted them and held them together towards the end.

The end was coming very soon. Each one of the seven felt it. It was a feeling of painful exhilaration. The pain was bearable if it was going to end soon. This was certainly no hoax because to every beginning, there is an end. They knew that. Every living soul knew that. Yet many avoided that for the thought scared them that whatever they lived for would end with time.

This fear held no relevance with the seven children. They had lived for nothing, but dying all their lives. They would lose nothing simply because they had nothing to lose. The truth had helped them live their short lives. It didn’t deceive them like life did. It was what they lived with. They trusted the truth, as weird as it sounded.

It was dusk. The day had ended, like many other things. The end was near. The grey blanket cleared and thinned out. The sun’s rays touched the earth directly once more. But it was not going to last for much longer. The end was truly near. Nearer than anyone could imagine. It was nearer than it was before for the children. But it wasn’t near enough. It could never be near enough for them unless it was "now".

However, the sky turned red. The red was a blood red. The blood that was supposed to have dried up in the bodies of the seven children seemed to have dried up in the sky. The heavens were prepared for the end but it was too early. No blood had dried in the bodies of the children. The end wasn’t as near as they had hoped and prayed for. But it would come! The end would come, but not right then.