Begging Death, by Laura Diamond
Peter, the narrator, is a caretaker for the endlessly ill Lucas. Though Lucas pleads him, stating that he wants to die to be rid of his miserable fate, Peter knows this is impossible- death has ceased to be. A great number of people vanished, though the survivors were left immortal; the young stay young, the old stay old, the sick stay sick. What few members of society are left have banded together into warring factions, issuing a strict militant control over everyone, and tormenting those who refuse the faction’s brand.
Of course, this is very bad news for Peter, since he knows the love of his life refuses to wear their mark…
I was initially struck by the fact that this piece is in the present tense. A daring and effective move on the author’s part, this style brings a sense of immediacy to the story. The ‘as the events unfold’ nature of the narration is especially important towards the end.
The emotional bond between the two main characters is very well developed. Not only is Peter’s concern for Lucas evident, but he retains pre-apocalyptic mannerisms, such as instructing Lucas to wear shoes even though any wounds he might receive could not possibly become infected. This allows the reader to see into the mind of a person who refuses to let any adversity come between him and his ward.
One interesting part of this piece was how the local factions utilized the lack of death in their torture methods. I won’t go into detail, for the sake of spoilers, but I enjoyed the thought process here. The use of flashbacks to describe the Disappearing was good, but it seemed to interrupt the pacing of the story.
All together, this was a poignant tale of two people who tried their hardest to live in a vacuum once society had fallen. The emotions ran high, but the flow of the plot occasionally fell where it could’ve soared. I give this particular tale a 4.0 out of 5.