8 Billion : Scary Stories – Short Horror Story

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I’m not good with numbers. Don’t get me wrong, I can count. My background is in science – human biology to be exact – and you can’t get far if you can’t adequately handle your pluses and minuses.

It’s very large numbers I take issue with. Past a certain threshold I can’t conceive them. Take the number of people living on Earth, around 8 billion. How often have you encountered anything that could help you visualize what 8 billion even is?

All I’ve been able to use to make sense of it are seconds. I did the math and I’ve come to realise that 8 billion seconds are approximatively the expected lifespan of someone like me, healthy and stationed far away from harsh conditions that’d put my life in danger. It made the number of living humans easier to grasp, yes, but time got even more fleeting.

Often, you’ll hear someone say, « time flies ». You will say it too as you get older. It doesn’t make much sense when you think about it. Time doesn’t fly, we do. We haven’t opened our eyes for the first time that we are already thrown into life’s freefall. We try to make the way down meaningful and dignified, try to keep ourselves busy to avoid obsessing over the landing. With my calculus, all I’ve done is look away from a seemingly infinite horizon to instead stare down at the cold, quickly approaching ground. If I’m lucky, I’ll have had 8 billion seconds to make the most out of the world. Then it’s the crash.

8 billion used to sound like a lot. Now, I’m already halfway there. I can’t even remember the first couple hundred million seconds I’ve been through. Soon afterward it’s been routines I’ve indulged in to organize my life in neatly measured time windows. I think of all the hours of commute to and from my job, spent to get to meetings and tests that keep me hostage in my own life 3600 seconds at a time. When I’m free it’s only to return to shallow relationships I endure because the idea of falling down the years alone scares me even more.

No matter where I am nowadays, I hear a clock hand counting down everything I will ever have known. Sleeping is all but impossible, I’ve already spent so many seconds out of my 8 billion unconscious. I’ve been too unwell to do anything for the past three weeks. That’s almost 2 million seconds, just so you know. I’ve been told to take care, that projects are moving along fine without me.

I’ve been told to take the time I needed.

All I can do is count my blessings. All 8 billion of them. I have to remind myself that it isn’t bad, it’s more than what almost anyone else gets. Life just slips by so fast. My 250 years will be gone in a flash.

Oh how I pity you, human.

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