Fell Alone Forever by Ferris Wayne McDaniel

He would not watch the videos today, the boy told himself. He would ride bikes with his friends after school like he used to. But when they asked him, he lied. I have to babysit my little sister, he said, then he watched a man blow himself up in a restaurant in Pakistan.

He watched the videos until the sun slipped away and his room grew dark except for the harsh, white light of his computer screen. His mother’s sweet voice, time for dinner, rang up to him: slumped in a chair, expressionless.

The boy was twelve when he saw the first video that would stay with him forever. On the tenth anniversary of September 11, the news channel his parents watch showed footage of people leaping from the Twin Towers so they would not burn to death. The people never struck the ground in the clips. They fell alone forever, which made the boy nervous because he could not see what happened, but he knew.

Another night, the news channel showed a blurry video of terrorists decapitating people.

His mom flinched and closed her eyes. His dad did not take his eyes off the screen. His baby sister—who loves when they play hide and seek and he pretends he cannot find her when he knows exactly where she is because her little toes are sticking out from some place—was sleeping between them on the couch.

He did not believe the videos were real until he discovered the online forums with more of them that are not allowed on the news. He figures the videos are not allowed on TV because they would make people feel like their tongues have been chopped off and they are choking on their own blood.

The boy does not understand why people would do the things they do to other people in the videos.

Sometimes he pictures himself tied to a pole and someone throws a grenade at his feet, or he is hung upside down and decapitated, or his throat is slit in the middle of the night. When he imagines these deaths, they do not hurt. He likes to imagine they do not hurt the people in real life either, but he cannot be sure.

There is a program on the school computers that blocks the videos. Each time he uses a computer at school, he checks to make sure the videos are still blocked, and when they are, he can settle down and do his work. He knows he cannot ask his parents to install the program on their home computers because they would think he is crazy.

If his mother did not call him down for dinner, he might watch the videos all through the night. Sometimes when dinner is not ready at the usual time, he worries his mother will finally not call him down, and he will not be able to stop watching the videos but then her voices rings out. He heaves himself from his chair to the dining room table, where he is quiet because he is thinking about the people who died.

Could what happened to them happen to him and his mom and dad? What if airstrikes destroy their neighborhood and his family has to dig his baby sister out from the rubble? What would the blood look like on her face and in her hair? What would he do if what happens in the videos happens in real life, to him? He wants to be prepared.

The boy’s dad sits at the head of the table so he can watch the TV in the living room. The news-people shout about a terrorist who drove a truck into a Christmas market and killed twelve people. His mom helps his sister eat her dinner. When his dad asks if he is okay, he says, Yes I am just tired, but he is not tired. His body feels like it is yelling at him. He cannot look at anything—his knife, his plate, his hands—for long or they make him nervous. The television is so loud he can see the sound bright hot. His mother tells him to eat, but he cannot. He cannot eat because it feels like he cannot fit anything else inside of him.




Ferris Wayne McDaniel is a fiction writer from Mamou, Louisiana. He lives in New Orleans, Louisiana where he earned his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of New Orleans’ Creative Writing Workshop. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Puerto del Sol, Hobart, Barrelhouse, The Barcelona Review, and elsewhere. He is working on a collection of short stories.



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One response to “Fell Alone Forever by Ferris Wayne McDaniel”

  1. Karen Tramonte says:

    “Fell Alone Forever.” Is fantastic. It captures the horrific reality we are faced with today and how it has scarred the main character.

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