MidReal Story

Sacrifice for Science: A Divine Dilemma

May 15
Scenario: A weird world whose progress in science is achieved by sacrificing to god
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A weird world whose progress in science is achieved by sacrificing to god
I was ten years old the first time I saw a man die.
The second time, I was the one who killed him.
The third time, I was the one who died.
I’m not sure which was worse.
The first time, it was my father who died.
He’d been a scientist, like me, and he’d been working on a project for years.
It was supposed to be his life’s work, but he never got to see it come to fruition.
Instead, he was chosen as the sacrifice to god for the project’s success.
I remember watching as they led him away, his hands bound behind his back and a hood over his head.
I remember the way my mother cried when she heard the news, and how she clutched me to her chest as if she could protect me from the same fate.
I remember the way my little brother asked where our father had gone, and why he wasn’t coming back.
I’ve lived with that memory for twenty-five years, and it still haunts me.
The look on my father’s face as he went to meet his death, the way he never looked back at us, the way he walked with his head held high.
The way he sacrificed himself for a cause that meant so much to him, for a project he believed in and a system that he trusted.
The way he left a void in our family that has never been filled.
And the way it changed me, and set me on this path.
I always thought I’d grow out of my father’s shadow one day.
That I’d be able to move past the pain of his sacrifice and make a name for myself, on my own terms.
But I never did.
Instead, I followed in his footsteps.
I became a scientist, like him.
I poured my heart and soul into my work, just like he did.
And now, I stand on the brink of a major breakthrough.
A discovery that has consumed my life and defined my existence.
My friends stand beside me—fellow scientists, all of us—and we are about to change the world.
But there is a cost to our progress, a cost that I have come to understand all too well.
The government has chosen a sacrifice for us, a man who will die so that we can live.
A man whose fate was sealed the moment he was born.
We are going to test our hypothesis on him soon, but part of me hopes that it won’t work.
That we will have to go back to the drawing board, and find another way to achieve our goals.
Another way to change the world, without so much bloodshed.
But I know that’s not possible.
Not in this world, not in this life.
My father taught me that when I was a little girl, and I’ve never been able to forget it.
I’m not sure if I ever will.
It seems like only yesterday that we were working on the equations together, looking for patterns and breakthroughs where no one else could see them.
Now that we’ve found one, it feels like the world is holding its breath as we prepare to test our hypothesis for the first time.
This is what we’ve been working toward, what we’ve poured our blood, sweat, and tears into for years.
It’s our lives’ work, and it’s about to change everything.
But as I look around at my friends—my fellow scientists—I can’t help but wonder if it’s worth it.
If the end really does justify the means, or if there is another way to achieve our goals without so much bloodshed and heartache along the way.
There are two ways that you can die, my father told me when I was young.
One is by your own hand, when you are ready to meet your maker.
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The second way is by someone else’s hand—someone who is not ready to go.
I wonder if this man is ready.
The government has chosen him to be our living sacrifice.
They’ve kept him locked in a cell nearby for days, while we prepare for our experiment.
It’s a cruel tradition—one that hasn’t changed since my father’s time.
I wonder if that will ever happen.
If we will ever be able to move forward and leave these barbaric practices behind us.
If we can ever find a way to make progress without so much death and destruction in our wake.
But I know that’s not possible.
Not in this world.
Not in this life.
The man stares at me with wide eyes as I walk past his cell.
He must know what’s about to happen—he can hear the preparations being made—but he doesn’t look scared or upset.
He just looks… blank.
As if his mind has already gone somewhere else, to a place where he doesn’t have to think or feel.
I wonder what his life was like before this moment.
If he had a family who loved him, or friends who will mourn his passing.
If he had dreams of his own, and plans for the future that will never come to pass.
But it doesn’t matter anymore.
His fate has been sealed, and there is nothing that anyone can do to change it now.
I try to push those thoughts away as we finish getting everything ready for the experiment.
The equations are up on the screen, and all of our equipment is in place.
There is only one thing missing now: the blood that will signal the beginning of our test.
I swallow hard and try to concentrate on my work, but my mind keeps drifting back to that cell and the man who is waiting inside it.
Is this really worth it?
Is the progress that we’re trying to make really worth all of this pain and suffering?
I feel a hand on my shoulder and look up to see Jaxon watching me with concern in his eyes.
Are you okay?
he asks quietly.
He’s tall and handsome, with sharp features and a mop of black hair that always seems to fall into his eyes.
He’s also incredibly ambitious and loyal to a fault.
I wonder how he will react when he realizes what’s really going on here.
And if it will matter once it’s too late.
I nod and force myself to smile at him.
I’m fine, I tell him.
Just nervous about the experiment.
He raises an eyebrow and looks at me skeptically.
But before he can say anything else, Leo clears his throat and gives us both a pointed look.
We all turn back to our work and pretend that everything is fine.
But deep down, we know that it isn’t.
The blood is ready now—the final component that we need to begin our experiment.
It will be over soon, one way or another.
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He looks up when I enter, and our eyes meet.
His are dark and miserable, filled with a kind of resignation that seems to pierce me straight through my heart.
I feel like I should say something, but I don’t know what.
How do you apologize for taking someone’s life away from them?
I clear my throat and try to smile at him, but it feels thin and fake.
“I’m sorry,” I say.
It’s not much, but it’s all that I have.
He doesn’t say anything, just continues to watch me with those dark, hollow eyes.
I wonder if he can see my guilt written all over my face, or if his own pain is too great for him to notice anything else.
“I hope you understand,” I tell him.
He still doesn’t say anything, and his silence is like a weight around my neck.
I look down at my hands, at the small device that I’m holding in them.
The tiny needle that will extract his blood and send it through the tubes and into our experiment.
I don’t know if I can bear to look at him again, to see that silent condemnation in his eyes.
“I’m sorry,” I say again, even though I know that it’s not enough.
And then I press the needle into his arm, and the blood begins to flow.
It’s warm and vivid, the deep red color staining everything that it touches.
For a moment, I find myself mesmerized by the sight of it, by the way that it seems almost alive as it moves through the tubes and into our experiment.
It’s easy to forget sometimes how many people have died to get us to this point, how much pain and suffering has been endured in the name of progress.
But not today.
Today, I can almost hear the screams of the sacrifices who came before, echoing through the walls around me.
I try not to look at him as I draw his blood, but I can feel his eyes on me the entire time.
Watching me with the same resignation as before, as if he has already accepted his fate.
As if I could ever do the same.
When my hands start shaking, I know that we’re done.
I pull the needle out of his arm and step back from him, trying not to look at the blood that is still dripping from it.
Trying not to think about what’s going to happen next.
Across from me, Jaxon and Leo are both watching me with identical expressions on their faces: a mixture of excitement and anticipation.
But try as I might, I can’t bring myself to feel anything other than sick and guilty as I watch them scoop up the blood and begin pouring it into the experiment.
Leo is talking excitedly about something, but I can barely hear him over the sound of my own heart pounding in my ears.
Was this really worth it?
Was all of our work really worth taking this man’s life?
And if it wasn’t…what would I do about it?
But before I can answer those questions—even for myself—Jaxon nods at Leo, and they both turn back to their work with single-minded focus.
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