"The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin
For those who have no clue what “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” is about, please enjoy these last few seconds before I tell you.
Simply put, Omelas is a beautiful, utopian city—peaceful, sunny, idyllic. Everyone’s happy. “An old women, small, fat, and laughing, is passing out flowers from a basket, and tall young men wear her flowers in their shining hair. A child of nine or ten sits at the edge of the crowd, alone, playing on a wooden flute.” You get the idea.
However, in the midst of all this merriment, there is a filthy, neglected child locked in a dank, dark cellar. The child must live like this so that the rest of Omelas may experience splendor and prosperity. That’s just the way it has to be. Worse still? The citizens know. “Some of them understand why, and some do not, but they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city…even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child's abominable misery.”
Most of the citizens learn to bury their guilt, but some of them don’t. They go look at the child in the cellar, and they just never go home. They “leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back.”
I don’t know about you, but this story always leaves me feeling very eerie. Unsettled, even. Kind of dizzy. Slightly hungry.