I’m on the floor. Legs and arms in unnatural poses. I haven’t moved them since I fell. I dropped. I chose to go down. Hit the deck. Don’t move. Stay still. It is impossible to think clearly. Foremost in my mind is ‘shit, shit, shit.’ ‘What can I do?’ ‘Oh my God – I’m gonna die.’ There is something else though. A soft giggle. An audible ‘ha’. A snort. A belly-laugh. I can’t stop. Those around me are wide-eyed and terrified.
It’s just so normal. Not exactly trivial. Or maybe it is. It doesn’t matter. Cancer. Car crash. Heart Attack. This. So what? We have to blow this shit up for it to matter. Make it count. Three, four, five – no one cares. Remembers. Heading up to ten is better. Once you go into double figures you’re getting somewhere. Each increase of ten after that, ensures more people. With the event in mind Forever. The name, the location – forever tarnished. 28, 38, 48… Shit… breaking fifty… That would be awesome.
My brain stops me for a minute. Reasserts itself to do a fact-check. This is not funny. It is real. It is fucked up. Fear grabs me. Tighter than I thought possible. It takes me a few seconds to realize the warm, damp feeling spreading throughout my groin is my own urine. As it cools it doesn’t bother me. Does the sensation of clammy pants, stuck to my body, matter? As uncomfortable as it might be under other circumstances, I am otherwise distracted.
I can hear so many incongruent noises. Those that sounds out of place here. That I have never heard before – save for on TV. Even then, they sound different. Fake is not life is not fake. The noises keep cycling – changing, retreating, surging. Echoing, barely audible, sharp, loud.
There are the human ejaculations of fear. Whimpers, which I cannot hear. I’m filling in the gaps. Challenges. Bravery or foolishness. Accepting. Cowardly. Fearful. Disbelief. None of it matters. The outcome is the same. I am surprised by the deafening silence. Audible in its absence, despite the surrounding cacophony. Welcome and discomfiting. There is no discernable reason for this occurring. No magic way out. I am them. I am not them. Say the right thing. Say the wrong thing. Is the possibility, perhaps probability, of a lack of rationale of each effort, freeing? The onus on him (or her) not me, not us.
The tide. A tsunami in speed and ferocity. An eddy in a sparkling pool in the impossibility, the absurdity of this. In its beauty. It is not happening. It is too real. The hurricane is meters away. Is taunting in its leisurely approach. Just come already!
I have moved. That is to say, I have changed position. I’m on my side. Arms under my head. The further cooling of my pants, the spreading damp clingy denim, the emanating smell of urine causes disgust in me. How strange that I would be bothered. Not embarrassed. Irritated. The ridiculousness of registering my annoyance about pissing myself while …. [not sure if I want this or need to change it].
Whimper… BANG… screams… As the whimper count rises, the number and volume of screams lessens. A scream, turns to a whimper, turns to nothing. I find myself counting. Whimpers and shots. Not an exactly one-to-one ratio. I lose count over and over. Does each whimper indicate victim? Each shot? Each scream?
He’s getting closer. The violent tempest nearing. Soon to barge in. To saunter in. Crawling and racing. The process does not appear rushed, panicked, or urgent. It simply exists. A systematic protocol. He hasn’t spoken. That registers as odd. Aren’t these outcasts mad at the world? Don’t they want everyone to know?
Whimper, BANG, screams.
I know he’s at the door before I hear him. Before I see him. The air is sucked out of the room. No obvious discernable aural changes, safe for decreased volume of tears and breaths. Those who know he is here. He does not start to shoot. He is waiting for something. Now I hear him move about. Possibly methodically. Still no speaking but audible assents and dissents.
My mind moves quickly, trying to figure out what he might be accessing. How shall be a victim? Some other trait? All that matters, is if I make the cut or not. How selfish of me! A genuine giggle falls out of my mouth. I gasp, hoping neither sound was heard. He stops. He heard.
The near silent footsteps and shuffling of clothes gives away his moving position. He is close to me and getting closer. Unbearably so. He kicks my foot.
“Hey bitch.” His voice is deep and contrived.
The modulation of these three syllables gives him away as a fraud. Again, my mind functions despite the situation. A kick to the ribs.
“Get the fuck up!” I think I recognize the voice through the voice. I cannot place it though.
I slowly roll over. I am afraid to open my eyes. Each action I make, each action he make, brings us closer to the end.
“Open your fucking eyes bitch! I want you to see my face.”
I know his voice. I know who he is. My eyes open. Not because of the command. Because I have to see her. Her not him. She not he. My sister, not a random loner. I open my mouth. In a gasp and a question, as of yet unformed.
“You know what you’ve done…” she says pointedly. Quieter now.
I don’t. I really d….