I’m sitting under a small shower of dust.
I’m imagining it as a storm of ashes. The remains of a dead world raining down upon me. I’m a demon. A devil. One of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. I’m the end result of a lot of bad decisions, and even worse intentions.
I hear the ricochet of bullets and the sound it makes when it tears through flesh and bone. I know that none of the damage is mine – at least, not really.
Reality speeds back into existence and slams into my primitive cerebrum and everything feels like its no longer moving in slow-motion. Not that it ever was. Not really.
I hear the chaos behind me where a hole the size of three of me is left like a gaping wound in the side of a building that should only fear tanks and tomahawk missiles. I can hear the people outside as they creep forward like voyeurs who can’t seem to understand that you shouldn’t come running when someone yells fire. It’s a maelstrom of tires screeching, of feet shuffling, of that camera clicking sound that people put on their fucking phones so that they feel retro.
It’s the sound of people screaming while they pay for my mistakes. Past and present.
I’m wondering if it was always going to lead to this. Hell today or hell tomorrow.
I’m wondering if it matters.
I’m wondering if it ever did.
I’m tearing through walls and leaving the scattered remains of idiot henchmen behind me like they’re nothing but exhaust and I’m a tanker truck. It makes me think of the movie Akira when Tetsuo paints the hallway with those guys after he gets out of his room. He didn’t know what he was capable of yet.
Words like “caution” fade out like whatever patience I have left.
I’m leaving staircases as piles of splinters and stone. I’m up walls and through them and I hear sound catching up with me with a roar that deafens anyone who isn’t dead yet.
I’m telling myself that he pushed me to do this.
I’m telling myself that if it wasn’t him, it’d be some other asshole.
I’m telling myself that this is it. High noon. Showdown.
I’m coming to terms with words like “end”, “final”, and “death”.
Words that I thought I’d escaped a long time ago.
Words that are proving that you can’t ever really escape from. Taxes and death, they say. They were apparently half-right.
I’m at the top floor of what looked like a fucking accounting firm. I’m looking at a door that shows nothing of the chaos I’d left behind me and I’m watching it open wide while this smarmy prick stands there giving me the slow clap.
I see the chair behind him.
I see her sitting in it.
She’s crying. Tears running down her face. She doesn’t recognize me. I’m wondering if that makes it better or worse.
I hadn’t stopped to see her before I opted for war. Blood pumping in my ears. Gunfire and debris. Hatred running in my veins. I hadn’t thought to pay attention to the obvious details. I should have known.
Too late now. This is where I am.
“So we go with option C, eh?” he says when he’s finished clapping. “Burn it all down. Fuck the innocent. Fuck it all.”
“No,” I say, “Just you. Fuck you.”
I’m looking around. I’m starting to think. Wheels are turning.
He doesn’t need to pull a gun. I’m faster than he is. He knows it. I see the red dots on her blouse even if she doesn’t.
“As last words go, they’re a bit thin, don’t you think?”
“You didn’t know.”
I hear the gun after I see the bullet wound. Her body jerks from the impact. I clench my teeth. I try to tell myself it’s collateral damage. I try to tell myself that it’s not the worst case scenario. I try to tell myself that that makes it any better.
I try not care that she’s hurt and crying and doesn’t know why.
I take some small solace that this dickless piece of shit had all the pieces of the puzzle and put together the wrong fucking picture.
I’m moving faster than people blink. I’m in front of her like a human shield. I know I can’t grab her and move her as fast as I do, the physics would kill her. People underestimate reality and how deadly it is.
Bullets are for amateurs.
I know I can’t move until she’s safe.
So does he.
It’s the worst kind of stalemate.
“Get under the desk,” I say, knowing that they’re not as bullet-proof as TV shows and movies pretend. Still, it’s something.
She’s not moving. She’s terrified. I’m trying not to let that be the most important thing on my action-item list. I’m not succeeding.
“You’re a dead man,” he’s saying. “You have been for a long time. You didn’t have to take her with you.”
“Only one I’m taking is you,” I say. It feels like a hollow threat, but I don’t give a shit.
She’s finally moving. She’s under the desk. A trail of blood like some macabre Hansel and Gretel story.
I’m at his throat while I hear guns fire. I have him on the ground. My hands are anvils. They’re tanks. They’re nuclear fucking weapons.
The ground falls out from under us. I’m a fucking supernova.
He’s nothing but red mist and a lumpy torso.
There’s a crater in the earth where his corpse is left.
I’m up again and moving as fast as I can without tearing apart reality.
I’m in a silent room. I see her under the desk. She’s not crying anymore.
She never will again.