I saw lights, flashes, felt things jabbing my flesh. Everything was a blur, I had no idea how long it had been.
Frankly I didn’t care. I was in the dark, alone, but at peace. From a great distance I saw strange faces through two small openings, portals to another world outside the darkness. I was slipping
back, receding into the soothing darkness, and the faces were contorting with frustration. They jabbed me with more needles, passed warm fluid through my body; only, it didn’t so much feel like my
body anymore. I felt as if it was a distant memory, calling to me from another life. My spirit was the same, simply set free of earthly troubles. I felt as if I was an entity, removed from my body
and the world around it, yet still attached by an inexplicable link.
I caught fragments of what the faces were saying, things like “blood loss,” “gauze,” and “field kit.” Was I in some sort of trouble? I waded through the dark, venturing closer to the portals to this strange world I once knew. I got close enough to hear more of the conversation. A short guy was bent over me with all sorts of gizmos, obviously frustrated.
“…Can’t afford to lose anymore blood. I’ve regenerated the tissue, but his body’s not accepting it. I’m losing him. I said hold his arms down!” I saw the man jab something into my side, and all at once I was overcome with a wave of massive pain. I felt as if there were a cord tied somewhere inside me, and the more they prodded my body the more this cord tugged on my insides. It was pulling me towards the portals, but I didn’t want to go. The closer I got, the pain intensified, and more of my life came back to me. Someone shot me; Calder? No, Cook. Cook shot me. I hated Cook. My home city was burning and blood stained the hands of an unknown enemy. I was bleeding out and complete strangers were trying to save me now. What was left for me to return to? Death seemed the preferable option. Then another memory of my life came back to me. A new possibility came, a reason to live: vengeance.
I mustered all my will and crawled back to the portals. I was getting closer, but my entire body seared as if my veins ran with lava. This was my body again, and I felt clearly the place the bullet had demolished my neck. The pain was excruciating, but I was mere inches from the portals – my eyes? I felt like I was drowning, the darkness pulling me back under. A black liquid overtook my feet, my legs, crept up my torso. I pulled, but the abyss seemed stronger. I was falling back from the world, memories fading, the liquid calming, soothing so long as I accepted it. My head went under, but I gave one final lurch forward. Once again I was laying on the floor, back in my body, my real body, back in the real world. I flew upward, gasping for breath with panic-stricken eyes.
“Woah, woah, easy man, relax. I got you, don’t worry.” The short guy eased me back down onto my back. “That was some hit you took, blew clean through your neck man. You hearing me?” The lights in the store were all off, a faint orange glow casting through the windows from outside. My body no longer burned as it did before, but I had a killer pain in my neck still. I guess that’s the downside of getting shot.
I looked up at Snack Isle Man, the guy who just saved my life. “I’m alright, let me just gather myself together.” I sat up and rubbed my face with my open hands. When I looked around my vision blurred, then steadily came back into focus. Bodies littered the ground, paramedics and cops alike. Those who didn’t flee, it appeared, had been wasted on the spot. Cook was a heartless maniac, and right then and there I swore he would burn for this.
“Here, let me help you to your feet.” Snack Isle Man took my hand and steadied me as I stood up. My legs felt shaky, but they took my weight and gradually I felt back to myself. He turned and surveyed the store for any other potential survivors.
“Thanks a lot. You know, for saving me and all.” I felt stupid for not apologizing earlier. He didn’t seem to mind though. “I’m Carson, by the way. Did you catch which way the guy who did this went?” Snack Isle man turned back to me.
“Sorry man, I took cover once he went trigger happy. I thought he was one of us, messed up that a freak like that can make it into the force and do something like this to good men and women.” He swore under his breath.
I was a little surprised by this. “Wait, you mean you thought he was a cop too?”
“We figured him for one of us. He and his buddy responded to my call for backup. I’d been tailing that creep who tried to rob the store for some time. He held up every convenience store and gas station for two miles along this road. Must’ve been desperate for money.” He turned his head away when he said this, a pained expression in his eyes. “It just isn’t right that he died like that. The guy didn’t seem right, desperate like a cornered animal. Then some psycho comes along and blasts him for no reason, along with a whole lot of good people.” He swore again and turned away. “I just wish I could’ve caught him, but I decided saving one life was worth more than ending another. Anyway, it seems like we’ve got bigger problems.”
Suddenly I remembered the more dire threat. The city outside was ablaze.
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