by Julian Stanley
The sweat runs down my face, dripping on the broken wood floor in front of me. The cold metal pressed against my temple is giving me a headache. The adrenaline is coursing through my veins and the panic begins to set in.
He screams at me, but I cannot hear the words. How did I get here? I cannot remember; I cannot focus any thoughts. Another drop of sweat, I feel it running down my forehead; slowly, as if time itself is grinding to a halt. It stops in my eyebrow, the left one; I feel the wet around each hair, the cool as more droplets begin to form.
He hits me across the shoulders and I drop to my knees; the pain as my knees bang into the hard wooden floor is barely noticeable. I am staring at the floor; I can see every crack, the rot in the wood, the fading colour. Another drop falls and lands on that floor; it adds to the patchy discolouration but seems to vanish into the rotting surface as quickly as it formed.
He presses the cold metal against my temple once more, the headache returns almost instantly. I can feel my sweat running along the edges of metal and down the side of my face; it burns a little as it crosses my cheek. He shouts again, but I still cannot hear the words. The sounds reverberates through my skull as I try to pick out something to make sense of, none of this makes sense. How did I get here? I ask myself again, but the panic has reached fever pitch and my mind is no longer my own. The sweat is fast becoming a torrent as drop after drop falls off my face; I can feel my hair is slick and wet from the sweat, my collar is wet, clammy, and cool. The cool breeze is terrifying as it clings to the sweat; I am beginning to get cold. No, this is not cold; soon I will know the true meaning of cold.
A third time, he shouts! I hear him this time, but they are just words, they hold no meaning, they make no sense. Nothing makes sense! How did I get here? How is this happening? What did I do? I can feel the pain in my knees now, it does not matter though; I know it will soon be over. I cannot breathe, I want to shout, but my throat is dry and no sound will come out. I can feel every beat of my heart reverberate through my being. The sound drowns out the thoughts going through my head.
I feel the adrenaline begin to subside; it helps a little with the panic, but not with the sweating. He is laughing now, but I do not know why. He grabs my hair and pulls my head up, forcing me to look at him. He is large man, much larger than a man should be, his dark eyes are piercing as a looks into mine. I can understand the words he shouts at me this time: “Who, the fuck, are you?” The words make sense, but I cannot find words to answer. He says it again. My throat is dry and coarse; the words for my answer will not form.
He lets go of my hair, my head drops; I lack the strength or the will to keep my head up. Calm begins to descend; my heart no longer feels as though it going to rip through my chest; my ears are no longer pounding with every beat; my mind begins to clear. I had a train of thought earlier, but I cannot remember it, I am beginning to accept that soon this will all be over. How can I accept that?
I can see his heavy workman’s boots as he paces up and down in front of me. He begins to circle me, like a shark before it strikes; I can see the shadow he casts across the room as he circles behind me. He stops. Everything around is quiet, even my laboured breath make no sound. I can feel it in the pit of my stomach; this is it!
Time has almost stopped; he leans forward and speaks softly into my ear. I can feel his hot breath against my neck, it is almost comforting in contrast with the cold wind. He whispers “Do you know why i am doing this?”
Now! This is the only moment I have, a last chance before I know I will die.
Quicker than I thought I could move, both hands reach up to my right shoulder, I grab his head. I launch my whole body forward, the adrenaline kicks in a second time, along with the coke. He is completely surprised; he never expected this, not from me. I was always the meek one, the quite one who always did as I was told. How could he have known I had this in me? I hear the clatter of metal against wood behind me. I roll him off my shoulder and spin. How am I moving so fast? How can I be so sure? I see it and reach; he is behind me again. I hear him getting to his feet; I hear him cursing; I hear the click of a flick knife.
I reach out and grab the gun. I roll onto my back as he dives for me, knife in hand. As I turn I see him properly for the first time, I trusted him once. He lands where I had been only a moment before. Lying on my side, looking at his face, I raise the gun just off the ground as he scrambles to get away. I feel the tension of the trigger as I pull, not thinking about what I am doing. He looks me in eyes, no longer those cold dark eyes, but the big brown eyes of a frightened child. He cries out, but all I can hear is slow grind of the hammer as it falls. I hear the shot go off! The smell of gunpowder fills my nostrils, the bullet rips through his head; the force of it is strangely unreal. I watch as his face vanishes and all that is left behind is a mangle of blood and bone and brain.