Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Daily Story 90: Priority

I remember being afraid. Now I walk down a hallway confidently, knowing that a guard is coming towards the junction. (He'll see me as he turns the corner, and he's quick on the draw. A bullet will hit me in the left eye, sending my brains flying in chunks out the back of my head.) I pull my weapon and shoot, and the bullet arrives just as the guard does. He slumps against the wall before he even knows what happened. I remember tripping during a difficult hike, and nearly falling off of a ledge. I couldn't see what was below me, couldn't see if letting go would kill me. (I'll open the door in front of me and the hall will erupt in alarms, red lights flashing as the entire facility goes into lockdown. I'll be sealed in, trapped.) I stop with my hand halfway to the door handle, and head down the other hall instead.

The last time I was afraid was when I got the treatment. I was afraid that I would reject it, that my brains would melt and run out my ears. (I will open fire on a guard as soon as I walk into the room, but the scientist on the left will hit a button before I can get to him and smoke will pour out of the specimen cabinet.) I shoot the scientist as I enter, rolling behind a desk as the guard pulls his sidearm. I can still remember waking up when the treatment was completed and hearing the doctor speak in an echo, every word reaching me twice. (The guard sneaks around to my right, and I see him too late; my lungs are perforated by round after round before I finally drop to the ground, unmoving.) I finish the guard as he tries to surprise me. If only he understood that surprise isn't something I have to deal with anymore.

(I'll stand and head to the specimen cabinet, and the code my contact provided will allow me access. In seconds, I will have cleaned out the cabinet.) I stand and head to the specimen cabinet, and the sound of footsteps reaches my ears. The world is in slow motion and my blood runs cold, shock causing me to lose concentration and turn towards the sound without taking aim. The gun comes around the corner first, and I barely manage to drop to the floor without losing my head. Everything is quiet except for my breathing, rough and fast. (I'll stand and run up the aisle between desks, and find my target - a woman about my age, olive completion and dark hair pulled up in a bun. The bun will unravel as the back of her head explodes outwards.) I stand and run (the bullets will shatter my spine, as I) but swerve and slide on the tile as I try to avoid the gunfire.

I'm back behind cover, but my leg has been hit. I'm not wearing any kind of body armor; I wanted to be able to move as quickly as possible and I felt so sure I wouldn't be shot. I can't win this, even if I wasn't already injured. She's had the treatment, she must have, and she's better than me. I'm only seeing the baseline, but she's looking at my reactions to it. She'll always be one step ahead of me. I'm scared now, afraid for the first time since I heard that glorious echo of the doctor telling me the treatment was a success. (I'll be paralyzed with indecision and fear, and she'll take her time to line up a shot through a gap in the workstation - killing me instantly.) I lean to the side to stay out of her line of sight, but I'm prolonging the inevitable. I'm a kid again, hanging off of that ledge and not knowing if there is anything beneath me to stop my fall.