This story is by CeeCee Elaine and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Have you ever heard the sound of a Beretta.45 going off right outside your ear? Nothing but a paper-thin wall to separate you from all of its beautiful chaos?
It was quiet. Just the soul crushing melody of an echoed ring resonating through my ears. I could hear not even the loudness of my heavy heart punching its way through my hollow chest over this… Ringing. A ringing so loud it makes you want to rip the skin from your bones using only your bare hands. My body, it just lays there… frozen; pressed against the frigid, concrete floor. I’m hidden… hidden like a coward underneath a cheap wooden desk. My long, raven coloured hair drapes over my face like a silk-woven shield; incapable of protecting me, yet somehow rather comforting. I had laid on this floor once before. But not like this… Nothing was or could ever be like this. A cloak of blackness filled the room; and maybe just a hint of despair as I look toward the silhouette of the safe. A cheap metal safe with a number-coded padlock; hardly worth the loss of a life. A small glimmer of dull light peeks through the space beneath the door.
Every thought I could ever imagine building within my mind is now flying through my brain simultaneously. But the ringing. A loudness I promise is unlike anything you’ll ever to able to stomach in your lifetime; or at least I pray for you. Names, dates, faces, and ringing. They spin a ten second web in front of my eyes that even the darkness of the room can’t conceal. My heart. It pounds heavier, harder, as I raise my trembling hand over my mouth. Sweat falls down the furrowed creases of my forehead, cascading to the floor like a waterfall of fear. Every muscle, nerve, and bone in my body is aching uncontrollably. I try to relax my now tensed body, but to no avail. Was it shock? Fear? No… I only thought I knew of these things before this moment, but I hadn’t even had a real taste until now.
My entire fragile frame shudders, my eyes clinch harder than I ever thought possible; closed so tight I can feel my pulse within my irises. It beats violently; pumping blood through my body like it’s the last thing it’ll ever do. It had all happened so fast… I was just… thrown in this room.
“Why this room?” my mind screams out past the ringing.
Didn’t he realize this is the room they’d be most interested in? Our relationship may be far from perfect; but it’s never boring, and this is no exception. Could it have been on purpose, or does he think he’s protecting me from them? Protecting me from their cheap, predictable Glock 9mm handguns… Hiding me from their poorly masked faces and dead stares? I saw them earlier today, walking around outside the liquor store next door. Casing the place right before my own fucking eyes and I hadn’t a second thought; blind. It’s tragic, funny even…. How easily we trust people on a daily basis. We just walk by people, guards down, while they plan the entirety of our future demise. My head shakes. This wasn’t the time for thoughts such as these, nor was there the focus for them. Maybe there never would be again.
The deafening rings coming from within slowly dissipate, leaving me with something much, much worse. Actual silence. A moment so silent you contemplate whether silence itself could echo its way through the building. A moment so unbearably silent that seconds feel like minutes and a minute; a lifetime. My heart drops at the vibration of a heavy footstep; free-falling into the depths of my thundering stomach. Then another. The strong smell of my urine burns its way into my nostrils; only then do I notice the sudden warmth between my tightly clenched thighs. My fingernails dig their way through the middle of my palms as the noise grows closer; small specs of blood dropping to the floor; a mixture of my bodily fluids paint the cement. I couldn’t feel this even if I tried… I was numb; completely oblivious to any sensation my body was capable of feeling.
The footsteps stop; it’s abrupt. I take a deep inhale, almost gasping for a taste of air. I had held my breath the entire time; and I didn’t even notice… or care. I allow my eyelids to loosen; and they open just enough to see the shadow of a figure appear in that small bit of light. That almost nonexistent light that seeps through the bottom of the door. I look up; frantic. The door knob twists; turning as if in slow motion. I can hear every piece of the metal grind against itself… every screw; every gear works together effortlessly within the doorknobs mechanism. I take one last deep breath and pray to every single God I don’t believe in.
Please… don’t kill me. Or… at least do it quickly.
I’d never come close to death before. But now, I lay motionless. Covered in my excretion; waiting for a masked man to barge through the door and label me a loose end. But just milliseconds before the door swings open, and it does so in the most dramatic way you could ever envision within your wildest of dreams; the bright light from outside blinds me.
A blurry figure towers over me, rendering me immobile. It’s easily the single most terrifying moment of my pathetic existence, and I promise you it’s unlike anything you could pay to see in a high budget blockbuster. I try to scream, but it paralyses my voice, my throat raw. As my eyes adjust, I see a hand. It reaches out toward me; it too, is shaking. A Beretta falls to the floor in front of my face, snapping me back from whatever hell my mind has unknowingly entered.
“It’s over…” she says.
And I take her hand; the hand that probably saved my life. I was safe now…
But for that quick moment in time… The moment where the light had hit my face causing my eyes to be too disoriented to see anything; I felt it. The quick instant before my vision could adjust to who was standing outside the office door; I came to the most somber realization. This! This was it..
It was in that moment; I finally, for once in my life, knew what it was like… to feel alive.