January 23, 2012: Blackout (Reader's Choice)


Song: “Blackout” by Breathe Carolina (Specifically “Something in the Billboard Top 100”)

Running Away, Run, run, run!

Keep the rhythm. Keep the rhythm.
I chant it in my head. With each footfall, with each rocketing pain of impact, I repeat.
Keep the rhythm. Keep the rhythm.
Oxygen whistles out of my lungs through clenched teeth. I can feel my insides boiling with lactic acid and carbon dioxide.
Keep the rhythm. Keep the rhythm.
He’s thirty pacing ahead of me and looking like he can run all day. I’m faster, but he’s good for the long haul. This is a war of attrition. Will I be able to go long enough that speed trumps stamina?
Keep the rhythm. Keep the rhythm.
The gun in my hand is light. Bizarrely so. As my every limb seems to grow tired, it paradoxically, seems to lose mass. I should stop, aim, and put the man to the ground. But the adrenaline being dumped into my bloodstream like tea into the Harbor has given me the shakes. I can’t risk the space he’d gain if the shot missed the mark.
Keep the rhythm. Keep the rhythm.
The road drops out below me as I whirr around the corner. A divot in the street sends me cascading in a tangle of arms and legs to the asphalt. The cell phone, a burner, spins across the lane. I ignore it. I don’t need another call from them anyway. However this ends, we’re done.
I can taste the copper wash of blood as my teeth tear an opening in my lip. My stomach turns and I fear I may be sick. I ache, my body goes hot then frigid. My head sounds like a nest of bees. My tongue is thick in my mouth. I could not speak to call this off if I wanted to. This will end by my hand.
Get up. Get it back.
A couple, young, 20ish I’d guess, venture into the road to help me up. On instinct, I dislocate the man’s knee. He crumples alongside of me with a yelp before his body shuts his mind down to protect him from further trauma. His girlfriend or wife screams, an ugly, wailing noise. I start to move to avoid the primal sound of grief a moment longer.
My ankle is resistant but I force it to cooperate as I head into a gallop. The man has befallen his own ill fate and is trapped at a crosswalk as a funeral procession divides the world into where he is and where he needs to be. My lungs sear blue black as I cough in a gulp of fresh winter air. I bring the gun to bear, cock the hammer, and aim. I let fly with a single wish…
Let this be over.

Reach out and touch me at tim.g.stevens@gmail.com or @ungajje on the Twitter. Let me know what you love and what you hate. And please, do spread the word.