It was cold. The snow continued to pour outside. I could feel the ice running through my blood; it leaves jagged incisions on my artery walls. Someone was waiting for me. Someone was waiting... for something.
"Here, take a hit," Lee suggests. The glass pipe was handed to me. It was a clear tube with a white, crystalline powder sitting at one end.
"It's some really incredible shit," I hear a girl offer with a beautiful smile. He looks passed her.
The world beyond our windows fluttered with the frustrations of nature. An overwhelming, suffocating darkness filled my mind; and I drifted away.
"Paul... I can't trust anyone else with this..." my superior officer told me, "If you fuck this up, a lot of people could get hurt."
"I know, Kirk," I said, "I knew the risks when I accepted this assignment. I've completed other operations with similarly complicated and involved scenarios. Don't expect me to be treating this like anything but a very fragile situation. I was there during the briefing like you. We both heard some descriptive details on the behavior of this drug cult and the nuclear weapons they've obtained."
"This isn't like those jobs you've done for me for, Paul," he sat down, gazing outside into a beautiful world of white... "There's nothing like taking down a DMT cult in possession of nuclear armaments."
A low and deep bass tone started coming up from the floor. Kirk didn't take any notice; light shadows of snow passed over him as he repeatedly traced the lines of a crack in the table. Outside those windows, a completely different world was evolving... Outside...
"Are you holding it in?" he said, "You have to hold it in all the way for it to work..." A gaseous substance with an off-white color was released from my nostrils. It burned like open smoke from a bonfire.
"Hey, pass it clockwise, remember?" a voice drabbed in personality demanded from me. The glassware entered his palm. I could hear someone talking to someone else.
Fresh air filled my lungs after I exhaled every particle of that noxious chemical. I released, let go, and fell...
"You checked over their profiles?" Kirk asked me.
"Yes," I said, "They were in the briefing documents."
"I just needed to make sure that you knew what kind of person John Gantano is," he said, ripping some partly toasted dough from a bagel.
"Orphaned at age 9 from a fire," I repeated, "Involvement in Leftist politics from an early age. By age 18, he had converted to Buddhism and accepted 'Lee Gwin' as his formal name, abandoning Gerald Hunter. Less than five years ago, he officially enters the illegal drug trade. Less than three years ago, he breaks in to a government holding house and steals thirteen pounds of DMT, or officially, N-N-Dimethyltryptamine After evading capture, he recruits an army of disciples, one of which was an engineer with US military. And two days ago, we had narrowed the location of the ICBM to this cult."
"And that's where you come in," he said, "If that nuclear device is not recovered, there's just too much to risk." That's your motivation: the lives of possibly millions.
"CAN'T YOU SEE I'M DYING HERE!!!" A howling voice and the sensation of someone's nails digging deep into the skin of my back.
Icicles outside keep stretching as frost builds up around the window.
And then she was there. A rosy-cheeked, Irish lass with fire for hair and steel for wit. "What do you think you're feeling?" Liona asks me.
"I'm not really sure right now," I said, "Sometimes, I never know what I'm really feeling, I never know what I really believe."
"Why do you get this way?" she asks. I wanted to tell her that these problems cease to haunt me when she's near me. But then I tell myself to stop thinking.
"FUCKING MURDERED!" a stern voice circles my head, "That's what's going to happen! Enough megatons to incinerate everyone you've ever touched, known, or loved!" I was being drilled on my task. "If for one fucking moment, you think that you'll break when this situation is shoved into your face, then tell me right now and you'll be reassigned!"
"I have no doubts about myself, my ability, or this mission," my memory jump started, "And there's nothing that can change that." I really don't know about myself that well. But people confuse me. Being with them, talking to them, learning to love or feel love, it absolutely baffles me. It makes me feel like...
"Dimethyltryptamine. Take it, and you can feel god playing with you..." Lee said
"And how does that feel?" I asked.
"It all depends," he smiled and leaned back in his chair, "How do you feel about yourself? Are you comfortable with yourself as a human being, or do you need a flashlight when deep in thought?"
He tosses me a clear, plastic jar. I hold it up to the light. There was an almost brilliant magnificence that came with the light formations. It made me think.... maybe I don't know.
"How do you think you got this way?" Liona wants to know.
"I really don't know," I said, "Just somewhere along the line, I guess I developed trust issues."
"Well, why do you keep playing this game, then?" she asked.
I could feel the passenger train glide on to a rusty, older track. The noises and bumps became more fierce and roughened.
I'm not playing a game," I said, "It just feels like all of is something happening to me, not something that I'm doing."
I know you're not playing a game," Kirk said, "This isn't a game, but it isn't war either. It's acting. Now get into the dressing booth, there's someone waiting for you in there."
Who is it?" I asked.
"It's one of the audio assistants. He needs to shave your chest and put a mic on you for the bomb disarmament scene," Kirk remained unmoving from his director's chair, "We have other mics, but a body mic will help us get a full surround-sound feeling. Don't forget that film is visual and audio. You need to sacrifice for both."
"Why do you think you sacrifice too much?" Liona wakes me to full consciousness by moving my hair out of my face.
"Who said I sacrifice too much?" I asked.
"You did, in your sleep," she said, "... are you worried that you need too much?"
"Too much of what?" I asked.
"Too much makeup," Kirk said leaning over the shoulder of the the artist, "We want him too look like he's a criminal from the criminal point of view, not from the social understanding of that term... is this -- what is this?"
"That's a scar," the artist replied.
"Get that crap off," he said, "Our character doesn't have a scar on his face that appears in one scene and then not the other."
"I actually think it was overdone a little, too," I offered my opinion.
"Hey, where' our snow machine?" Kirk yells out leaving our presence, "Did someone move the snow machine??"
"I wish they gave us a bigger limo," Gerald says, "I really can't tolerate this shit."
"It works," I said, "It's only to and from the studio. What is that? The next four months of your life?"
"Look at this," he tosses the script over. Before I could focus on the words to interpret them, he starts reading from rote memory:
"Young male with fascinations about on sex, drugs, and power, with an abusive childhood, several personality complexes, an undying addiction to a powerful drug, and one atomic bomb. I don't mind all the pussy scenes, but I think the scriptwriter was a bit melodramatic with that flashback scene where my character sees his parents die in a fire."
The limo enters a tunnel. Pitch black. For some reason, Gerald stopped talking, but I wasn't going to be one to disturb his quiet.
"The train went into a tunnel, that's all," a warm, gentle voice can be heard. I can feel someone's soft breath on my neck.
"What?" I asked.
Liona lifted her head, "You kept saying, 'where am I? what's going on?'"
"I'm fine..." I said, "But thanks."
"Do you remember when you were in Europe? You called me and told me you couldn't sleep, because you needed to hear my voice..."
"It's been a long time since that night," I said, "But I still remember needing you."
"I can still feel those moments; those emotions are falling through my fingers like grains of sand. Even moments are, I can walk away and still believe that I'm dying..." Someone's talking. I'm not sure who. I've stopped paying attention.
"Why do you remember that?" Liona asks me. The low rumble and gentle rocking of the train was slowly lulling me into sleep, as an unusual darkness blanketed me from the world.
"I don't know..." I said, "I always remember being alone, needing someone, questioning the older principles of French philosophy in cheap motel rooms. When I listen to myself, it becomes worse. But whenever you and I talk, I think that maybe everyone has the same problems and understands themselves the same way."
"Mind-expansion, motherfuckers, that's why, mind-fucking expansion!" -- "But how the fuck can he do that if he's not breathing!?!?"
"Paul?" I look up. Lee finally enters the room after I had to force small talk with his crew of disciples. "I've been waiting for you to stop by. Through the grapevine, I heard you were going to be in town, and... " stopping to light a cigarette, "There wouldn't be any better way to celebrate than to intoxicate with my friend."
"That's what I'm here for," I said, "I grew up in NYC, so any place will be a small town, but this tiny villa in the desert really couldn't cater to my tastes."
"Come in to my office," he advises, disappearing back in to his room. Entering, I found a cornucopia of drug dens: pipes, lighters, rolling machines, hookahs, bongs, fluorescent lighting, posters in homage to the color spectrum, and several unconscious individuals carelessly strewn on couches, futons, and a single king's sized bed. "You haven't been here in a while, so things have changed a little..." he warned me.
"Hey, barkeep, another drink for me and my friend," Kirk signaled with his hands, and then turning to me, "This is my favorite bar in Hollywood. I know, this city makes me vomit, but it's the only place where you can find the right people for creating a brilliant acting production."
A cool pint is served in a cold glass before me. I indulge. It's been a long day of shooting, and I'm ready to take off my armor. "It's too sociable an industry, the entertainment business. People like it when you're sociable. It gives them confidence to be around you, to be able to trust you, either for that dramatic performance or the off-the-wall joke. Dealing with a lot of these industry types makes you deal with a lot of people who are dead on the inside."
"Where are you going with this?" I asked.
"When I'm alone, my desire to be withdrawn only intensifies," he continued, "I start to believe that I'm the only one who can feel this way about the world."
"And what prevents you from feeling that?" I stop short from completely inhaling my glass, "What do you need to do, to stop feeling that you're the only one with this curse?" He never met me in the eye. I think he wanted to say something. He wanted to erupt from staring at his empty glass with a thought, with an idea, with a suggestion -- maybe a little bit of hope. He started to say something, but stopped. He calmly changed his position, refilled his confidence, and started over...
"You know why I picked you for this role, right?" he tells me. A very long time ago, my father told me that I look for the bad in people. For a while, I wanted to prove him wrong, but I don't care any more. So, I'm getting to let this director explain to me my intrinsic role in his movie.
"I chose you because you don't know right from wrong," he said, not stopping to inhale his beer. And I learned something new: no matter how wealthy you are, you can always get drunk enough to the point where you wipe your mouth on your sleeve after every drink.
"How is that an advantage?" my curiosity is genuinely sparked.
"Other actors," he shook his head, just neural-impulses away from grabbing the right words, "They don't know, but you know, and that's why I like you." He took another stomachful of sedation. "You're not afraid to do you what have to do. That's what makes you different. And it's almost a vibration of yours, I felt it during the audition. It had to be you..."
I am falling through an endless layer of black...
"Hey, are you awake? Someone get him some water..." All my life, I've been surrounded by voices all looking for something. Everyone's hand is outstretched I think I stopped trying to understand these people all a very long time ago. And I can't remember what it feels like...
"Some people are just misery-prone. At any moment they sense weakness, they always believe it's their own..." an old uncle advised me long ago when I was only seven, "I hope you never become like that, Paul. In fact, I know you won't, because you know right from wrong." I didn't say anything. I let him drink his screwdriver.
"Do you feel alone?" Liona asks.
"I don't know how I feel," I said, "But alone is a good starting point. I'm not really sure that's a bad thing."
"Sit on the floor of the train with me," she gently rises from a snuggled position. A quick rush of cold blood brings a sting of consciousness to my mind. My eyes follow her motions as she leans back against the wall. They confuse me... Even though I must trust them as a necessity of human relationships, they still leave me wondering. No matter how close I get to people, I always feel a block between. There are moments where I can't help but feel how completely different I am from them. And if I have problems knowing their motives and understanding their weaknesses, then it would only be right that they have problems understanding me.
"Please, come sit next to me on the floor..." her hand taps the carpet. I stand to my feet, stretch, and sit next to her, bringing the blanket with me.
"Do you see it?" she asks as I'm focused on wrapping us together. My eyes come to life. It was late and the sun was setting. Silhouettes of trees were being broadcast against the glass of our room door. She tugs at the blanket, lets me know that she's there with me. "It's pretty..." she said, "What do you think?"
"I'm thinking that other people understand being alone the way I do..."
"What makes you think that?" Lee Gwin starts pulling the glass pipe from my palm. I start coughing... "Where am I? Why can't I stand up?"
"I really believe in you..."
"I'm trying to psyche you up," Kirk said from across the desk, "You need to feel ready, you need to be prepared, you need to be conscious. Are you thinking about your every motion? Can you smell movement? Do you feel ready for this?"
"We've spent week after week in the studio," I replied, "Yes, I'm absolutely ready for this. My performance, my art, that is, will blow away our audience."
"I have faith in you..." he said, "I know you're going to convince me and the whole world that you're a drug dealer and the associate of some very unscrupulous human beings. At no moment can you ever give any sign that you aren't who you claim to be. It's a mind game."
"I know, I'm a professional actor," I said, "I'm choosing to play this role because it was built for me, because I know that I'm capable of giving life to the story surrounding my character. My confidence is unwavering." I flick the ash of my cigarette.
He puts his hand on my shoulder. "I believe in you. You're definitely ready." His eyes shift from mine, signaling a hand motion to a man dressed in plain, black clothing. The individual approaches the desk where I'm sitting. A briefcase is quietly placed on the table. The man walks away. With a sobering tone, Kirk unlocks the briefcase and opens it. My mind is expecting anything.
His hand reaches in and pulls out a pistol. A clink reverberates around the room as he places the gun in front of me. He drops a magazine next to it. "I need you to kill Lee Gwin," he said, and as I tried to stop and interrupt him, he continued, "I need you to put two bullets in his head. Make sure he stops breathing. Do you understand me?"
In a dark, warm place... "Can you hear me? I don't want you to be afraid anymore." My attention drifts, barely able to grasp some of ideas associated with these words. "Are you listening to me, or are you asleep?" This voice wants to guide me. "I'll leave you..." this guardian entity whispers as I hear footsteps leaving me. Someone is playing classical music. The spirit of Beethoven still lives under these covers, another phantom dancing with memories and laughing with thoughts. My father used to play classical... Where am I?
"What is that?" I asked.
"It's a DMT crystal," Lee replies. From his adoring palm, there emerges a small, clear, plastic box, holding a single 3x3cm crystal. He hands it to me.
"It's beautiful," I said, bringing the mystical object close to my eyes.
"This drug can be found in the skin of some frogs and the bark of some trees in South America," he explain to me as I fondled the box, "The natives used it for their sacred rituals. To them, it was their way of communing with the ultimate power of the universe. For many others, it still holds that potential."
"I didn't like it so much," a friend wearing a shirt emblazed with a pot leaf speaks up, "I felt like I was in god's hand and he kept playing with me. There was something like absolute terror rooted in the deepest part of my spine. And I couldn't escape..."
"I want you to try it," Lee says to me, "Everyone starts off pure and beautiful, untouched by the natural wickedness that comes with property and the society of humans. No matter how strong you think you are, you will become affected by the ideas and the thoughts of others. Soon, you're under the control of behavior roles, everyone performing a part in a play just because they think it's expected. They drift aimlessly through the world, taking nothing and leaving nothing. They do as they're told, and then like a light going out, their life ends. Don't become that type of person. You have to remember what is was like to know nothing except the fact that you're alive."
"It feels like dying..." our marijuana enthusiast submits.
"You see," Lee says as he takes the cube from my hand, "In my past, there were many things I had to do by myself, becoming a solitary man. I easily forgot that the pains I sometimes had for social interaction were not different at all from those others felt. I believed my pains were separate from the world and that divided me from becoming a part of the world. Do you understand me?"
Do you understand... Do you understand...
"What's wrong?" Liona asks me, reaching her hand around me.
"Nothing, I just started to fall asleep, that's all..." I said.
"Did you have a dream?" she asked, dragging her nail across my neck, "... what was it about?"
"No, I didn't have a dream," I said. The train continued to sway on its tracks, the constant rocking, and in the distance, if you listen close enough, you can hear chains rattling on the outside. I imagine that just a few cars down, the engineers are sharing their pains with each other over tea and opium. Russia is always cold this time of year and the people make with what they can. "There were only thoughts... thoughts and ideas..." My sleepiness destroyed my inhibition, and naturally, one would only assume that the words I spoke were an unobstructed bridge to my subconscious. But, I only fumbled over these words with her. "Feeling alone... It can be haunting."
"Do you feel alone right now?"
"No," I said, "You don't let me feel alone."
"What do you feel then?"
"I feel too aware of the truth," I mumbled, "The misery that infects this world, loved ones who create suffering for each other, the eternal hunger for something more, the belief that love dies with courage, the histories of one thousand oppressed people... I know too much, and that is what I feel."
"But, my beautiful darling," Liona kisses the back of my neck, "I think that is why we're on this train to Shanghai."
"Millions of people dead..." Kirk leans back in his office chair, "That's the consequence of fucking this up. Gerald Hunter, AKA Lee Gwin, has been operating his cult for several years now. If those nuclear weapons are not recovered, you can expect to see mushroom clouds. Do you understand me?"
"Yes, I completely understand," I said.
"This is what those weeks of training in the acting studio were for," he said, placing a brown envelope on the table. Inside, I found the photographs of the target: Gerald Hunter, who now answers to the name Lee Gwin. For whatever crimes I've committed and for whatever persons I've hurt in my life, I'm about to make reparations. I'm coming for you, Lee. You're threatening the world's people with nuclear fire. I am very prepared to deceive and kill you.
"These are your undercover clothes," Kirk places a brown paper bag on the table. Inside, there was a very sleek, stylish suit. I looked fully prepared to be my best friend's business associate.
"It's only human to take something that is ugly and revolting and to turn it into something comforting and beautiful..." Liona's voice touches the silence.
Her warmth was enough of a reason to free fall through hours of sleep. But in the corner of my mind, there was a strong and impulse force, moving me to the most primitive state of alertness. I was slowly stimulated back to an awareness of mind where memories could be formed. The constant rocking of this magnificent piece of iron kept a beat. There was a constant clicking and clashing of metal, as unknown mechanical pieces battled each other for dominance over momentum. This melody of technological innovation had become the heartbeat of my journey across a continent. Next to me, I feel a warm, loving touch... It is Fiona.
I don't think there will ever be a moment of my life where I am more comfortable or more at peace. In my palms, I held the answers to happiness.
"I suppose that is why I'll never love again," I finally let out to an otherwise preoccupied audience. Lee Gwin looked in my direction.
"Here," he passes a freebase pipe to his left in my direction, "This should be a perfect amount of DMT to help bring you down off of your current trip."
Colors were bouncing, dancing, migrating, convulsing, shifting, turning, inverting, calculating, thinking, hoping, watching... Every movement, whether slight or serious, carried with it a tracer left behind, one that formed directly according to the emotion of the one who had moved... Sound became a peculiar object, resounding from every direction and amplified to the tone of the speaker... For moments, I remember only seeing blackness with flying sparks, hearing the voices of others carry on endlessly. It was too incredible of a state for me to truly understand what was real or what was not. Beneath it all, I was starting to feel a little bit ill.
The pipe passes through another set of hands. I'm starting to catch my breath. The world seemed to stabilize. Fixed thoughts became an accomplishable feat once more.
A glass piece was thrusted into my palm. Holding it up to my lips, as I have seen others do before me, I applied the lighter to the base of the bowl. The small crystals liquify and then evaporate, quickly filling my lungs with the powerful psychedelic substance known as N,N-Dimethyltryptamine Soon my blood carries the drug from my lung cells to the rest of my body, molding the material with my nervous system. Nerve cells are completely helpless and overpowered by the overwhelming embrace of DMT. There is nothing I can do now...
"There is everything you can do!" Kirk barks at me, "Don't you give me that fucking bullshit. I hear that from enough people. Helpless people will say that. They're going to say that there is nothing that they can do. And once their pain and suffering comes from their inability to adaptate and evolve, there will still be nothing that they can do. You're not helpless. You know what you can do and you know what you have to do."
Liona's finger nails stir me back to a fainting consciousness, "Don't leave me, Paul... I keep having these dreams with you. You're always leaving me. I never it was possible to feel lonely in your sleep."
I open my eyes. The DMT smoke is released from my nostrils, filling the room in this bitter, white smoke. This fog envelopes the room, moving in this eerie, suspicious tone. An associate carries the glass pipe from my mouth, correctly sensing that I was on the brink of absolute madness, slowly trudging across the barrier between abstract thought and insanity. I close my eyes to the phantoms of this desperate and unhealthy illusion. I ignore the daemons beating at this door. Their cries slowly diminish, muted by an increasing distance. I close my eyes...
"My love," she tells me, her finger tips gently drag across my neck, "You always make me worry that you will forget to trust. I know the constraints of your life. I know that you have had to move, to abandon everything and completely pick up a new world from nothing, to build your existence again from scrap in a foreign place with different ideas. Who you know, what you adore, the images you see when you think of love... you will always be changing and there will always be new things waiting for you. I think you will stop trusting. Your conscience will become your new family, and everyone around you will be just another stranger whose motives are against your own... oh, Paul, I love you, and I don't want you to change like that."
I can feel this drug trip overpowering my mind. Like a train at max speed, there is a rush of DMT going up my spin with an unbelievable surge of strength... I think I've stopped breathing.
"If Lee Gwin is not killed, the world will be at risk," Kirk's voice is calmed by whiskey and the mild barbiturates prescribed by his doctor, "As you read in the briefing reports, the nuclear bomb that Lee Gwin's 'comrades' possess is full of a neuro-toxic agent. This chemical will be airborne for one thousand miles in every direction, rendering all who breath it into a permanent paralysis. Are you listening to me, Paul?"
Lee Gwin smiles. In his hand, there is a bag containing one kilogram of Dimethyltryptamine. He tosses it on to the table. "DMT means freedom..." he spoke, as though he were filling the role of a post-modern French revolutionary, "If the governments of the world are going to have to label this drug as a threatening substance and therefore outlaw it, then only criminals with have it, only criminals will know the truth."
"Paul... Are you asleep? If you can hear me, don't forget that there is another blanket on the other bench if you get cold..."
"He must be killed before he has an opportunity to threaten the world..."
"Why don't you take some more?" Lee Gwin grins, opening the bag on the table and then leaning back. One armed guard stood to my right.
I lean forward to the table, picking up the glass, free-base pipe, and a red bandanna that was used for cleaning the glassware. My hands wrapped the bandanna around the pipe. I stood up and swung the bandanna across the face of an armed guard standing next to me. His nose instantly exploded into a gory mess of blood and cartilage. In a second, I pulled his pistol from his holster, released the safety, and emptied a round into his belly.
Turning back to Lee Gwin, I see that he has just started to stand up. I fire a single round into his sternum, blowing him back into his chair, knocking it over backward. A shot rings out, as I see blood exit my arm vertically. A second shot is heard, but I wasn't further damaged. Maneuvering back, I fire on the guard standing by the door. A single shot cracks the upper ribcage, bringing him down to his knees. A third guard opens the door to the room, receiving two shots to the chest and one to a leg. I clear my throat and patiently wait for the opponent who will prove to be my better. A still air infects my lungs. There is quiet amidst the chaos of this penetrating intoxication. These were still moments with an almost calming clarity to them.
Another armed person enters the room. His hand barely clasps the handle of his weapon.
I turn and fire. Two bullets crack the ribcage of the last standing guard. With the fall of the final body, the room becomes completely silent. Smoke escapes and diffuses from the barrels of the pistols on the floor. Pools of blood very slowly formed and expanded. Outside, the snow gently continued to gently drift, aimless and unaware.
For a second, the universe blinked.
I suddenly became aware that I am now the enemy of all of the individuals who befriend Lee Gwin, the man who I just killed. I didn't wait more than three seconds. Exchanging the my pistol for Lee Gwin's, I leave the room. There was a stairwell only across the hallway. Less than three or four flights down, I could barely hear the collaborated efforts of far-flung guards investigating and responding to the situation.
By the time I reached the ground level, I could hear yelling in almost every direction of the compound. Men and women were screaming in Russian, French, and English. I could feel the small militia mobilizing itself for a search and destroy objective. The entire complex was just waiting for a moment in their life where they would be capable of being pushed to the a line where they must risk their life to prove their devotion. Every single disciple is armed and hungry to chock up points with their god. I burst through the emergency exit doors and find myself in a snow wasteland. There is a flagpole, a twenty-foot high, chainlink fence that runs the perimeter, and then, mile after mile of snow-filled nothing.
Heading down a path carved out in the three-foot high snow, I pull out my cellphone and dial Big White on the address list. It rings once. "It's done." I drop the phone and sit with my back against the retaining wall of ice.
Someone opens the emergency exit door to the compound. "Mettez vos mains dans le ciel!" an AK-47-armed man yells.
I fire three shots, one piercing his arm. A thin stream of metal is sprayed at me before my enemy retakes his indoor shell. The bullets leave long claw marks against the iced glazing of the snowtop. None manage to hit me.
My belly touches the icy top of the walkpath as I roll over. Just waiting... Waiting... Someone is coming for me. Gusts of wind cause the snow to swirl in a thousand directions. This fog of war cloaks my position. But in this very barren part of the world, I am already starting to feel the painful incisions of frostbite. The human body's physical signs of responding to extreme coldness are already starting to show: tightening and swelling of the skin around the fingers, violent tremors in the arms and legs... I push my back up against the ice, holding the pistol close to my chest. As the bitter and fierce coldness grips my body, I wait.
My mind slowly drifts off. The snow continues to blow, starting to slowly enwrap me its strong cold. The blood from my wound on my arm has caused an enormous red patch on my clothing. Where I'm bleeding is the only part where I don't feel cold.
I'm waiting. I'm waiting. I'm waiting...
It's getting colder. Wait, can I... For a moment, I think I hear someone breathing close to me. I left my head up from the snow with my pistol drawn, only to find a very still figure holding the key to my destruction: a long metal barrel attached to a chamber and wooden frame. The first shot ripped through my hand, splitting my knuckles in half. My pistol is flown from my hand. The second shot pierces through my ribcage. A third shot tears into my shoulder. A fifth shot rips into my belly. As I'm falling, a sixth shot... chest... neck... head...
The white snow turns deep velvet.
I can still hear that person breathing. They're only getting closer to me. Would it be too much at this point to ask the universe to simply let me die, alone and in peace?... I can hear someone else now, too. Someone else is getting closer...
"Do you feel like you're dying?"
"Yes." I don't open my eyes.
"Then it's working."
I struggle to open my eyes, but I can feel my blood running thinner and thinner. The sound of someone breathing is getting closer. Where are they? What are they doing to me?
I can accept dying. I can accept dying.
My blood pressure lowers still. My faint pulse is in tune with the hum of the enlarging, black shapes that morphed, evolved, and molded in the darkness.
There's something very loud... And then quiet again.