Let’s Try This Again

Nicolas DeDominicis

I lay there on the cold pavement, soaked in my blood, staring up at the full moon as she stares back down at me. Everything slowly gets darker and darker. I don’t fight it. Then, everything goes black.

Alright, let’s try this again. My eyes shoot open and I find myself back in that dirty old coffee shop, sitting on a wobbly chair at a busted little table, holding a cup of coffee that I’ve only taken one sip of. I place the cup down and get up to leave this wet dog-smelling hole. I hear the little bell that rings every time I open up the door to leave. A sound that has ingrained itself into my brain like a parasite.

I walk out onto the street with the sun beating down on me. I waste no time heading to my place. I get into my apartment, open my closet door, and push my clothes aside to reveal a chest. I open it up and inside, there’s a shoulder holster and two M1911’s. I strap the holster on and put the two pistols in. I throw a jacket on to cover them up and head back out.

This time, I hole myself up in an abandoned store a few blocks down the road. I wait until the sun sets. It’s slow and boring, but I’m used to it. Once the remaining people trickle out from the area and everything goes silent, I’m finally able to make my move. I head out the back of the old store and try to keep my head down. I travel through the alleys as quickly and as silently as I can. I make my way to the town’s clocktower. I begin climbing my way up the stairs. Right before I reach the top, I slowly and quietly pull out one of my pistols and cock it. I quickly rush up the rest of the stairs and prepare to start firing, but nobody’s there. Confused, I quickly scan the area, but find nothing. I could’ve sworn this was the place. Where are you?

As I’m standing there, I slowly realize that you’ve gotten the better of me yet again. But before I can do anything about it, a shower of bullets shatter through the glass of the clock. I dive to the ground as quickly as possible. As the glass falls around me and more bullets fly in, I try to crawl my way out. I make it a few feet towards the staircase when the firing eventually stops. I take this opportunity to quickly get up and get out. Luckily, I didn’t get hit in all of that. I still have a chance. I rush down the stairs, dash out the door, and as I exit the tower, I hear more gunshots go off. Bullets hit the wall behind me as I run to find cover. I circle the building to get to safety, moving behind a dumpster in an attempt to hide. The shooting stops, and off in the distance, I hear faint footsteps getting ever so slightly closer to me. Then, I hear your voice.

“Come on out now. There’s no point in running anymore. You can come out here and die with some dignity, or I can put you down like an animal.”

I move out from behind the dumpster and go to the corner of the alley next to where I heard your voice coming from. I draw my second pistol and slowly move out towards the street. I see you down the road a bit with that usual smug grin across your face. With both my guns aimed at you, I move out into the middle of the street so that we’re right across from each other, about forty feet apart. The full moon lights up the cold street. You’re holding some sort of assault rifle, pointing it at the ground.

“There’s no need to be so rash about this. Why don’t you put your guns down and we can do this honorably?”

I keep both pistols pointed at you.

“How many times have we done this? Hundreds? Thousands even? I can see it in your eyes. I must be giving you quite a bit of trouble, huh? So how about we do this one honestly? That way, maybe you’ll have the chance of finally ending things. What’s one more time, right?”

I continue to hold my stance for a few more seconds until I decide to holster my weapons. “Alright, that’s more like it! We’ll go on the count of ten.” You toss your rifle to the ground next to you and push your coat to the side, revealing a holstered pistol in your belt.

You begin counting up from one as we both continue to stare into each other’s eyes, that grin never leaving your face. As each number grows closer and closer to the end, I feel my heart beating louder and louder. We both know I won’t be able to beat you in a fair fight. I take a deep breath and once you reach seven, I pull out my pistols as fast as I can. But it wasn’t fast enough. Before I can pull the triggers, you put three bullets into my chest. As I fall back, I’m able to fire a single shot, but I wasn’t able to see where it went. I hit the ground like a ton of bricks and feel the sharp pain fly through my body. I cough up some blood as I hold my red-soaked chest. I muster up as much strength as I can to hold my head up to look at you. You’re holding your arm, where I can see some blood leaking out from. A frown has replaced your grin. You look frustrated. Not because I cheated, but because I was able to hurt you. You don’t say anything. You just pick up your rifle and leave, holding your arm tight all the while.

As I’m on the street, lying in a puddle of my blood, I stare up at the moon as she stares down at me. I’m getting closer. I can do this. My vision gets hazier, and the world around me gets darker until eventually, nothing.

Alright, let’s try this again.