by Ashtar Deza

Categories

  • Fiction

Tags

  • dark
  • trauma

“All the other kids with the pumped up kicks… Better run better run, outrun my bullets.”

That God-damn song, over and over. The killer had it set on repeat, probably thinking it was the ultimate gesture of cool suave irony.

He certainly dressed the part… Black trench coat, sunglasses, black beret. If it hadn’t been for the very real gun and the very real brains now splattered across the floor right in front of me it would have been the most gauche cosplay imaginable.

I try to control my breathing, make myself invisible here in my little corner under the escalator. Right across the floor from me is a guy… Early 20s, must have had the same idea to hide here but he didn’t make it. There is a long bloody smear across the floor where I slipped on his brains and nearly broke my neck. Now that would be an ironic way to go, wouldn’t it?

I hear his footsteps… He hums the song, half singing along to his headphones. Later the papers will probably call him an incel. A lonely kid whose feelings of teenage angst and disconnection have been turned toxic on a dozen online message boards.

He walks slowly, exaggerating the noise his combat boots make on the tile floor, relishing the sound. I’m sure that in his head he feels like the antagonist in a horror movie, high on the rush of power, feeling like he matters for the first time in his life.

“Come out, come out wherever you are!” he shouts in a sing-song voice. Could this fuck-head become any more cliché?

The steps stop right next to my little hiding spot. I see him kneel down to look at the smear on the floor, see him track it with his eyes. I try to crawl further away into the shadows but it’s no use, we lock eyes and a big grin spreads across his face. “There you are!”.

He makes to grab for me, trying to get a hold of my hair. He’s so caught up in his own power fantasy though that he doesn’t really seem to expect any resistance. He assumes I’ll just cower deeper in fear, so his movements are slow and relaxed… Trying to portray the maximum of cool and detached ennui. That somehow breaks the fear. I see the posturing kid behind the mask and my anger flares as adrenaline rushes through my system. I grab the hand, catching him by surprise and sink my teeth into his flesh. Fuck you, fuck your song, and fuck your attitude! I taste his blood in my mouth and spit it in his face.

He screams and pulls his hand back in a surprised expression. I take the one shot I have and run, run for my fucking life. He screams in rage at me, curses me out but in all his anger he seems to forget that he’s carrying a gun and could stop me dead in his tracks if he wanted to.

I run, lungs burning, cursing myself for not having a more regular exercise regime. The doors, if I can just make it to those doors I’ll be fine. I hear the first shot go off behind me, hear the bullet buzz past. I’m still alive, keep running, run for your fucking life.

The door doesn’t seem to be getting closer. I run and run, but I feel like I’m stuck in molasses, my legs feel heavier and heavier. Another shot and my legs stop working. One moment I’m running, the next I’m on the floor. My lower body seems gone. I look to see my legs are still there but I can’t feel them any more. They won’t move no matter how hard I try.

I try to drag myself forward with just my arms, if I could just reach that door, just exit this infernal mall. I hear footsteps approaching. He’s coming, gloating.

“I got you.” he says… “I always get you. Every time.”

The door seems so close now, almost close enough to reach. If I could just make it. I feel the barrel touch the back of my neck. I hear and don’t hear the shot.

“All the other kids with the pumped up kicks… Better run better run, outrun my bullets.”

That God-damn song, over and over… Stuck on repeat.