I didn’t hear him until he was on right on top of. I expected to hear him laughing from far away, but he had gone silent. I shudder now at the thought that I was not as stealthy as I had thought, and that he had seen me earlier and stalked me like a cat does a mouse. I don’t know why he felt the need to stop laughing on this night of all nights, but he did. I heard the rustling and turned around just in time to take the first hit on my temple. My head exploded in pain as I fell on my side. A burst of darkness starburst across my eyes, and for a moment I thought I had been blinded but my tear blurred vision started to return slowly. I rolled on my stomach and tried to push myself up, but didn’t get the chance. I don’t know what he used to shatter my spine, but it was heavy enough that I was sure he would kill me if he managed to get another strike in. I heard him grunt as he started to lift his makeshift mace up, but he couldn’t lift it fast enough. I heard a thud and a scream as Argos came to my rescue.
My flashlight had fallen away from me and lit up a small portion of ground ahead of me. I looked up and saw that my pistol was on the ground a few feet from me and tried to reach it, but my legs were in so much pain I couldn’t stand, so I used my arms to drag myself to it inch by inch. I was so focused on getting that pistol and didn’t stop to see what was happening, but the mans screaming told me he was losing the fight. With every inch of ground I gained, the screaming grew louder and louder and louder until it was all I could hear. I reached out and wrapped my hands around the gun as the screaming reached its peak, and as I struggled to roll over I heard a loud and painful squeal as the man finally threw my dog off of him.
He sat up with a roar just as I lifted the gun. The first two rounds were enveloped by the darkness, and their wasn’t enough light for me to be sure I had hit him. I fired four more rounds into the shadows and prayed they found their mark. I listened as the last report faded. I tried to calm myself, but my breaths came out fast, shallow, and ragged. Minutes passed by, and I started to hear Argos whimpering from somewhere in the dark. I kept the gun up as I waited, praying Argos wasn’t hurt, and after a minute or two more I let it fall to the ground as I lowered my head and looked up at the void that some call a sky.
As my head fell to the ground I sighed with relief, then filled with terror as the hollow laughter filled my ears. I lifted my head and the gun as he permeated the darkness like some wild eyed creature from Hell. The first shot tore through his stomach and the second hallowed out his chest. His lifeless body hit the ground with a heavy thud and I cringed as his head rebounded an inch or two off the ground before it finally came to rest.
I kept my head raised and let ragged breaths escape me at a quick an uneven pace as I looked at the corpse of the man I had killed. At first I felt numb, though not in a pins and needles sort of way. It felt more like I was waking from anesthetics. A hollow and empty sensation, completely devoid of feeling.
I had killed before to protect myself in this new and lightless world, and knew this was not guilt, nor was it a sign I had lost compassion or humanity. I did not feel remorseful for what I had done, and would do it ten times over if I had to, but I am not a man accustomed to violence. I don’t dream of bathing beneath crimson falls that flow from the wounds of my fellow man.
No, this feeling was something different. It was both refined yet primal, and I believe it stems from a bond I share with not only this man but all men. I believe we are all connected to one another, not by something physical such as acquaintance but by something less tangible and much, much greater. Maybe it is the kinship all animals feel with their own race. On some level, the man was a brother of mine, if only by being of my own kind. Some primitive part of me has tried to share his pain but found it too great to bare. Maybe a part of me died along with the man, and I feel the emptiness as my body tries to compensate for the loss of a part of myself.
It is a horrible feeling, but I’m glad I feel it. The man who broke my back felt had not felt that feeling in a long time. The day I feel anything other than that feeling is the day I will be like him, and that day wont be worth living through.
As I looked up into the darkness, feeling slowly came back to me in waves. First came sound. I heard the ruffle of leaves in the wind, the creak if branches, and the song of crickets in the park. It was a sad song.
After some time, I started to gain feeling in my arms and the upper part of my body, but nothing lower than my waist. Tears welled up in my eyes. I knew I wouldn’t be walking out of this the moment I was attacked, but I had hoped I would walk again. Now I knew that was a lie.