Survivors have said it felt like an absolutely terrifying sting when it happened to them.
Others likened it to a hot pinch. A searing needlepoint burrowing in. I’m going to disagree. I’d say it feels like a million-mile-an-hour nuclear fastball punching into my upper left shoulder. The impact is followed so closely by a white-hot numbing sensation that the initial penetration is drowned out by scalding heat. That split-second blast of pressure strikes me so hard I spin around to my left and my feet come out from underneath me.
I think to myself ‘Holy lead projectiles, Batman!’ as I realize I’ve been shot.
Before my head dies from the shock of the round striking me, a thousand and one thoughts run through my mind. Some are details about the shooting, like my theory of what kind of bullet it is. Some are thoughts about the shooter; some cracked-out gang banger trying to out-testosterone me for not giving up my wallet. Some are about my wife, and how she will find out later tonight about her husband has been gunned down on the corner of Fifth and Troost by a guy who will never be caught for this crime.
I’m sure the weapon will be ditched. I’m sure its serial number has long been scratched off. I’m sure ballistics will tie the bullet, carving me hollow, to a number of other shootings, robberies. Whatever.
I don’t know much about guns. I’ve heard even the little bullets, like .22’s will kill if they hit right or bounce around inside the body. By the alarms and klaxons going off inside my body right now I can tell that whatever it was fired point blank into me, it was a bull on ‘roids. I got the horns.
My best chance would have a round that didn’t catch any bone on its way through me. Just enter, travel, and exit. One clear path, a clean hole tunneled in my flesh that I could have stuck a pencil through and counted myself lucky. But in the frozen flash of time that my mind registered I was not that lucky, my body must have just left the ground. My head would be legally dead in about three seconds. Maybe two.
The white hot numbing sensation has been replaced with the indescribable feeling of absolute disaster. Brutal trauma has a palpable definition in sensation. It is cruising through me now, one violent detonation after another occurring in every cell of my body.
That’s the way my shoulder felt, and my whole body now. Exactly. White-hot numbness that lay on top of a searing, all-consuming pain that is so great it shuts my nerve-endings down. They are overloaded, saturated. Everything is. I could feel the numb flaps of skin that were torn and flayed from the exit wound flutter in the whoosh of passing air that was coming in through the hole as I fall a little closer to the ground. My brain will be DOA on contact with the cement beneath me in two seconds. Maybe one.
I don’t know where the bullet went after our intimate meeting. It exited, it had to. I have a grotesque-feeling exit wound. If there was anyone in the line of fire behind me, I hope they wore their body armor today. Stupid gang-banger.
Holy clear the field of fire Batman.
Oh well, I am out of split seconds to care about secondary causalities now. My skull will be filled with lifeless tissue by the time it connects with the deck in about one second. Maybe none.
I don’t really see the ground coming at me as I hit it. My eyes have blurred out of focus and I realize directly before I die that the bullet has knocked the wind right out of me. Actually, the shock from the immense impact probably blew my lungs out. No more air. Just another thing to add to my list of troubles.
As I hit the ground my feet touch first. My toes in my shoes are glowing with needle-point flares of agony. I feel my legs collapse with a slight ting as my bony knees clap together. My right arm, the one still attached to my body, it touches next. My left arm, which is only hanging on by a few tattered threads of flesh wiggling around like a wet noodle, it falls behind my back. It probably tears off.
My head smacks into it the concrete with a resounding dull thud that would have been both deafening and overwhelming had I been able to feel it. My head, with all its weight, bounces off the sidewalk once and then smacks back onto it. My neck is limp; my backbone let its supporting muscles relax completely. I know I mess in my pants as my bowels and bladder relax also. My brain stops firing, it stops sending little electrical impulses out into my body to give commands like heart, you need to beat. Or lungs, you need to breathe. Blood vessels, you absorb oxygen and then carry it to the waiting cells. Let’s keep this complex flesh and blood machine rolling here, folks.
None of this happens; my head finishes dying as it touches the sidewalk. Time’s up. No more thoughts of my wife or who’s going to be a father to my three kids. No more work to go to in the morning; I guess Barry will have to do that presentation on Thursday all by himself. I had just bought a bagel and cream cheese, now it will go to waste.
No more thoughts of my family, instead I spent my last spark of life thinking about how I pissed my pants. As a kid I never pictured the adult me doing that.
Holy off to the Promised Land, Batman.
© Ryan Sayles
Bio: Married my high school sweetheart, two kids, joined the military after
9/11, wound up all over and finally stationed in the Bay Area, CA. Out now,
back home. Will be published March 29th 2009 at www.shortstory.us.com