Last Light

I edge my head around the rusted metal door frame. The muffled sounds of the scuffle had wafted through the dilapidated restaurant into the deteriorating kitchen. I hoped there would be no confrontations, but I suppose breaking out was too easy- something had to happen.

I see Jocelyn pull a navy blue uniformed guard into a headlock. Her biceps bulge as his face turns an unholy shade of puce. She grins in a feral way as her muscles tighten his esophagus into his spinal cord. Though short, this woman’s built like a tank. She’s definitely in control of this situation. The guard probably wasn’t expecting a woman like Jocelyn to be the one determining his fate.

I am satisfied with Jocelyn’s control level until I see another guard bolt in to help his companion. I glance back at another fellow escapee lying on the floor in the kitchen. His leg is clearly broken and causing him immense pain; he can’t help me now. He looks up at me from his spot near an old deep fryer and waves me towards the dining room. He scoots back behind the fryer as I flip him off. He probably didn’t see me as the kitchen is now nearly black. I decide to help Jocelyn punch him in the face later. She owes him one, and now I do too. I sigh and decide it’s time to get involved.

I dart out into the dining room of the restaurant. It is nearly nighttime. A hazy blue black hue has settled itself inside the building. The rubble from the blown out windows and walls litters the floor like a kind of gravel. I pass Jocelyn and her new boyfriend near the door way while he sputters for breath. I grimace- that guy is not going to make it through the night.

I look at the guard I targeted. The determined and yet frightened look on his face is the last thing I see in the fading ray of sunlight. He reacts when he finally sees my slight frame speeding towards him. His right hand immediately shoots to the machete at his hip. As his hand grips the handle to pull it through its makeshift holster, I pull my military issue knife out of my tattered dark brown leather jacket. I am close enough now that I can hear the fear in his breath as his heart rate picks up. I decide I want to aim for his arm. A kill shot is not what I want, especially in a world with so few people left. I grip the handle of my knife as I take a deep breath and go for it. I just pray I don't kill him-I'm not ready to be a murderer. As my knife flies at his sword arm, he takes a step back and stumbles over a cement block. He steps on top of it to regain his balance and my knife slips as if through butter into his stomach.

The whole scene unfolds as if in slow motion. I watch every detail while my hand is pressed against the blue fabric of the front of the guard’s shirt, now darkened and wet with his warm blood. .His mangled yell of surprise and pain makes Jocelyn lose focus from her restraint on her man. Her head jerks up and our eyes meet-my knife still in my foe’s belly. Her guard seizes his moment to escape and wrestles away from Jocelyn’s loosened grip. Before she realizes what has happened, the guard is out the door and into the street.

I can barely see my enemy in front of me. What I do see is the glint in his eye from the light of the young moon coming in through a hole in the wall where a window used to be. Grief washes over me. I yank the knife from the man’s stomach and stumble my way back to the kitchen. I make it just to doorway when I bend over and vomit out the little food I had in my body. I cough and spit as bile fills my mouth. I see the blood covering my hand and dry heave, my empty frame convulsing with disgust. All I repeat over and over in my mind is: I killed a person. I killed a person.

After a few moments, I gather myself together. I spit a final time, and wash out my mouth with the water I have in a canteen. I shake out my limbs as I prepare myself to go check on my victim. Shit. Jocelyn is still over there too, dealing with the other guard. I wheel around from my puke corner and walk slowly towards the front door. Jocelyn is no longer in the dining room. I assume she has gone outside to chase down her victim. I make my way over to where the guard I’ve killed should be. I kick around the black floor and feel nothing but rubble. My foot hits the concrete block over which the second guard stumbled, but he is not lying near it. He’s not there. He’s not dead, he’s not dead! Shit. He’s not dead.

The feeling of my knife in someone overcomes my memory. My legs turn to jelly and refuse to hold my weight any longer. I sink to the floor. I breath in shakily and concentrate on exhaling. I vaguely wonder where the guard went. I can't decide if I want him to be dead or not, and the fact that I could be the cause of his demise makes me shaky all over again. I sit with my head in my hands as the last bit of light leaves the restaurant.