Ben could hear the echos. Noises, but they weren't coming from his ears. Screams, but they were coming from his nerves. Juicy, pulpy bone fragments were like shrapnel to his arm. He gulped down the shuddering moans of pain. Gulped for air, but he only seemed to get little sips. Dribbles from life's lardy teat.
Ben's face was blank. Void as the coupons and receipts in the kitchen drawers of yesteryear, void as the pairs of eyes left sifting through the smoldering wreckage and brackish puddles.
Ben watched the shooter stand. Their eyes met, but Ben was pretty sure neither of them were actually looking at each other. What was there left to see? A wreck of a boy.
And someone he'd once known as Alvaro.
He could still make a difference. Make this his final, honest to goodness meaningful stand. His Bastogne, through the rocket's blood red glare. Prove something to anyone who watched and cared to understand what they were watching. Prove... something. Fucking something. Maybe something like bullets not being the final word. Maybe that there was something else, something better, worth saying still. But, maybe. Maybe that was wrong. Maybe the only word that would matter in the end would be the bullets. They'd be the final word, the good-bye. All of Ben's life would be a flash, a blip. His final moments would be a blur, kicking and screaming and heaving like a little pittance of bits and pieces of baby. For all the world to see.
Ben could hear his own blood through the hollows of his ears. The electric sound of a flatline. Cold and sterile.
He'd promised his the powers that be, on behalf of his dad. Promised them all he'd be something. That he'd make a difference.
Promises. The world couldn't see those. Every other time he'd promised, he'd held his head up high, stiff, proud against adversity. He'd marched forward. Right into the enemy. Right into his own idiotic demise. And that's all the world knew of Ben Fields. The world didn't know promises, thoughts. It knew words, it knew actions. It knew the things Ben had failed at.
It knew he was running. That he was just merely running. Vaulting from the floor, running and panting, and shedding flakes of blood and flakes of skin skittering to earth in his wake. An explosion of Ben towards the door, an explosion of bullets in his wake. But he was faster, and he made the home run with a flailing of feet beneath him. A grunt and a slide, and he couldn't see anything except for the exit anymore. Not his killer-to-be, not his audience. Least of all himself.
Ben retreated. He knew the word for this one, at least.
So did everyone the world over else.
((Ben Fields continued in Haunted Reality))