To Save From Horror

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I was naïve. I was blind to the darkness around me. It merely took one man, one woman, one kid, and one event to open my eyes. I am no longer blind. Although, I wish I still was…


The pre-teenager placed a bag of Skittles and a Hershey’s bar on the counter in front of me. I grabbed each item and scanned them and listened as a familiar beep resonated in my ears as the machine registered the bar code. I yawned quite loudly as I gazed at the watch on my left wrist. I only had thirty more minutes on my shift. Oh, thank god. I was exhausted. A full day of high school and a double shift at an AM/PM. I must say, I extremely disliked Mark Ruddy, who had phoned in with a fever and needed me to fill his shift. Of course, being a teenager, I needed money so I accepted the double shift. I sighed.

“Excuse me! I don’t want to wait here all night!” the pathetic pre-teen barked at me. I studied his skater style. He wore his hair under a hat that peaked out from the top of his head at an angle slightly to the right. I smirked. I remembered when that style was “cool” and everyone wanted to become a “skater”. But I had always kept a normal sense of style. Fashion or fads had never really intrigued me. I always had looked past them as unnecessary and watched as one style or fad flowed into the next and as hundreds of kids around me sprinted to keep up with the ever changing times.

“Your total is $2.17,” I calmly said to the pre-teen.

“Ya know, add in a pack of cigs for me,” the kid shot back.
Really? “Cigs”? This punk couldn’t have been older than fourteen. I was seriously offended that he thought I would sell them to him.

“Sorry sir, I am only authorized to sell cigarettes to customers older than eighteen. Do you have an ID?”

“Sir?! What do I look like a**hole? I want to buy some cigarettes!” the small kid screamed. His voice cracked slightly during his scream. It definitely made him sound a lot older than he was….

“Sir, by law I cannot sell you cigarettes. I apologize. Your total is $2.17,” I said trying to keep the child calm. The pre-teen dove into his pocket and withdrew a five dollar bill and threw it at me. He reached forward, grabbed his candy and stormed out of the convenience store. To add to his “adult stature”, the kid kicked the door on the way out. I was seriously beginning to worry about the state of children in our world. I mean, he didn’t even stay for his change. Oh well, I decided to pocket it. No one would know.

I reached under the counter and withdrew the newspaper I was reading before the kid came in. I turned back to the local section where I was reading an interesting article about an increase in robberies. I was about halfway through the article when I heard the jingle of bells as the door opened again. Mrs. Greggs walked in. She was an elderly woman who seemed to walk in whenever I had a shift. Maybe she came in every night. I never knew for sure. She walked over to the counter and waved hello.

“Ah hello young Carter,” she said happily.

“Hey there, Mrs. Greggs. Stopping by for some coffee tonight?” I asked.

“Not tonight. I was just filling up the old car and decided to see who was working tonight.”

“Oh gotcha. Well it’s me,” I smiled. I enjoyed being friendly with customers. It helped pass the time on my shift.

“Oh Carter, I never did ask you how the Winter Formal dance went. Didn’t you take that pretty girl Rosemary?” She questioned. From there, we talked for a few minutes back and forth. In fact, I was so deep in the conversation that I failed to notice the jingle of bells as the door opened again. Maybe if I was paying attention, I would have noticed who it was. Of course, I noticed him eventually…after he fired a couple bullets.

The first one hit Mrs. Greggs in the hip. I heard the shot before it hit her. Time seemed to slow to a still as I watched the elderly woman fall on her side from the impact of the bullet. Before I could turn to identify the shooter, I heard two more shots ring off. They flew into Mrs. Greggs on the ground and I heard her shrill and horrifying screams. I watched as tears flowed down her face and as the life drained from her eyes.

I flew my head around to look at the shooter, the killer, the murderer. He looked normal. He seemed nervous. His hand shook. His eyes were bloodshot and puffy as if he were just crying. To my eyes, he looked to have just reached middle age. The gun in his hand quivered as the man’s body trembled. I looked outside onto the street and saw a body of the pre-teen sprawled on the sidewalk. Suddenly, I felt sorrow for the child and life he would never live. The night had changed. I was no longer there to make money. I was there to take this mad man down.

The gunman moved the gun to point at me. I trembled. I didn’t know what to do or how to act. He simply spoke to me in an almost frightened voice.

“I’m sorry, but I need you to give me all of the money in the register. Please, I don’t want to have to kill you,” the shooter said quietly in almost a whisper. I was confused. What crazed gunman apologizes for robbing you?

“Why are you doing this? Why did you shot the boy or the woman? They could have lived!” I screamed at the man.

“I have nothing left! My house, my wife, my family, my job, my life….all gone. This is all I have left. The world is terrible and unforgiving. Trust me, I saved them! The old woman would have suffered. The boy would have fallen into a world of drugs and disgusting souls. They are better off now! Now I need that money!” The calm aura of the gunman was lost. His purpose was simple. He had lost his job. He could no longer finance his house or family. His wife left him and took his children away. An economy had destroyed this man and brought to the brink of evil. But I knew he was not evil. He simply was a victim of an evil system and world. He was blinded by anger and despair.

“Listen to me, killing innocents isn’t the way! Neither is robbing stores! You still have a chance to live an honest life. You talk about saving people from suffering. Who is to decide they were to suffer? It is within their power to live happily in this world.”

“NO! You are naïve and young, You couldn’t possibly understand the harshness of this world! I’ll save you before the world has a chance to consume you and ruin you. I’m sorry, it is for the best,” the man said with sadness. He hung his head and aimed at me with the weapon.

Faced with my own death or “salvation”, I made a choice, a choice I would never forget. It forever altered this man’s life as well as my own. But I saw no other option to save myself. I suppose somewhere inside me I was compelled by revenge, I wanted this man to face his own “salvation”

“Sir, I don’t know you. But I can’t tell you are hurt. You are wounded by the world and disgusted by the system we live by. You have brought it on yourself to achieve some monetary value while saving others from a grim and hideous fate,” the man lowered his gun and seemed to listen. I had his attention. “But who gave you the job to choice others fate and “save them”?”

“I did! I must outdo the wrong in my life by saving others. Maybe then, fortune will shine on me, I will have peace and happiness.” It was here that I made my move. I made my decision. I made my choice to push this man over the edge. I would never forget it. I am no longer naïve to the horrors of our world.

“What about you? Why not save yourself? Would that not grant you ultimate happiness as you escape the world of horrors and evil?” I cried. Tears streamed from my eyes and down my cheeks.

“I cannot save myself…It is not possible. I am too far from redemption. I have tried…” the man paused. He turned around and there was silence in the store. I looked at the body of Mrs. Greggs. Her face did not show fear or horror, but rather, peace and calm serenity. Then the man turned as if he finally reached a conclusion. He spoke to me. He spoke words which I shall never forget. “…Boy, you must save me.” He raised his head and stared into my eyes. He walked closer and placed the weapon on the counter. “For the good of your soul and mine, save me from this horrible world.” The man turned and knelt on the ground. He closed his eyes and kept quietly whispering, “Please…”. I could hear him crying as he waited for his end to come.

My body was rattling. My hands were quivering. My mind swirled in thousands of directions. Thoughts bounced around inside my mind. Should I kill this man? Should I save this man? But if I did kill him, would I be saving him at all? I wanted vengeance. Would that make me evil and consumed by darkness? But I also felt pity for this man. I wanted to give him his final wish. Tears rolled like rivers from my eyes as I debated. Silence surrounded me. The only thing that could be heard was the mixture of my cries and the gun man’s.

In that moment, I made a choice. I made the choice to step forward and embrace the horrors of the world. I chose to end the imprisonment of this man. I reached forward and grabbed the pistol that sat on the counter. The metal was cold against my fingertips. I remember that the weight surprised me. I wrapped my fingers around the handle and raised my arm. The man’s cries stopped as if he knew the time had come.

“Wait. Stop,” the man said abruptly. My entire body was still shaking. He stood up and spun around. He reached forward and grabbed the gun and placed it under his chin. “This way, you can escape the consequences of murder. It will just look like suicide. The only thing left will be rewards.” He closed his eyes again and entered a state of peace.

My finger was locked around the trigger. My palms were sweating heavily and I could hear myself breathing heavily. Everything came down to that one moment. I had the power to “save” this man, or “doom” him.

My view of the world changed that night. Nothing in my mind ever ran the same. What had once been bright had become grey. Forever after, I could clearly see that man’s eyes of despair and his cries of sadness. The man had told me it would save both my soul and his. I don’t know about his, but it did not save mine. It ruined and destroyed mine.

The last thing I will ever remember from that night was shutting my eyes, and hearing myself pull the trigger.

It’s the only thing I regret in my life…





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