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The sand slowly rose up in front of me, breaking the water's surface, my feet sinking into it, salty waves lapping over my feet. I could see the dark line of more rising out of the depths of the ocean, spanning unbroken toward the horizon; where the blue of the sea met the blue of the sky. I'll be walking forever, I thought, and dropped in submission.
Black and gray striped pants stretched out between me and my bare feet. What the-? I look down at myself and see I'm wearing a black and gray shirt also, and that my right arm is wrapped in gauze from the elbow to my wrist. This just gets weirder and weirder. There's a patch on the right breast of the shirt, and I turn it up to read it: 77634. Nonsense. Slowly, I start unwrapping the gauze. At first finding nothing, but then a twist of my wrist revealed a black letter: E. Then a P, then A. Letter by letter a word appeared, and once the gauze fell to the wet sand, stained black by the ink of the tattoo, I could read the one word, written in crude capital letters. ESCAPE.
Immediately behind me an alarm rang, distant but loud. I turned quickly toward the sound and the mound of sand topped by a fortress of gray stone. A prison? It made sense now, all of it. I was an escapee, a runaway convict. As I stared at the great prison a large door opened, spilling a darkness that fell all the way down the hill to my feet, and over me. From the door, down the darkness and to me, the blood-chilling baying of hell hounds and sounds of the guards that held their chains. RUN!
The sand gripped at my feet, held me back and mocked me as it rose faster out of the water before me. The shadow of the prison held fast to the black and gray shirt I had brought from it. My legs tired, I panted and gasped for breath, and I could hear the chains and calls of the hell hounds directly behind me; chomping the air in anticipation of my flesh.
Then I tore free of the prison's shadow and the sand gave up it's jest. I stretched my burning legs and filled my inflamed lungs with air salty with sea spray. The sounds of the hounds fell away as they were caught in the prison's shadow by the sun, and I still ran. I ran until I arrived at the shore, crashed into the waves with no strength left. The waves pushed me back to the sandy shore, where my fatigue anchored me to the sand. I lay there, grasping at every bit of air I could while the waves tried in vain to quench the fire that held my legs in a burning clasp. I was weak, I was spent, and I had no more room for flight.
I don't know how long I lay there, how many hours, but slowly the sound of the hounds grew and slowly strength returned to my legs. Eventually, when I could hear the hell hounds clearly I felt strong enough to stand. I sat up, and swooned as the blood rushed out of my head with the familiar feeling. When I returned to awareness I was sitting criss-cross, with an old revolver in the hand below ESCAPE. With knowledge I did not know I possessed, I checked the cylinder. There was only one bullet. There's only one thing you can do with only one bullet...
I put the muzzle to my ear, cocked the hammer, and pulled the trigger.
Cock, pull, click! Cock, pull, click!
What the hell? I checked the cylinder and made sure the bullet hadn't been fired before. It hadn't. I cocked the hammer again, aimed at the overshadowed, distant figures that were the hell hounds and the guards, and pulled the trigger again. Click! Mother-!
I turned to the sea, to where it met the sky, and thought of throwing the useless revolver at it. But then stopped with my arm behind my head, maybe... Insane with desperation I brought the gun level to my eye, set the sights to the horizon, cocked the hammer for what I hopped would be the last time, and pulled the trigger.
I'm falling. Falling through darkness. What happened! Falling backwards and up. Then:
I open my eyes, but a blinding square of light forces me to close them again. Then, gradually, I open them again, and see a stout man saying something to the man holding a smoking gun next to him on the TV. I turned it off with the remote, put the pillow back under my head, and drifted off to sleep.