Previously published in Degrees of Fear ©2008
“That’s the one!”
The two officers continued to move in on the young blond girl as the tiny bottle kept screaming,
“That’s her! She won’t drink me. I keep flashing my tag at her, she picks me up, reads it, sniffs, and then she just puts me back down. Over and over and over!”
“We’ll handle this,” interrupted the senior officer. Turning toward the somewhat frightened girl, he asked, “All right, then, what’s the story, Alice?”
“Please, sir,” she answered, “I’m afraid.”
“Afraid of what?”
“The fall down the rabbit hole was so awfully terrifying. I don’t want to go on any further. I just want to go back home.” The junior of the two enforcers had already positioned himself behind the girl. Holding the indignant bottle in his hand, the older of the pair said,
“Alice, you have to go on into Wonderland. You can’t just go back home. That’s not the way the story goes. You can’t just go back the way you came—no one can. One must always struggle forward against the world no matter how absurd it seems.” The senior officer sniffed absently at the air, then added,
“My dear, you have literary precepts to reinforce.”
“I don’t care,” wailed the crying girl. “I want to go home!”
The older man with the bottle nodded. His partner grabbed Alice, holding her firmly. Quickly they pried her jaws apart and forced most of the bottle’s contents down her throat.
Mike closed the magazine at that point. “Too bizarre,” was his only comment on the story he had been reading as he put it aside.
Besides, he thought, I’m just stalling.
Mike picked up the gun again. He had bought it two days after she had left. It had gotten to the point where he could no longer remember how many times he had taken it from its box, cleaned it, loaded it, placed it in his mouth ... and then backed down. The wastebasket was overflowing with crumpled suicide notes.
The newest one, fresh from his printer, lay on his desk looking up at him. Staring at the letter, he fumblingly picked up the revolver once more. Closing his eyes he slipped the barrel between his lips and began tightening his finger around the trigger—and then, once more, he set the heavy piece of metal back down on the table and walked away from it.
But, this time he did it for a different reason. Suddenly he realized—he was being more than foolish—he was acting childishly and just plain stupid.
“I don’t have to do this. I don’t have to do anything. It’s my life, Goddamnit! If I want to keep living it, then all I have to do is keep on living it!”
Mike smiled. No matter how definite his only course of action had seemed to be to take his own life, that had passed. He knew now he would not kill himself. When the door to his apartment started to open, he was feeling more content and at peace than he had in years. By the time his squeaking hinge caused him to look toward the door, the officers were already inside.
“That’s the one!” screamed the revolver, huffing with indignation. “That’s him!”