General Fiction posted August 30, 2013

This work has reached the exceptional level
final minutes in 500 words

Death at the Mall

by Spiritual Echo

Does anyone ever wonder why the highway becomes a one-way street? Would I have watered the plants or put more food out for the cat, if I knew this morning I'd never come home again?

As I lay on the granite tiles feeling the blood pool beneath my head, a warm sticky puddle of lost dreams, I wondered what I might have done differently if I'd known this was my final day of life.

Funny, the thoughts that run through your mind when you're dying. I'd always heard that your life flashes before your eyes, but here at the mall, lying among the other bodies in the food court, all I could think about was the mess I'd left in the kitchen before I decided to go shopping.

It didn't seem to matter who shot me or why. I didn't see the shooter before I felt the searing pain behind my ear. My knees buckled as I fell to the ground. I remember the look of terror on the woman's face when she dropped in front of me. Was it just moments ago? Why does it feel like time has stopped? Maybe time doesn't count when it's running out.

I can still hear the screaming as people stampede, running, crying; a few moans close by and the staccato echo of new bullets. If I am not to die alone in this mall, why do I feel so lonely and abandoned? Shouldn't I be holding someone's hand?

Sirens wailing, coming closer--how many will die today? Shouldn't I be afraid? Why am I so calm?

There's no bright light, no outstretched arms welcoming me into eternity. My reality, as it still exists, is the cold stone floor and the blood pouring down my back, spilling onto the granite and forming rivers of regret.

I think about the diet I was planning to start tomorrow, remembering the pancakes I ate for breakfast. I'd not denied myself. I'm not hungry.

Footsteps, running, pounding feet--I smell the sweat of a body nearby--arms grabbing me, straps laced across my chest, squeaking wheels--more sirens. No, I want to yell. I can't leave the woman. She was so afraid. I can't leave her on the floor to die alone. But my words go unspoken.

I feel the sun on my face, but realize I'm blind. I can't see anything except the fear on the woman's face as she fell in front of me. The memory is the last thing I'll ever see. Will it matter?

Hands probing, groping, needles--I'm in an ambulance, but it's going too fast. Slow down, I'm not in a hurry. I won't make it. It's okay. Turn back. Get someone else. But the wheels keep turning and I'm going nowhere.

Perhaps I'll just sleep. She died in her sleep, but she is me, and I wonder if I should stay awake so as not to forget. Maybe that won't matter either. Did any of it matter?

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Artwork by Dick Lee Shia at

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