Horror and Thriller Fiction posted August 31, 2014

This work has reached the exceptional level
What do you do?

Panic and Adrenaline

by DerivedBetter


"Is anyone here a doctor?" You scream as she lies on the floor gasping for air, blood pumping in rhythmic pulses from the small hole in her chest. Your heart races and your thoughts are tangled and jumbled; time is running out ... for her, for you, for us all.

You don't even know how it happens. In that fraction of a moment things spiral out of control as they sometimes do. Everything's fine, in perfect sync, then it's not and there is a pregnant woman in front of you with a sucking wound in her chest. She cries loudly, scared for her life and the life she still holds inside of her. Your senses are heightened in this moment of stress and you notice that she isn't the only one. People sob all around you. Some plead for their lives; others beg you to save the woman or the baby or both. Commotion and confusion are everywhere. You notice that you are waving the gun around wildly. Every time you look at something the barrel jerks that way. You know this won't do. You try to collect yourself, to calm down before things become even more chaotic.

It seems like hours since you screamed your question to this mass of panicked people, but literally it's only been moments, mere seconds. That's what panic and adrenaline do to you. Slow time. Alter your perceptions. I know, on the other hand, that it has been precisely five seconds because I look at my watch when you shoot her and shake my head. I don't believe this is happening, but it's ok; I can fix this. I give you those five seconds because I don't want to sport a matching hole in my chest when I step forward.

"I'm a doctor." I say it with authority. Command presence, so to speak. There is no doubt in my mind, and thus in the mind of your panicked mass, that I can save this woman and her unborn child. The sobs and cacophony of voices around us quiet to a more tolerable level as hope fills the room. You feel it too. Your heart beat slows and you start to think less about the women and more about the bag of crisply stacked bills by your side. Your eyes dart down to it then back to me, wondering how this will all turn out.

"Can you help her?"

"Not here," I say. "But I have a private practice right around the corner. If you let me take her right now, I will save them both."

You glance down at your watch and I look at mine. One minute down the drain. I know what you're thinking. I can see the wheels turning; two disparate but equally pressing thoughts rolling around your decision tree. How long before the cops show up? Approximately seven minutes. Can he really save this lady and her baby? Jury's still out on that one.

You lick your lips and grab the bag. I know what you're going to say before you do, and that sits just fine with me. "Pick her up, old man. You're coming with me. We'll see if you're as good as you say you are."

"No problem son, I'm strong enough. You carry your bag, I'll take the girl and we can be done with each other."

Tick Tock. Time is a locomotive speeding away as if you're standing still. Decisions need to be made quickly. Consensus must be reached. I see it in your eyes. You've made the right choice.

"I ain't no son of yours, but I might need you two. Let's go."

You shoulder the bag while I carefully gather the sobbing woman. It comforts you when she wraps feeble arms around my neck and rests a sweat-plastered head against my chest. As we exit the bank, You walk swiftly to the corner. No one outside has noticed a thing, not even the explosion of the gun, which was deafening inside. Just another random addition to the tumultuous noise in New York City. With the weight of the woman, I'm initially slower than you. It takes me a moment to catch up. I round the corner, and the first thing I notice is the shock on your face. That's the wrong emotion.

"Where the fuck is the girl?" You scream.

"Bleeding on the sidewalk. I dropped that bitch," I say, "we're out."

You stare at me. "I thought we were going to save her."

"We're home free. We don't need her anymore and she's a liability."

You don't have a choice. You follow my lead, like always, and we casually stroll away with the bag full of cash. You should be happy. I've just saved your ass.



Seems like I've been listening to you for hours, but it's only been a few minutes. I know because I glanced at my watch whenever you started talking. I get so tired of these damn speeches, but you don't ever stop. You think you know everything.

"And that's the worst-case scenario," You say. "Look we've been over this a thousand times. I've analyzed this place. We know they don't have a security guard. We know it takes eight minutes for the police to respond to this area on a good day. Worst-case, you accidentally shoot someone in a panic."

See ...You act like you know it all, like you can see every outcome, but what if that's not true? It's my ass on the line. "Why do I have to have the gun then? Why do I have to do the dirty stuff?" I ask

You seem frustrated with me, but I'm used to it. "Eddie, relax. This is that panic I was talking about. You need to do this. I'll be right there with you, but no one will even know it. I'm only going to step in if you need help."

Yeah, hiding in plain sight and keeping your ass out of trouble. Even if shit does hit the fan, that doctor act or one of the million others you have, will save you. "Would you really just let some pregnant girl die, Rich?" I already know the answer to this.

"Of course. Collateral damage is to be expected in situations like this. Get prepared, we have two minutes to operation start."

You slip out of the car and walk inside the bank. Your gait is confident. Professional. You have banking business to take care of. Fear grips me, but I'm going in. I'll show you. I have what it takes. I enter the bank about a minute after you. My palms are moist and I can feel sweat trickling down my sides. Why is it so hot? You stand at a teller window, looking cool as a cucumber, lost in the illusion of natural conversation. Not a care in the world.

"Freeze, this is a fucking robbery. Everybody on the goddamn ground!"

You turn my way, like everyone else in the bank. I don't think, just act. The gun roars in my hand, blood sprouts from your chest as you stumble back and fall to the ground. I see the hurt in your eyes. You can't predict everything, can you? Didn't see that coming, did you?

"Alright, I shot that old fuck and I'll shoot any of you that get in my way. It's not something I wanna do, but I've heard that collateral damage is expected in situations like this. Put the money in the bags and I'll be on my merry way."

You lie there and bleed on the floor, because that's what a bullet to the chest does to you. Slows time. Alters your perceptions. Pumps your blood right out of your fucking body. Your brain is muddled because it's not getting enough oxygen, but I know what you're thinking; why did he do it? So I don't ever have to listen to one of those stories again. I'm not stupid, you fuck. That was the last time you'll talk down to me and I'm pretty sure I just redefined your idea of a worst-case scenario.

The bag is full, but before I go, I just want to let you know -- you were right about one thing.
"Is anyone here a doctor?" I scream.


This Sentence Starts The Story contest entry


I would like to thank photobeat for the outstanding artwork.
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