When I came out of the shelter provided by the walls, the cold water blown by the wind freely wet my body, which still hurt due to the shock that had previously hit me. However, none of that stopped me, as after seeing for a few instants the SUV with black windows parked in front of my house, I started to walk.
I slowly made my way down the wet and slippery street, paying attention to where I placed my feet with each step. After a while, I came to a place where four young men were sitting on the stairs, covered by an overhanging stretch of the roof from a house entrance.
At that time, I had no need to go back to that man to ask him to show me where to go. I didn’t need it since the destination was obvious.
I approached the place where the only people outside were, receiving the raindrops that splashed down on the street with their expensive and dark-colored hoods while in their hands, they held high-end cell phones, the kind that does not get damaged after being wet.
Yet, despite being distracted by whatever they were doing, not talking to each other, their faces showed frowns, perhaps annoyed by my tardiness. But that changed when, as I approached, my footsteps caught their attention.
When they heard my approach, they looked up, and as if they were children receiving a new toy at Christmas, huge smiles spread from their mouths to their eyes.
What did they want from me? That is one thing I did not question myself, for I had enough intelligence and common sense to guess the answer without straining to think.
In their looks I could see their desire to have fun, to be entertained.
So, less than two meters away from where they were sitting, I bowed my head, then one leg, and regardless of the wet sensation that my knee was transmitting, I finally lowered the other to kneel in front of them.
My actions did not end there, for to be sure that this would please them, I also placed my palms on the floor and my forehead on the back of them.
Of course, it was humiliating. I certainly felt shame to strike a pose of complete submission for them. However, as long as it was enough for them to have fun and then leave, I put up with it.
At first, I wasn’t sure if that would be enough or if they would be bothered by my actions. After all, I only did that because of the rumors I had heard beforehand. But as I listened to their laughter and chatter, which was muffled by the sound of the wind and rain, I realized that I had not been wrong.
With a sigh of relief, I waited for them to leave after their vain superiority was satiated, but opposite to what I wanted, they did not leave. No, they came closer to me after their urge for savagery awakened.
As I kept my teeth clenched tightly, I endured without resisting when one of them pulled my head away from my hands and then stepped on them with his leather boot-clad feet.
What followed was hell. I was beaten and kicked. They stomped me and even spat on me as their pig-like laughter echoed. All this they did under the pretentious justification that they were only taking justice because of what I had done to their friend.
However, I knew they were lying.
Friends? Ha! At most, the relationship they shared was that of bosses and subordinates. At the end of the day, after having gone through more than two years of blackmail by father and son, I got to know the social position they came from. They were neither rich nor poor, but they did not have the same status as those four young men I had before me.
As time passed, I grew tired of that. Hatred burned within my core, for although their blows were not strong enough to seriously hurt me, their taunts pierced me to the heart. Still, regardless of how furious I was, I did nothing to show it, for I did not want them targeting my family.
But it all ended when, in the distance, where my house was, I heard a series of gunshots.
After that happened, I tried to get up in a hurry, but before I managed to do so, I was kicked with greater force than the previous ones, causing me to fall again on my knees and with my hands on the ground. Then, a thing different from rainwater, which was falling non-stop, touched my forehead.
That was the cold hard muzzle of a gun.
It was then that I understood that no matter what I did or how much I revealed myself, it was already too late. One gun, one round of bullets, far outweighed what anyone could do to harm another. Therefore, I concluded that even if I managed to get rid of those four, it would not bring me back to my family.
That’s why I surrendered. I unresistingly allowed his gun to move to my temple while their beastly laughter boomed in my ears.
An idiot is what I was. A truly imbecilic, cowardly, and foolish one, for I…
I almost made the mistake of sinking back into useless regret and guilt. Now what happened doesn’t matter. This is no time for regrets. After all, the worst outcome was avoided, thanks to the help of my guardian angel. Besides, the twists of fate have brought to my hands the weapon that was about to take my life, stained with the blood of one of my aggressors.
‘But what should I do with it?’
I have never used a gun. In fact, I’ve never even touched one. So, what will happen when I shoot? Will I hit the target or fail miserably?
‘The truth is, I’m afraid to use it’
It’s not that I’m afraid of taking someone’s life, for at this point in my life, I have many other things to worry about. Besides, whoever died by my hand would surely deserve it. I would never attack an innocent person, not after what I went through. So, what I fear are the consequences of failing to do so.
At the end of the day, I have already experienced firsthand the wickedness of human beings and what they can do to take revenge for the slightest transgression.
‘A gun must be absolute. It has to be the ultimate murder weapon. No, that’s wrong. Only mine must be, while everyone else’s useless. It has to be as brutal as it proved to be in my uncle’s hands’
Such was the thought that I implanted in my head in order to overcome my fear. I forced myself to believe that only I could kill with bullets while the rest would have to do it with their naked bodies. I imagined it like that, as that way, I would gain enough confidence to deal with anything or anyone.
However, that I was striving for self-confidence was not equivalent to becoming foolish to the point of blind arrogance. Therefore, after a while, I began to think about where I should hide out until I could get enough money to move to another state or maybe even another country.
‘I must find a safe place where the search by the families of the dead will not reach me. The ideal is a site hidden under the shadows and darkness. Therefore, it must be in the middle of the light, that is, in a populated spot, which would not be the one expected to find me’
As expected, I was an ordinary person, so despite the gravity of the situation, the only thing I could draw inspiration from to get out of it was the movies and series I once watched.
A foolish thing to do, no doubt, but I had no choice.
While planning and thinking, I remembered something I had unconsciously forgotten or rather ignored.
‘My mom is very old now. At her age, I don’t know if she can move out in time. I trust my uncle. I do, but… No, I can’t go back. That would do more harm than good. After all, they’ll probably focus on looking for me’
My concern for her led me to think of situations that made no sense and were unlikely to happen.
‘A third war… No, that would be excessive. Then, a conflict between civilians and the government might do the trick, or perhaps a pandemic that forces everyone into seclusion in their homes. All of those would be good things to happen, as it would give us the time we need to hide’
Such was dirty and evil thoughts, but unreal, which did not cause me guilt because they were nothing more than vain desires without reason of being.
As time went by, my thoughts became more and more diverse. I came to think countless things, imagine many futures, and worry about numerous situations. However, while I was at it, something happened that brought me out of my inner world and into reality.
‘… I’ll have to find a mirror as soon as possible to see what I look like and then decide whether to grow a beard, put on weight, or…’
I forgot what I was doing, so after taking a wrong step, I slipped on the ground, but fortunately, the water that flooded the street cushioned the blow to some extent.
”Pant; Pant; Pant…”
Accompanied by long, heavy breaths, I tried to get back on my feet by placing both hands on the ground for support on it, but as I did so, I was surprised to discover that the water covering it had risen a lot by at least four or five centimeters. That was too much when considering how long it had been raining.
It had stagnated somewhere, or maybe the nearby drain was clogged with garbage. Those were my thoughts as I stood up, not paying too much attention to it.
‘It is inconceivable how bad a state my body is in. To think that I have run so little, but I am already dying of exhaustion. This physical condition is terrible. I will have to fix it when I have time on my hands’
Closing my eyes, I stood there, waiting for my breathing to calm down, and trying to ignore that, in my hands, I was still carrying an object that could attract the lightning of the sky to me.
After a while, when I felt better, I kept moving forward. Although, this time, I decided not to run, for due to the stagnant water, my steps became heavier.
While walking, I noticed something that caught my interest.
‘No more cars are crossing the road, eh… I guess some tree, cut by lightning, blocked the way’
The fleeting and flickering lights that indicated my destination had disappeared. Also, for some unknown reason, the lights on the poles had gone out, but at least those on the surrounding houses were still there, illuminating my path.
Thanks to them, I knew that even if there was no other human in my sight, I was not alone in a dark and lifeless world.