by James Kidman
The doctors say this will help me heal.
In the days since I awoke from the white haze, the world has been a blur of blinding lights and muffled noises and distorted memories fading in and out of reality, in and out of my dreams and nightmares. Machines beep and hum. Voices carry down the hallway. Somewhere, someone screams for reasons I can only begin to imagine.
I’m trapped in my own little hell.
A personal inferno.
The lights are bright during the day. At night they dim so I can sleep. That’s never a problem, although my dreams are haunted by visions of the recent past. Nothing solid. Every moment is like gazing into a broken mirror. Echoes of confusion. Flashes of movement. But those echoes grow louder and the flashes become brighter with each passing night.
I’m eighteen years old, and the doctors say I’ll recover from my wounds.
Right now my side aches, as if the bullet is still in there. I feel the burning, like a white-hot knife is being jabbed into my flesh.
The drugs create a fog in my head, but I can’t imagine the pain without them. The pain comes in waves, blinding me, branding my mind.
I can’t remember much. Not yet.
But I know a way to recover the memories, to rebuild what I once had.
I told the doctors how I can remember what happened, with a little help from them.
I told the doctors I used to write every day.
The act of putting words on paper has helped me through a lot of difficult times. My fears and dreams, spoken through other people’s mouths. My fears and dreams, acted through other people’s bodies. Nothing real, all fake, all make-believe, yet all reflections of reality.
After some discussion, the doctors have decided it’s what I need to do now: I need to write.
My memories are distant and disjointed, but I’ll try to make this as coherent as I can.
The doctors tell me to write, so that’s what I’ll do.
I’ll write about the day my life changed forever.
I’ll try to explain The Showdown, if I can discover what that really means.
I’ll write this down like any other story I’ve ever dreamed up.
Like any work of fiction that has ever lived inside my mind, and inside my mind only.
What I can’t remember, I’ll piece together along the way.
I’ll pretend it’s all make-believe.
This is real.
This is what happened.
This is why we had to run.
Why my flesh was torn open.
Why I’m here now.
It’s why I’m alive and others are not.
I’ve lost everything that ever mattered to me.
But I’m going to get it back.