Man, what a fucking night.
I took another drink. The hard liquor burned against the back of my throat, but I didn't care. It took all I had just to get out of there in one piece. Most of my friends weren't as lucky. A lot of them got killed. Some of them were mortally injured, limbs blown off, skin charred beyond recognition. One of them burned to death right in front of me. He was asking, begging me for help. I couldn't save his life, I had nothing to put out the fire. I should've shot him, but, when it came down to it... I didn't have the balls. I ran, and I heard his screams echoing behind me before being drowned out by flames, sirens, and more screaming.
I looked down into my glass, tears falling into my drink. Normally, someone would've called me a pussy for having the nerve to show emotion. Nobody did, thankfully, as the bar was almost empty at this point. Otherwise, I'd probably smash his face in with the bottle and shove the pieces down his throat myself. Even if I probably - fuck, I knew I was a coward, one of the biggest ones out there on this miserable night. Why couldn't I do it? I downed the glass and asked the bartender for a glass of water. I needed a break, I would drink myself to death if I wasn't careful.
Suddenly, I heard the door crashing open behind me, followed by a frantic looking teenager with long, dark hair. "Help! Somebody, help me!" With him was another, older man, at least over 40, holding his right side with blood soaking through his shirt and onto his hand, teeth clenched in pain. I ran over to help the older man sit down, along with the only other patron in the building. The bartender ran in from the back, yelling "What the hell is going on?" The teen looked up with desperate eyes and said "I found him wandering around just outside, he's really hurt! I think he got shot! I don't know what to do, nobody's answering 911, I can't carry him to the hospital, this was the first building I saw! Please, help him!"
The bartender swore and opened the counter door, walking out and towards the injured man and I. "Clear off one of the tables, lay him down." The other patron ran and swiped his arm across one of the vacant tables, knocking everything off with a loud clatter, as the teen, the bartender and I carefully picked him up and, trying to ignore the screams of pain, lay him down on the table.
I knew what I had to do. I had already let one man die tonight, and I wasn't going to let another one die. I lifted up his shirt and examined the wound, trying to ignore the smell. The wound was bleeding profusely, blood mixed with another thick, brownish-green paste. I realized that his large intestine must have been ruptured and grimaced. He had definetely been shot, but the bullet had gone completely through, as it hadn't hit any bones. That was good, it meant I wouldn't have to remove anything. I yelled to the bartender "Get the strongest drink you have. We need to control the infection." He nodded and ran back behind the counter, while the other patron kneeled down and tried to reassure the wounded man that everything would be alright. Meanwhile, the teen, not knowing what to do, and definetely not wanting to be around if he died, yelled "I'm going to flag down an ambulance!" and rushed outside. The older man yelled after him "It's no use!" in a gruff, exasperated voice, but he was already out the door and out of earshot.
The bartender got back and handed me a large, glass bottle of liquor. I quickly pulled the lid off, said to the man "Brace yourself", and poured the alcohol directly into the wound. He screamed in pure agony, his legs spasming and his knuckles white, firmly grasping the edges of the table. The other two helped hold him down as I poured more in, alcohol burning through his body and bleeding out, along with everything else. I took my shirt off and asked the bartender and patron to lift him up slightly. They did as I threw my shirt underneath him and tied it up. It wasn't a bandage, but it would have to do. I asked the bartender if there were any painkillers in the back, and he nodded and sprinted into the back room.
The man was still breathing quickly and heavily, still in obvious pain. However, the worst of it seemed to be over. He turned to look at me and, through what almost looked like a smile, said "Thanks, brother." I didn't know what he meant by that, so I just smiled at him. The bartender came back with the painkillers, and with the help of the others, I sat him up and administered it. He turned to look at me again, this time with an undeniable giant grin on his face, and said "Next round's on me."
I thanked him and helped him up. He leaned on my shoulder as we walked over to the bar counter and I set him down. The bartender immediately got a glass and started filling it up as the other patron said that he'd had enough excitement for one night, and called a cab home. The wounded man said "The name's Rick," as he stretched out his hand. I nodded and said "Carter," as I shook it, feeling relieved and proud that I had saved this man's life. "That was pretty damn impressive, I must say. You saved me at least 800$ in hospital bills!" He laughed whole-heartedly, and I shrugged and said, "It was the least I could do." He stared at me and said "No, the least you coulda done was left me in the hands of that idiot kid. You saved my life, brother. You earned this drink."
The reality of the situation hit me. What was I doing? I let a man burn to death, and here I am getting free drinks? I choked up again and turned away from him. I muttered "No, I didn't. I'm no fucking hero." He seemed confused at first. "Now, why would you-" his voice trailed off and got quiet. "You were at that motherfucking protest, weren't you?" I stared down into my drink, tears watering in my eyes again. "Yes. Yes, I was," I said quietly, almost a whisper. He looked at me with a sympathetic look and took a drink. "What a fucking mess that turned out to be. Can't believe they sent the SWAT team after us."
"You were there?" I asked him. He had a somber look on his face as he took another drink. "Yeah, I was there. One of the guys that was supposed to negotiate with the cops, try to get them to agree to our terms, y'know?" He sighed. "What about you?" The question took me by surprise. "Oh, I was, uh, one of the guys on the front lines. With the shields." He got a slightly amazed look on his face. "No shit? Those guys got mowed down right off the bat. How'd you make it out?" I made no attempt to hide my tears at this. I didn't ever want to go back there, relive what I had done. "I- I ran. Left my best friend." I dropped my head down and started sobbing. Rick patted me on the back sympathetically. "Shit brother, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you." I wanted to lash out at him, yell at him for being so insensitive. I wanted to break his fucking nose for making me relive it. Hell, part of me felt like killing him, right there and then, show him how much pain I felt at what he said. But I didn't. Rick had been so kind to me, it wasn't right. Besides, I had already fucked up so much, I wasn't about to do it again.
"Well," Rick stated rather suddenly, startling me slightly, "at the very least this will all have a happy ending." I lifted my head slightly and stared into my tear-soaked wrists. "What?" I stammered. Rick suddenly looked pleased and said "They gave in to our demands. 10 billion dollars out of the hands of those hoarding corporate fucks, and into the hands of those who plan on actually spending the money." He smiled and turned to me. "We won the battle. This is the start of a cosmic shift for the better."
My hands were trembling. My face was numb. A million thoughts were racing through my mind at once, none of them particularly good. I gripped my glass as hard as I could, something Rick noticed at once. "How... how could you say that?" I stammered, my voice barely audible. It took all the self-control I could muster not to reach out and break this fucker's neck where he sat. He looked at me with a stern look, as if I was a misbehaving child. "Carter, this is a war now. And wars have casualties. But do you think either of us would be here right now if our forefathers hadn't died for our freedom?" He stared at me hard. "We are part of something greater now. What we've set in motion will change the world, give our children a life worth living."
I shattered my glass, sending drink everywhere and startling Rick. My face was red. I was absolutely fucking livid. "MY BEST FRIEND BURNED TO DEATH RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!" I yelled right in his face. My hand was bloody from the shattered glass, but I didn't care. Tears were still pouring down my face, my teeth clenched. Rick had kept his cool. He finished his drink and set the glass upside-down before turning to me. "I think it's time that you left, brother."
He was right. I needed to get home before I fucked up something else. I got up, muttered "Thank you for the drink, Rick," paid for my previous drinks, and walked outside. The air was brisk and windy. I could still see smoke rising from the distance, illuminated by red and blue lights. I shuddered as I turned and started walking. I hadn't gotten 10 steps before the drinks had caught up to me. A wave of nausea hit me as I stumbled over and vomited into the alleyway. My throat was on fire, my head was spinning, my vision was blurred. I stood there until I had finished vomiting and could catch my breath. I needed to get home.
I turned around and walked directly into Rick. I could immediately feel a sharp, blinding pain in my stomach as I stared at him in mild shock. He stared me right in the eyes and said "I was shot by one of the SWAT officers. I had my arms up. I was willing to negotiate with him, and he shot me. He shot me and he LAUGHED." The pain was searing now. I slowly looked down to see him holding a knife handle with about half an inch of metal sticking out. The rest was somewhere in my body. "I had never felt so much pain in my life, and he thought it was funny! We were being slaughtered, and he didn't care!" I looked back up at him to see his face had changed to anger, his teeth clenched tightly together. "So I torched the motherfucker. I took out a molotov and I lit the bastard up. And I'd do it again." There was another searing pain in my side this time, even worse. He had twisted the blade. "And as he burned, when we were finally winning, the selfish prick beside him, do you know what he did? He ran. He ran and he didn't stop." He pushed the knife in as far as he could, pushing me all the way to the cold, brick wall. I couldn't see it, but I could feel my blood pouring out of me, my life fading away. "I have no respect for cowards, and I have less for those fascist police shitheads."
He yanked the blade out and I gasped, holding the wound. I was grabbing onto my intestines, I was sure of it. I slid down the wall, leaving a bloody trail on the brick surface and collapsed, lying in my own pool of vomit. Rick just stared down at me.
"Your death will be for the greater good. Know that you were part of something bigger than yourself."
He wiped off his knife and, with a strong throw, threw it to the roof of the adjacent buildiing. He took one last look at me, a look of pity mixed with disappointment, before giving a deep sigh, turning, and walking away.
Written by: I_r_Cabose
Author's Note Edit
Any criticism will be greatly appreciated. I'm still new at this, and I could use all the help I can get. Thanks for reading!