Alone in a dark room. Reflecting on a life gone wrong. Trying to pinpoint the exact moment. Searching my memory for the turning point.
I slide the clip in and out of the Beretta, never letting it click into place. It's the 2006 model, practically an antique. I can't remember if there's one in the chamber.
There's shouting outside my hotel room but it barely penetrates my consciousness. My mind is on what I want to do but can never bring myself to do. Just pull the trigger Matt. Coward. I can't even load my clip.
I keep thinking about what my kid's gonna think. I keep remembering what they say about the children of suicides. I don't want that for him. This whole mess was about him.
There's a bang at the door that startles me. I kick over a half empty bottle of JD and drop my clip. “Mr Anderson! We're coming in!” Fuck. Before I even realize what I'm doing I slam the clip home and start to get out of my chair.
Shards of wood splinter as a battering ram collides with the door. I can see the SWAT helmets through the crack in the wood. Then the room is filled with men in black helmets. They're all shouting the same thing. “Put it down!” Oh, that's right, the gun. My world dissolves into pain.
I'm waking up. Where am I? It must be the hospital but something just isn't right. My vision is fuzzy and so is my memory. There's someone in front of me.
“Mr Anderson,” he says in a deep voice, “how do you feel?”
I can see the white coat now. My vision is clearing up. “Vision is fuzzy, so is my memory.”
“That's to be expected, you've been in a coma for 28 days.”
Coma? “What happened? Those cops shot me with a TASER or something.”
“There were no cops Mr Anderson. You had a very severe flu. Hallucinations are to be expected.”
“What?” I've always been a healthy guy. I got the flu once when I was in my 20's. It had me in the hospital for a couple days. Nothing since then. Course the new vaccines pretty much wiped out the flu in 2010.
“Your wife is here to see you,” he said.
He must mean my ex. What the hell does she want? And why aren't the cops here to read me my rights?
She comes into the room looking as beautiful as ever. Looking so young, like she's still in her 20's. Wait, what the fuck. She is in her 20's. That's the best plastic surgery I've ever seen. How the fuck can she afford that? I only pay her $1600 a month in child support.
Now her arms are around me and she's crying. “I thought we were gonna lose you hon.” She calls everybody hon. Except the guys she hates and after what I did to her fiance 30 days ago she should hate me. Then in comes my boy Will. Only he's not 17 anymore. He's 5. He's 5. Somebody is playing a sick fucking joke on me and all I want to do is kick somebodies ass but my little boy throws his arms around me and I forget.
I'm too exhausted for this shit.
It's morning and I'm seeing things in a new light. I knew there was something wrong with this place and I'm beginning to take the doc at his word. It's like the last 12 years of my life never happened. I pick up an LA times. February 7, 2006. I'm bonkers. Crazy. That's gotta be it. I'm tripping on 20 year old LSD. Weapons grade shit. I stumbled into the Land of Oz.
I go through my things. 12 year old cell phone. Keys to my 96' Accord that I sold 10 years ago. My apartment key. Our apartment. There's Lindsey and Will like they never aged a day. Damn she gives me wood. I pass a mirror and it's me 12 years ago. No ache in my shoulder from that snow boarding injury last winter. I thought that would never go away but it seems as though it hasn't happened yet.
I still have the feeling like all of this isn't real. I have a yearning for my Beretta. Then I wonder if this can be heaven or maybe it's hell. But the second I think about that Beretta and pressing it to my temple it all goes away. Everything feels better. I'm fine. Will's fine. Lindsey's fine.
We drive home. I still remember the apartment. Will has lots to talk about. He missed his dad. Hockey games I missed. Goals he scored.
It's all too surreal, like I'm high but I can't feel any of the negative side effects. I'm fine though. Everything is just fine.
I wake up on Monday. Time for my meds. The doc gave me some pain killers but I'm pain free. I won't take them. I'm feeling the side effects any way. I still can't believe this is real.
Then it hits me again, that nauseating feeling of pleasure. What the hell is wrong with me? Something isn't right. I reach for the phone, I call out for Lindsey but another wave of pleasure hits me. I'm starting to blackout. I can feel myself convulsing. There's a red light pulsing in my eyes but no source for it. My head involuntarily lurches forward and collides with an invisible wall. Real pain spreads across my skull. I can feel blood dripping down my forehead and in my eyes but it doesn't blur my vision.
Suddenly I'm falling forward through the air where a second ago there was floor. There's a loud clang of ceramic capsule door. As I stand I see the flashing red light inside my capsule. I feel reality setting in. There's a cut in my arm where an IV was violently wrenched from me during my fall.
I see the sign of the Department of Corrections on the wall and I understand. I don't know what I did to deserve this. What I did before my memory fades doesn't warrant this cruel experiment. I don't intend to let them put me back in. Security must already be on its way. I grab the door to my capsule and put myself back inside.
I'm in luck. A doctor is there to check on me. No security. I wait for the right moment then kick the door open. It sends the doctor flying to the ground. His head strikes the hard ceramic and knocks him out cold.
I take his ID card and his lab coat. I know I won't get far with them, but far enough I hope. There are hundreds of capsules just like mine all arranged side by side along one side of the hall. Across the hall are computer terminals monitoring vitals.
I'm still high on whatever they were pumping into my vein. I run down the hall and come to a door. The security card lets me through. There's a short hall and then a security check point. A guard there moves to press a button but I'm on him before he can react. My muscles are bursting with adrenaline. My elbow strikes his temple. I'm running now. Through a door and into a computer lab. Several scientists stand and watch as I rush past. Through a double door and into a hallway. Four elevators and an emergency fire exit. I take the stairs down five flights and out the side door into the streets.
This is 2018. What next?