I never wanted to be a hero. Sure, when I was a kid, being a firefighter or a cop or a superhero seemed like obvious career choices. Who wouldn't want to save people? Arrest the bad guys? Be revered from every corner of the world for keeping people safe?
Reality has a hard way of hitting the naïve right in the hopes and dreams, violently shattering perceptions of the world you think you know and replacing it with something Lovecraftian in content.
It turns a happy young boy, fresh out of a move across country, naïve and ready to make friends into the sarcastic, paranoid pseudo-sociopath I am now. I care about people, don't get me wrong, and I care about people's feelings, but violence has always held a certain symphony for me. A song that beats in the heart and sings in the blood, the thirst to spill blood and revel in the ending of life. Not exactly something to bring up at a family reunion.
I am talking about me. Of course I'm talking about me. Who else would?
I never wanted to be a hero. It was never something that I wanted to do. I much preferred staying inside, reading books and letting my imagination do the traveling. And after I found the internet, that was what I preferred. There was so much I could learn at my fingertips, all it would take is a few taps, and off I could go, awed by what's possible with human ingenuity.
Of course, there was the dark side of such freedom, namely that others also had the same freedom, and instead of adding to it, poisoned it with opinions best left centuries ago when a heart-attack was considered being cursed by a witch.
I read somewhere that, when left unchecked and anonymous, everyone can be an asshole. Without anyone knowing who said what, how could there be any repercussions for being a total dick?
The answer: there aren't. Only the conscience of those who said what they did would feel any guilt, and such a thing seems to have become an entry on the Endangered Species list, along with common sense.
I never wanted to be a hero. And, it turns out, for a perfectly good reason. It is how I ended up here, after all.
Here is a dirty, rank alleyway somewhere in Seattle, late at night, when the moon's risen and then sunk beyond the horizon. Lying on my back in this damn dirty alley, a filthy man with a rusty Berretta pointed at my head, panting from the adrenaline in his blood and the effort of heaving me off my feet and onto my back.
"Why?" He grumbles at me, his hand shaking from nervousness, excitement or something else entirely. "Why'd ya have to go an' be a hero, huh?"
I don't really know, strange homeless man with a gun. I heard a scuffle, a muffled cry of terror, and I investigated. I saw you, holding a woman at gunpoint with a filthy hand over her mouth. And, damn my sensibilities, I couldn't let you just get away without having tried to help.
And what did I get? I got a face-full of dirty fist and then thrown to the ground in a stinky fucking alleyway. Something warm is trailing down the back of my head, and I sincerely hope it's blood, because if it's not, it doesn't really bare thinking about.
Especially with a gun in my face.
I can see on his face that he's still thinking about capping me and taking my wallet, which contains about six bucks in cash and not much else.
But in his eyes, I can see that he's already decided.
Nothing will stop him from pulling that trigger, not even if he died from a brain aneurysm at that very moment. His finger was already tightening over the trigger, the clicks of rusted pieces moving together.
I know what's coming. A nine millimeter slug will blast out of the barrel, cross the distance from hole to head in less than a second and splatter the contents of my think-tank across the stained concrete of this alleyway, just another sticky puddle on the ground for someone to grimace at and step over in passing.
My life doesn't flash before my eyes like I thought it would. I'm glad. I'd rather it didn't.
I do wonder, though. Will I see pearly gates and all my dead relatives? Or will I see a lake of fire and all my other dead relatives? Will I see nothing?
I don't know. It's not like I'd be in a position to tell anyone afterwards.
The pin clicks, clacks, and the crack of powder being ignited is multiplied by the enclosed walls and the proximity to my face into a thunderous roar.
I see the face of the woman I pretty much sacrificed myself for. She's not really beautiful, her face marred with terror and tear tracks will kill anyone's looks, but she's pretty. Wide brown eyes, soft brown hair and cheeks that make me want to go 'awww'.
There's a brief flash, and fleeting moment of pain, like having a band-aid ripped off, and then…
I never wanted to be a hero. The first I time I ever tried, I got shot in the head.