Here's the update! Sorry to keep you hanging for so long.
I'm so startled by what I am hearing that I drop my coffee cup. It hits the linoleum floor and shatters into what has to be a million pieces. I stand frozen in place, watching the remnants of the cup come to rest in a messy pile in front of me. I just continue to stare, my mind desperately needing focal point of attention.
My body is in the conference room at the Manhattan District Attorney's office – but I am not.
The sharp, deliberate sound of the gunshots has instantly transported me back to that sidewalk where Alex Cabot had essentially died; where everything was taken from me.
Olivia is leaning over me, pressing her hand to the wound in my shoulder tightly. She has tears in her eyes as softly yet desperately pleas with me to stay with her. "Alex – look at me, sweetheart. You're going to be okay. Stay with me."
There is a burning pain in my shoulder and I feel myself starting to shake. I know I'm going into shock. Olivia turns around as Elliot approaches and says something to him, but her voice is rushed and terrified and I can't make out what she says.
Now Elliot is leaning over me too. He takes his hand and places it behind my head gently. "Hold on, Alex. Help is on the way. Stay with us."
I can feel myself slipping away. I'm losing far too much blood and I can't stop the shaking. I look into Olivia's eyes and I try to form words, but my throat is dry and I don't have the strength to make the words come out. My vision is beginning to blur and it's getting harder and harder to keep my eyes open.
I have never not been in control before. Never felt so helpless. But yet here I am, bleeding out on the sidewalk with my friends trying to keep me alive, and feeling my life slip away.
Another gunshot and yelling snaps me out of my flashback. Somehow, I've ended up on the floor. I'm sitting next to the coffee machine with my knees pulled up to my chest, rocking myself back and forth gently. My movements are involuntary, and I'm breathing heavily.
Despite my crippling fear, some logic does seep through to my mind. What is going on? How did someone get into this building with a gun? Who was shot? Who is the shooter?
I know I should hide. I'm in the open here. If the shooter were to even look in the room, he'd see me and I'd be dead in an instant. But I can't make myself move. I continue to rock myself back and forth, my hands clasped around my knees tightly.
And then it happens – someone pokes their head into the conference room. I'm so scared that I stiffen and my breath catches in my throat.
I'm about to die and I know it. My paralyzing fear has gotten me killed.
I'm so scared that I don't even realize who is looking into the conference room until she speaks. "Alex! Is anyone else in here?"
It's not the shooter. It's Casey. She looks as scared as I am, but at least she's able to function.
I don't answer her – I just stare at her. I'm still not completely connected with the moment and I can't make myself speak.
Suddenly, Casey is crouched down in front of me. I have no recollection of her coming into the conference room, but she's right here and I'm staring at her.
"Alex," she asks softly. "Are you okay?"
It takes me several seconds before I'm able to nod. She asks me again if anyone else is in here with me, and I manage to shake my head.
She stands back up and looks towards the door. "Stay in here. I don't think he came this way." She swallows harshly before she adds, "He shot the two security guards on duty. The building is on lockdown. Stay here. I'm going to go find my staff."
I should tell her not to go back out there. This conference room is more than big enough for the two of us to hide in. As much as I don't like Casey, I don't want her to be killed. I should demand that she not walk back out that door.
She tells me again to stay where I am and I watch her quickly disappear out the door.
Almost immediately, I hear loud yelling and another shot.
I press my back against the wall so hard that I can feel the coldness of it on my back. My heart is beating at such a fast pace that I'm afraid it is going to leap right out of my chest, and my breathing is rapid and jagged. I think if I inhale any sharper, my chest will explode.
I don't remember ever being so scared. Coming back from the dead, testifying in front of the man who shot me, returning to my old life; all of these events paled in comparison to what I am facing right now.
I can hear footsteps in the hall and my breath literally hitches in my throat. I have to bite my bottom lip to keep from crying. I start to shake, and I wrap my arms around myself in an effort to stop the tremors.
Why didn't I shut the door after Casey an out? He's going to know I'm in here - the door is wide open. I might as well go over the intercom and announce where I am.
The footsteps get closer. They're slow, yet purposeful and deliberate. The person approaching is obviously on a mission and knows exactly where they want to go.
I know it's the shooter.
I wrap my arms tighter around my knees and lean my forehead on my knees. I'm crying silently now and I've abandoned any idea of trying to compose myself. I can't. I know I'm about to die.
Suddenly, the footsteps abruptly stop and I hear a man's voice shout out, "Hey!"
The voice sounds far away and I slowly begin to realize the voice doesn't match the footsteps. The footsteps had been closer than the voice. This was someone else.
Now I hear a second set of footsteps, quick and heavy this time. The owner of the voice – I'm sure this time. They stop outside the hall, in what sounds like mere inches from the open door.
"Where can I find Alex Cabot?" the gruff voice demands.
At the mention of my name, I feel my heart stop. They are here for me. Just like before. Two security guards lost their lives because of me.
I force my tears away and strain to listen. Only Casey knows I'm hiding in here, and she's probably made it to her office by now. I'm safe…I have to be safe.
There is no response to the question. In a harsher, louder tone, the man asks again.
"Why do you want to know?" the person finally answers, and my heart stops again.
No; it can't be. I feel the onslaught of tears threatening me again. It's Casey. I was so sure she had gotten away. But I recognize her voice.
And I know she's going to sell me out. How could she not? It's her life or mine – of course she'll save herself.
"Because I want to know," the man answers, and then I hear the most frightening sound I've ever heard – the sound of the safety on a gun being clicked off. "Tell me where she is." I don't have to have x-ray vision to know he is pointing a gun at her right now.
It should only be seconds before she tells him where I am to save herself. Seconds before he comes in and shoots me. Seconds left to be alive.
I realize I've been holding my breath for several minutes and I let it out, a cry escaping out along with it. I'm shaking so hard that I have to wring my hands together. I suddenly feel nauseous.
So this is what it feels like to die. This is the kind of fear felt by every innocent victim. I was a victim once. I was on my back on the cold hard ground while Olivia leaned over with tears in her eyes, desperately trying to keep me with her. The fear I felt at that moment has been with me every day, recessed in the back of my mind, waiting to spring to life again. I swore to myself I would never know that fear again. But it appears I lied to myself. I'm once more going to become a victim.
And then I heard the words I never expected to hear, "I'm Alex Cabot."
My mind can't wrap around what she just said. I can't process any thoughts. All I can do is sit in shock, unmoving. I know the right thing to do; the right thing is to get up and run into the hall and show myself and save an innocent life. For the first time, I feel what Olivia felt on the night of my shooting – total helplessness. It's like my mind has a pact with my body not to allow it to move.
The gunshots come only seconds after she speaks, though it seems like much more time has elapsed. Two shots, in perfect succession. No screams. No begging for her life. Just two shots.
And then silence.
I want to scream. I want to vomit. I want to run. But I can't. I'm frozen; paralyzed by fear.
A few seconds after the gunshots, I hear the heavy footsteps again. I listen as they seem to get further and further away. The next sound I hear is the elevator ding. I wait until I hear the doors swoosh shut before I allow myself to breathe again.
I know I have to go out into the hall. I have to see if Casey's alive. If she is, I have to help her. She saved my life. She took a bullet that was meant for me. I have to do everything I can; if there is anything that can be done.
My mind knows this is what I should do, but I can't make my body cooperate. I can't make myself stand. I'm sobbing and shaking and I can barely breathe.
What is wrong with me? I am always in control of myself. I am always calm and collected. I never panic. I'm better than that.
Yet I just sat here hidden and allowed someone else to take two bullets that we were meant for me. And if she's still alive, every second I sit here is a second she slips further away.
I'm still shaking uncontrollably and all I want is to squeeze my eyes shut and have this all be a horrible dream when I open them again. Maybe it is a dream – maybe none of this happened.
So I squeeze my eyes shut and I count to ten. Ten is the magic number. My therapist in Wisconsin would always tell me to close my eyes and count to ten when I felt like I was about to panic. She assured me it would help and I'd be able to function when I opened my eyes again. And every time I tried it, it did provide me with the time I needed to sufficiently calm down.
But will it work this time? Will anything work?
When I open my eyes, I'm still sitting on the floor in the conference room with my back pressed up against the wall and I'm still shaking. I'm terrified beyond belief.
Then it's like someone pressed a switch. I stop thinking about myself and I start to think about Casey. If she's alive, she needs my help. She saved my life, and I can't let her die.
Somehow I'm able to make myself stand. My legs feel rubbery and nearly give out under me as I slowly make my way to the door. I nearly give up, but the thought that Casey needs my help fuels me on.
My first thought is that it's a trap. That the shooter knew Casey wasn't me and used the elevator ding to make me think he left the floor. I could be walking out into an ambush; he could be standing there with his gun poised, ready to end me.
But I'll take my chances. I have to help Casey.
I take a deep breath and step out into the hall. As soon as I see the scene before me, I have to grab the wall to keep from falling over.
There's no shooter waiting to kill me. Instead, it looks like I've walked into a scene from a very gory horror movie. Casey is lying on the floor on her back, and there's blood everywhere. Blood splattered on the wall nearby, blood all over Casey, and a huge growing pool of blood around her.
The sight of blood has always made me feel sick and I have to take a deep breath and hold it to swallow my nausea. If I were in my right mind right now, I'd be screaming.
I can't even tell you how I'm able to get down on my knees beside Casey, but I somehow do. She has her eyes closed and I can't tell if she's breathing, so with a shaking hand I reach for her neck to see if I can feel a pulse. There's no way she could be alive. Someone can't lose this much blood and be alive.
But she is. Her pulse is faint, but it is there.
I call her name several times, but she doesn't move. I manage to slow my breathing and suppress my shaking long enough to really take a look at her, and I feel sick all over again. I can tell she's been shot twice. Once in the chest, and once near the stomach. The wound in her chest appears to be the worst of the two and gushes out blood every time her heart beats.
I bite my bottom lip as I fumble to take my suit jacket off. I can't do anything about the wound in her stomach, but maybe I can stop some of the bleeding in her chest.
I'm crying by the time I get my jacket off. I press it against the gunshot wound tightly. It turns from beige to blood red in a matter of seconds.
"God, Casey, why did you do this?" I ask, fully knowing she can't answer me. "Why?"
I've slowed the bleeding in her chest, but not stopped it. My hands start to shake again and I'm finding it difficult to hold the jacket in place. She needs help. I have to do something else or she's going to die right here in the hall.
I raise my head and look around. I know I can't leave her – she'll bleed to death in a matter of minutes if I take the jacket away.
"Help us!" I manage to squeak out, my voice hoarse and laced with terror. "Please!"
Someone has to be able to hear me. There has to be someone around.
I yell three more times before I see one of the office interns shakily step out into the hall from an office to my right. His eyes go wide in horror when he sees what's happening.
I can't remember his name, so I just say, "Please! She needs help! Get someone!"
His face grows pale as he looks down at Casey. "Who – what should I do?"
"Just get help!" I scream at him. He makes no attempt to move so I yell again, "Goddamn it, get help! Don't just stand there! She's going to die!"
The interns shakes his head and bolts back into the office, shutting the door behind him.
"What the hell are you doing?" I scream at the closed door, pressing tighter against the wound on Casey's chest. "Why aren't you going to help her? Why are you so useless? Goddamn it, she needs your help!"
As I'm screaming, I know inside that I'm not talking to the intern. I'm screaming at myself. I let this happen to Casey. She's going to die right here in front of me, and it's going to be my fault. I'm going to have to go her funeral and tell her parents that it's my fault their daughter is dead. My fault.
I'm covered in Casey's blood – it's all over my hands and my arms, all the way up to my elbows. The pool of blood around Casey has spread and now I'm kneeling in it.
"Casey, I'm so sorry," I sob, squeezing my eyes closed to block out the sight of the blood. "I'm so, so, sorry."
I shake my head and keep saying I'm sorry over and over again. I have no idea how many times I say it, but I only stop when someone grabs me from behind and calls my name.
Before I realize what's happening, two strong arms are around me, trying to pull me away from Casey.
"Alex – Alex, it's okay. We got the shooter."
I recognize Olivia's voice. She's trying to restrain me as she pulls me away from Casey, but I'm fighting her off.
"No! I won't let Casey die!" I yell at her. I make an attempt to get back to Casey, but Olivia holds me tightly.
"Alex! Stop! Paramedics are here. Let them take care of her. You need to get out of the way."
Olivia forces me to stand and walks me a few feet away. I turn around and place my back against the wall again, but I'm so exhausted that I slide down it and end up sitting as I watch three paramedics tending to Casey. They're working quickly, and the youngest of the three shakes his head as if to say it's hopeless as they load her onto the stretcher.
Olivia is checking me over. "Are you hurt? Did you get shot?"
I pull my eyes away from the paramedics and Casey long enough to look at Olivia. I try to speak, but the words catch in my throat and I start to cry instead.
Olivia immediately pulls me close to her and hugs me tightly. "I am so sorry, Alex. This shouldn't have happened. I'm sorry you had to see this. I can't imagine what this is like for you."
Can't imagine what it's like for me? I'm not the one Olivia should be worried about. She should be concerned about Casey, the person who may die because of me. Because of my cowardice and selfishness.
I cling to Olivia, sobbing as the paramedics take Casey away. I know she thinks I'm sobbing in fear. But it's mostly guilt. Guilt that I brought on myself.
So what do you think? Casey did a very brave, selfless thing for someone who treated her badly. Do you think she's going to survive? How is Alex going to handle all of this? Please leave me a review!