The sound of a balloon popping.

A textbook slamming on a desk.

The snap of a battered tree branch in the wind.

The clap of a pair of hands in a silent room.

Abrupt noises. The kind I don't like. Yet none of them compare to the noise that just rang out. That noise. Well, that noise just made time stop. The scene before me has one possible outcome. A single trajectory can not be altered, and it is the only one that matters.

A gunshot has just been fired.

That sound resonated just so minutely differently from any other. It was abrupt, it was a bang, it was just a noise. But there was no mistaking it. Now I stand in a still, silent room. My mind has been paused, and time has been crippled. There are five players on this frozen stage.

There is a man with wild eyes and tousled hair, a gun in hand with flame still at the tip.

There is agent Kate Morretti of the FBI, whos face is the epitome of shock and horror.

There is her partner, who is just beginning to turn around at the sound of the gun.

There is I, Dr. Daniel Peirce, full of fear and confusion.

Finally, there is a bullet. It is about six inches from the barrel of the gun, but it is miles from the control of its firer.

Agent Kate Morretti shows the most panic, but the bullet shows no interest in her. Her partner is the easiest target, but where's the pride in praying on the weak? The bullet is on its path to me, but it seems to have hit a roadblock in its course. My mind jump starts but the bullet does not. Nothing else does. The bullet is coming for me. This is a good thing. It is not headed for Kate. But this is a bad thing. I don't have a way out of this. I test my feet. They come up, they go down, they move around. Maybe I do have a way out of this. This obviously doesn't make sense, but I choose to disregard this fact and work with what I've got. I can move, and the bullet can't, which would seem to give me the upper hand, the question is how can I use it. I can get out of the way, but how do I get the bullet to move.

The true question is not how to save myself, but how to end this stalemate. It's a rather difficult one, as there's not even a touch of connection to reality in this situation. I navigate the scene, wandering through its players, and come to rest right in front of the bullet. I trace its metal with my finger and find it freezing, as if even heat could not exist in the stasis of this moment. I move beyond it to the gun. I run my hand back and forth through the sparks at the end of the gun, but feel nothing. I yank my eyes away from there and up to the eyes of the man behind it. They are filled with rage and cruelty, but behind that lens are fear and a misunderstood grief.

He had just lost his mother. She was murdered, and she was the only person truly present in his life. Kate and I had come out here to find him, he was hiding out in an old house they used to live in. He did not greet us politely. I sigh out of sorrow for him, and out of frustration for my surroundings. I continue further past him, moving in front of Kate. She is beautiful, I've always thought so, from the first day I met her. Of course I can never tell her. Just like I can never tell her any of the other things I've always found amazing about her. But I have a feeling she wouldn't want me to.

I look around once more. This is a puzzle, and I can't resist. I just need more pieces, I can't do this with what I've got. Kate jars as if she has just woken up, and brushes the hair out of her face. That'll do.