“It’s only after we’ve lost everything, that we’re free to do anything”- Chuck Palahniuk

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Characters that Haunt You

As the scorching orb of fire and limitless energy began to rise above the horizon, I too began to rise up from the stiff floorboards composed of some kind of wood… Mahogany. Although that was just an assumption, I’m fairly sure that somewhere in this structured, wooden floor contains even a fading sense of mahogany. How do I know? Obviously, because a single piece of the floor was lodged securely into my abdomen when the unnoticed explosive went off only a few minutes before. As my blood soaked and fused with the excruciating piece of lumber, the wood’s appearance and durability did not change! I knew it was a good idea to purchase this instead of the flimsy red cedar. Well, I guess it doesn’t matter now that all of my furniture in this room has been to sent to oblivion, no ticket needed. The grenade that caused such destructive force managed to create a smoldering crater in the middle of my injured living room. Not only was I blinded by the flashing luminescence, but my sense of hearing was soon stolen from me only a few moments later. Then, the main event arrived. An expanding force field emerged from the detonating source of the eruption, and my men and I were propelled into the forest green, plaster walls with no chance of resisting its power whatsoever. No miniature dressers that would hold my many concealed pistols and revolvers that were spread out throughout the two story house, no round marble table that would radiate whenever the chandelier attached to the ceiling above would hit the table with its shimmering rays, and no steel framed chairs with tiny, silky white cushions would reside on. The newly refurbished living room was a in shambles, with the furniture no where to be found except for the wooden spike that still invades my gut now, and neither were my men that blindly followed me into this deathtrap.

I knew I should have done a bit more crunches this morning. Maybe then, my highly fortified ab muscles would be able to cease the stake of mahogany from entering my “personal space bubble” that humans seldom enter as well. I staggered to the wall, trying to hoist myself up out of my own dribbling puddle of blood. As I gazed down to my man-made pool, a sudden thought dawned upon me, and suddenly ravaged through my psyche, signaling an extreme emergency. “That looks like a lot of blood… Maybe even more than I have in my body right now.” my brain acknowledged, and I quickly commenced to remove the wooden knife that still protruded out of my stomach. As I desperately continued to heave and wiggle the stake out of my body, torture and torment filled my whole being, even to its smallest crevices. It was like pulling out a splinter out of your index finger, except that it was about a million times more agonizing, give or take. “What are you doing, boss?” A voice bellowed behind me, and as I gradually and painfully shifted my head behind me, I witnessed one of my men, still in his crisp, black suit and chalk white collared shirt underneath. “What are you doing, Justin, coming out of the kitchen like that? Did you make something to eat?” I sarcastically asked, feeling more relieved after seeing one of my soldiers. Justin frantically flocked to my location and attempted to carry me around his shoulder, but failed miserably after my screams of suffering finally telling him that this method was probably not the best one. “No! Boss, are you okay? You have to be okay!” Justin pleaded.

“I mean… I have this wooden stake in my stomach. how okay can I be?” I retorted.

“Now’s not the time to be making your jokes, boss. We need to get this thing out of you.”

“Brilliant idea. What happened to the others?” I demanded as I gritted my teeth, waiting for my lackey to pull out the gargantuan sized version of a splinter. Justin’s eyes glanced downwards and a wave of despair came across his face. No longer able to look me in my eyes, he slicked his black, thin hair back with his bony hands before returning to his original mission to save my life. “Ouch! Go and get the gauze that’s in the bedroom, quick!” I ordered, grasping the gaping wound after the mahogany stake was fiercely pulled out. Blood began to spill out faster than I had expected, and I decided to count the seconds until I would eventually pass out and die from blood loss. “One, two, three… four… five-“

“I got the gauze and the first aid kid, boss! Don’t worry!” Justin rudely interrupted my counting as he slid to the ground next to me like it was home base. One thing I can say about Justin, he was a registered nurse before he joined my gang, Anarchy, and I could feel my life regaining as I put myself in his capable, bony hands. “Justin, where are my men?” I insisted, sitting up straight against the faded green walls with a my new white bandage wrapped around my waist. Justin quickly opened the first aid kit and took out a minuscule, white bottle that was labeled, “Antiseptics”, and a folded handkerchief. “They’re all dead.” Justin finally confessed while he treated my wounds on my person that I didn’t even realize I had. “Those bastards! They’ve beaten us!” Justin shrieked.

“Easy, Justin. We haven’t lost yet.” I assured him.

“No, boss. It’s over. Most of the Anarchy are dead, and those villainous gangsters have taken our territory, profit and headquarters!” Justin retaliated.

“Wow. That does sound pretty bad. What have we been doing this whole time?” I rhetorically asked, feeling a little ashamed of myself. “Well, c’mon, nurse. Looks like we have a lot of work to do.” I added.

“Did you not hear me? I said that’s it for us!” Justin exclaimed. He rose up aggressively, and began to pace back and forth as he took out a fresh carton of cigarettes out of his clean, black slacks. He pulled out a bright, tomato red lighter along with a cigarette and lit it as though this was his last; He took his time, and slowly roasted the tobacco while his cold, grey eyes hovered over the flame. “We’re done for, boss. We should just go home, and hide.” Justin suggested after he took a long drag of the cigarette and exhaled the dull grey smoke. The smoke floated around his head as if they were peaceful dragons, dancing and coiling around his upper body as the fog expanded and eventually vanished. “We should just give up.” Justin murmured under his breath.

“Well, this is my house so I doubt hiding will help me. Do what you want, Justin. I’m grateful to you for treating my wound for the last time.” After giving my gratitude, I again struggled to stand up. I stumbled towards the door’s entrance that was destroyed by a battering ram that was utilized only a few hours earlier. “Boss, you can’t be serious! We’ve hit rock bottom!” Justin bellowed.

“I was at rock bottom when I just made this gang. You think that’s gonna’ stop me from fighting? You think I’m gonna’ give up, because my chances are slim?” I questioned.

“Your chances aren’t slim. They’re nothing! Why can’t you see that?”

“I’m still alive, and as long as I am alive, I will keep fighting. I will keep following my way. Fear will never control me.”

“Boss… You’ve lost everything. You have nothing. You don’t even-“

“Now’s not the time to make your list of things I don’t have.” I mumbled, walking through the opening entrance of the house. The sun’s shimmering beams blinded me like the grenade did, but the feeling was more gentle. As I took my first step down to the cemented sidewalk, I was halted again by Justin. “How can you do it, boss. How can you keep going?” He begged for an answer that would give my insanity an excuse. I chuckled after not being able to find any valid reason. “Actually, it’s even easier to keep going now that I have nothing.” I stated.

“What? How?” Justin asked, dumbfounded.

“Don’t you know? When you have nothing holding you back, nothing to protect, nothing more that can be taken away, you can do anything. You see, it’s only after we’ve lost everything, that we’re free to do anything. We’re free, Justin. And I know what I’m going to do. What I have to do.”

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