A/N: I... don't really know where this came from. It's quite a bit more serious than any of my other pieces. Don't worry, it doesn't have any relation to my real life. :/
My watch says it's five minutes to twelve. Yesterday, I was sitting in my cubicle filing reports, glancing at the clock over the receptionist's desk, watching that sliver of a hand creep forward second by second. Yesterday I thought, wouldn't it be nice if I had a promotion so I could drink espresso while doing paperwork and all of this junk?
I still want the promotion, but I don't think it's likely anymore. I'll be lucky if I even return to my old job. I'll be lucky if I get out of this mess.
My watch says it's four minutes to twelve now. They hung it in front of me, so I could see how much time I've got left till the bomb detonates and freak out, or something. They're probably sitting behind a computer screen in a building four hundred miles from here, watching to seem me break.
I won't. I swear I won't. I won't let them see how terrified I am, even if I die.
But--I am terrified, and you know what's funny? I'm terrified of dying. Dying, can you believe it? Because yesterday, when I was crossing over the bridge on the way back from work, I looked at the railing and wondered what it'd be like to jump off. I read somewhere that jumping from a height into water feels like you're hitting concrete. And I wondered if my body would shatter like clay when it hit the water, and what it'd be like to be torn apart by the impact. Would it be quick? I hope it'd be quick. But then again, I wonder about the source of that information. Can anyone alive really verify that comment?
[He pauses, then seems to deflate. Nearly mumbling, he continues.]
I wonder... I wonder if Kate misses me. Probably not. Yesterday at seven I called her, left a voice message. Told her I loved her. Missed her. She hates all of that sentimental stuff, but I wasn't going to tell her that I'd thought of suicide because she'd left me. She'd probably laugh at me and say, "You thought I was leaving you? Stop worrying. Just because I haven't called you in a few days doesn't mean I dumped you. You're really overreacting, Peter." And I would nod and ignore the marks on her neck and the smudged layer of lipstick under the fresh layer.
Three minutes. Can't they hurry it up? The waiting is going to kill me.
Bad words. I know. All this tension--dead men've gotta make a bad joke, 'kay?
[A shaky, bitter bark of laughter.]
It's kind of funny (or maybe it's not), but yesterday I wanted to die. Today I don't. I'm tense, I'm shaky, I'm sweating, and I can feel the press of the bomb strapped to my back. Death is that close to me. Maybe I didn't want to die all along? Yesterday I really thought I wanted to die, because there was just no way to go on--I wanted to. And now.
Well. It's too late, now.
Two minutes. The wait is going to kill me. This wait... I can't think. I can't think anymore. The drops of sweat rolling down my face are making me itch. Or maybe I'm restless because of the bomb. I really don't know anymore. What do I know? I know that I am going to die. I am going to blast apart. They won't even find a body.
... I don't really want to die.
Yesterday night my mom called. Told me I needed to move on, told me in tears how Kate was taking away the son she loved, prayed for every day. And I, I told her to stop wasting her time telling me--
I hung up. What a son. I wish my last words hadn't been "Just stay away, Mom. I'm fine" because maybe I'm not. I'm not sentimental either, but times like these--well. I wish I'd told her thanks. Or "Love you." Or anything. So that maybe I'd have been the son she was so proud of. I wish I was.
One minute. I have one minute left to live. You see this in movies: the hero struggles till the last second to get out, and suddenly he does. But I've been trying for hours, and at this last second, I'm tired. And resigned. But I don't really want to die.
... forty-five seconds.
Five. (Wish I told Kate I loved her.)
Four. (Wish I told all of the people who deserve it, thanks.)
Three. (Wish I had more time.)
Two. (Wish this wasn't happening.)
One. (Wish I--)
The second hand inches past the twelve. Ticks slowly down the side of my watch.
I'm not dead yet.
I hold my breath, chest tight and tense, waiting for the white-hot, burning, explosion on my back. But the hard plastic just shifts on my back, heavy and bulky and still intact. I wait, terrified, as the second hand keeps going. And it keeps going.
It keeps going?
I don't know where the time's gone. Every second feels like a halted moment in time, slower than it's ever been before. I'm barely breathing now. It's like standing on the top of a cliff and putting out your foot to step off; it's like the moment you creak past the top of the rollercoaster and you're staring at the two hundred feet you haven't dropped yet. I don't think at all. I just watch that hand climb up my watch's face again, up to the nine, up to the twelve...
I keep waiting for something, anything, almost wishing the bomb to detonate already and just get it done with, but. It keeps going. I hardly dare to breathe now, hardly dare to feel the glimmer deep down of hope.
Time keeps passing, I know, but I don't feel it. The watch is still there, the bomb is still there, I am still there--even though none of us should still exist. I should be dead but I'm not--
[He fidgets, unable to decide how to act--those expecting death cannot always deal with life.]
Like a sudden burst of thunder someone booms behind me words--after it sends my strained heart into a pounding fury and me into a startled jump, I swallow breaths of air. The sudden noise was there and then it was not, leaving me wondering, terrified, if it was only my imagination. My mind is racing; is someone behind me? I don't remember there being an intercom, but there must have been--what did it say, I can't remember for the life of me the thing was so suddenly--
I try to backtrack. Was it a man? I think it was--what did he say? I think he said 'hello?'...
"Hello?" It definitely was a man's voice, curt and firm and staticky; then he says more softly, like he's leaning away from the microphone: "Doesn't seem like anyone's in there, sir."
"H-Hello--" But my voice is barely a hoarse whisper. I try again, rasping air out until it almost hurts. "Hello!"
"Good heavens. The man's still in there. Someone, Carol--get a team in there pronto." The man pauses, then continues in a more reassuring tone. "Just stay there. We'll get you out in no time."
Staying? Here? No time? I'm bound in ropes, of course I'm not going anywhere--and time, I've been here for hours and hours; "no time" will really be no time at all. Relief and hysteria and the ridiculous of it all slams into me like a freight train. I'm not going to die? I'm not going to die. They're going to get me out in no time. I'm not going to die.
I'm not going to.
The doors to my little room burst open behind me as policemen emerge like flies, swarming in. Someone fiddles with the bomb for seconds as all of us hold our breath, then cuts the rope that's bound me for how long? and pulls that **** bomb away. They're talking to me, I can tell, but standing up suddenly fills my limbs with jelly and my head with bricks. Someone lifts my right arm over their shoulder, and another one takes my left; I have only a split second to snatch my watch from the hook it's hanging on.
Time passed so slowly before, but now it's flying by. Before I know it, I'm walking to a policeman's car outside of the building, hanging onto a policeman with one hand and holding my watch in the other.
[He stops abruptly, though.]
"Sir?" the policeman looks at me curiously. "We should get you to the hospital right away."
I know that, but an irresistible thought occurs to me. "Hang on," I tell him, then move before he can stop me.
Walking back a few steps, I pull out my watch and without a look at it, toss it in a garbage can on the side of the hallway we'd passed on our way out. The watch was expensive but I've never felt more wonderful; I will never have to stare at that thing again. Walking away from that room, that bomb, that watch, and that building is glorious.
Yesterday I was determined to die; but now. Now, I think I'll live.