When your mouth is missing a few teeth your voice begins to sound like an 80s movie villain. I run my tongue along my gums, poking it out of the gaps like a deformed pink worm. John watches me in the reflection of the window. He has a perfect smile, like a little white picket fence.
“Sssso over,” I gurgle.
Blood mixes with sweat and I spit out another tooth.
“Nothing’s over until I say it’s over.”
We’re alone. No one else is in the building, no one else even knows we’re in the building. John glances at the timer resting on the big desk in the corner. Tick tock. Tick tock. In eight minutes the virus will kick in and John will have his window.
“Ssssnot your fault.” Spit. “Sssstill time.”
“They did this to us. Both of us. It’s their fault and they’re going to pay for it.”
John is still in his dress uniform, buttons all shiny. Blood has dribbled down over my service patch. At least I think it’s my blood. My mouth really hurts.
“What happensss when they fffind out?”
“We’ll be dead long before then.”
“I don’t ssswant to die,” I say.
John moves to the chair, grips my arms so tightly I can feel the blood cutting off. Or maybe that’s just my injuries finally catching up with me. He looks into my eyes but I only see through him, staring at my own reflection.
“We died the day we enlisted.”
“Pleassssee,” I whimper.
John lifts my hand and places it against my gut. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much blood. I don’t know how much I can lose before I lose the battle, but I bet John does. Ever since we shipped out we’ve been together. Whenever we ate, trained, fought, played he was there. Whenever I wussed out, got scared and couldn’t pull the trigger he would be there, showing me what to do. And when I came back, it was John who said we should do this.
Let’s kill the officers who sent us over there to die.
He had a plan. John always has a plan. Sometimes when I go to sleep I’d wake up to John standing over me, running through details I’d never have thought of. None of the other guys in the barracks seemed to care, so I just let him carry on. And on. Until eventually I’d give in and trust John knew what he was doing.
Either my hand has gone numb or my stomach isn’t bleeding anymore. I can’t tell which.
“Not long now buddy.”
“I’m gonna die John,” I say. “Let’s ssstop.”
I cough and now the blood isn’t just from my mouth. The general stopped moaning a while ago and I worry I’m gonna lie down like he did. He fought; he fought a lot harder than I thought an old man could. But John helped me, he stood back and told me when to block and when to punch.
John’s good like that, but now I worry we’ve gone too far.
“It’s time buddy.”
John is behind me, lifting my shaking fingers to push the buttons on the keyboard. He won’t do it. He says this is my victory. The door handle shakes more than my fist and John tells me to hurry up. The door crashes open and John steps between me and the intruders.
“Sssstop,” he says, but the words sound funny. “They dessserve thissss.”
The soldiers are in full MOPP gear, our little diversion sending them into a panic.
The lead soldier raises his weapon, pointing it at my head. I put my one good hand up in the universal sign of surrender, but John kneels before me, pressing the muzzle against his forehead.
“Do it,” John says.
“Don’t,” I rasp.
The soldiers turn and look at each other. John smiles and I feel my jaw hurt even more. Something’s not right, I don’t want to go like this.
“Private, are you alright?”
I try to speak, but John cuts in. He explains our cause, but he sounds weaker now. I feel my hand growing weak, but I can’t put it down as I’m still holding the barrel. Sweat drips into my eyes and John becomes blurry.
The soldier lowers his weapon and my hand drops. He kneels before me, gloved fingers wiping away the gore from my face. John watches from over his shoulder. John is bleeding from his mouth. John is smiling at me as he clutches at his stomach.
“It’sss over,” I say.
John is gone and I am alone. But I was always alone.
Prompt originally posted by agrosek on reddit and received 2 upvotes.