the Pandora Dilemma. Chapter 6 – unedited

His headache was much, much worse.

Dustin had opened his eyes on a fiery scene of holy shit.

He remembered the Buick, that giant ass dragon masquerading as a car, slamming head first into the driver’s side of his coke-can of crap on wheels. What he couldn’t recollect, mainly due to being jarred into unconsciousness, was the domino effect of secondary collisions that created this ring of crunched, sheered, smoldering metal that surrounded him.

He teetered on an unsteady spine set atop jelly legs, watching the world around him spin. He saw the others. He saw them bleed and scream and run around. None of them were helping the pain coursing behind his eyes. Some of them were making it so much worse.

He felt so tired. He had to grip the gun in his hand tighter to keep it from dropping. The sweat didn’t help but he kept reminding himself that the gun was the only thing that could save him.

More yelling.

Another shot came from behind a car. It damn well could have grazed him but, as bullets do, it was going too fast to tell.

Dustin spun into action, something more of a trained instinct; years of his childhood spent down at the arcade. He squeezed the trigger. Three shots popped off and dented an overturned bank truck. Thank god everyone else had started to run into the surrounding buildings. Dustin sure as hell wished he could. Maybe then he could be a little safer, but every time he tried to move away from his car he’d been shot at.

Something of his senses finally kicked him in his cortex. He ducked behind his previously ignored driver’s door to hide

A dark red puddle began to encroach his vision. It surrounded what remained of the cop that had pulled Dustin from his accordion-esque tomb. Before today, Dusty found the phrase ’It happened so fast’ to be worthy of an exaggerated eye-rolling.

Nothing ever happens faster than anything else, really. A bullet goes at the same speed whether it’s near you or not.

But now he found himself wondering how fast it had happened for the cop.

One minute he’s doing his job, serving and protecting, risking his life for the good of the people, pulling a limp schmuck from a wreck. Suddenly, BAM, headshot; some sick moron with too much time on his hands and not enough notches in his bedpost sends a stream of death right his way.

Dustin had seen the shooter before the body hit the ground. Some blur in the distance, dressed all in black, flitting around the cop’s car and the dark colored bank truck. Dusty hadn’t waited for any more shots. He grabbed the cop’s gun and blasted away. A couple trigger pulls later he decided to stop, just in case. Its never a bad idea to conserve bullets.

And there he’d been for ten or twenty minutes.

He had no idea how many bullets were left. He hadn’t counted how many he’d fired.

I don’t even know how to pop the little thingy… magazine… to check the bullets.

They called them rounds, right? Why do they do that?

Maybe because they’re round but that doesn’t really make sense because they’re not really round at all angles.

Oh shit, getting groggy again. Pay attention!

Dusty shook his head, the pain bringing a little clarity back. The real question he needed to ask himself was why he hadn’t heard any shots coming from fuck across the way.

He peered through the space between the car door and frame. Just enough to catch a glimpse of another figure, hunched over, talking to the shooter.

“What the hell?”

This guy looked different. Dustin couldn’t make out any features, his vision was still messed up.

He blinked and rubbed but nothing helped. The accomplice was still just a weird amorphous grey thing wobbling in the distance.

Son of a bitch!

Those bastards were using the cop’s car! The grey guy must have lain down over the front seats, hiding himself from view and danger.

Dustin heard a loud click and some static. A voice came over the cop’s loudspeaker but it really wasn’t much of a use. Dustin’s ears weren’t any better than his eyes.

He cupped his hands around his mouth.

“I can’t hear what you’re saying!”

More words. These guys didn’t seem very intelligent to him.

“Dude, you could be farting in spanish and I couldn’t tell the difference”

Dustin thought for a minute. He was content with leaving it at that. He’d wanted to shout a quippy, irreverent one-liner since he’d seen die hard. He’d wanted to be ‘that guy’, the hero that never loses his cool.

An ache on his gum line reminded him to unclinch his jaw and confirmed that he was most definitely not ‘that guy’. He was doing all he could to keep from pissing himself.

The gobbling and cracking came across the air again, this time with a little more intelligibility.

“We have … -ounded… weapon… out… up…”

Nope, still nothing. Nothing understandable, anyway.

Dustin leaned out from the door. It seemed like they were trying to communicate peacefully. There were two of them, they could have easily surrounded him and been done with it.

“If you really want to talk, send someone over. No guns!”

It only took a few minutes of apparently heated discussion for them to decide what they wanted to do. Mr. Grey gave his piece to Mr. Black.

He walked slowly past the line of dying fire, into this makeshift arena that was all too like some Mortal Kombat background. With every step he became more human to Dustin. He became more like a man, more like…

Oh shit.

“Dusty, what the hell is going on?”

Dustin stared at Finley. His look could only be described as idiotic with his jaw slacked and eyes opened too wide.


“Dustin, put the gun down, for christ’s sakes!”

He looked at the weapon in his hand.

“Fin! That guy killed the cop and he’s been shooting at me, I don’t know what he’s been telling you!”

“Dusty, that guy is a cop. Jesus, man. He says you killed his partner!”

The gun dropped.

Dustin dropped too.



About Aaron Shively

I have been working as a freelance writer and artist for the last decade. In that time, I've done everything from ghostwriting to toy design and everything in between. I am currently working on a novel series called 'Myth' which has held my attention for the past sixteen years. I have spent my time developing the world, character and story and am now ready to funnel all the preliminary material into the manuscript of the first installment, 'of Men and Monsters' Bookmark & Share

Posted on 03/14/2011, in Excerpts, the Pandora Dilemma and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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