~ ~ ~ ~
I’ve never seen or been to this place before: a war ravaged city landscape with overcast skies. I was with a group of people that I knew well. They were my fellow soldiers (however, in my awake world I can’t even recall their faces). We all hunched down behind some sort of barricade. Someone shouted that we were out of ammunition. I refused to believe him. I looked down at the weapon I carried. It was quite familiar to me (although how that was possible I can’t rationally explain).
I slumped against the low wall and squeezed my eyes shut. This can’t be happening, I thought. I’m going to die. The certainty of this fact was tangible. Panic gripped my heart, and I squeezed the weapon with my trembling hands. No, no, my mind screamed. Terror ripped through my body. There has to be a way out. There must be a way. I refused to accept the inevitable.
I took a sharp breath to fill my lungs and held it. What if this really is it? Shit! There are no what ifs. This really is going to happen. I exhaled with a choking sob. Think! Think! No answers came to me. I faced the truth that I was going to die.
What is it about the end that scares me so much? A brief flash of torture surfaced from the depths of my worst fears. I don’t want to suffer!
Somehow, just by acknowledging my fear, I experienced a sense of relief. The pain can’t last forever. At some point, it has to pass. I welcomed the calming emotion my self-reasoning was bringing about. Yes, the thought is scary, but it’ll pass. You’re tough; you can endure it long enough for it to pass. A strange sense of well-being flowed through me. I no longer felt the gripping hold of terror and panic.
Our enemy was right in front of us, yet our allies were quite a ways behind us. There was no way we were going to make it to safety. Someone from our group shouted orders that we must retreat. The group scattered. In my peripheral vision, I saw my fellow soldiers cut down with gunfire. A sense of urgency filled me, yet my body responded as though I was under water. I turned to look over my shoulder. An enemy soldier pointed his weapon at me. I saw fire spark from the tip of the barrel. No sounds now, only silence. A sharp pain stabbed through my side and the world tumbled before me.
Damn, I thought, this is what I had most feared. It’s happened. I’m shot. Warmth spread beneath me. I knew it was my own blood. The pain dissolved into nothing. I was glad for that. See, you did it. It wasn’t so bad after all. Peace settled over and around me.
I lay there for a while wondering what death would be like and waited for it to come. Sounds came back. Chaos surrounded me once again, but death still hadn't come. The bullet must have missed any vital organs, I thought. Then I pondered the process of bleeding to death. I’ll just fall into a blissful sleep. I was okay with dying that way. At least it isn't something horrible, like drowning or burning. Still I wasn't dying, though.
I moved my arms and legs and found them to be fully functional. You idiot, get up before they realize you’re not dead and shoot you again! Maybe there was still enough life left in me to get back to my people. If I hurried, maybe they could get me to a medic and I wouldn't have to die. Crap! Get up! Get out of here!
I lifted myself out of the sticky ooze that had turned monochrome like the surrounding landscape, and crouched as I ran to a car in the distance. When I reached it, I opened the passenger door and climbed inside, but when I looked out the window, another enemy soldier pointed his weapon and fired rounds into the car. I felt the bullets penetrating the side of my body. Shit, crap! Great…this is just great. I’m not going to make it for sure now. I waited for the pain of the bullets to seize me—they definitely hurt—but not anything close to how much the first one had hurt. Is that it? I was surprised. I'm in shock. That’s why it’s not hurting as bad. Yeah, that made sense.
A man jumped into the driver’s seat and started the car. I looked over at him and saw his mouth spread into a huge grin. He was an enemy soldier! I opened the car door and ran. I heard a shot fired and felt a sting in my buttocks. Really? I'd had enough.
I ran past a boat covered with a tarp. I looked around. No one was paying attention to me, and so I jumped/crawled under the tarp and waited. The sounds of chaos died down, and then I heard voices, familiar voices. I lifted the tarp and called out for someone to come get me. When they came to me, I tried telling them that I had been shot but no one heard me.
Almost instantaneously, I was in a building. In my dream-world it was “home,” or something akin to that (although, I can’t recall what it even looked like right now). I was quite frustrated that no one seemed to care about my wounds, or that I probably had bullet fragments that needed to be taken out of me—surgically most likely—although the wounds weren't bleeding anymore, they did appear quite ugly (and somehow I knew the ones I couldn't see were also ugly).
I tried to get the attention of some of the people in the room (or even a little sympathy), but no one really cared. I lifted my shirt and showed the wounds to someone and his eyes widened.
“See,” I shouted. “I told you!”
“Oh, we need to do something about those,” he said.
Finally!!! Someone is listening to me, I thought.
Then he said, “I didn't realize it was that bad— ”
~ ~ ~ ~
Max—my grumpy dog—woke me right then. It was morning and time for him to go out.