GRIT YOUR TEETH CHRISTOPHER GRANT
I know that I probably won’t make it out alive if I go through this door, but I have to. Someone’s got to save the world after all. I take a deep breath and burst into the room. He’s expecting me. He turns around in his expensive-looking swivel chair, his crimson-eyed albino ferret in his lap, and regards me with his one good eye – the one I didn’t take out in that knife fight we had on a moving train. I think back to our rich and complicated past in a montage fashion. He was my writing professor at college. He seemed alright at first. But, one fateful day, he gave me a “C” on my midterm, and then I found out that he was completely evil. “I see you survived the shark pit,” he says, his voice low and rough like a baritone with gravel shoved down the horn. “I see you have basic reasoning skills,” I quip because I’m clever and suave like that. “Too bad you won’t survive this,” he says, ignoring my superior wit. With a snap of his sausage-like fingers, a horde of henchmen march out and surround me, guns raised. I put my hand on my pistol as I prepare my closing witty remark. That gun and I have been through a lot. I run my thumb over the name engraved in it: Emily. “Too bad I wasn’t planning to,” I say and draw my pistol with astounding speed. Like, ridiculously fast. Clint Eastwood would shed a manly tear of appreciation if he could see it. I can only fire one bullet before I’m drowned in a sea of gunfire by the henchmen, but one bullet is all I need. It flies through the air and, as if guided by the hand of Lady Luck herself, pierces Dr. Evilson’s remaining eye and passes through his brain. I did it. I saved the world. They’re going to build statues and name shit after me. No one is going to get an unfairly low grade on a midterm ever again. My death goes down as one of the greatest deaths in history. Ok, ok, I’ll admit it: That was a pretty cliché scenario. But, I don’t think I’d mind dying if it was like that. I mean, there was action! There were guns! There were one-liners! What else could a guy ask for? But, here in the real world, that kind of thing is never gonna happen. And even if a stereotypical super-villain did exist, I’m pretty sure a scrawny guy that has only fired a gun, like once, wouldn’t be able to take his ass out. No, I’d be gunned down early on by some nameless schmo who’d be labeled “Henchman #17” in the credits. No glory. No statues. Just death. And that’s not how I want to go out. I need to think of something else, something that doesn’t involve me being some kind of gritty action hero.
I’m walking down the street, going to a nearby convenience store because I’m out of milk. Unfortunately, I realized this shortage after I had already poured a bowl of Cheerios for breakfast earlier. I had to eat them dry. It just wasn’t the same . . . Anyway, I’m still walking and mourning the loss of a satisfying breakfast when something catches my eye. It’s a young woman walking into the street. Her black hair is shoulder-length with bangs that almost cover her eyes, which is a shame since her eyes are this wonderful green color that I swear I’ve never seen anywhere else. I’d tell her this, but I’m sure she’d say that I’m just being a stupid romantic, and that she likes it how it is, and that I’m the one who really needs a haircut. Then, something else catches my eye: an SUV. Somehow, my eyes seem to gain a zoom function, and I see the driver with startling clarity. He’s in his early 30’s and looks like a hardcore businessman. He has a cup of coffee in one hand, a bagel in the other, and a Bluetooth headset on his ear, all of which have more of his attention than the rolling metal behemoth he’s controlling. Then, I put two and two together: Emily is in danger. I sprint toward her with the speed and grace of a gazelle. My outstretched arms push her out of death’s way just in time. I can see an indignant look in her eyes as she realizes that she’s been pushed, a look that lets me know that I had better explain myself quickly or else suffer a severe tongue-lashing (though, I must say, she’d be truly and honestly grateful if she knew what I was really doing). But, before I can, I rocket to the side, limbs flailing like a ragdoll. I go on to become the top story in the local news broadcast, and everyone who was there remembers me as an inspiration and a paragon of selflessness. Alright, I could do that. I’d have to be in the right place at the right time, but, with a little bit of luck, it could happen. I’d still die a hero, and everyone would have plenty of nice things to say about me at my funeral. And, even though they’d be sad, they’d know that I died for the noblest of causes. But what about that businessman? He just committed vehicular manslaughter, and I’m sure that kind of shit can really fuck up a career. What would happen to his 401(k) or whatever people like that worry about? And, I can only imagine the guilt that comes with this sort of thing. Would he ever recover or would this accident hang over his head for the rest of his life? What would my friends and family say to him? Would they want revenge? My mom gets pretty vicious when she’s angry . . . Well, I don’t know any of that, but I do know that I don’t want my death to destroy someone else’s life. Maybe
Published on Apr 18, 2013
Published on Apr 18, 2013
The University of Central Arkansas'sVortex Magazine of Literature and Fine Art is an undergraduate run publication, publishing students from...