Author : Jonathan VanDyke

With a rush, the ground was beneath me. The blacktop was cold, wet, and unforgiving. I pulled my jacket close. I was sure I looked ridiculous. We’d comprised my outfit from old pictures of the times. Leather jacket with a sheep skin collar, flannel shirt, rugged jeans and brown leather boots. Cliché at best, but as long as I blended in, that was the important part. The cold nibbled at my cheeks. I took a deep breath. The oxygen flowed through my lungs freely and abundantly. The air was so fresh. The smell of pine from the nearby wood line behind the motel lingered in my nostrils. It reminded me of being a kid, although I wasn’t quite sure why. Perhaps it’s because the air was so pure, almost innocent. It was absent of smog. Absent of the smell of motor oil and lubricated metal. Absent of the smell of blood and feces.

I pulled out a small strip of paper with the numbers 101 hastily scribbled onto it. The snowfall cast a halo around the parking lot’s street lights making each one look like an oil painting. At least, I thought so. I’d only seen a few of those in my lifetime. Room number 101. The light was on. Through the blinds I could see a woman sitting on the bed. Sad looking. Tired. Next to her laid a baby curled up and fast asleep. I stood there for a moment, in the silence of the cold. The baby wasn’t really responsible for what happened, not yet. He wasn’t capable of comprehending the horror, the atrocities he’d commit. Maybe he could change. I thought about choice, about free will and fate, things we’d all discussed for countless hours over and over again. For a moment, just a split second, I almost felt empathetic. Then I thought about the machines. He didn’t deserve a chance. He didn’t deserve a choice.

The pistol was already in my hand. I had come to terms with my intentions. I knocked. The door opened. My hand cupped the woman’s mouth and I pushed her back into a chair. The fear in her eyes struck me. Blue eyes. I had expected brown. She whimpered as I leaned in close.

“I’m so sorry,” I whispered into her ear.

I stepped back into the cold to flee the scene. A noise a few doors down stopped me. A baby’s cry. A wave of anxiety raced down my spine. Despite the weather, I began to feel hot. My body temperature rose. I was sweating. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the piece of paper. My hands were shaking as I tried to read it again. 101. I pulled it closer. My eyes scanned from left to right. In black ink there was a one, followed by a zero, and then I saw it. A faded angle. It wasn’t a one. It was a four. Room 104.

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