The street ahead is a maelstrom of tear gas, smoke, and muzzle flashes. Shouts and screams are intermingled with pops from small arms and flash-bangs. People are running through the smoke, back-lit by burning vehicles and buildings. They look like ghosts passing through a fog. I’m thinking of a scene from Danté.
“Tony! Get the fuck down!”
I hear John yelling at me from behind a burned out car, but there’s no way am I going to miss this. I’m witnessing the chaos through the eyepiece of my new camera and live-streaming it to my vlog.
A dark figure appears out of the smoke. A red light sears my eye. I jerk the camera away. There’s a loud pop.
“Oh my god! Tony!”
I scramble across the ground toward my brother. I told him to get down, but he kept filming. The camera is still in his hand. I almost puke. Half his head is gone. I grab the camera and turn toward the approaching figure. I see the red laser from his weapon cutting through the smoke that’s rolling down the street. I try to raise my hands, but there’s a sharp pain in my right shoulder and the world spins around.
“Control. Officer Keith. I have two suspects down. I need medics.”
“Officer Keith, there’s a med unit one block south of your position. Can you transport?”
Damn, they’re just kids.
“One dead, one wounded. Can you send a team?”
I reach down to disarm the wounded perp. Shit, it’s a camera, not a gun.
“They can’t get to you, Keith. Can you transport the wounded individual?”
“Roger. I’ll stabilize and transport.”
I holster my weapon.
The first one I shot is beyond help – bullet through the right eye. The other has a chest wound. I roll him on his left side. He’s unresponsive, but he’s breathing. I tear open his shirt. It looks like the bullet hit high in his chest under his right collarbone. No exit wound. I look around for a weapon. Nothing. Just the camera clutched in his right hand. I know I saw a target-laser flash before I fired.
The dead one has a bandana around his neck. I use it to pack in the other kid’s wound. There’s no good way to hold it there. I run a zip-tie around his shoulder. That’s better than nothing. I check my body cam. It’s still on. I pan the scene for the IA report and key my voice recorder.
“Two suspects, thought to be armed, red flash of light from suspect before shot fired. Suspect one, white male, shot in the right eye. Suspect two, light skinned black male, wounded in right shoulder, upper chest area. Medics unavailable. Transporting wounded individual to mobile med unit. No weapons found at scene. Suspect two holding video camera that he appeared to remove from suspect one’s right hand during incident.”
I stick the camera in my coat pocket and pick the wounded kid up. I drape him over my right shoulder and start walking south.
My eyes open. The pain is blinding. Where am I? Someone is carrying me. God it hurts. Where’s Tony? Shit, they killed him. I’m wounded! Damn it hurts. It feels like my arm was blown off. I can’t feel it. Did I lose my arm! Oh, God, help me. Am I going to die?
“Alright, just back off. I’m trying to get this kid to a medic.”
Who’s voice is that?
“Fuck you, Pig!”
There’s a loud pop. I’m falling. The guy holding me is falling! My left arm and face crash into pavement. I roll to my left side. God it hurts! The guy who was carrying me is on the ground. There’s a puddle of blood growing under his head. To my right there’s three guys. Their faces are covered with bandanas. One has a gun. They run off.
The lingering tear gas is burning my eyes and throat. It’s hard to see. Tony, what the hell were we doing out here? The guy beside me is a cop, or National Guard. He’s in body armor. They shot him in the face. I don’t think he’s breathing. Shit! I’m going to die here!
Okay. Calm down. Breathe. Damn, my lungs hurt. If I start coughing I’ll puke my guts out. My shirt’s torn. There’s a bloody rag on my chest. I remember grabbing Tony’s camera and then getting shot. My right arm is limp at my side, but it’s still there. I hear shouts and gunfire, but it seems further away now. I force myself to sit up, look around. Man, this is a fucking war zone.
I try to get my legs under me and push myself up. No good. I’m too weak and it hurts too much. I drag myself over to the dead cop. Tony’s camera is sticking out of his coat pocket. It’s still on. I take it back and pan the scene. That’s what Tony would do, right?
There’s a group of people running down the street toward me. They don’t look friendly. I drag myself away from the cop and into the shadows. I lean against a wrecked car. A group of guys stop and look at the cop. They don’t seem to notice me. One of the guys takes the cop’s weapons belt. They continue down the street toward the sounds of fighting.
My face is wet with tears. I’m trying not to cry, but my eyes, nose, and throat are burning. I feel sick. Focus. Stay conscious. Stay alive. I look at the camera I’m still holding. I wonder if anybody is still watching, if it’s even still connected. I turn it toward me.
“If anybody’s still watching, I need help. I’ve been shot. An officer was carrying me to the medics, but they shot him too. I think he’s dead. They took his gun. Everybody’s killing everybody out here. This was supposed to be a peaceful protest. What the fuck happened?”
I cough. God it hurts. I taste blood in my mouth. Damn, I’m gonna die here. Don’t cry. Calm down. Shallow breaths. Try not to move. They’ll come for the cop. He’s got GPS, right? They’ll know he’s down. Won’t they? He’s got a radio. I can call for help.
I drag myself back to the cop’s body. There’s a radio clipped to his jacket. I push the button. “I need help.”
“This is control. Give me your situation.”
“I’m shot.” I cough again. The pain is so bad everything’s a hazy blur. “This officer was carrying me. He’s dead.”
“We have your location. Units are en route. Are you a civilian?”
“Yes, ma’am.” I’m starting to cry. I can’t do that. But she sounds like my mom.
“Medics are less than a block away, sir. Are you in immediate danger? Is there anyone else nearby?”
“No, ma’am, but I’m having trouble breathing. It’s getting really dark, and I’m cold.”
“Don, we have breaking news on the current riots plaguing our city. A live video from last night is going viral. It appears to show a metro officer shooting the person who is holding the camera. The victim was recording the riots live on a video blog at the time of the incident. We cannot confirm the incident, or the victim’s identity, but the registered owner of the blog is a local resident. We are attempting to contact him.”
“Alice, there’s another video getting a lot of traction on social media this morning as well. The police are reporting an officer being shot while apparently carrying a wounded civilian to safety. Both the officer and the civilian were pronounced dead on the scene. We’re not showing the video out of respect for the families, but in it the young man who died filmed the officer’s body being looted by protesters and then turned the camera on himself for an impassioned plea for help.”
“I watched the video, Don. It broke my heart. That brave young man echoed the sentiments of the majority of residents for a peaceful protest and an end to the violence.”
“But it hasn’t been a peaceful night, Alice. The mayor reported this morning that twenty-five civilians and five officers were killed overnight, not to mention the scores of people filling emergency rooms this morning – some barely clinging to life.”
“It really has been a bad night, Don… In other news, celebrities filled the red carpet uptown last night. Our Jackie Starnes was there. We’ll have exclusive video of the best and worse fashions of the evening when we come back.”
David Moore is a freelance writer, literary blogger, and under his pseudonym Maxwell Cynn a best selling author in multiple genres. His psychological techno-thriller The Collective was top of its category on Amazon in 2011 while his cyber-erotic romance CybrGrrl also commanded that spot in the romance category. Several of his short stories, essays, and poems have found publication online, in newspapers, and in national magazines.
David is a classic introvert and Max is his extroverted alter ego – think Peter Parker and Spiderman (but with a southern accent and cowboy boots). As Max, David won his first literary contest, and first Kindle Reader, writing an erotic comedy (he didn’t know that genre existed). He enjoys writing an eclectic mix of topics and genres – essays, poetry, and fiction – and is an avid student of depth psychology, sociology, philosophy, and religion. His favorite series is “In Death” by J.D.Robb, he hates zombies, and his hero is William Shatner.