First Kill (fiction)

Well, I killed my first man today. We were going hand-to-hand in an inhuman, bestial throng, worse than I’d possibly imagined, in Electronics. I truly didn’t know if I would have what it takes when it came to the moment of truth, but when it came–him or me, right there–the prime directive was front and center, the only lesson that matters: Commit. Don’t leave anything in the tank. Down he went, and I’m relieved to say there was no imploring in his eyes, just a kind of cold respect, before the barely audible whoosh as something like his soul left him.

I can’t say glad is the word, but I’m feeling fortunate to have my first kill on my first Black Friday. I suppose if I were a veteran of these things I would develop a hard shell, maybe even a strategic approach beyond simple raw survival instinct, and it would roll off me more quickly. But I was frightened–no shame in admitting it–and to lose my innocence early is super-preferable to waiting and wondering another year. I could even lose my resolve in another year–okay, it’s out there now–and have to force myself out into the fray from a need to prove myself, rather than in pursuit of a true objective, such as the deeply discounted floor model 42″ plasma screen with game console and surround I carried off today. That kind of self-doubt can erode you over time, and there’s no room for inner conflict in the heat of battle. The floors are littered with the bodies of those who had inner conflict. (I mean literally–just try carrying a 42″ TV and accessories, out of box, over people in various stages of exiting this world, who think nothing of clutching your leg or a dangling power cord in hopes of being dragged closer to the door and a final gasp of that chill outside air, the same air they cursed so bitterly all night while amassing by the entrance.)

I will confess, too, I’m relieved it wasn’t a woman. Mark this down, I will take on a woman, but I’ll say it out loud, they don’t fight fair. They will shiv you with a sharpened SUV key while using a toddler as a human shield, and then if you drop them, look up at you in a kind of surprise that says you cheated. I’ve seen that, and it is haunting, and a little disgusting.

So, like I said, first time out, first kill. I’m not one to attribute my successes to some divine favor, but I can’t help saying I feel blessed. I understand the deeper meaning of Thanksgiving now.

I expect the feeling to grow even stronger. I won’t lie, this was hard, and I think it will take weeks or maybe months for the memory to go away. In the meantime, I feel a great urge to do something nice, to pass the feeling along, even to someone I don’t know, maybe someone who doesn’t even deserve it.

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