The Remains of Civilisation

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Summary

I had a brave and valiant staring contest with the business end of the gun aimed at my face. I still sometimes question what I had done exactly to deserve this.

Genre:
Thriller / Action
Author:
Yicheng Liu
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
6
Rating:
4.0 1 review
Age Rating:
16+

Chapter 1

I had a brave and valiant staring contest with the business end of the gun aimed at my face. I still sometimes question what I had done exactly to deserve this. If an all-knowing God exists out there, I had most definitely, at some point in my life, pissed him off or this wouldn’t have happened. If I ever make a list of my biggest crimes against humanity in my life it would probably begin with not brushing my teeth when I was ten and end with the stupid decision of reading the entire Twilight saga just to find out whether it was good or not (hint: it’s a decision that I regret to this day).

Perhaps there is a different ending that could be in store for me instead of the usual ’shot in the head and die’ gimmick that tend to happen around me. I comforted myself with the knowledge at least I wasn’t stupid enough to flail my arms around, screaming and wetting my pants at the same time. I kind of imagined that I would die with some dignity and have at least my best friend looking at me from the other side of the sterile white hospital room that I had seen featured in almost every single movie where an old person dies. Heck, at least that way I could’ve made last request being asking the hospital to play annoying songs over the hospital’s announcement speakers. That would’ve been the perfect ending to my life.

So, it really says something about life if I seem to be about to die unceremoniously from a bullet to the head, with a hostage being gagged and hog-tied no more than five metres away from me. It’s not that it doesn’t look cool or anything, in fact, I’m sure it would look great if this is scene in a movie…but we happened to be standing in the top of a building. In real life. And I happened to be standing on the edge of this tall building with a gun pointed to my head. The fact is that in the next minute or so, a nice bullet will decide to lodge itself into the space between my eyeballs, so it wouldn’t matter whether I survive the shot or not; I will still become a nice splatter of meat and blood on the pavement below to presumably become trampled over by at least a few cars and a drunk truck driver spewing racist slurs for no reason at all before someone become aware of what I had become. So, understandably, it’s not exactly how I had expected my life to end. Nor is it the way I want it to end.

I try to be a reasonable guy most of the time, I help out at charities. Heck, I even work out and go to gyms now, so I don’t really understand how I managed to lodge myself neck-deep in this mess.

If I had no context on what is happening, there wouldn’t be a logical sequence of events that could explain why I am standing on the ledge of a very tall building in the middle of nowhere at rush hour with no sign of police or any form of law enforcement within a two-kilometre radius. A random passerby wouldn’t have seen the gun pointed at my head or the man holding said gun from the haphazardly designed streets even if they had looked up.

If there was one thing I could change about this situation, it would probably be getting the hell away from the gun barrel. Failing that, I would want the wind to stop blowing into my face as I have really sensitive skin. There’s a reason for the copious amount of pre-shave oil and vodka in the medicine cabinet.

“I want you to understand that you aren’t supposed to be here. You really would never be here if it wasn’t because of your curiosity. There isn’t going to be a single thing that can save you from getting shot in the head.” The man said as he casually waved his free hand about when he had realised that there isn’t actually anything that he could do to look more threatening. Though I would prefer it if he could wave that gun around a bit more, preferably away from my head and give me a chance to subdue him.

I really hope that there could be a miracle to save me from what is about to happen, but not even the ’capital-g’ God could’ve saved me from this situation, particularly since that I suspect it was the person upstairs that put me here in the first place. The odds are so stacked against me it almost made me to have enough faith to believe that God exists; though that would mean the man upstairs hates me.

This is it. The end of the line. Death will come in a matter of moments if I fail to keep the guy monologuing. I had watched James Bond movies back in the days, and he had heard more confessed sins against humanity than the average priest. I like to believe that this would work in real life. But since it seems to be the only trick up my sleeve right now, I wouldn’t really say I’m expecting much from it.

As the wind blew a random paper bag into my face (it is really windy), I can’t help but internally complain to myself about littering as I watched my life flash before my eyes. It’s funny how you kind of get used to the fact that you’re about to die when you had already been staring at the gun barrel for the better part of ten minutes.

As the man suddenly realised that I haven’t exactly been paying attention to what he was saying for the last ten minutes, he got way more pissed off than he should’ve been, though I can’t exactly say that was surprising coming from a mentally-unstable maniac holding a gun. “Hey, do-do-do y-you know how many times I had to rehearse this speech? I-I-I have a speech impediment; this took me months to perfect. If you don’t at least pretend to care about this, I will—”

“What? Kill me?” I said, interrupting him in mid-sentence. Just because I might end up decorating the pavement and road below with my internal organs, it doesn’t mean I can’t be a smart-Alec. “Why did you even bother to practice this speech anyway? It’s not like you’re going to have a lot of opportunities to use it, there can’t be that many people out there who would bother to listen to your speeches, I would rather jump off the ledge of this buildings than listen to another string of clichés that come through the black hole that you call your mouth.”

His face reddened into that beautiful hue of red and purple people thought could only exist when an eggplant and a tomato had a baby. Well, the people thought wrong. “Why don’t you just jump off the building then? I could just shoot you right now.” He said, barely spitting out the words in his rage. I can tell you that in the twenty minutes that I had the misfortune to know him, not a lot of people had the guts to insulting him and even fewer had the luck to survive such an encounter.

“What, and miss the chance of finally getting to finish that speech you had been working so hard on for lash few months or so? Face it, you love yourself too much to settle for anything less than saying the whole thing. You would never be satisfied until you finished saying that terrible crime against humanity that you consider a speech, even Justin Bieber sounds less self-absorbed than you.” I said, as I marvelled at how large his forehead veins are getting as I provoked him more and more. Though I wouldn’t exactly call myself a master of words, but I did secretly hope that one of the veins would pop under the pressure and save me from the imminent death sentence that loomed in background.

He struggled to contain his anger, but miraculously, he did somehow manage to get it under control just long enough to pretend to be intelligent again. “You may be right, I’ll keep you around for another for couple of minutes or so. But trust me, you will not be missed when that bullet slam into your head at point-blank distance.” He said, as he finally managed to squeeze out a joke through his mouth. I had thought that you have to at least have a brain to be able comprehend to concept of humour, apparently, I was wrong. Even a cretinous idiot bumbling around in the background like him is capable of cracking a joke every once in a while. Pity the next thing he is likely to crack is my skull instead of a witty one-liner.

Oh, who am I kidding. I am almost completely certain by now that I’m going to survive, somehow. Dying by the hands of someone whose idea of a good day of work usually involved a lot of blood and harvesting human organs from people that was probably in a bit too much debt to really have a say about their internal organs is not exactly on the list of things I plan to do anytime soon. Isn’t denial a wonderful thing?

From the way things are going, I’m more likely to die of boredom than from a bullet to the head as I had originally assumed. His speech is never going to end if he is going to half-stutter through the whole thing, fill it with run-on sentences and leaving half-finished sentences everywhere. He boast of his non-existent oration skills in such a way that if he gave me the gun, I might just shoot myself.

At some point, a miracle occurred, in the form of him finally finishing his goddamned speech. Though unfortunately I didn’t realize he had finished and had decided to go drag him down with me.

My life flashed before my eyes as I realised that I didn’t die and are inexplicably still alive, for some reason, he never did fire off his shot. Perhaps he realised just a little too late that maybe he forgot to load his gun in the morning or maybe the dog ate it, but that piece of information did not boost my chance of survival at all. Falling from this height is still going to have the result being me dead on the pavement, flat as a pancake (though I would be bringing someone else down with me). You don’t need to know that much high-school physics to realize exactly how screwed you are on a scale of one to ten (hint: it’s an eleven).

Now, how exactly did ended up in this mess? After all, it’s not exactly the way I wanted to die and, by a ridiculous amount of misfortune, it seems like I might die on a Monday. I hate Mondays, and the fact that my asshole boss Steve is probably out there somewhere checking off an employee list as he realised that I haven’t turned up for work for the fourth week in a row did not make Mondays any easier to tolerate...and that is if he hadn’t fired me yet, I would never know whether he did or not.

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