The scene unfolded in a time decades before. Possibly the 50s or 60s. In a remote Texas or Oklahoma like town. Possibly Kansas where there seemed to be more dust than asphalt and more sheriffs than police. It was early enough for people to still be out on the streets and late enough for them to be scattered as darkness fell. It was a time when he knew the law was as likely to invoke immediate justice as they were to allow a court of law to do the same.
He hopped on the first bus. He was wearing a long, dark brown trench coat under which he concealed one hand holding a long, kitchen style chopping knife. The blade still clean, shining and sharp for use. He made eye contact with no one. Said no words. Gave no indication of his looming plan.
A few stops went by, and then he sprung his plan into action. He stepped off the bus and walked roughly a block down the street. Then he began to cut between streets and blocks heading towards the path of another bus route. Roughly halfway there he approached a random individual from behind. He grabbed them by the shoulder, spun them around, and with a quick, violent motion thrust the blade into their gut. Almost before they could audibly express their pain or register shock on their face he withdrew the blade allowing the victim to fall to the street, and began his run.
He knew the clock had started and it was now only a matter of time. As he crossed city blocks in an up-tempo jog he spotted the next city bus coming. Desiring to avoid any human contact and prolong the carnage as long as possible he waited for the bus to come to a stop and approached it from behind. When it began to depart, he jumped on the bumper grabbing hold of whatever grip he could find with his free hand and rode the bus for a few city blocks.
He then jumped from the bus, began crisscrossing his way across town and enacted the plan once again.
Another thrust of the knife. Another innocent victim fell.
He found no joy in this. No pleasure or rush. Merely, he felt this was how it must end.
This went on for three, four, maybe a half-dozen victims until he noticed between bus hops that he had made a mistake and somehow managed to jump on an earlier bus route looping himself back towards where he started, and into a net of law enforcement. Now it was time to find out how this would end.
He could see an officer in front of him, and another approaching from behind. He fell to his knees, dropped his knife, and intertwined his fingers behind his head. A clear sign of surrender. Hands ready to be cuffed. Justice ready to be carried out.
That is when he noticed it. The approaching officer was holding a knife. A very large knife. As the officer drew closer, he realized it was not a knife at all, rather a machete. And it was at that moment he became aware of what type of justice he would be facing. He turned slightly to catch a glimpse of the officer behind him and could see the shine of a restaurant style steak knife in his hand. That would be the officer who would reach him first, and he would not go down without a fight.
As contact was made they began to grapple with the knife causing both parties to get nicked and cut. By this time the machete bearing officer had arrived along with another, and they were simultaneously taking hacks at this heinous criminal’s limbs. He felt the first significant strike cut into the calf muscle of his leg.
I felt the first significant strike cut into the calf muscle of my leg. And then another. I began to toss and turn. Wrestling with the officers, feeling the pain of the cuts. I began to moan and prepared to cry out when my eyes popped open, and I sat up in my bed. Heart racing. Terrified. But once again aware of my surroundings and reality.
In some ways, this was nothing new. I have had nightmares since I was a small child that resulted in my waking up with screams of terror. So many that my parents eventually resorted to simply shouting from their room, “You’re okay. Go back to sleep.” But I wasn’t okay. I’m not okay.
The dreams always focused on my death. Acts that should result in my death but never did. Endless gun shots. Falls. Car wrecks. Stabbings. More than a human would ever withstand in any one instance. But in my dreams…in my nightmares…I would never die. Just kept experiencing the pain.
This was different. I was the man in the dream. At the start, I was the man hurting others.
I got on a train in August of last year. I was taken into protective custody. Custody to protect me from me. Custody to protect others from expressions I had shared indicating that I was thinking about carrying out acts against others. Others who have hurt me. Others who have told me I’m okay.
But I wasn’t okay. I’m not okay.