Power in My Hands, part 2 is the continuation of an inFAMOUS fan-fiction short story, viewing an event in Empire city through the eyes of an EMT who viewed himself as morally sound... and still does... for now. Power in My Hands, part I can be viewed here: http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/zgerhard/power-in-my-hands-136161.phtml
In dire circumstances, boys become men. We do things we told ourselves we never would. Then, our dire circumstance arrives and we headstrong individuals stick to our guns. We stick to our guns because the circumstance is not quite dire - only the closest we have come so far. My threshold broke last night.
I dumped the Reaper's body in the river. I had no limitations. Everyone saw. Nobody cared. I just hope I have made a bigger impact to these peoples' lives. This thug won't even be remembered by his own mother.
The AK-47 that Mr. Light Socket gave me hung over my shoulder. I decided it was a necessity to survive and vowed I would not let the power overcome me. The power, the control of whether a person lives or dies was nothing to take lightly. My patients weren't disturbed by the weapon's presence; I still felt uncomfortable wielding it though.
With my feet dangling off the edge of my gas station's roof, I watched all the citizens buzzing about, wandering with no purpose, like college students, except there was no party down the block.
I pulled out my bottle of water. Clean, drinkable water was almost impossible to find now. I stocked up on as much as I could, taking from the river before the people inevitably soiled it. Now I am no better, though, polluting the river with the scrumptious corpse of a thug. In dire circumstances, you become someone you didn't plan to be. I took a big swig of the luke-warm water. It was refreshing nonetheless. I screwed the cap on, but some how managed to catapult it out of my hands to the ground below. Fuck.
I hung from the roof, letting my legs dangle before dropping. I made it a point not to roll, not sure how my new friend AK-47 would feel about that. Instead, I bounced awkwardly forward and slid an uncomfortable bit on my palms.
"Sweet!" I heard a grizzly voice behind me. An old man, a... passerby, for lack of a better word, grabbed my bottle. I got to my feet as fast as I could.
"That's mine," I said as sternly as possible. I was not very intimidating, however, even as I glared coldly into the old man's blue eyes.
"I found it," the old man replied. "There are no rules anymore."
Attired with my AK-47 apparently did not make me an intimidating image either. With one swift upper torso jolt, I swung the rifle from my back into my hands. The man turned and ran as fast as his run-down body would let him. Empire City had gone so far down the shitter, these crazies would put their life on the life for a drink of water. We really were in the animal kingdom now. He could have just asked, I thought. I would've given him a sip. Instead, I raised my rifle and took careful aim as best as I knew how and rested my finger on the trigger.
One heartbeat later, I lowered my vehicle of judgment. What the hell was I doing? I was an EMT. A medic playing doctor. I wanted to help these people. That was my goal and here I am, ready to pull the trigger and plow a common scavenger to death with bullets. He's just trying to get by like everyone else. Fuck.
"You're a fucking pussy," a witness yelled over. "I would've wasted the fucker," he added and laughed. Questionable people walked the streets night and day, and I was not surprised. Most people in this city would not even hesitate before pulling the trigger. Survival of the fittest was the primary law now. Down on the streets was a questionable place to be for a long period of time. Unless, of course, you wanted to mingle with these questionable people. My rooftop clinic was safe - for the most part. Most peoples' bad ideas vaporized when they spotted the sick and wounded patients resting. The Reapers were the only bastards so far heartless enough to attack it. Still, I carried my new found toy just in case circumstances changed. Anything was possible now. For instance, I can lay waste to this prick calling me a pussy. o, now was not a dire circumstance. Now was a time to show my true character. I help those in need. I let my guard down and walked away from the street punk. I watched him walk away from my rooftop. I wonder if he will live to see tomorrow? No one ever knew.
I had scavenged a pad lock and key from a now defunct hardware store. Most people hit the grocery stores first. I used the lock to secure a box - a box I filled with bottles of water for myself and my patients. I had it all rationed out, but this recent theft had me digging in earlier than I wanted. Taking this water felt wrong. It was for my patients primarily. IT was like tapping into your kid's college fund for that much needed vacation. Still, if I didn't make it, none of these poor bastards would either. Tapping into their... our water supply early was a necessary evil. Damn, I feel important.
I crawled on an empty cot and listened to my patients' coughing and labored breathing. In time, they'd make it okay. I knew that for now. I hugged my AK-47 like a teddy bear. You know, just in case.
It took a while to get used to sleeping outside - especially among my own patients. It would be a while more until I got used to sleeping with a tool of destruction. Didn't even know how many bullets I had left. But, if whoever I pointed it at didn't know either, did it really matter?
Barely fallen asleep, I heard a person climbing up on my roof. It had happened before, but in light of recent events, I got a little nervous and clutched my rifle, pretending to be fully asleep. I listened intently to my intruder's movements - breathing quickly and moving just so. The person made his way over to me faster than I anticipated and clutched my shoulder. To my surprise, that's all he clutched and he shook me while urgently whispering "doctor!"
"Yes?" I asked, fully opening my eyes. I recognized him as a previous patient. A scavenger had broken a few of his fingers and knocked him out cold while stealing a loaf of bread from him. I invited him to come see me any time he needed help. Almost regret that invitation now.
"A man, a man needs help!" He raised his volume and pointed with his crooked fingers. "Just two blocks down!"
I shushed him. "There are sick people here."
"Sorry," he urgently whispered. "Please, come!" It wasn't unusual for people ot request my help late at night - but every time I wanted to tell them they got the wrong guy. Kind of hard to fake being one of the only doctor-capable persons in a five block radius. But, after a few moments of being awake and seeing our desperate surroundings, I got a second wind for I remembered why I did what I did.
I rolled out of my cot, awkwardly managing the AK-47 at my side. "Lead the way," I said.
"Name's Simon," he whispered before taking off. I guess I should've remembered, but keeping a distance from my patients was a priority. I had enough to deal with; I didn't need to make friends with dying men.
The streets were just as dead at night as they were during the day. Garbage littered the streets and the citizens of Empire City were littered among it. It was all right, though, because everyone ignored you. It wasn't like before the blast when every homeless person begged you for anything and wouldn't shut up until you gave them something, anything. No one really had anything to give anymore.
I jogged behind Simon, dodging and hurdling small piles of trash. I could hear the wailing of a man in the distance.
As I got closer, I saw the figure, the wounded man. He was lying on his back clutching his abdomen. Many stabbing victims came across my path and all for the same reason: someone wanted something that didn't belong to them and they wanted it real bad. Problems arose when the other party involved refused to give up the object of interested, most commonly food or water. I was almost in such a situation.
I mentally prepared myself as I hurried down the last block. I saw the man grabbing his gut and assumed an abdominal stab wound. Stop the bleeding - I had old t-shirts neatly ripped into squares. Clean, for the most part. Cleaner than anything I could get a hold of now. Back in the day, that was enough - stop the bleeding and let the surgeon at the hospital worry about removing the weapon and closing the reopened wound. But, hospitals didn't exist here anymore. Had to seal the wound as soon as possible and hope for the best. Some made it, some were unlucky - a disruption in the bowls was especially lethal without the proper resources.
I quickly knelt down by the man upon arriving by his side and immediately recognized him. Thief. Without my water bottle - most likely what put him in this situation. Ironic. At least my AK-47 would have been a quick death. If I could aim.
For the first time in my entire career, I did not want to help. I stared at the old man. A broken bottle protruded from his stomach and he was in a puddle of his own blood. He might make it, but my will to interfere in any way had been sucked out of me.
"My bottle of water was stolen twice, wasn't it?" I sternly asked, my consideration for his life thrown out the window. It was a big bottle of water, and there was no way an old man could walk down the street for a long time without anyone attempting to claim it for their own. Unless he hid it, which, by the looks of it, he did not do. His eyes opened wide and his wails for help diminished. He looked terrified for he recognized me and recognized his mistake; to have stolen from the one man who could help you. You watch your neighbor's back and they watch yours. That was a ground rule of society. As soon as you made the decision to only be out for yourself, we became a part of the animal kingdom. But, like before, I again remembered why I did what I did. Someone had to keep the civility.
I reached for my old t-shirt bandages in my messenger bag and my hand bumped into my rifle. I revisited last night. I remembered how shocked I was to suddenly have this power over human life in the palm of my hands. As I pulled the broken bottle out of the man's abdomen and padded his wound, I pondered the choice I had just made.
Control over whether or not someone lives or dies was no longer new to me. Turns out, I've had such power in my hands for a long time.