Sweat dripped from my brow. I could feel the bead make it’s way over the curvature of my face.
The barrel of the gun lay heavy on my left temple. It lay steady, with a few random jerks which betrayed some hesitation.
‘You know what brought you here.. ‘
I was quiet. Usually when they try to talk, it’s a distraction while one of their buddies clears house. But this guy was different; the way he came in , the way he walked up to the counter without even pretending to be here to do anything decent, it was just so uncan-
I felt a sharp pain on the back of my head, temporarily blinding me and knocking my head forward where it hit the side of the counter.
‘Stay outta ‘yer head.’
He said that even before I had time to catch my breath.
What does this guy want? The register’s open, why doesn’t he just take the money and leave me the fuck alone?
God, I think I’m bleeding.. hope that revolver’s a prop.
‘I asked you a question.. ‘
‘I said.. ‘, another thrust of the barrel in my face. He really likes to poke people.
‘I asked you a question.’
‘Yeah.. well I forgot.’
That was the wrong thing to say. Now he’s gonna shoot me. Shut up, statistics show that most store robberies happen without any serious threat of inju-
oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit he’s pointing that gun at me. Shitshitshitshit he has the crazy giggles. Should have never said that.. whatever I said..
‘Man, just take the money and go. I’m not gonna call the cops, I’ve got enough shit as it is, I’m trying to work two full time jobs, my college reports are getting fucked, my girlfriend says she thinks she’s gay, I can really live without someone pointing a gun at my fucking face and asking me stupid questions..’
I should just shut up.
‘Well college boy, you believe in fate?’
Shit I sniggered, ‘No, I don’t.’
‘Because all human action is governed by some basic laws and principals which are a fundamental part of nature. There is no free will and all of your actions are pre-decided by forces you didn’t even know existed.’
I was feeling lucky.
He was silent. I began to feel the force of the gun receding slightly from my skull.
‘And infact, space is so huge that there are possibly an infinite amount of universes where this exact scene is happening with people who are exactly like us and have all the values that make us unique but where the outcome of events will be significantly different.’
I was feeling really lucky.
‘So somewhere out there, I pull this trigger..’
The mechanical click of the revolver, which signified an empty cylinder slot, made me involuntarily stop breathing for a few seconds. That was the closest I ever came to dying, fake gun or not.
‘Somewhere out there, there is a universe.. with an exact duplicate of you AND me, with the same circumstances and pre-disposition.. with the only difference being that in that universe, you’re dead right now.’
‘So my question to you is.. ‘
Cold steel.. left cheek…
‘Why are you still alive?’
‘I don’t know man! Fuck.. just let me go.. take all the money.. I won’t even report it to the police.. just.. go man..’
God please don’t let me cry. Not right now.
‘See, my theory is, the reason you’re alive and not dead , like some of your inter-dimensional avatars; is not because of how smart you think you are.. ‘
Shit he’s pointing that thing at me again.. fuck he’s gonna pull the trigger.. fuc-
‘..or how brave you think you can be.. ‘
Shit he’s gonna pull the trigger again. You’re dead this tim-
‘..or how how much stuff you’ve done..’
Not again.. this guy is fucking insane..
‘..or how important you think you’re life is gonna be..’
Here he goes again.. I don’t even think I care..
Somewhere inside me, a deep river of relief is flowing; but I can feel nothing but a sense of ‘not being’. Even these thoughts seem to be written down somewhere.
I look up. Finally see his face clearly. Old man. Never expected from the voice. Has to be around 50, maybe more. Mostly grey hair with a few prominent stripes of pure white. Wrinkles around the eyes give him a very jovial expression.
‘The reason you’re alive is..’
He points the gun to his left. The shot is loud, very loud. It shakes the rattlers on the window and a dog nearby starts a yelling contest. I don’t even notice the bullet after I see it come out from the barrel. I note it went through a bag of chips from the crumpling sound.
‘..because you can be alive.’
‘But I can be dead as well.’
‘Only you can decide that.’
And he stepped away and left. Cash is still inside the register. No real damage except a dent in the shelf and a bullet in a bag of chips.
I notice now that I don’t seem to be sweating.
I get up, pack up my bag, leave my uniform on the counter, along with my resignation scribbled on a napkin. Grab some money off the register and take the next bus outta town.