It only took ten seconds for it to sink in. I was bleeding badly from my abdomen. Where was all this blood coming from? I looked around at everyone running away from me. Where was everyone going? Help me, I'm bleeding.
Buildings around me burned with hot heat. Grammy's Corner Store was being looted. People ran out with bags of food and large containers of soda pop. Two people were fighting over a Motorola, one of the ones that Grammy often had on sale.
The ground was littered with shards of glass. An occasional brick was being thrown through a window. Store after store, the owners lost more and more merchandise. This was supposed to be a peaceful protest. What happened?
I heard people shouting his name. "Say his name! Noah Adir!" they shouted. Noah was executed a few weeks ago. I don't think he did anything wrong. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and that lady targeted him on purpose. That's what we're here for. For Noah Adir.
I looked down at my soaked hands. It stings and I can’t get up. My stomach was still running with blood when I discovered the gaping hole.
He suddenly stopped when he saw me. "Help" I made out before the officer put two of his fingers against my neck and shook his head to another running officer. "Help" I tried again. Can he hear me? I wonder.
There was a little girl, dressed in all white, except a growing red stain on the front of her dress. It was spreading wider and wider on the asphalt, and as I looked down, I saw my blood mixing with hers.
Why is my stomach burning? Why am I not in pain? I can’t feel my toes! What is happening? Who is this little girl? Is she dead?
Just then, a woman in a white suit with a shimmering gold mask walked up to me. She picked me up off the cool ground with another person grabbing hold of my legs. They put me on a stretcher and took me to the hospital. I just hoped that they picked the little girl up too.
As I faded in and out of consciousness, I saw people working over me, trying to fix whatever burning sensation I felt in my stomach. This is it. This is how I die. With a gunshot wound to my stomach. Almost too close to my face, I heard a doctor with stale lunch breath ask, "Can you hear me?"
To be honest, I couldn't hear him. It was like he was drifting in and out. His voice was a million light-years away from me as I struggled to make out his words. "Can I get a BR stat? And a TSM with 45 milligrams of saline? And let Dr. Gilmore know we're heading to the OR!"
The machine next to me beeps, slowly at first, then flatlines. I am trolled into what I presume is the OR as the doctor jumps onto my bed and starts compressions. He grunts, "Come on now. Don't leave me. You got this. Don’t give up! Damn it, start beating!"
But my heart doesn't start beating. It flatlines all the way to the OR, where I'm pronounced dead. And then I wake up.
Yes you heard right. I woke up. This time, I’m surrounded by the heat of the bright sun. People all around me are shouting, “Say his name! Noah Adir! Say it loud! We end this here!” It dawns on me like a child going to the dentist, I’m back at the protest.
I look around to see everyone standing before a line of policemen. Oh no. Not again. I turn around at the direction of a boy, who looked to be about seventeen, holding a gun right at the police officers. In his line of fire was a little girl, about seven years old, who was perched on someone’s shoulders chanting loudly.
She had dark chocolate brown skin and cornrows with beads swinging in the afternoon breeze. Her white shirt glistened in the sunlight, which brought attention to her tiny white sandals. It was the same girl who didn’t make it, so I knew what would happen, and lunged at her.
I didn’t hear his warning until it was too late. And yet again, I lay on the ground, bleeding out. It all happened so fast I don’t think I could’ve caught myself if I tried. The teenage boy’s face grew with concern. He looked like he battled between helping me or running away until he decided it was a best bet that he wouldn't go to jail and jetted off.
Why was everyone running away? Do they not see me and this little girl laying here, bleeding out? Where are y’all going? Help me. Grammy’s Corner Store was being looted again. The same police officer ran up to me, touched my neck with two fingers, and shook his head to another officer. I’m right here. I’m not dead yet.
The lady with the gold mask comes up to me, but this time she says, “You’re in good hands. Fight, I tell you. Fight it!” What does that even mean?
She and another person pick me up and places me on a stretcher. They took me to the same hospital where I was before. This time, a different doctor speaks to me. “Hello? Can you hear me?” This doctor’s breath wasn’t as bad, but she was still a little too close to my face.
Like the first doctor, I couldn’t hear her very well. Her voice drifted in and out like the ocean to the sand. They troll me out of the room with my heart monitor beeping steadily. What’s going on?
I make it all the way to the OR before my heartbeat slows to a stop, and again, flatlines. The doctor starts compressions, but it’s too late for me. I’m already so far gone not even God himself can save me. And again, I wake up.
I’m back at the protest. The warmth from the protesters' bodies make the air hard to breathe. They were shouting a chant that they all came up with to the line of police officers. They were the same police officers from before, who stood stoic with their bullet proof shields in place.
I turned around to see all the people chanting behind me, when I caught a glimpse of the teenager who shot into the crowd twice before. This isn’t just a coincidence. He’s here to shoot again at the police officers. I duck and dodge through the crowd and lunge towards the boy. But it was too late when he pulled the trigger, and I’m restarting my death all over again.
Again I wake up to the hot sun beaming down over me. What the hell is going on? The same thing keeps happening to me over and over. Who knows how many times I’ve been through this time loop. I glance around at the crowd and pinpoint the little girl. In a haste, I ran towards the man who had her upon his shoulders.
The warning didn’t register until I was hit with a bullet, this time straight to the head. And again, I wake up.
Back at the protest, I immediately know where I am. For some reason, I can’t remember what day it is. But I know today isn’t the day that anyone else dies. I leap into action, getting the girl on the ground safely and successfully shouting, “Gun!” Everyone scattered like little bugs on a chalkboard.
People were screaming. I heard one high pitched voice scream louder than the others and ran in that direction. It was a police officer. He shot the girl in the leg with a straight face and stared down at her, listening to her pitiful wails.
There was a teenager who knelt beside her trying to stop the bleeding. His face shook with anger as he reached into his waistband and pulled out a gun. The police officer released his shield that was meant to protect him against a bullet, and his vest, and looked up at the sky.
I couldn’t move. I wish I could help him, say something at least, but what could I do? I’ve already been shot three times, from what I can remember. The officer’s lips moved slowly as something told my legs to move. I lunged at the police officer, but the bullet had already penetrated his body. And mine.
This time I lay in the street alone, no little girl. Just me with my bleeding out stomach. I close my eyes to shield the sunlight pouring down on me. It’s peaceful now. The birds are chirping and I smell BBQ from some restaurant two blocks over. And then I wake up again and it starts all over.