PROLOGUE

We stood outside the number four upstairs apartment door, feeling a bit sick and highly dillusional, with pistols shoved in our jackets. We stood there for awhile, both too scared to sneak in and too cowardly to back out. Standing there I noticed the mahogany-stained, nicely-cut wooden door. Complete with a brass doorknob that seemed to had been polished to a high mirror shine. It was one nice apartment door.

I liked nice things. Nice cars, nice houses, nice clothes. Anything that made me feel better about myself and what I'd become. Anything to make myself feelmore powerful or confident or strong, even if those feelings were highly temporary. I was addicted to those feelings and like any other addict I felt I needed those feelings. I would do anything to feed my addiction. Which had lead us to apartment number four.

Lee muttered something I couldn't make out and shot the brass doorknob clean off. We walked in. It was dark in the apartment, a dim glow shining in from the moonlight outside. The ghostly light gave the outline of fine leather loveseats, granite countertops, and a large flatscreen TV. I wondered what we could possibly leave with in our jacket pockets, everything seemed so big. We decided to start in the closet. Leather jackets and fine tailored suits would make a hefty profit. We then headed to the bathroom where we found a nice watch, high quality cologne, an expensive razor and even some women's jewlery, one of which was a golden band with a nicely cut diamond squatting on top. We had soon filled our pockets with fine objects and a few hundred dollars we saw lying around and began to leave. I let out a sigh of relief. I always hated robbing, I was always afraid I'd have to actually use my pistol.

We headed for the door. As Lee reached for the empty hole where the doorknob once was a deep voice came from outside. I soon heard steps on the concrete stairs making a horrifying hollow clops as the noise echoed throughout the concrete hallway, getting louder with every step. My heart pounded, then dropped to my stomach. My breath cut short. There was no way we could escape now.

Lee, being the quick thinker he was, grabbed my arm and sprinted to the closet as the front door began to slowly open. Lee quietly closed the closet door, his bald head and dark mustache the only thing visible before the whole room faded into thick darkness. I crouched behind some black Italian suits and did my best to keep my panting down to a dull wheeze. I wondered where Lee had chosen to hide.

I heard the sound of footsteps on the tiled doorway, the jingle of keys and the sound of someone unsuccessfully trying to close the door with no knob. The moves were slow and quiet. I heard several "what the"-'s and "damn it"'s from outside the closet. The sounds became louder and louder as the man passed the closet, inspected the bedroom and made his way to the bathroom. Then he circled around and came to the closet.

It was dead silent for awhile. Then the room flooded with light. I stood up without thinking. Before my terrified into paralysis mind could catch up with my rash action body I had pulled out my gun and pulled the trigger. I closed my eyes.

I heard the shot immediately, then a ruffling of coats and finally a cry of pain from the man. I opened my eyes to see him collapse before me. A puddle of dark blood oozed from the chest of his white shirt. He was a young man, couldn't be more than thirty. His eyes were wide open in shock until they began to wince and his face twisted from the pain. My stomach flipped and I began to feel extremely hot. I didn't know whether to puke or sob. It turns out I did neither. I just stood there paralyzed and stared at the dying man.

Lee had left long ago. Because the neighbors had heard the gunshot (how couldn't they?) he figured it was safest if he went down the fire escape and slip away by following the perimeter of the lake (which the apartment had an excellent view of, right above the waves) and circle back to where we lived. We had discussed this before we had left.

I knew I should high tail it out of there as Lee had but something compelled me to stay here and watch this pitiful sight. He had become very weak by now and had stopped wincing. I wanted to say sorry and give him his things back and steal more and call the hospital and millions of other things. But all I could do was stare. A few shouts came from outside, awakening me to reality. The noise scared me so much I sprinted to the balcony and leaped off the edge without thinking. I was so convinced those shouts were after me that I didn't realize what a mistake I'd made until there was no turning back.

Time seemed to slow down as I flew down the thirty-something feet to the icy water below. The slowness gave me time to think, which was definately a thing I avoided nowadays. I thought of the man, the gunshot, and, most terrifying, myself. I had grown to hate the person I'd become. Come to think of it, I'd hated myself for as long as I could remember. But until now, it was pretty easy to ignore the stupid things I'd done and the people I'd hurt. Now I realized the person I really was. Take away the life of addictions and power and thrill and all I was was a man who had shot someone. I had shot a man. A man better than me. An overwhelming guilt and anger and disgust I'd stored inside all those years washed over me as the truth became horribly clear. I was a murderer. I was a criminal. I was a scared, stupid kid. I was a useless human being. I reached for my pistol but before I could commit the final act time caught up with itself.

In what felt like a second I hit my head on a balcony's ledge and flew to the water below as blood began to trickle down my neck. The icy water embraced me like a thosand stabs. I closed my eyes. I didn't struggle. I didn't fight against the water. I let the waves claim me. It was finally over. No more guilt or anger or hate. No more murder or crimes or addictions. I would soon be an empty vessel. It's finally over, I thought. It wasn't.