§ InVeRtEd ViSiOnS §

Not many get to hang like a monkey on a rope from a helicopter, let alone shoot footage for a movie that way. Not many get to hang half a mile above a vehicle crowded bridge that spans the churning Allegheny River, frothing with the recent rains. Not many are as daring, as life-risking as I am, because there is only one of me.

The wind whistled furiously around me, wrapping my body up in a maelstrom of force that tugged me to and fro. I could barely keep my grip upon the rope and the camera at the same time, trying to shove thoughts from my head about falling from such a tremendous height. It wouldn't happen, I was invincible.

Gazing down, I saw the traffic of a myriad of a metallic dots upon the bridge, the evening panorama of the city of Pittsburgh providing an excellent background as lights began to flare up. The view was magnificent, allowing me to see the Point, the two parks, and, vaguely, my favorite hockey arena. Memories of that place flooded me, of the team I loved that played there, my beloved Penguins.

It was then a pocket of air opened up and swallowed me, dragging me down the rope upon sweaty hands. I threw the camera away, watching the electronic become a tiny black spot that made only the faintest splash in the - wait, where was the water?

Below me was a maze of cement pipes, their sides weathered and scarred with nature's wrath. The complex mesh saved my life as I dropped from the rope and clung to a tube, wishing desperately that my life wouldn't end soon. It just couldn't.

An intense whirring sound filled my ears as I looked up, watching the helicopter flit away into the sky. I was abandoned upon this unknown creation that had just popped into being seconds earlier. This just couldn't be possible, it had to be a dream. It just had to be.

Yet, as I scaled the pipe, I knew that it wasn't a dream, that it was total reality. Like reality, the cement was thinning out beneath my hands, becoming nearly non-existent, reduced to a state of nothingness.

A state of nothingness that sent me plummeting to my death.

It was like before, my thoughts had become first priority over what was actually happening to me physically. If there was no body, I would never be able to think or emote like I used to. My body had to come to the top of the list, and right now, there was nothing I could do about it.

I fell for what seemed like forever, passing startled pigeons, buildings, the bridge and cars, and finally hitting the wet surface of the river…

And collapsing in a sandbox.

Solid ground.

I thanked God for my life then, thanked him for the chance he had given me.

On second thought, why was I in a sandbox? And why did I have the sudden urge to dig and find a dead body?

Without wanting to, I began to turn aside the damp sand, my fingers probing for soft, rotting flesh or the brittleness of aging bones. Searching for the body of a teacher that had been killed for the reason of not letting her student be free like he wanted to. Be free from the restraints of life and do what he wanted to do, become like the rebellious teenager he was supposed to be.

The homicide he had committed had turned out to be a waste, and he had buried the body in a sandbox, this sandbox. And I was looking for it on an impulse that had hit me from nowhere, and I did not want to wonder why. Asking led to problems.

Inch by inch I dug, my fingernails finally scraping against a hard object. With brash fervor I opened the hole I had made, and came face to face with a bed of white gravel edged with amber.

White gravel that had once been the bones of a teacher.

I opened my mouth to let out a scream, but no sound came out. My voice was nowhere to be found.

But who could scream in the dead of night at their front door?

Questions came in torrents in my mind as I stepped through the door, slinging my bookbag to the side without a care. My mother and little sister were in the family room, watching Nickelodeon, by the sound of it.

Humming, I walked into the room, reaching for the clicker and turning the channel to the news. Amy, my little sister, started to yell at me, but I couldn't pay attention. Not when the news happened to be interesting.

On the screen was the faint image of several men in black trenchcoats, the lead one holding some kind of formidable gun. I blanched, the words not reaching my ears as the doorbell interfered.

I didn't want to answer the door all of a sudden.

But something was willing my body to move, forcing me to cover the floor step by step, handled like a marionette. The doorknob was ice-cold within my grip as I twisted it, opening the door with an awful squeaking sound.

The screen door had been ripped off, the shreds of it visible upon the night blackened lawn. Before me stood a group of five men, their bodies swathed in…

Ah shit.

I ducked and rolled to the side as fast as I could, barely avoiding the first man that jumped in. He opened fire in the family room, and the dying screams of my family echoed in my ears, only the blood pounding through my veins drowning it out.

With desperation I flung a window open in the opposite room and jumped out, rolling onto the green, green grass below me. All of a sudden it was day, the sun striking my eyes and burning them with a fiery passion.

All I wanted to do, though, was run. Run like I never had before, sprint away from the four men that were suddenly aware of my presence amongst them.

Down the hill I strode, running across the street with abandon - I did not care if a car ran me over at this moment, for it would surely be a swifter death than these men would deal to me.

Onto the sidewalk I stepped, my legs already aching with the intensity I was running at. I almost tripped over a young woman sun bathing, and upon my landing, I stumbled and fell. The cement scraped the tender skin of my palms and knees, air hitting the crimson that spilled from me.

I knew I was not alone.

Turning over, I came face to face with a veiled man, a gun barrel resting its cold metal against my forehead. I could see the malice gleaming within his eyes as his finger hovered over the trigger, and I knew I would die.

The resounding blast of the gun was the last thing I heard as the world oozed blood and then became black.