Trigger Point by RE Harper

 I’ve always wondered what it would be like to kill someone. Don’t get me wrong I’m not a bad person; I just want to feel that bittersweet head-rush that I imagine only comes after knowing you’ve just ended someone’s life. Now I know what you’re thinking; you think I’m a loon, right, that I should be locked away in some mental hospital? But first let me tell you where my little fascination with death began…

I was eight years old and Mrs Lemmings our next door neighbour was planting marigolds in her garden. I was watching her, through the wide gap in the fence that separated our gardens. Mrs Lemmings went inside for a moment and that was when I saw it.

A little baby blackbird flew down from the tree into her garden and landed on top of the bed of marigolds. Cautiously, it turned its head from side to side and then began to whistle this merry little tune. All of a sudden Mrs Lemming’s cat moved quickly and in one fluid motion it had the baby bird in its mouth. The bird had stopped singing by this time and it was cheeping loudly in alarm.

I wanted to do something to help the baby bird but I couldn’t move. I just watched the whole thing, completely fascinated by what was happening. The cat dragged the bird around the garden for a bit and then tore it to pieces. There were feathers everywhere, including all over Mrs Lemmings’ marigolds. I waited and watched to see what the cat would do next, but it just sat down and began to lick itself with its tongue.

 Mrs Lemmings came back out into the garden and gasped at the scene before her and then her eyes moved onto the cat. She moved towards it. I thought she was going to shout at it or even hit it but then she did something that surprised me. She spoke to it in a cooing baby voice. “Did my snuckums catch a birdie?” she said, “you’re a clever cat, yes you are. Next time do it in someone else’s garden, though.” Then she patted the cat on the head. I thought about that day a lot over the next few years. I thought how the cat must have felt tearing that bird apart.

Then when I was ten, I killed my first animal. It was a rat. No one really cares about them anyway; they’re vermin. It was late one night; my parents had let me stay up while they were in the front room watching TV.

I was hunting through the fridge for a snack when a rat jumped out from the gap in between the kitchen cupboards. I didn’t scream; I just watched it for a minute or two; it didn’t dare come near me. I looked around for something to hit it with and that’s when my eyes locked onto the knife gleaming on the kitchen counter. It seemed to call out to me; “use me,” it said.

I slowly but surely walked towards it. I picked the knife up; it fitted in my hand like a glove. The rat was just sat there quietly in the kitchen corner; glaring at me with those beady little eyes.

I quickly made my way towards it and before it had time to run or even utter a squeak, I’d had plunged the knife into the rat’s back. It let out a shrill cry and then it was silent. I took the knife out and stared at the blood that was dripping off it. Then my parents walked in and screamed. “Craig, what are you doing with that knife?” asked my mum and then she saw the rat lying dead on the kitchen floor. I put the knife back on the kitchen counter. My parents held each other’s gaze for a moment and then my dad came towards me and wrapped me in a hug. “Well done, son,” he said, “way to show him!”

I was really surprised at that, because my dad never cared about anything I did. My school team won the league once when I was nine and I came home with my little trophy to show him. He just looked at it like it was junk.

My mum took the knife off the kitchen counter and put it in the sink and then she turned and gave me this loving smile. “You’ll be a right good little exterminator when you’re older so you will,” she said and with that my parents walked away, and I was left feeling brave and heroic.

 So maybe that’s how I find myself here eight years later, my hand holding the gun; finger poised on the trigger ready to fire. The person in front of me is trembling with fear and screaming at me not to do it but they’ll be okay. It will all be over for them soon; one quick bullet to the chest, BANG, and then they’ll be welcomed into Death’s open arms and I’m the one who’ll have done it; me: the bringer of death. Wait till the gang all hear; I’ve made me first killing. They’ll all see that I don’t just talk the talk; I walk the walk!

The police surround us; me and this other person. They all try to convince me not to do it; they are all telling me that there is no need for anyone to die here today but I’ve come so far; I’ve come this close; I can’t back out now.

I want to know what it’s like; I want more than that feeling I had when I was younger; that wonderful sense of achievement I felt when I killed that rat; the feeling that Mrs Lemmings cat must have had.

I haven’t spoken to my parents in years; they gave up on me; they told me I would never amount to anything.  Today, I’m sure I’m going to prove them wrong.

I’m going to make something of myself; I’m going to be on the cover of every single newspaper tomorrow; they’ll all know me name, a right good little exterminator I’ll be.

I’m about to do it, my finger pulls the trigger slightly back but then all of a sudden this voice comes into my head; I don’t know where it’s come from but it’s telling me not to do it; that if I do it then my life will be over. So I take my finger off the trigger and I start to lower the gun. I hear the policeman standing about a yard to my right; he speaks into his radio. He’s saying. “everything’s alright now; he’s given up.”

Those words make me angry; I’m not a quitter; I’ve been a failure most of my life, I’m not going to fail at this. I won’t!

I raise the gun. This time, I know I’m going to shoot the person; it’s just a matter of seconds. My finger pulls back the trigger and BANG.

The person doesn’t do anything at first; they kind of stand there just shocked and then they look down at the deep red patch that’s starting to spread all over their shirt. Fear crosses their eyes for a few moments before they collapse to the ground and then they know fear no more.

I wait for that euphoria; that glorious feeling that I’ve been waiting for most of my life but it doesn’t come.

I feel no joy; no sense of pride in a “job well done.” This person is just dead on the ground in front of me; blood pouring out from them. As I let the gun fall from my hand the police rush forward to grab me and arrest me. I look once more to the lifeless body on the ground; the puddle of blood spreading out underneath what use to be a man.

I’ve killed him.

What have I done?