My heart pounded in my chest, it expanded into my head, pushing against my skull. I thought of my family. Then I ignored the thought, burying it away.
I shut the door of the truck, key in ignition, twist, engine rumbled on, all 12 cylinders moving. I was in second gear before the first reaction, from someone walking by. He turned, stern eyes slightly surprised, then he was running after me. He was shouting something, but I ignored it and sat forward in the seat, anxiously willing the truck to gain speed.
I looked ahead. Only fifty feet. It was slow-motion. My gut ached, but the weak, empty feeling I always felt had disappeared. Adrenaline surged, even as I saw the others draw their firearms. I made myself small, keeping the truck straight. I heard clunk-clunk-clunk reverberating through the truck, as rounds landed. Then the splash of glass. Up the curb, bouncing, glass swung and twisted, as the truck jerked up and then down over it.
My side hurting, but I didn’t bother to check . One goal right now. One way ticket. There was one more curb, a bigger one, but the last. I glimpsed the other side, they were waiting, but could do nothing.
Rounds bit into the the side-view mirror to my left, splintering it into a craggy nub. I bent lower, leaning across the gear shifter. But I felt the wetness spreading down my arm, I was losing my grip on the wheel now. One more gear, clutch, then shift with my good hand, the truck shook. I was patient on the gas, if I stalled they would finish me. I was getting out. I swore that if I was to die, I would die on the other side of the DMZ. I will not die here.
A small shard of the side-view mirror remained, held on by a small piece of plastic, and I could see one soldier running after me. I didn’t understand why. Why did he want me to stay there? With the food that made you sick? The forced work. The dishonesty that living for everyone but yourself was normal. The dishonesty that left a shell of a man. A robot trained to follow. Not me. Not me. Not me. Not…me…
When I woke I was in a white room, and a table. I ached all over, but it didn’t feel real. I was afraid to move. Then a face bent down. She had a name tag, and white coat.
“Rest” The voice was kind and calm. Not like the others had been. I smiled, inside myself, because my mouth couldn’t form a smile with the tube fixed there.
Then I thought about my family… and regret washed through me.